February 29, 2008

Greetings from Ethiopia!

Posted in All ahead to adoption at 2:36 am by Erin

Just a quick note–we are here, it is amazing.  We got in late last night and settled into the guesthouse.  There are 8 other families adopting right now, and they are all very nice.  The children who are coming home range in ages from 6 months to 3 1/2 years old.  One other couple brought their 15 year old son, and one woman is adopting as a single mother and brought her friend.

This morning, we met K!  I was on pins and needles the whole morning until then.  When they took us into his room, I was OK at first.  I knelt by him and just gave him a minute to get used to me.  Then his nanny told me that I could pick him up.  I reached out for him and he reached up for me, and I just lost it.  I sobbed on him for a few minutes until I could settle down, just hugging and kissing him.  He is the sweetest little boy ever!  I gave him to J a few minutes later and within 10 minutes, K was sound asleep on J’s chest.  22 lbs of sleeping baby gets heavy though, so I sat on the floor and held him while he slept.  We brought him outside to visit with the other families, all of whom had their kids out there.  He’s so cute–he woke up and walked holding our hands.

He and P are still a little wary of each other.  P is happy but shy, as if he’s not quite sure what to do with K.  K is intrigued by P, but doesn’t quite know what to make of him.

I’ve got to go, but we are amazed and enthralled that this precious child is being given to our family.

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February 26, 2008

Of course we’re bringing the laptop!

Posted in All ahead to adoption at 7:18 pm by Erin

When we leave our house in…oh, about 15 hours…the laptop will absolutely be with us.  I can’t promise much in the way of posting since the guest house has dial-up that is shared with all of the families, the phone, and the office, but I will try to write posts in Word and then upload them quickly when I get a chance.  Pictures will probably have to wait until we come back.

I’m feeling surprisingly calm right now.  I’m not nervous about meeting K.  We got a huge social report on him, with wonderful photos (a ton of them!), information about how he eats, sleeps, plays, etc.  It is written by his nannies and since at this point everything is legal and finalized, they are very honest.  They’re very honest in a very nice way, though!  For example, K is apparently a really slow eater (as is P, so we’ll just have long mealtimes around here) and it was described as "requiring his nannies to have lots of patience."  I love it.  He’s also described as a child who rarely cries, and who is easily calmed and/or distracted when he does.  He’s affectionate and loves hugs.  And cars.

I’m still nervous about meeting K’s birthmother, but very happy that we’ll have the opportunity.  I’m going to ask her as much as I can.  Friends of ours asked their son’s birthmother to write him a letter for the future, and I would love to do that as well if she’s willing.

J and I went on a date tonight, thanks to my wonderful friend Christy, who stepped in at the last minute when our plans for P to go to a friend’s house were derailed by illness (at the other house–we’re all healthy for now, at least).  We went to a movie and got a bite to eat afterwards.  It was so nice to have a break from the stress of everything we’ve been doing, which included a lot of snippy words directed at each other, and enjoy each other’s company on the last day that we were at home before we become a family of four.

A family of four.  I can’t believe it.  It is really going to happen.

February 21, 2008

The fun of motherhood

Posted in The musings of Erin at 7:40 pm by Erin

Worry is just a part of it, but you are definitely helping me to feel better. 

Tonight, we went to dinner at an Italian restaurant.  P got the kid’s pizza, which he requested be topped with black olives.  They put on what appeared to be 1/2 a can, which he promptly picked off and guzzled down.  He also ate one full piece of pizza and the cheese off another piece.  We got home pretty late, read some Hop on Pop together, and got him straight into bed.

An hour later, he came downstairs with his shirt off and holding the top of his favorite pajamas, which were not the ones he was wearing when he went to bed.  I asked him why his shirt was off and he said it was dirty, and could I help him put on his other shirt?  I started to do so when I got a whiff of him and thought "Gee, it doesn’t smell like that pizza sat particularly well with P."

Ugh.

Off we went back upstairs, upon which it was discovered that my nose was right, and the black olives and cheese had vacated their previous premesis and taken up new lodging–on both pillows, the bed, the sheets, the comforter, the blanket, a throw pillow, and the top of the aforementioned pajamas.

Ugh again.

J gave P a bath, as he has a weaker stomach than I for things like that  (yay, I feel so lucky to have a strong stomach).  I cleaned up.  P says his stomach is feeling better and is now sleeping in our bed with his stuffed horse until his room airs out. 

J and I are really hoping that it is just something that he ate.  I shudder to think what’s going to happen if all three of us come down with a stomach bug right now.

February 19, 2008

Let the wild terror begin!

Posted in All ahead to adoption at 6:52 pm by Erin

Dear G-d, what are we doing?

