Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Brave

I'm blogging on the run! But here are just a few quickies. Yesterday I took the girls to the main HR office to get them on my insurance. This office takes care of 10,000 full time employees, so they did not know me personally. The girls LOVE to ride in the 'machine'...and feel the need to take everything that they can with them, whenever we do!

We are loaded down with clothes, stuff, food, toys. Little Miss Pistol did not want her picture taken. She did put her braids in ponys for the excursion though. At the HR office, the woman was making a big fuss. She is clearly a woman that means well, but she is the type that often says the wrong thing. She was trying to talk to the girls and looked shocked when I said they don't speak English...much. This was just after she made a copy of their residence stamp on their passport. Which she did not believe was sufficient for documents. She wanted court papers. I told her she did not want my Haitian court papers, and that was all I had. LOL. She kept telling everyone that walked in that "these girls just got to America!". Finally, I was bent over a form, and we were almost done and she said "you are so brave for doing this". I kept my head bent over and did not say anything, but face face was so flushed in anger. But I knew she did not know any better. She may have gotten my vibe because then she said "And you are so blessed". To which I said, 'thank you, I agree'.




Then we went to the park. All the stuff had to go with us. I figure they will eventually outgrow this when they realize their stuff is not going away, they are not going away, more stuff will be coming, etc. Life in an orphanage must be tough. They are the brave ones, not me.


They met a sister and brother the same age and size as them at the park, and really hit it off. It was really cute. The little boy was crestfallen when we had to leave. "Am I going to see you again?" he wanted to know. "Because I really want to see you again!" Their nanny goes to UGA and she got my email, so we may be able to hook them up in the future.


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Monday, April 27, 2009

Gotcha Day






April 26, 2009

There is so much I want to write about concerning this trip. As some of you already know, I like to write about Haiti. Part of that is because I never want to forget it. Part of it is because after 4 trips in less than 2 years, it still blows my mind. But I will save those ramblings for another post (or two...or more...whatever it takes)

Let me just say this. These girls were so ready! I'm sure they had no real idea of what to expect. But they were up at 5 o'clock on Sunday morning packing, and they had us packed by 6am. I had no idea where it all was, but it was all packed! The plane was not scheduled to leave till 12:15 so that left alot of time to kill. I don't think they understood that...I think they thought, we pack, we dress, we eat, we go. I killed as much time as possible and we still went to the airport 3 hours early.


Restless & Ready To Go
They passed the immigration requirements with flying colors. With older children, the officers will ask them questions, such as 'who is your Mama?' W. never missed a beat. "My maman is right here" pointing at me. (In Creole, but I caught it all)
This really touched and amazed me. First of all because it was validating, but secondly because her Hatian 'maman' endured a 5 hour car ride the day before to come to say her final good-bye. While there is no doubt they know who she is, and they love her very very much,, they also know I am their mama and we belong together now.
That is something that I will have to write about in another post, so stay tuned if you can stand it.
We waited quite awhile for our flight, but the girls were patient and good. Finally, it was time to board.

On The Verge

We were seated in the last row. If you know me, you know this is not my favorite seating arrangement. The tail gets alot of action, so to speak. It was a cloudy day, and turbulent going out. All the adults, including me, we're sitting, silently enduring the motion, hoping the pilot had it all under control, and that we were not about to die. The girls, on the other hand, laughed and giggled and tee-hee-ed the whole way out. They were so excited about riding on that plane!

Good-bye Ayiati

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To Be Continued....

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Late To The Party

Since the fact that I am adopting is out in the open now, I'm getting some *negative* comments that many of you may have received early on. Here was the one I got today (not directly, of course. Comments behind my back. From my neighbor. Don't ya love it?) This person said "I don't believe she should be adopting from another country. I believe Americans should only adopt Americans."

Of all the negative stereotypes, (and in a trans-racial international adoption, there is opportunity for many) I think this one makes me the most angry. I've heard it already, and I've been trying to prepare myself because I know this is a common sentiment.

On the surface, it seems somewhat reasonable. But that is the problem. Folks make these statements and they are only brushing the surface. Most of them don't have a clue about adoption, domestic or international. And they have no intention of finding out any more about it.

