Monday, December 22, 2008

This is a very GOOD WEEK!


Today the lovely hard working people of the United States Postal Service delivered to my mailbox my I-171H! This is a good thing! This means the USA has determined that I am able to furnish proper care to an orphan as defined by some act of something or other.

With being finger printed just last week (was it last week? must've been the week before) getting home study approved, now recieving my I-171H... this is a good week. I'm thanking God today! Tomorrow I'll be doing the same as I test the roads while heading to the Secretary of States office to have my dossier documents certified. Wow!

I know this all sounds foriegn to those unaware.. but these are all very big milestones! VERY VERY BIG ONES!!

After sooooo sooooo sooo long of waaaaaaaaiting on one thing after another, this finally feels like progress. I guess its the journey I'm supposed to be enjoying. Not the milestones. Just like hiking. Enjoy the path. Not just the kodak moments.

I realize these aren't the milestones people are interested in. And that is ok. This is the very personal private struggling part of the journey. And yet here I am REJOICING for all the world to see! (ok.. there's like 3 of you that read this, but that's ok... I love you gals!)


Quick update-
On Thursday afternoon I got word from CHSFS that my home study had been accepted. In the next breath (email) they sent me a 30 some odd page email detailing the specifics of what needed to be done in order to submit my dossier. In a totally atypical, Shannon move... I had it all done in 24 hours. By Friday morning actually!! All except one... little... step.

In retrospect, I should have hopped in the car and driven to Augusta Friday afternoon. But I'd promised mom I'd spend some time with her as she picked out a laptop for herself. Had I known the "snowstorm" predicted for Sunday night, would be still blowing around here at 10am Monday morning... I would have left Friday.

See, there are a few of the documents that need to be "State Certified". I realize I could mail them... but with Holiday mailing, I'm not taking the chance at how long it will take to get them back from a State office. So I'm driving them down to August and having them done in person. I'll find a little UPS or FEDEX place near by, photocopy everything and overnight them to Minnesota. That's the plan.

It's really really really hard, for me not to leave today and chance the blowing snow.. and chance that the lady who does these things actually braved the weather also. So... I wait. Tomorrow morning, I'm headed to Augusta. Kevin Mannix, you can keep you wild blizzard predictions to yourself, I'm going!
I see the light at the end of this tunnel!

ps- For those of you keeping track, If my dossier is approved, I "should" be done all the paperchasing and will be able to officially announce that I'm actually waiting!! Yay! I'll end there on a positive...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

CSI style...


Sunday, December 7, 2008

International Adoption...

International Adoption. Dream. Maze. Nightmare. Calling. Blessing. Gift. Rollercoaster. Sick. Trap. Heartbreak. Masochistic. Arduous. Heaven on Earth. Stressful. Lonely. Gut wrenching. Scary. Unnerving. Exciting. Patient. Kind. And again… Blessing.

It is all of these and more. Maze is probably the analogy ringing most true to me right now. The difference is that the Maze can change shape, change rules or stop all together, with no where left to go…. Literally. I was reminded of this these past few weeks. It can all come to an end at anytime… with no where else to go.

International adoption is an arduous voyage in the best of situations. In the IA world, being single, does not qualify as the best of situations. The other thing international adoption does, is unexpected. I’m required to learn and perform a number of different things in order to adopt. Outside of the already mentioned “permission” and “notarization” from a number of different individuals and offices, I had to open my eyes and heart in order to ready my life for an Ethiopian child. I must learn about this country.

What I have learned thus far, I can not convey in the abstract cold language I’m familiar with. Warm. Vital. Proud. Rich. Embracing. Desolate. Tragic. Gut wrenching. Trap. Dream. Nightmare. Blessing. Scary. Arduous. Hungary. Ill. Broken.
Historic. Happy. Joyous. Giving. Patient. Kind. Loving. Blessing. Ethiopia.

I’m in love with this country. I didn’t start this journey loving this country; her people, her religious depth, her rich human history. I did not know I’d become intrigued by its diverse ethnic divides or its complicated politics. I was not obsessed with her struggles, her pride, her joy or her grief. And yet, here I am. I actively, purposefully, fell in love with this land. There may come a day, when she will break up with me. But until that day, I’m walking forward in full hope. I’m all in. 100% in.

Some weeks ago, I was distracted, with the idea of changing agencies. That will not be happening. CHSFS is my placing agency. In the end, the reasons I posted earlier still stand, and I’m sticking with them. It may take some time for me to have my child home with me, but everything has its perfect time. Anything I’ve ever pushed to make happen, has clearly shown it self not be in its season, but mine.

PS- This Wednesday I’m scheduled to be in So. Portland to get fingerprinted. This is another big step! (No giant check related to this milestone… I prepaid some time ago.). Keep fingers crossed that I’ll hear from placing agency this week that they’ve approved and accepted my home study. As soon as they do that I can finish my dossier!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Bunco Babes...

Christmas Party / Ladies Night... No Bunco involved.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

So Cosmo...

Thursday night was a surprising fun time. I caught up with some BRLI friends at Seadog. I love these people. Or more, I love that I like them, cause we all went through some eye scratching, evil eye throwing, mud slinging with each other for 2 months last year.