I wondered the same thing almost right after I got a positive HPT with P.  The absolute, blank-minded terror of bringing a child into our family for whom we will be 100% responsible, and who is completely and 100% dependent on us.  Maybe K is a little older than P was when he was born but in my mind, that just makes it even more scary.

I’m sure they’re "typical" new adoptive-mom-to-be fears, but I’ve never had them before and so knowing that I’m "typical" means nothing at all.  I had different fears before P was born.  These are completely new to me.  I love P with so much of every fiber of my being, how can there possibly be the same amount for K?  And yet I already love him so much and I am terrified of him rejecting me.  I know it happens frequently, and I have no idea how to deal with it.  I’ve read about it and I have strategies for what to do physically, but those aren’t helping me emotionally.  P has always been a cuddly child, very affectionate.  That’s the kind of family we have–we play and we wrestle around on the bed with lots of tickling and giggling, and we cuddle while reading stories and after baths.  What if K doesn’t want to be affectionate with me?  What if he isn’t with J and only wants me?  What if he won’t go to either of us?  Will he refuse to let me pick him up?

And what if he refuses to have anything to do with P?  We’ve tried to remind P that K is little, that he’s going to be scared and frightened and that he might not like us right away.  P seems to understand, but he is also really excited and I’m worried about how he’s going to feel if K rejects him.

I’ve read Toddler Adoption: The Weaver’s Craft several times since we started this process, and I’m re-reading it now with an eye towards the specifics of a young toddler (12-18 months).  As it has every time I read it, it scares me boneless.  It talks about all of the issues relevant towards bringing home a toddler, and it’s very heavily focused on the problems.  That’s not to say that it says it’s a horrible idea to adopt a toddler; rather, it makes a point of not taking the sunshine-and-roses view of it and tries to present realistic expectations.  It talks about how to deal with the issues that go along with toddler adoption, and I need to know those things.

One of the things I read tonight was how important it is to be the complete caretaker for your child until they are firmly bonded to you, and I won’t be able to do that.  We get back on a Friday and I have to work on Monday afternoon.  Am I completely ruining his life by putting him in daycare right after we get home?  I know it’s only 2 1/2 days a week–Monday afternoons, Tuesday from 10-5:30, and Thursday from 10-5.  I know he’ll be with us 100% of the other 4 1/2 days a week, even sleeping with us if he likes, and I feel like two months of 4 1/2 days a week is still better than him being in the care center in Ethiopia for 7 days a week for two more months.  But is it completely killing our chances of bonding?  I am absolutely sure that I’m delaying it.  I’m hoping the 3 months off over the summer will give us a good start on bonding, but I just don’t know.

I’m scared about becoming a conspicuous family, one that is identified as an adoptive family on sight.  It is something that we thought through and talked about extensively, that we’ve researched and talked about how to deal with it.  I’m just worried about freezing up or saying the wrong thing.  It’s taken me a lot of practice to deal with the "Why are you adopting" question properly, but I had a buffer there because there wasn’t yet a small child who was going to depend on my answer.  From this point on, I’ll likely have a little boy who will be paying attention to every word that comes out of my mouth, and those words are going to shape how he feels about our family and adoption.

I worry about overcompensating for not getting to spend his first 15 months with him, and I worry that the fact that I didn’t get to spend his first 15 months with him doesn’t bother me much (mainly because he was with his birthmother for 11 of those and I could never wish those away from either of them).  I worry that I’ll overcompensate with P, who’s been an only child for more than 4 years when we never intended him to be an only child for more than 3.  I worry that I won’t have enough one-on-one time with either of them, and I worry that I won’t know how to divide my time properly when I have the summer with both of them.

And because I’m inherently selfish, I worry about the lack of me time.  I’ve always needed it.  I don’t do well without it–I snap and fight and get migraines and stress extensively.  Right now I have lots of it, because P is in school everyday and I have my Wednesdays and Fridays to get some–I work a lot those days, but I can also take a break and read a book for an hour if I need to.  Once we’re home, I’ll spend that time with K.  I’m excited about getting that special one-on-one time with him but I’m terrified about losing that me time.  I’m hoping that he’ll nap in the afternoons and I’ll be smart enough to use that time for me time.  I’ve gotten better about putting "people before things" than I was when P was a baby, and I have to remember that I’m one of those "people" and that if I need that me time, that’s more important than folding the laundry.

I’ve been trying to focus on the travel details–packing lists, donations, the meeting with K’s mother (the trip has resumed, thank goodness, and we are hoping she will want to meet us)–in order to stop thinking about all the things that happen when we get home.  Honestly, the packing list isn’t what’s keeping me up at night…

February 18, 2008

How about that?

