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