My off handed comment to Trish… “Hey, what do think of a road trip sometime this winter?” was overheard, and before I knew it a plan was hatched! Quebec City for my birthday in January. Winter Carnivale!

I love spur of the moment last minute stuff. I tend to enjoy my time much better! I’m so non committal, which is why those that know me are stunned I’ve gotten this far in this intense adoption process!! (so I’ve left instructions to keep all Quebec details from me, just let me know a day in advance where to be!).

Afterward, a few of us old friends, invited a few others from a different class and had a nice dinner together. It was one of those nights that I was overwhelmed with appreciation for good friends. It even felt a little cosmopolitan (in a red neck, country fried way).

PS: Sometime in the past month, my blog has reached over 1,000 hits. I'm shocked, considering the friends that know about this blog don't ever actually go to the site, they read it via email. hmmm. I will use the site to update & educate family and (more) friends once I'm officially "waiting".


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Just Hold On...

"It’s another night in hell
Another child won’t live to tell
Can you imagine what it’s like to starve to death

Put faith in human nature

Our creator and our Savior

I’m no Saint but I believe in what is right

It’s a matter of Salvation From impatience up above
So don’t give up so damn easy on the one you love.

Somewhere you got a brother, sister, friend, grandmother, niece or nephew just dying to be with you.

You know there is someone out there who unconditionally religiously loves you, so just hold on, Cause you know it’s true.

And if you can take the pain, and you can withstand anything and, one day stand hand in hand with the truth.
I say, AMEN. "

Little strength from Bob Ritchie.. aka, Kid Rock.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Patience, please HURRY...

Sorry for not posting much lately. I may not again for a little while. I've got some research, praying and decision making to do. I'm not really sure I should be posting this, but I will.

I recently learned of an agency I hadn't considered before. There are families on the forum that have understandably changed agencies as they are waiting for infants and are looking at a new timeline of 12 months before referral, no guessing when they'll bring their children home.
Until recently, I've been comfortable with my decision to stay with my current placing agency. But I realized, that I should consider it seriously.

So far, I'm realizing, there is nothing "sketchy" or wrong, or bad about either group. Their approaches are completely different, but seem consistent.

I'm confident in the original groups med testing, socialization, development testing and care. There is inherent value in the lifebooks and dvd research they do on the children's history, to provide the new families. This value, of course only increases with time. I've been reading posts and blogs from these families for months now. I have a picture of what will the future holds with this agency emblazoned in my minds eye.
The current agencies time lines are REALLY unpredictable. Originally I was quoted a year, beginning to end if I was looking for an infant only... maybe sooner... definitely sooner if I was open to a toddler. Now, all bets are off. There are families open to toddlers that have been waiting 7+ months just for referral. I know of others that have waited only 4 or 5. So that means referral for a toddler is (in my mind) from 4-8 months (currently... what they will be in 6 months is anyones guess...). Travel times are all over the map. It looks like some are traveling in as little as 2 months others more like 4. So that leaves the time range from 6-12 months (from dossier). The wait for my child doesn't freak me out. I'm ok with that. What scares me is international adoption, as a whole, is changing EVERY DAY! There is a real possibility of singles no longer being eligible. I'm confident saying the care of the children is consistent and at highest standards, although honestly the children are only in this care center once they've been referred. I've never seen the orphanges in the other parts of the country where they children are relinquished. This group is rich in a country of less than poor. I've seen video & pictures of the medical centers, schools, care centers, even an arena (think civic center) they have built, trained staff to work at and managed as they contribute to my childs home nation. There is no doubt where much of my money is going. And yet, I have a whole life to support this country. Right now, what I'm in need of is an adoption agency.

The new group: Women with ALOT of experience. Very new agency, but not really. It was working through a different NP before splintering. They have no care center of their own. They work with a couple different currently running orphanage care centers, one is run by nun's the other run by 2 men. I've seen pictures of both... none of the pictures showed the children or staff. Which struck me as odd when comparing to the pictures and vids from the CHSFS care center. The woman who runs it is Ethiopian and appearently is in country quite often. I still have alot of questions for this group. Some of which I'm sure will be answered by simply time and talking with other families... the same way I grew comfortable with CHSFS. Other questions will require pertinent answers from the director. The one thing they CAN offer, that the other group can't.. predictability in time frame. Time frame with this group would be 1-2 months from referral and travel 2-3 months after that. Total 3-5 months from dossier (Worst case scenario 6-7 months as everything seems to take longer with me...). Which means I'd miss any court closure and any possible changes that they make to the rules after that.

So which way to go. Now is the time to make this decision, before I send in the next big check to which ever placement agency I choose. I try to remind myself that when I'm stuck at a crossroads and trying to figure out which is the right way to go... which ever is the easy choice... is probably the wrong choice.

For now, I haven't found the clarity to know which one would be easier. Certainly the paper chase would be longer and a bit more difficult in trying to start with a new group, but I need to get to a point of not being selfish in what I'm considering "easy or difficult"

This post may be more for me than for any of you out in web land, as I try to sort it all out. I know none of you have the answers, and that the answers will be found in my prayers. So now I do what I can do. Research. Reach out to those who've been here before. Pray for wisdom and know that I'll know ...when I know. It's like that joke "God, grant me patience... but please HURRY!"