Posted in All ahead to adoption at 8:57 am by Erin

Strangely, I’ve been rather busy lately.  Apparently, two weeks notice to go and pick up a second son + work (normal + the whole cheating issue) + family + outside activities = very little downtime.  Who knew?

I think I need a list for everything now.  I mean everything.  Take today, for example.  I had to be in early to deal with the second of two students who are being charged with academic dishonesty for passing on test questions; normally, I don’t get in until around noon on Mondays.  As I was driving to work this morning, I heard a traffic report saying that traffic was lighter than normal due to the President’s Day holiday.

Well, crap.  P doesn’t have school on President’s Day.  J and I had figured that I would have him in the morning and then J would have him in the afternoon (ah, the beauty of flexible schedules, at least J’s–mine is flexible when I choose it, but set in stone after that point).  Mind you, that all hinged on at least one of us remembering that this morning.  Didn’t happen.  I eventually got in touch with J as he was on the way to school with P, and he said that he’s fine with just running to work to get his laptop so he can work at home, and that I should stick around here and get extra work done.  SOLD!  But that’s the kind of thing I’m forgetting right now.

I feel flighty, like I can’t hold onto a thought.  It also seems surreal–how could this finally be happening?  It can’t possibly be really happening.  It’s been such a long, long wait for this little boy–years of waiting, although we didn’t know what or who we were waiting for at first.  And next week I will be meeting him.  I can’t even picture that meeting.  It just seems like a dream.

February 14, 2008

A tough day (nothing to do with the adoption)

Posted in The musings of Erin at 2:45 pm by Erin

I just need to get this out.  I teach a class that is part of a professional degree program (similar to a nursing program).  These students graduate after taking the classes and doing the clinical work, and then they take national board exams and go into practice.  I taught the second year students in the fall semester and have the first year students right now; normally, I will only have the first year students in the spring but the second years’ had not had the class yet.

Anyway, in this department we’re told that tests are not allowed to be kept by the students so that we can reuse questions–it can be next-to-impossible to ask a question about a given subject in more than one way.  In the fall, I allowed my students to hold onto their tests through the class period and give them back at the end.  They were also allowed to come up to my office and sit in the conference room, and make notes about what they had gotten wrong.  They were specifically and repeatedly told that they were not allowed to write down the questions themselves, but could write down the subject of the question so they could study it.

No doubt about it, this is a difficult class…not that I’m a particularly easy instructor, but this one is tough.  It’s also essential for the board exam and I’ve heard that my fall students got all the questions right in this subject on the practice exam.  No one’s going to fail boards because I didn’t teach them the info!

Last week, I gave my first-year students their first test of the semester.  Later that afternoon, I received an e-mail from another faculty member of the department.  She is on a distribution list for the students that they clearly don’t realize that she is on.  One member of the class sent out a forward to everyone and apologized for not sending it sooner because then the students could have been more prepared for the exam.  The forward was 17 of the 50 questions on the exam, word-for-word the way they were on the fall exam.  Only a few of them had even been changed slightly for this exam.  The e-mail implied that some of the students had the information before the test, while others were receiving it for the first time (which I now know is exactly the truth).

Did any of my students come to me and tell me that they’d received this?  No.  I can understand a student getting this before the exam, using it as a study guide, and not knowing they were actual test questions until he/she took the exam (as one student has now confessed to doing).  But a student in this case should have come up immediately after the test and explained what had happened.  I know that certain students didn’t have it ahead of time and studied like crazy–if I were one of those students who received it afterwards, I would have been outraged and immediately told my instructor.  After all, how dare another student cheat their way through the class when I had studied my ass off?  But none of them told me, either.

All of the second-year students have also received this e-mail.  I would be willing to bet that few, if any, of them opened it and probably have no idea what it was.  But there are several who were deliberately passing on that information.

The department chair came in at the beginning of my class today to explain how disappointed she was in everyone.  She and I have been meeting routinely to try to figure out how to handle this, as it’s not just a single student in my class but potentially every student in both the first and second year classes.  It’s gone much higher up the administrative chain than that as well.  We’ve pretty much got it handled, but it’s just been a nightmare.

At the end of class, I discussed the test, implying that it was a student in the second-year class who’d informed me (I simply said that no one in this class told me anything about it).  I took away the curve on the test, as I told them that was a gift and I was not about to reward a class of people who lacked the integrity to do anything.  I told them that losing the professional respect of not only me but of the rest of the faculty, all of whom know about this (because if they’re doing this in my class, they’re doing it in the others), is going to be a loss they will feel.

Believe it or not, they complained less about the curve than about the loss of respect for their professional integrity.  Good.  Since then, I’ve had several students come forward to admit various roles and turn in various students. 

