Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Please excuse the recent silence, and then please excuse the awkwardness

Our agency recently asked all families to be circumspect in what information we put out there on the internet.  I stayed silent until they could clarify exactly what information they meant.  I plan to continue blogging, but there are things I won't be able to share.  I plan on revealing a lot more once Z is home. 

We don't have Z in our arms but there is nothing that could convince us to jeopardise the child we hope will be our own.  I hope you can understand and I hope I still have interesting things to say!!!

With that said, on to the awkwardness.....

It is never easy to ask for help.  It is even harder to ask for monetary help (for me at least).  Doing so feels like we are failing.  We've had two yard sales and made moderate profits, tried to sell T shirts and not met our minimums.  We're cut back our spending and every extra penny we've made has gone towards our adoption.  But we need help.  

Please consider donating through paypal or our AdoptTogether page

Thank you to every last person who has donated thus far.  Your generosity has stunned us and we are more grateful that we can say. Every amount no matter how small helps immeasurably. 


Monday, July 1, 2013

The loss of a mother

My father sold his house and is in the midst of moving out.  We had dinner with most of the family there last night and the movers are coming on Wednesday.  I looked around at the house that he and my mother build and realize that it felt like the last thing on earth I had of her.

I laid on the floor in the room where she died and I sobbed.   She built that house; she moved walls.  She picked all the colors.  She planned out the last house she every wanted to live in.  She did not know how quickly she would die.  Mommy planned the house for grandkids and family reunions.  She planned it for old age.  She died in our home, with her family around her- just like she wanted, 30 years to soon.

The house is too big, too much for my widowed father.  I don’t even like the house itself that much to be honest.  Somehow dad moving out feels like losing her all over again.   I laid on the floor last night, right where mommy’s death bed had been and sobbed.  I remembered her voice “I love you baby girl” and “goodnight, sweet dreams, God bless you, I love you.”   I could almost hear her telling me how proud she was of our family, the family we are building, the children she has never met.  I could almost feel her stroke my hair back and whisper to me “It’ll be ok baby girl.”

My mommy is dead, buried, gone.  She cannot hold me or comfort me.  She cannot move forward with us.  I believe I will see her again- but right now that is cold cold comfort for a child who just wants her mommy.

We drove home last night in the dark to our home.  The house we are filling with memories right now and building our family in right now.  The first house C will remember and hopefully the first house Z will remember. We drove home and my grief was still bubbling over and spilling out with random tear drops in the dark.

It hit me, like when you are swimming in the ocean and a wave tumbles you into the ocean floor so hard you think you’ll never know what way is up again and might actually drown.  Z will grow up with the grief I am feeling.  It doesn’t matter if we LOVE Z more than life and how much we want to make it all better.  Z has already lost her first mom.  I will be Z’s mommy, but I cannot heal that wound.

I hope our love, our family and time will bring Z the solace and the confidence Z will need to heal herself.  Loss and grief follow you though.  My mother’s death is NOT exactly like the loss of Z’s first mother, but I hope and pray that my loss will help me be the best mommy to Z I can be.

I don’t know what it is like to be an adopted child.  I do know what it is like to grieve your mother.  Please please Lord let that help me not hinder me in raising my newest child.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Prayers and Good thoughts needed

I have some dear friends also adopting from DRC. They have gotten some hard news and need all the love and support they can get. If you're the praying type will you pray for them? If you're not the praying type will you think good thoughts? Knowing there are people out there pulling for them and their family would mean the world to them!


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Two PERFECT feet

We are not being taken for a ride folks.

Adoption is risky. All types of adoptions are risky; it seems lately that adoption from the DRC (which has always BEEN risky) is like standing on shifting sands of risk….

That does not mean that we are being taken for a ride.  Our agency African Adoption Services (formerly DRC Adoption Services) is run by phenomenal people who are ethical and working as hard as they can to ensure ethical adoptions. They are trying to keep our processing times down as short as they can within the requirements of both the US and DRC, but they have to work in the system.

I cannot discuss details –which I understand is very frustrating (it is frustrating to me too!!!) – because sharing those details could put our case and a multitude of other cases as risk.  So I can’t tell you about the little details that our agency knows that may help us in our process to adopt Z, or about the families in process right now ahead of us who are working through the morass of the changes to the DRC process.

I can tell you that DRC was and still is (at the moment) on of the fastest countries for international adoptions.  Adopting from Ethiopia would be a 2-3 year time frame, China likely longer than that.   We are still looking at 18 months-ish from start to finish. 

Last year our estimate was 6-9 months from referral to home, this year it is 9-12 months from referral to home.  Honestly it is looking like we should anticipate being at the longer end of our estimate and then we can just rejoice if it is any shorter. 

Yes, it SUCKS that Z will be cared for by others in one of the poorest countries of the world for 9-12 months after we said “Yes!” we want to adopt this child!  However we knew going in that things can change in the adoption process. We are not willing to try and push harder than the process right now allows- that is one of the things that leads to corruption and we will not be a part of adoption corruption.