Friday, November 14, 2008

Gratitude with attitude...

Many people have gone out of their way to assist me in this adoption process. Many more will going forward, I know. The very first thing I had to do in this is to open up, divulge my hopes, and trust in friends as I asked them to write a reference for me. This was not a simple process. It was hard. There were a number of difficult, provoking, and detailed questions they needed to answer. They needed to take time to think about what they would write, what the right answers were and then again to get it notarized. Dodie even hired a babysitter to baby sit her kids and the kids she was baby sitting, just so she could get a couple hours to type it all out. Then take her "active" 4 and 2 year old to the bank and wait for a notary... you can imagine that was a peaceful afternoon for all involved. I use Dodie and an example cause it makes a funny story and you can easily picture it in your mind. And yet her story is not unique. Mine is not unique. This process is exhausting for everyone involved.

So after my last home visit, I planned a dinner to thank my reference people. I could have invited 3 times as many people, given the shear number of people that have been behind me supporting me till this point. But... my house is small and ya gotta stop somewhere. They'll be more dinners to come I'm sure!

When I planned the dinner back in mid October, I thought we'd be celebrating the acceptance of my dossier by mid November so I planned it for then. Who knew, I'd have only just received a final copy of the home study that day... Currently, I'm still waiting for my placing agency to tell my they've accepted my home study so I can finish my dossier.
Anyway, my lovely dinner celebration was just chili in the crockpot, wings and paper plates, but with lots of drinks and good friends... only one thing could have been better. IF the GERRISH's had actually showed up! ppthththth.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Happy FEET!!

Dancing for joy!
It has been found! Found! Found! My homestudy has been found, and is in the hands of someone I feel like I can trust! She tells me it will be in the mail TODAY!! What that means is one copy will go to CIS (formerly known as, INS) with my big check, one copy to placing agency, and two others bundled with some other dossier docs to me. I don't want to count any chickens before they are hatched.. but I need the good news this week so I'm taking it! I should have it by Friday at the latest. Guess what that means... within the next 1-2 weeks I'll be writing another big giant check and that, ladies and gentlemen is a good thing! Means we're getting somewhere.

Ode to Bill Murray: Baby steps... bapy steps... Baby steps.. baby steps

Happy FEET!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ty's Day out...

I've got some catching up to do... ! It seems it may be important to me to look back and have an idea what was going on the day my child was born, came in to care etc... so from time to time I'll have to catch up so that in a year... I have some record, cause you all know my memory!!! Right now I've got a few to make up for....

November 11th, Ty and Dad had some special time together and for a little while I was invited along to go for a walk along the river and then to Pat's Pizza for lunch! mmmm

Friday, November 7, 2008

Chosen People of God...

" A persistent belief in Ethiopia- that Ethiopians are the chosen people of God stems from a long-held creation legend. According to this legend, God molded the first humans from clay. He put the first batch in an oven to bake, but left them there too long, and they emerged burned and black, so he threw them away to the southern part of Africa. He took the second batch from the oven too soon, and they were pasty and white, so he threw them northward, where they became the Arab and European populations. The third and final batch was just right, and God put them in Ethiopia. "

Dorinda Hafner, in her book - A Taste of Africa: Traditional and Modern African Cooking

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Children Can Fly...

Rosa sat so that Martin could walk.
Martin walked so that Barack could run.

Barack ran so that my children might fly.

I'm not eloquent enough to write that... someone else did??

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Checks & Balance...

I’ve learned that making a "living" is not the same thing as making a "life".
-- Maya Angelou

I wrote a couple BiiIIIIIG checks this week and sent them off. One to Homeland Security and one to MAPS for the balance of my Home Study. YIPPEE! Yes writing the checks hurt, but I realized, for every one I have to write, it literally means I’m one step closer to bringing my child home. So I’m poor… Let’s CELEBRATE!! Weee hoo!!

"Success is not a place at which one arrives but rather the spirit with which one undertakes and continues the journey." - Alex Noble

Friday, October 31, 2008

Lights & Tunnels....

Adoption update: I’m still waiting to receive the final copies of the home study. It is supposed to take 1-2 weeks. Yes I’ve already been waiting 2 weeks, but it seems everything with me is taking twice as long. We are now on week 17 of an expected 6-8 week process. There will be, of course, more papers to sign, notarize and have certified by the Secretary of State’s office. All important but incredibly tedious to talk about.

What people want to hear are the highlights. The milestones. The date they get to see a picture or the date we come home as a family. It’s understandable. It’s what I want too. And I’m so grateful when people ask, it lets me know they are starting to warm up and get interested. But when I am consumed by the tedious, mind boggling, paper shuffle, finance struggle, mailing juggle it’s difficult to put into voice about stuff that seems sooooo far away right now.

“Never under estimate the power of ice cream.”