If ever I was to be involved in a righteous cause, it would be for Adoption Reform in the US. It is an extremely convoluted, political, bureaucratic problem that makes a Rubik's cube look simple. It infuriates me. It infuriates me because so many of the children in the system have been recycled thru said system sometimes many times over. Why? Because the parents have the ultimate rights, not the kids, no matter how unfit or abusive the biological parents are. Sometimes parents get it together and everyone wins. But for the kids that are out there readily available for adoption, this has not generally been the case. (I assume everyone knows that true orphans are a rarity in state cases.) Sure, the state can and will take kids away that are being abused. In fact, all it takes is an anonymous call from ANYBODY in the state of Georgia, alleging abuse, and the parent will be investigated. The state can and will take kids away if they find or perceive abuse. They will also bend over backwards to get these kids back to parents, and sometimes this is a poor choice. If it is indeed a dysfunctional/abusive situation, the cycle of abuse or neglect starts again, and the cycle of the state taking away and giving back continues. The kids cycle in and out of foster care. When finally they are relinquished/taken away, the child(ren) has/have serious issues, naturally. (I'm giving a very short and general synopsis for the sake of expediency) I have seen and heard of failed adoptions, over and over, where the foster parent is on the verge of a legal adoption for a child, and the parent changes their mind at the very last minute, and the child is relinquished back to the parent by the state, in the hope for change, which rarely comes. Often when the child is finally relinquished or taken away, they are older, even teen-agers and these children, as in international cases, are harder to adopt. Their profiles usually state which pschyactric(sic) drugs they are on and/or which therapies must be continued, and what kind of families they should be adopted into. ( A two parent family, or they should be the youngest, or they require constant supervision---euphemism for a SAHM) Sometimes they are part of a sibling group which complicates the matter even further.

---And yes, I realize that my adopted children may need therapy and/or drugs at some point. As is possible with my bio kids. If they need it, they will get it. I don't know alot about my adopted children's history, or how it has affected them. Whatever it is, we will deal with it appropriately---

I don't know all the answers. But I don't think 'the system' does either. It has only been 15 short years since Congress passed a law basically stating that race was not the most important factor in choosing adoptive parents. This happened because 'the system' believed to the point of obsession (and the law was on their side) that the race of the adoptive child had to match the race of the adoptive parent. Foster children on the verge of adoption were being torn from the only homes they'd ever known be placed with a parent/family that matched their race.

I hope our system is improving, but it's hard to say. Many good people get out of it because of the burn-out factor. My social worker on this adoption was one of them.

In fact there are thousands of children in the US that need homes. The statistics say between 1/2 to 3/4 of a million. My heart breaks for them. But as the head of my household, I understood what my financial and emotional limitations were, and that I did not have what it takes to go down this road. I did not have the resources. For the people that do; they have my utmost admiration.

And I am not even talking about adopting an infant, which is a whole other realm.

This is the face of adoption in the US. In the most general of terms.

Most people that make that blanket statement, about adopting domestically, don't know any of this.

Not that international adoption is a piece of cake. I cringe when non adopters state with some kind of (imagined) authority that people adopt abroad because it is easier. It's not, it's just different.

For the record, I adopted internationally because that is what I was led to do. If you have read my story, you will know that I was led directly to Haiti, almost against my will, time and time and time again. I finally succumbed to my calling and I could not be happier.

Why? Because that's where my children are, apparently.

That God. What a multi-tasker! Along the way I have met so many friends from all over the world. While I have never been particularly xenophobic, it has ensured that I never will be. But I have only one question for Americans that think we should only adopt other Americans.

How do you think God looks at this?

If you don't believe in God, or don't believe that God cares enough about us to care, I will put it another way. Why do you think children abroad less are deserving than those in our own country?

I am not thin skinned, but ignorance mixed with arrogance gets on my nerves. I also know I'm preaching to the choir, since my neighbor will not be reading my blog. Oh how I wish she and other folks like her cared enough to be truly informed.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Awwww.....