So if you see on the blog that timelines have changed, if you speak to us and hear us complain about extended time frames or new procedures please know we are not being taken for a ride.  No one is cheating us out of a child and our money.  This is a messy process, a long process, and a changing process.

Things can still go wrong with Z’s case, and it would not be our Agency’s fault it would be that the court process or investigation process found that legally Z is not adoptable. Things can change more and it could take more than 12 months to get Z home.  None of that means we did anything wrong, our agency or agency’s in country staff did anything wrong.  It means that adoption is risky.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Waiting......... waiting......... waiting

There is a lot of waiting in adoption, a long lengths of time where there is nothing you can do.  When I was pregnant with Charlie there were periods where I was waiting as well, but with pregnancy at least your daily actions have a bearing on your baby.  When I was pregnant with Charlie I took my vitamins everyday, tried to exercise, stopped drinking coffee and alcohol.  I made everyday little efforts for my child.  In adoption there are points where there is NOTHING you can do.  We are at one of those points.

Right now we are waiting :-(

All the while Z is growing.  Everyday Z grows and grows, across the world our child is growing and developing without us.  We know one amazing lady is caring for Z right now.  We even know her name and have seen one picture of her.  From what other adoptive parents have said she is an amazing woman who cares for the child in her care just like her own.  I am so very grateful Z is with this woman and not languishing in an overcrowded orphanage with too little love and too little food.  It makes me hopefully that Z won’t be too far behind developmentally when Z finally comes home.  Did you know that for every 3 months a child is in institutional care they fall behind 1 month developmentally?  Hopefully the love and attention Z is getting right now will help stave that off even though Z isn’t with us, with family.

So around here we live our lives much the same as we always have.  We get up, go to work, drink my coffee and alcohol, and I don’t remember to take my vitamins more days than not.  It is too early, to fragile to tell C about his sibling, if something went wrong we couldn’t explain it to him so he doesn’t even know.  It is too early and to fragile to start decorating a room or buying clothes.  We can’t even begin to predict what size clothing Z will be in upon arrival! It is to early and to delicate to post pictures, even ones with blurred out faces.

Just about the only think I can do and convince myself is for this paper pregnancy with Z is try to train for this run in October.  Even that has been stifled this week – all three of us have a pretty bad chest cold.

So for now we wait, and wait some more.   Nothing we can do can get Z home sooner.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Book review: “King Leopold’s Ghost” by Adam Hochschild: A good read for a historical perspective on the Congo.

Please note I am NOT a frequent book reviewer and have not written a paper on a book in over 5 years.  The following is only my opinion!

“King Leopold’s Ghost” is a overwhelming and exhausting look at Congolese history.  This is not a light quick read, nor does it address current issues.  I enjoyed Hochschild’s writing style immensely.  He wove the facts presented into a fascinating whole without becoming dry.  The subject matter is what made for heavy reading that sometimes required a few days break just to escape the horror.

Thus far “King Leopold’s Ghost” is best look at the foundation for the current issues in DRC I have read.  While it starts with early accounts of European discovery of the Congo and hits most of the big points I’ve read about in other books it does skim over that part of history pretty quickly.  This book focuses (surprise, surprise) on Leopold, King of the Belgians part in Congolese history.

Hochschild does a good job of looking at Leopold’s life and his fanatical pursuit of a colony. Leopold was a master manipulator and grasping his part in the scramble for Africa and how Leopold’s maneuvering for Congo really pushed Europe into carving the continent up.

The book delves into forced labor, porterage and how the ivory and rubber trades created a slave state.  This is where the reading became difficult for me.   While the atrocities of Leopold’s reign in Congo and immediately after are far in the past reading accounts of torture, death, hopelessness, and cruelty was not easy for me.

The Rubber Terror in particular set the stage for current African socio-economic conditions. The systematic brutalization of the African people to collect wild rubber left millions dead, a dismal birth rate and tribal cultures all but dismantled. 

The timeline is integrated so the accounts from the Congo are in the same chapters as the information about the fight to remove the country from Leopold’s rule.   The details of the human rights movement associated with this time period are interesting.  The story of E. D. Morel in particular is pretty amazing. Morel was a simple clerk that deduced there was slave labor being used in the Congo just from the import/exports through the shipping company he was working for.  Morel was a cornerstone of the movement in Europe for reform in the Congo.

The last sections of the book are the most telling for me.  Hochschild discusses the state of affairs in other rubber producing areas located in central Africa.  While there was a huge human rights movement associated with the atrocities in the Congo the same terror was being inflicted by other countries for the same purposes.   He also mentions atrocities, genocides and other human rights violations in other areas of the world. 

“King Leopold’s Ghost” definitely put a context to the history of the Congo for me.


Monday, June 10, 2013

A lot has happened!!

Well now, I just about fell of the face of the planet!!