I’ve been absent from writing for some time now. My final Home Study visit was 2 weeks ago. I’m going to try and avoid discussing the “Elephant in the room” for now. Some of you are aware of the disagreements I’m having and for those of you unaware- nothing to worry your head about. It will not kill me so it will make me stronger and a better advocate for adopting families in the future. More about that at another time…

Serendipity. Look for something, find something else, and realize that what you've found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you were looking for." - Lawrence Block

Highlights since my last post:
Homecoming Weekend!! My college roommate, her new husband and baby came to town. Homecoming, Pat’s Pizza, Babies & Beer! Can’t beat that!!

Tyler turned 18! Oh my god, I can’t believe it has been 18 years since I first saw my the little tyke that would be the primary guy in my life for so many years. We were “best buds” for so long. He’s all grown up now and all the better for it. Somehow, in my minds eye, he is still 3 years old.

Connor and I had a special day together. I picked him up from school, and we went to the barns. He always used to be afraid of the cows and this time he walked up to each and everyone and wanted to know the names. He even fed the Miniature horses AmEx & Nasdaq. He loved it as we were headed to borders to spend quality time reading and exploring the children’s section, he announced, “I’m going to be a Farmer when I grow up”. I was so EXCITED!!

Tuesday, Ethiopia interested families met at the Bangor Library to learn more about CHSFS and Maps. But lets face it… it’s Bangor. It was me (already a MAPS & CHSFS client) and one other couple (already a MAPS client). The CHSFS lady showed a film I hadn’t seen before, that was very insightful. There were a number of reasons I chose this agency rather than any of the others, and honestly, most of those reasons involved how they would help me through this maze, focusing on my own comfort and support. I never considered the other things that this agency does other than being simply an adoption agency. In fact this film was probably only half about the child care centers. Most of it was talking about all the other things, medical care, jobs and training for women & men of Ethiopia etc… When people ask me about the costs of international adoption, and when I’m writing these big checks (2 new big ones tomorrow) I will be reminded where my money went, I’ll remember the faces on that film of the hard working men and women training to be nurses and teachers to raise up the next generation of their people, even when they have no support, no government help.

One more family joined this meeting! Ashlee, Ryan and Feleke. What a joy! It couldn’t have been more uplifting that night. They are so happy and amazingly bonded already.

“Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven.” -Henry Ward Beecher
"Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail." -Charles F. Kettering

It has been an overly emotional couple of weeks. I’m physically tired. Emotionally exhausted. Overly sensitive, my compassion bone is in overdrive, sensing others sadness even where it may not really be. The “White elephant” issue; I learned of yet another divorcing couple; Homecoming; too much work stuff; paperwork crunch; fighting finances; unknown timelines; repeatedly imagining what agony must my children’s birth family be going through that the best choice is to give up their precious child. Through all of that, I saw light.

"The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together." ~Erma Bombeck

Keep in mind I am often reminded how grateful I am for being a SINGLE mom. Looking forward to it actually. I’ve seen so many crappy dad’s, and I mean REALLY crappy, bad influences that honestly scare me. (“sh*thead” is only one) It seems so common to see a new dad scared, unable or unwilling to nurture their young child. Sometimes I actually look forward to there only being one parent to do the eventually screwing up of my kids (slightly sarcastic, but not completely…) But this week, I saw the possibility of hope.

I saw some good dad’s. Some really good influential Dad time. I saw Wendy’s young eager husband Bill, coddling & soothing his 5 week old son like an experienced mother bear. I saw a young son running to dad for comfort and Ryan literally glowing like a pregnant momma as he’s playing on the floor chasing after his son, never tiring. I saw two daughters who think their dad walks on water and who despite all modern forces against him, fights everyday to put his family’s priorities & needs first, with full recollection that one of those needs is simply time together. I don’t know how to express really how or why these resonated with me, a soon to be single mom, yet it did so loudly.

Family means love; biology doesn't have the final say.
Lilo: "Ohana" means "family."
"Family" means " NO ONE gets left behind."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Parenting lessons are everywhere...

As I trek towards the adventure of becoming a parent, I have a lot to learn in a short time. I look at those I admire as parents and as children. I look and find so much I want to teach my children and an unending inspiration to grow as a parent.

Do you ever wonder if your parents even know who you are? What about your kids? I mean, really know you? What you stand for? What is important to you? Your priorities in life? I mean know you, not as their child or as their parent, but as a human being?

Robbie was a kid that gave his heart to every one who needed one. I say kid, but when I met him his was 32 years old. He was one of those people you meet that always seem like a kid. Perhaps because of the life in his eyes, energy in his step or what I once saw as naive vulnerability.

Robbie gave his heart to those "needy" girls. You know the type. They need to be saved, and Robbie never stopped trying to save them. He knew their issues. He knew his own. He knew it was his job to help them. He knew it wasn’t good for him. He went in, fully committed anyway.

Robbie got in trouble. Often. Being a commercial fisherman, puts you in company with some lost souls & pockets full of temptation. This company sometimes needed a friend to "take care" of them. Temptation and pockets of cash can be tricky waters to charter.

Robbie was also the guy that gave everything he had to everyone else. He's the guy who made sure his ex girlfriends legal issues were worked out. He's the guy that made sure she had plane fare home. How long they had been together, was far more important than how long they'd been apart or why.