I received an email today from a woman that visited the creche last week. She met my older daughter, and here is what she had to say:

"What happened in fact is that I was waiting for M at ***. We had an appointment. M. was very late, and nobody seemed to know that we had an appointment, so I just sat there with my driver (Haitian) and we started to talk with the little ones who were not at school. Then M showed up and while she was taking care of some urgent issues, W. came right up to me (they had come in together, just back from the embassy as M. told me later) and she gave me a kiss and smiled. So I asked her in creole what her name was and she told me W******. So because I read the forum I knew she was your kid. So there she was, standing right in front of me (I was sitting in the waiting room) and she was holding both of my hands and she asked me if I knew her mother. I asked who her mom was, and she said "Marta. Do you know her ?" and she had those stars in her eyes! It was very difficult for me to explain that I didn't know you personnally but I knew who you were, and I was soooo sorry to disappoint her by saying that I didn't know you first-hand. But she understood quite well, and she then said that you were going to pick her up and take her "lotbodlo" (abroad) and she was so happy about that. So I asked her if she knew which country she was going to, and I named the USA, France and Canada and she said USA with no hesitation, she knew exactly where she was going, and was just so, so, so mature about it all. I asked if she knew when she was going and she said no, it all depends on the paperwork, and it seemed ok with her. She insisted to know how you were, if I had anyway of knowing, and I said "I know she is well." And then as she was looking deep into my eyes I said : "You must love her a whole lot, don't you ?" and you should have seen that look she had : her eyes were shining, she was all smiles, I could tell this little girl really loves you and you are her mother, it was just so clear. A gift, really. I feel priviledged to have had that talk with her, it was very inspiring. And for me who wants to adopt 2 older kids, it just confirmed that I am doing the right thing.

On another note, I also asked her if she had siblings, as I seemed to remember that she had a sister at ***, but I wasn't 100% sure. And believe it or not, she started naming a whole lot of people, I stopped counting at perhaps 8 or 9, and M. arrived right at that moment and asked her: those are all your brothers and sisters ? And she laughed deliciously and said "yes, but only L and I are going lotbodlo with Marta." That's about it. I was deeply touched by this child. You are very lucky. "

Isn't that just the sweetest thing? I hope she won't mind I posted that, I just had to!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

We Have Visas!

We have Visas! The director of the creche emailed me this afternoon with this exciting news! I have felt it was coming, and possibly even today, and I have been making my plan in the midst of this madness.

It's madness because at work we are in the process of opening 4 other restaurant concepts on June 1st. I have just had to laugh at the irony of the adoption process coming to the end at this time. But because of the intensity of the project and my involvement in it, I have to finish up the rest of the week at work before I can go on Family Leave. I'm already planned out. So I will be traveling after that. Coincidentally the girls asked M to ask me if I could give them enough time to go back to the other creche to say good-bye to their friends (a 4 hour drive) so it works out for everyone. I have a feeling they sorta got whisked out of there in a whirlwind when they came to PAP last week.

I am working late tonight, but I had to stop in with this news. OMG I am so happy! And I have so much to do!!!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Random Encounters


Friday night we had major storms and tornadic activity in North Georgia. Many storms, little pockets (they call them 'cells') to watch. A few were pointed right at me, but they missed me by a mile. Literally. Which is good. When faced with the possibility of staring down a funnel cloud, 'missed me by a mile' does not seem very comforting, and it's really not. But when you're being a smart aleck, playing some kind of athletic game, and you say that, it means something completely different. Semantics are funny like that.

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I have not been extremely open to the general public about my adoption. I knew it would be a long difficult process, interspersed with joy, which I chose to share with a few people close to me---- and the world wide web. (the www is the best place to hide that kind of secret. The only people interested in adoption blogs are other adopters. Most other people are not going to read this stuff unless it is of personal interest to them) I work in a very political environment and I instinctively knew this would be negative fodder that some might try to use against me if I were public about it. I knew that enduring this journey would be difficult enough. To have to fight gossip and ridicule in a closed environment would have been debilitating. And so that was much of my reasoning behind my quiet decision. I decided to choose support.

However, now is the time to start talking, at least to the ones that need to know. So I called up our HR director to ask her about some employee issues. Then I laid the FMLA bomb on her and the reason for it.

This person is my colleague, and someone I have relied on many, many times. We have a relationship. She is one of those 60 year old women that look like she might be about 48. She has never been married, does not have children. Her shock was forthright.

"Do you know what you are doing???"

Duh.

I wanted to print out all of Mrs. K's Adoption Etiquette posts and send them to her in her ivory tower.