It’s been a week since I found out and it just makes me sick to my stomach.  I’ve been elated about the adoption and despairing about this class.  No wonder I’m often on the verge of tears–happy or otherwise.

February 12, 2008

No way. No freaking way…

Posted in All ahead to adoption at 7:17 pm by Erin

WE ARE TRAVELING AT THE END OF THE MONTH!!!!  In 16 days, I will be in Ethiopia and will be meeting my son!  I can hardly believe it! 

Ms. IU called at about 9 p.m. and the first thing she said was "I’m sorry to call so late, I’ve mixed up my time zones."  Then she told us we were confirmed in the group on the 28th and I about lost it–I started shaking and could hardly talk.

We will be leaving two weeks from tomorrow.  As P would say, when he quotes SuperWhy, "Oh my peas!"  (And I can’t wait to tell him in the morning!)  I can’t think straight.  I need to make lists of lists now.

Just a thought…

Posted in All ahead to adoption at 4:07 pm by Erin

I was checking our agency’s forum and saw that someone who cleared court on February 7th and got their birth certificate on February 8th (which is highly unusual) has been confirmed in the February 28th travel group.

Now, just wondering, but shouldn’t a family who cleared court on January 29th and got their birth certificate on February 8th have priority over the other family when it comes to travel?  Not only because said second family might have serious limitations on when they can travel, but because they received a referral and cleared court earlier than the first family (and both cleared on their first try, so that’s not an issue) and therefore should have been further up the line, so to speak?

We may still be in that travel group.  I don’t know.  But the fact that they are confirmed for that group and we’re not is REALLY weighing on me tonight.

February 11, 2008

The update is…an update

Posted in All ahead to adoption at 7:39 pm by Erin

And that’s about it.  Apparently, there are currently 10 families who are tentatively scheduled to travel on the 28th, and we’re not one of them.  But Ms. IU is (really!) working on trying to figure out a way for us to go that week.  I asked about the possibility of going and staying in a hotel if the guest house were full (which we can only afford to do if the Ethiopian Airlines buy-1-get-1-ticket sale applies to our tickets), but the agency is only given 10 Embassy times each week, so that won’t be an option.

Ms. IU feels fairly confident that something will work out, as she told both me and the program director, and hopes to have definite news by Wednesday.  I am praying very, very hard that it really does work out.

Tomorrow, I will call a travel agency and have them put a hold on tickets for us leaving on the 27th.  That way if we get good news on Wednesday, we will have them available and if not, we’re not out anything since we’ll use the agency when it is our turn to go.  I feel like I’m tempting fate dangerously by making cautiously optimistic plans, but I also feel a desperate need to do something

Some good news again!

Posted in All ahead to adoption at 9:52 am by Erin

It’s like it’s raining good news around here 😉  I talked to the director of adoption programs at our agency and he said that P would definitely be able to stay with us in the guest house.  He said that people have taken advantage in the past by trying to fit 6 or more people into a single room, and not paying any more for food and other services.  I told him we’d be perfectly happy to pay more for room/board costs for P, but he said he has a 4-year-old also and that’s not a problem, though he did appreciate it.  He said they’re going to re-write the policies to be more clear and different than they are now.  I’ll be interested to see what it says…assuming that we get it!

On the other hand, we still haven’t heard a single word about travel yet.  I understand that 10 birth certificates came in on Friday.  I have heard rumors that 1-2 of those families is traveling on 2-21 and the others are traveling on 2-28.  That would be us.  I hope.  But we haven’t heard, and I’m getting nervous.  That means we leave in 16 days.  We need to make airline reservations (and Ethiopian Airlines is having a buy-1-ticket, get-1-free sale right now, so we’d like to make those right away).  We need to arrange daycare and also need back-up plans in case K has giardia or ringworm, or something else with which they won’t necessarily let him attend right away.  J still needs another vaccination.  It feels completely overwhelming without any solid information right now!  If we had a date, I could start making plans.  As it is, I can’t do anything until we know for certain.

I’ve both called and e-mailed Ms. IU today, both times thanking her for working out the guest house arrangements with the program director and also for the rapid birth certificate processing.  I said we were really excited and were hoping to travel with the group on the 28th.  Unsurprisingly, I haven’t heard back.  So I also e-mailed another person at our agency, asking her if she had that information.  She didn’t but copied Ms. IU on the e-mail reply to let her know that I was anxiously waiting for that information.  Odd that others can get back to e-mails in less than an hour, but Ms. IU can’t manage to return a phone message or an e-mail which were left almost 4 hours ago.  Normally 4 hours wouldn’t be a problem, but there is a pretty significant time issue here!

Will keep you posted!

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