He's the guy that drove an hour and a half to his mom's to plow her driveway. He's the guy that would crawl under their house, through the mud, mice poo and spiders (eeek) to fix whatever needed to be fixed. He's the guy who bought two snow mobiles so that his family could enjoy as much as he did. He was the guy who kept an apartment an hour away, but actually lived with his mom for the year his step dad had a job 2 hours away.

Nancy is Robbie's mom. Nancy is a strong independent, incredibly capable woman. She looks 45 but I'm pretty sure she just turned 60-something. She is a unique one. As a child, raised on an Indiana farm, she convinced her dad to let her raise a 3-legged piglet. She hand raised the pig till he reached slaughter weight and then ate him for supper. There are many things that impress me about this woman, but 2 things stand out. 1- Her wisdom & 2- Her relationship with Robbie (actually I'm quite sure the two are strengthened by the other.) Nancy has 3 children. Robbie is her oldest. Nancy REALLY KNEW her son.

Robbie and Nancy knew each other. Robbie talked with his mom when he got in trouble. She knew what got him there. Robbie & his mom discussed his girlfriends and friends he was spending time with. I suspect Nancy was cognizant of walking the line between "mom" and "friend". I suspect Robbie was as well. Robbie didn't share everything with mom. Like many of us, Robbie saw and experienced things he wouldn't want his mom to ever have to think about, worry and ache over. But he would tell her when there were things we was not sharing. His compassion for others flowed first. I wonder sometimes, what Nancy did in Robbie's earlier years to foster this character.

Robbie was buried this past weekend. He died this past winter. Freak accidents happen to commercial fishermen.
Nancy welcomed people into the funeral home, comforted other mourners and encouraged others in her darkest hour. "How does she do this?", I wondered. Bruce (Nan's hubby) may have said it best, "It somehow makes it harder, and somehow easier that she knew her son, in a way most parents do not."

As I mulled his words in my mind, I wonder how much, my own parents really know me. And I wonder if that is possible for anyone, other than your God, to really know what is in your heart. But it did give me something to strive for. I haven't been the perfect child. My parents certainly not "perfect" parents. Neither were Robbie and Nancy. What is true is that as parents, mine and most, do what they can. We do what we know how to do. We do the best we can.

This drives me to learn more. To have more tools in my parental tool box.
And further, knowing this story makes me want to REALLY KNOW my children. Most importantly, how I parent my children, will be modeled by how they parent and relate to their children.

For my children: I hope that we not only lived through those teenage years, but that we strived through. I hope that we are confident that we really know each other. That you know what is important in my life priorities, my love, my passions my heart. I hope that I have fostered your life to be confident in showing and sharing your heart with those that, in the end, matter.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Delight & Amazement for Ethiopians...

I know as little about Ethiopia as anyone (far less than at least 3 people I know), so for me to try paint that picture will sometimes be silly. Sometimes, I'll just send you to another site. I promise to be conservative and not do this to every interesting article or post I find. But if I think it will be educational, useful or both (along with entertaining, cause of course that is most important here...) for family and friends, when I do finally announce to everyone, I'll post it here. There are times when once it is said, to repeat would simply be to plagiarize or not do the sentiment justice. Sometimes like this one, I will post to gain a sense of what is to come... and have a good laugh at the same time.

By: Hannah Vick
"Shyness is overcome quickly at the orphanage. In less than an hour of my arrival, I am surrounded by half a dozen giggling girls stroking my hair and my cheeks. "You!" they say, mouths open in smiles, "You are so fat - so fat and white!"
Peter leads me up the stairs, through the kitchen and into the courtyard of Layla House, a center for orphaned children in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, run by an American adoption agency. He points at things and children, nonchalantly throwing out useful tidbits, like "Don't eat the pasta", and "That's Meron, she's going to Denver", and "Use the staff bathroom, the kid's are still figuring out toilet paper".
He does not mention my plus-size figure would be the source of constant delight and amazement for Ethiopians."
Continue Reading this: Paste this link into your browser address. You'll love it!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Windows to the world…

They’re here!

They’re here! Ok looking back this will not really represent an official milestone, but in reality… it’s a big thing!
You see in order to be Home Study approved, I needed to have some windows changed out in the house. Unfortunately, everyone and their neighbors are replacing windows now because of the heating costs and not being able to buy a new home. Therefore, the windows took waaaaay longer to be delivered than we’d hoped and waaaaaay more expensive. Rick tells me it’ll take him a couple days so he should be done by Wednesday. I’ve emailed my Social Worker and asked her if we can meet at the end of the week or that weekend.

I'm doing everything possible to suppress the "crazy adopting lady" urges that a screaming below the surface. If it doesn't kill me it will make me stronger, right? Man I'm going to be a SUPERWOMAN when this is over. Or super crazy...

UPDATE: Saturday the 18th is the last visit day! YEAH Much to do between now and then. Send good thoughts and prayers that I need no sleep between now and then. :)

"Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind overtaxed."
~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Working on the obvious...