One thing that is really true about these kind of reactions is that people will basically project their own insecurities onto the situation, and I am going to try to remember I said that when I get irritated.

She went on to say that she could not even make a decision to adopt a dog much less a person. She could barely take care of herself as it was!

I said, "yeah, it's a big decision, kinda of like getting married"

She said "oh no, I could handle getting married!"

Really. That was my thought at that point, but I did not say it. I like this person. She is a down-to earth and honest woman. Although obviously naive about marriage. So I did not want to offend her, even tho she was offending me, without meaning to.

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I went to see my accountant today. She finished my taxes. I pay her, because she is alot better at this than I am. I remembered I had talked to her about adoption 2 years ago at tax time when I was considering it as a possibility. (Actually, I was pretty obsessed with the idea) She was pretty receptive at that time, was exploring all the tax opportunities, as only an accountant would! When I told her today that I had actually gone forward she freaked out. At least initially. She just could not wrap her head around the idea of spending that much money for the purpose of adoption. But I told her, because I wanted to make sure I was making all the right moves in the coming year in order to recoup some of it. She was stuck on shock. She is also a very nice person, and she was just trying to wrap her head around it. It was just too convoluted for her. At the end I showed her pictures of the girls, and that seemed to ease her a little. I realized once again, I don't think like other people. Sigh. Oh well!

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Saturday we had a special event and I had to work. It was very successful and my boss was happy. I was having lunch with her in the restaurant (I manage) when I noticed a family with

2 white parents and two black boys about age 5 or 6 (twins?). S knows what is going on with my adoption, and actually was in on it from the beginning and wrote a reference letter for my home study. Long before she was my boss. Anyway, when I saw that family, I said "there goes a family like mine. I don't see too much of that around here" She just kind of nodded her head in acknowledgement. I asked her if she knew of any adoption groups that were local. I told her I knew they existed, I just had not been able to find them. The reason I asked her this was because she and her husband had seriously considered adoption at one point, and had done much of the preliminary work. I knew she had connections. She started talking about her past adoption plans, and it made me sad because I realized emotionally, she still wants to. But she is working this from her logical mind. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Logic keeps us from doing really stupid things. But it also keeps us sometimes from our dreams.

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Last month one of my long lost best friends found me on Facebook.

(I was so happy, and at some point I will do a post just about her and I. And she will like it because she does actually read my blog, lol) But here is what the touch point was. I had said publicly on that forum that I was frustrated with fingerprints and the Atlanta office. That is all. She wrote me and asked me if I was adopting. And if I was, she could relate. Mind you I had heard from this person maybe once in 20 years. She had been in Boston all that time, living her life. I wrote her back and told her how smart she was and demanded she tell me her story! Turns out she had adopted an Armenian baby 6 years ago. (She already had bio twin boys) N is a year or so older than I am, so it fell into place then, because I noted her daughter was very young which might be considered unusual. Unless of course you are an adoptive mom. She sent me this message 2 days ago, after hearing our approval news, in her best Bostonian accent:

"MAHTAH!!!

I just read your blog, so happy for you!


Happy Birthday, Happy Easter, God has given you such a gift...


You are so truly blessed,


you inspire me.


xo


N"

Of all (not really that many) my lifelong/longtime friends, I am joyful that I share this bond with her. It's truly amazing to me. I have had people that I have been VERY close to in the past drop me like a rock solely because of this adoption. I'm thinking specifically of one woman and one man. These were not casual encounters. I'm not saying it didn't hurt, but I never thought for a minute I should do differently. The wrong people slough off. It can be discouraging, it can be painful. It will likely even happen again. But then here come these random encounters with the enlightened, the people that get it, if even for a minute. They give me a hand up, and sometimes I need this on my singular journey. They inspire me.

As for the initially shocked and appalled, perhaps in time they will be converted. Or not. Some people just don't get it.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

On The Third Day



As an adult, this has become my favorite holiday. Not because of the Easter eggs or the little kids in all their finery, or even the celebration of spring...although those things are VERY nice. It is my favorite because we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the greatest gift ever given to mankind.