I may be the luckiest person on earth. I realize that currently, there are many close friends and distant forum folks who are currently reading this, but bear with me as I post here for my children every once and a while. (That is of course, unless the internet has gone by the way-side like 8-track by the time they are old enough to appreciate the time and effort we put into this... maybe we'll all be communicating telepathically... or we'll revert to writing with quills dipped in ink being delivered by pony express.. who knows) I think I still have an old "Bat out of Hell" 8-track! (Yes, I'm easily distracted... oooh, something shiny...............)

What was I sa... oh
yeah. Allow me to gloat a little.

I am feeling incredibly grateful lately. The friends that surround my life truly lift me up and fuel my hope. Kids,
you probably know by now that some friends are truly forever. Others will stay for a while & go. Some will return again. There is a saying about how some people are in your life for seasons, reasons or lifetime etc., I'm not really sure how it goes or even if I understand it or agree with it completely. Regardless...

I hope you have learned the most important thing, is to take care of your relationships. It matters. It requires humility & sometimes, hard work. It always gives you joy & passion. Regardless of how long someone is, was, or will be in your life... fostering that relationship, that person, that soul, is the most important thing you can give. Even if nothing else you do in the world amounts to anything, the goodness of your soul shows in how you treat those you love.

Ask many people they'll tell you, I was late in learning this. Very. How did I miss it?? It is a typical "life lesson" in that it sounds so logical and obvious, but... daily, I have to remind myself over and over: "In the end, it is how we treated our relationships that mattered".

I am abundantly grateful for the friends that God has sent into my life. I am filled with gratitude and humbled by their generosity, kindness, patience, compassion and love. They are contagious!! I pray that one day I’ll be able to offer them all they have done for me. Thank you!! To each of you… LOVE YA!! HUGS

"Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared." ~Buddha

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Autumnal adventures...

This time of year is always quite full of social opportunities. Today as I write this, I'm in hope that my children, years from now, will read this and will be able to see a different side of their mom. One that they may not have had the opportunity to understand, thus far. And to know, that through all my adventures, desk jockeying, long drives, bunco games, walks, prayers and excursions, my thoughts are with you. This past week brought:

Bunco, in Old Town, ME

Lobstering in Owls Head, ME

11 hour drive West through the Berkshires

Along the Erie Canal

To Rochester, NY and 11 hours, back home
(I had pictures, but files were too big...)

Finally, a Trek on own 2 feet

And Harley's 4

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Happy Days...

This has been a good week. I have no material evidence to verify, or words to explain why. “Why’s” have no real answers, they are just truths and gifts from above I guess. This week is a gift.

One great picture my children should have is this one. I met your friend Feleke today!! Today he is 2 and a half years old and very happy! He and his family have been together for only a month now and it looks like all joy, giggles rainbows and cheerios for them. Feleke loves his mom and doesn’t like to leave her side for too long, but didn’t panic when they were separated shortly. Feleke and I hit it off, as I can still be a bit of a small human magnet. Plus I bribed him with a lolly! He was in Heaven loving it... as was I watching him.

Feleke’s mom was so kind and generous to come visit and share their trip to Ethiopia. She was so good to offer some great traveling trips. Although I have many questions, I was too distracted by making faces with her son.

It was a good day. This was a good week. Thank you

Friday, September 5, 2008

ETH 101- Beginner Ethiopia

Meskel (Finding of the True Cross)

(Full discloser: I'm stealing this from one of the forums. I found it very interesting and a possible recurring theme here...)

Meskel is celebrated by dancing, feasting and lighting a massiv
e bonfire known in Ethiopian tradition as "Damera". Meskel commemorates the finding of the True Cross in the fourth century when Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, discovered the True Cross on which Christ was crucified.

The feast is celebrated in Ethiopia on September 17 Ethiopian calendar (September 27 Gregorian calendar), 6 months after the discovery of the True Cross. The celebration of Meskel signifies the presence of the True Cross at mountain of Gishen Mariam monastery and also symbolises the events carried out by Empress Helena.

According to tradition, Empress Helena lit incense and prayed for assistance to guide her. The smoke drifted towards the direction of the buried cross. She dug and found three crosses; one of them was the True Cross used to crucify Jesus Christ. Empress Helena then gave a piece of the True Cross to all churches, including the Ethiopian Church. This piece was then brought to Ethiopia. According to the Ethiopian legend, when people get close to the piece of the True Cross it made them naked by its powerful light. Because of this, a decision was made to bury it at the mountain of Gishen Mariam monastery in Wollo region. The monastery of Gishen Mariam holds a volume of a book which records the story of the True Cross of Christ and how it was acquired.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Verbal Filter Learning....

Ok, so I'm sure this is another one of the many times we'll cover this topic. We are all friends here and those of you that know me well will understand my often sarcastic and inappropriate reactions and comments to odd situations (i.e. people). I hope as I venture further down this path of bringing my children home, my patience & understanding will increase. (and I've saved up enough dough for the super max verbal filter)

Case #1- Meat section. Meet old HS friends mother. We precede to hug and say hello, how is the fam etc... etc.. etc... and I hear...

"So sweety, when are ya gonna get yaself a man and have some babies? It's about time ain't it?"

Yup. Just like that. Now I know this women was well intentioned, and although she has no sense of boundaries, is a very nice and kind woman. And yet, I can not imagine any situation, regardless of the people involved when that is an appropriate question/comment?

Lesson: Turn filter ON even when considering what someone has for a parenting/marriage/ procreation/ boyfriend etc plan.

Saving for a high volume verbal filter of my own... (mines been on the blink for some time now...) Shannon

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Baby Steps...

Exciting exciting news! Ashlee is home with her beautiful boy! He's got these great big brown eyes that just pull you in. Congrats Ash!

More baby steps:
  • Rick has arrived and will be putting in new windows and a door in September. Although not directly related to the adoption time line, these will need to be done before the Home study can be completed.
  • -I've made ANOTHER doctors appointment so they know what to write on 2 more medical reports that need to be filed. It's frustrating they won't just call and talk to me because the insurance won't cover these, "fill out form" exams. arrrg. I keep reminding myself it does no good to get frustrated now, there will be many of these little hold ups and "time suckers" along the way.
  • My CHSFS application is complete and submitted (adoption placement agency out of Minnesota). They have sent me some information on some of the dossier work I can be getting started on at the same time as the home study. This is where I get intimidated. I know some people who have finished all this stuff in a week or two. I can't imagine how?

Baby steps... Baby steps... all in the right direction.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Give us THIS DAY...

I was reminded today of a couple things-
  • 1st- I can not give what I do not have.
  • 2nd- I can not plan for tomorrow, I must take care of today.
After 2 weeks of having nothing to offer spiritually and emotionally to any of the many priorities going on right now, I must keep reminding myself of these 2 things. I have not gone hiking yet this year. Nope. Not once. For me that is like vacation and nothing fuels the tank like getting turned around and ending up finding a beautiful spot somewhere on a hill. So tonight the dog & I went on a new local trail and purposefully took no map. Fuel for the soul!

The homestudy visit went well. But ever since, I’ve been obsessing with the follow up questions they need answers for. I have been trying to do the “responsible” thing and accommodate for all possible scenarios that the future may or may not hold... the reality is, it’s a stupid thing to attempt. It works for some. Clearly for me, it’s like putting my feet in concrete. No more. From now on I'll trust that the future will be just fine if I'm following the right path through this adoption adventure.

Take care of today. God will take care of tomorrow.

Woods bound, Shannon

Friday, August 1, 2008

Roller Coasters

It’s been an emotional roller coaster of a week. Trav leaving Saturday morning left me like a Gary Allen song. (…watching airplanes take off and fly, wondering which one you might be on…) On the flip side, by Saturday night I was out at my 20th Class Reunion. Surprisingly, it was a ball! I did not know what to expect, but knew that when I got tired of being sociable, I could sit at the bar with Kelly’s husband and chill. (Thanks Kell for dragging him be there. He’s a good egg!)

It was actually a great time! I’m bummed I did not have my camera with me to post some pictures of you all. Good blackmail material always comes in handy… By the end of the evening I felt a little less country and more… Gunz & Roses, "Welcome to the Jungle".

Adoption NEWS: YIPPEE! I finally heard from my social worker. She’ll be here on Sunday at 10am! Yikes. I suppose I should get picking up. This is a good thing. Finally getting started!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ain't no mountain High enough... Ain't no Valley low enough...

As I'm looking at the title of the compass picture to the right here... something suddenly hit me. There are times when I'm struggling to decide what direction to go in, trying to take into account all the differing possible options and what lies ahead. Rarely do I feel good about the decision after going through all that. More importantly, it causes worry & anxiety and I takes away from the when and where of the moment.

When I'm in the woods hiking, I rarely ask "where am I going...?" and never "where am I?". I'm just so consumed with my current surroundings, firm footing for the next step and the wonder of what is around the corner and committing to that path regardless of the terrain.

Hmmm. Mental note to self when floundering: Should I buy a new house? Should I build? Should I move to Orono? Move closer to the boys?
Should I Adopt? International or domestic? What happens if… What about… Here’s my answer: I’ll know the answer when I need to know it.

Well that's the 2nd surprise in a week... Shannon commits! (oh, hush up you three!)

Reflecting: I may have been a bit misleading in the last post. I should admit, that pain hits me every time I leave those boys. Usually right at the moment the jet engines accelerate and my insides scream to stop and get off the plane. Latitudinal distance separates us and has for years now. But, it remains true, they are a part of me, part of my soul. I can only pray for 3 things: That my heart is as wise and loving as their own mother has been in raising them; That I feel as bonded to my own children as I do those two young men; and that God keeps them all safe, happy, warm, loving & generous.

Peace out.(Cat Stevens on iTunes this evening!)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My heart was broken by a 5 year old

Travis went to stay in Veazie for the 2nd night in a row. It is a good thing. He needs to be able to spend time with them, reconnect. He’ll be with me again, tomorrow and Saturday… But still… after I drove away a familiar feeling came back to haunt me. It had visited me only once before, December 5, 1995 to be exact.

I had just recently moved to Portland. Maine Hockey was playing a game in the CCCC (Cumberland County Civic Center). Tracey and Shawn had split for good and the divorce was at least close to final if not completely. Shawn brought Tyler down on the team bus, so that Ty & I and could spend one last afternoon/evening together before Tracey and both boys would move to Michigan. Tyler was 5 at the time; Trav was too young to travel on the team bus.