I know this turns some of you off. Believe me, I understand that. I have been 360 degrees on this issue and it has been a long and colorful journey, which is by no means over. The journey has brought me to this place, and I am infinitely greatful for that. And tomorrow, we celebrate.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Big News

Some of you know about this already, but it's time to post it to the world. Our I600 was approved and we are in the process of obtaining visas for the girls! They still needed their medicals, and the O director has brought them to the creche in Port-au-Prince, where they are just waiting! I had to Fed Ex a missing document today, and with the holiday, it won't arrive until Monday and as far as I know, at that point it's just a waiting game. They are coming home, and soon!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Milestone




I should probably have alot to say. But I really don't.






Yep, it's here. Today is the day. I always thought once you made 50 years, you would know more, be a wise sage. But as I approached this birthday, here is what I know.





1.) Your appearance matters



2.) Your appearance is not the most important thing about you. Never was. Never will be





HA! But I bet you already knew that!



It's easier at 35 to say 'looks don't matter', but in your mid-forties, you begin to realize that's not true. They are a commodity and they don't last forever. And it's OK to admit that, even embrace it, because hopefully, at that point you will work to keep what you have. It would be easier to let go. But the women that have done that don't seem happy to me. I think it's because if you let yourself "go" you let everything go, mentally and physically. And that makes it so much harder to stay spiritually fit.



So...while I don't think it's healthy to be obsessed with it all, I don't think it's healthy to let it all go either. And at 50 you realize it is all about health. Believe me. Especially when you are facing motherhood again at this age! It's not an easy tight rope to walk. Our society promotes a shallow culture that devalues women, and especially 'old' women. I don't buy it. I walk my own way. I look at others that are doing the same. I might not agree with everything they do, but that's the direction I look to.





This gal was born in 1959, and she's been enormously successful!





Ditto for this one, and she has 8 kids! She has also conquered a weight problem, and I need to do that too.

OK, I realize that having the plastic surgeon option is an unfair advantage, but still.....



Currently the most controversial 50 year old woman on the planet. In many ways, she is not my hero. But in other ways, she is. As an adoptive mom, my heart breaks for her right now and I wish her the best. Because I do believe that despite the public persona, she is a dedicated mom.

I wasn't going to post about this today. But then I remembered, it's all about keeping it real. It's not about a magic number. It's about being grateful for another day and doing your best to live a life you can be proud of.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

My Old Friend


Today was a hard day for me. I had to send my best friend to heaven.

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I have been knowing for awhile now the time was getting near. 12 years old and some bad health problems. Too many to realistically treat, so it has been a waiting game and she had a good run. The arthritis=bad. The cancer=very bad. The loss of bladder control=the worst (for me, anyway) I have practically worn out my Little Green Machine. It's been hard to see her in pain but until recently she's had more good days than bad. With the girl's imminent homecoming I knew I was going to have to do the grown up thing, and soon, but I can tell you I did not feel very grown up making that phone call since I bawled all the way thru it. I couldn't even make the appointment. That was day before yesterday. Yesterday morning as I was leaving for work, Dina was lying down in the hall, her ear all the way to the floor. She had that thousand mile stare, but her eyes were clouded in pain, and she was whimpering. She has always been a talker, especially when she was a puppy. This time was different; she was trying to talk but it just came out in her breathing and it was whimpering. With every breath. When I got to work I called back and made the appointment. I cried the whole time. But I knew when I got off the phone, and the 24 hours till her appointment that I was doing the right thing. And that fact is the only thing that got me thru it.

Today she woke up and was having a pretty good day, as you can see from the picture. And I'm glad that on her last day here, she was feeling pretty good. Those days have become less and less. I hugged and told her what a good dog she was and I thanked her. I told her I would see her in heaven. That is, if I make it; I have no doubts about her. And yes, I cried some more.

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Someday I might tell you the stories of how she found all the Easter Eggs at the church Easter Egg Hunt (many years ago) and stole them from the little kids, or how she would show off my panties to my new beau from the dirty clothes hamper or about the time I wished for one of those Tupperware batter bowls like my mother had and she showed up with one, no doubt after ravaging some neighbor's garage? garbage? kitchen? I was too embarrassed to go around and find out. (But at least I had my batter bowl...and I still do) Although I have been rich in dog companions the last several years, she was my only one for our first 9 years together. We literally walked many many miles together. She was beautiful, and she was love. She was great. And today was a hard day.



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