So one last visit and time of fun it was. Toy Story, Burger King, Playground and then to the rink. It was a difficult time for a 5 year old who idolized (and still does) his father. I could tell he had a sense things were about to change dramatically in his life, kids always know… no matter how young. His behavior reflected this conflict and was all over the map. It hurt to watch. But I couldn’t take my eyes off him for a second, it would be the last time I would see him in God knows how long.

I started the walk back to my apartment, after blowing kisses to a tinted window bus, it pulled away from the curb leaving only diesel fumes. The crush came. My heart fell out, my knees went down, my breath left. A hurt so debilitating I thought I would die. Death would have been preferable at that moment. A gutteral sound came from somewhere, “NOOOOOOOO!”

I don’t know how long I clung to the sidewalk. Eventually I knelt against a retaining wall. Regained only enough consciousness to recognize the pain of my broken heart. “Why God why? He’s not even my child! If this is what it feels like to love your kids, I don’t want any!!”

I swear, I said it. Out loud. I immediately knew, I’d said something bad. Very bad. It’s really the last time I remember being Mad at God. So I said it again. A heart breaks but once, but as I’m finding, the pain can return.

Tonight, as I hugged Travis goodbye, I was reminded he’d be leaving soon. Only God knows when I’ll see him again. Just like 12 years earlier, that hurt raised up through my throat and reminded me that it is still there. Unlike 12 years ago, I pulled over, sobbed quietly in the privacy of my car (rather than on the streets of Portland!) and recovered immediately when he texted me twice in 30 seconds. I love this kid! He is a good egg.

Who da thunk it?.. My heart can still be broken.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Silent phase…

Those that know me might characterize me as being somewhat of a private person. (That probably isn’t the best word, but lets go with it.) This hit home this week. I found an Axum Ethiopian Cross pendant on my doorstep. A
gift from a friend. She had clearly done a lot research to find such a meaningful gift. (Thanks Susan!). After admiring it, I immediately got sick thinking the “what ifs” of the home-study realizing that it’s not just me going through this. I’ve drug a lot of people into this tricky terrain.
There is nothing private, intimate or easy about the “process” of adoption. As I mentioned in the previous post.
It’s not like I would have kept my family building a secret, I simply would prefer to have been able to acclimate and steady myself to feel somewhat comfortable before guiding people I care about into this maze of a process. Truly, I would have enjoyed the secret time of adjustment and anticipation, but mostly, it’s because I care about my friends & family and do not want to cause disappointment and anxiety as the many possible hurdles will undoubtedly happen.
What this anxiety, of my own, has produced is that I have not talked to many people in my family about this adventure. Why? Lets relate back to “Ashlee’s Advice” and correlate this to a pregnancy stage- you don’t tell people you are pregnant until after the 1st trimester. The first trimester would correlate to the 2-3 month process of a home-study process. So, it is not a “secret”… but it isn’t exactly public knowledge either. (yes, I understand the contradiction of that statement and publishing it on the web!)

Look, like I said, I’m about a little more private than some people, but on the other hand, there is no way someone starts this journey without being excited and scared all at the same time. If you are close to the person adopting, be curious, ask questions and respect privacy and time if you sense they need it...
I’m finding people are afraid of being nosy. Maybe this comes from some antiquated notion of adoption being some dubious secret. I dunno.
As far as my own friends and family, whether I’ve talked you specifically about this or you know because well, every one knows everything… If you have questions, concerns, ideas or you’re just excited; feel free to express. I’m a single woman who is definatly going to count on all of you… “it takes a village…” Please don’t infer my lack of confiding as a “secret” I’m just playing the traditional role of trying to get past the stage where “anything can go wrong”.
Love & Huggs… Shannon

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Following in the footsteps….

I met a young lady recently who preparing to bring her son home from Ethiopia, made a very perceptive suggestion.

"You have to correlate every step of the adoption process to the pregnancy process. Everyone knows what to be excited about and concerned about during pregnancy, but they have NO IDEA during an adoption."

I can not begin to express how prophetic that sounded. (Thanks Ash!)

After I decided to finally start building my family, the first step... I'm talking THE VERY FIRST REAL STEP... was to ask friends (not even family) to write a recommendation letter that has very specific criteria. This is not just some easy to write employment recommendation... this is serious stuff! It is very personal and hard, to ask people you care about to become emotionally invested in whether or not you will have a family. It seems like too much to ask so soon.

Lets take Ashlee's advise and relate this to getting pregnant: Can you imagine, before trying to get pregnant, you had to ask friends to literally give their blessing, IN WRITING and have it NOTARIZED, before you could "venture" further? It's not just friends mind you: I had to get documented blessings from my doctor, insurance company and soon from the US Government.

Currently, my home-study paperwork is complete and received by MAPS. I should be notified soon who will be my assigned social worker. Then the social worker will take 2-4 months (pray for 2) to complete my home-study. For those of you trying to relate: I've made the appointment with the OBGYN office to confirm pregnancy, but haven't even been in to pee in the cup yet. That is how early we are in this.

Keep fingers crossed and prayers flying!