Life got a wee bit busy and I became a bad bad blogger.  Well I'm back and I have a lot to share!!

We did get out completed home study early March and sent off our i600a later that week.  We let our Agency know we were ready for a referral!!  and early April we got THE CALL.

Amy called and asked if we wanted to accept a referral for Z.  It took us about 60 seconds of talking to say YES.  Unfortunately we cannot share any information for Z's safety. There are horrible people out there who steal and traffic children, especially if they proven to be adoptable.

I can tell you that Z is GORGEOUS and we are thrilled to be growing by two perfect feet!!

Once we pass court and are legally Z's parents in the eyes of the DRC government we will be able to share some information and maybe even post a picture!

So where does that leave us?  More waiting- that's where!!    While we would LOVE to be through court quickly I am not holding my breath.

After court we file our I600 which is the US process to declare Z a close relative.  After the I600 we have our 604 investigation and then after that we can get Z's visa and travel to pick Z up.

So we still have a loooong way to go.  Our estimated travel time is Jan-April 2014.  The changes in the process since we started has moved the estimated time from referral to travel from 6-9 month to the current estimate of 9-12 months.  We are hoping and praying there are no more changes that extend the time frame further.

In the meantime we are planning on having a awesome summer :-D  We have also started some fundraising and hope to have the Run for Baby Z details ironed out by July 1st.  If you want to come to New England and run with us get in touch and let me know!!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Home Study NOT complete.

 We had hoped to have our home study in our hands at the end of January.  Alas it is not so.  B’s fingerprints were rejected and I believe that to be the very last thing we need.  Hopefully soon.   We could have gotten them taken sooner, but had a hard time finding a place that would take our fingerprints.  Our town will only taken them at certain times of the week, all when I am working!  And while we did find an alternate place to take them we’ve been pushed back by Burton’s prints being rejected.  We are just waiting for the H.S. to send in our i600a.  Our H.S. ALSO has the originals we need to get out dossier together.

Once our Dossier is together we have some decisions to make.  We can either let the lawyers and our agency (more on that below) know we are ready for a referral, or we can wait until our i600a is approved and then ask for our referral.  What’s the difference?  Time.   If we wait for the i600a then we will have all the paperwork we need through the DRC court hearings and our lawyer can just move through the process.  If we don’t wait for the i600a the lawyer can go through the first two steps of the process but must wait for our i600a to proceed to court.  So it is a gamble.  Will we be ready for court BEFORE the i600a? or will it all come together and we might have a referral earlier than we would have.  Of course there is the resources needed for each step.

We are not there, so we can’t even make the decision yet. We will see where all of it stands after our Dossier is done.

In VERY exciting news our facilitator, DRC Adoption Services, has become a licensed child placing agency!  This smoothes our process considerably and we still get to work with the two amazing women that we feel are the best chance in completing an entirely ethical adoption.

In other news we have a small committed team for running various race lengths on October 12th.  We hope more of those who have expressed interest will be committing soon as they learn more about their fall schedules.   I’ve also started quilting again.  Hopefully if I can complete this first quilt and still enjoy it I’ll be opening an Etsy store to sell them for funding.  I’ll post some pictures once I have one done.

That is about it on the adoption front over here.  Hopefully I’ll get some more reading in soon and can post some book reviews. 


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Changing the goal posts

There has been big news in DRC adoptions over the past week.  The US embassy in Kinshasa has put in place a new procedure requiring a mandatory 3-6 month wait period after I600 approval.  Many adoptive families have been so very close to traveling to pick up their little ones and had the goal posts moved 3-6 months out.  It's heart wrenching.  However, this new process was put in place to ensure ETHICAL adoptions and to stop corruption and child trafficking.  All for a great cause, so hard for those who thought they were so so close.

What does that mean for us?  We don't know yet.  B and I are NOT reconsidering DRC as the country we're adopting from, yet.  It's possible things will change in the next few months / a year and the programs will change enough we cannot move forward, but I don't think it will get there.  I don't think the program will get shut down.  I believe things will get ironed out and adoptive families will start PUSHING their agencies and lawyers to MAKE SURE everything is ethical and documented prior to getting to the 3-6 month wait.  I'm choosing to have hope that this will mean great things for DRC adoptions.

It probably means that the time from referral to brining our new child home will be longer than 6 months.  It will be more like 9-12 months, and that sucks. We will have to see what happens to our time frame once we are ready for referral - and we're at least 2-3 months from that point.

More later :-)  off to work for me.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013


K emailed today, our last state background check is IN!!!!!  We will indeed be done with our home study by the end of January!!!! Hopefully I'll be able to send our i600a  ASAP!


Monday, January 21, 2013

Last home study visit complete!!!

We had our last home study visit today.  Usually there are only two visits, but we one a third!  K had certain questions she had to get through, and guess who talked too much on visit two for her to get to everything??  That’s right, both of us!!

K has almost everything she needs!  We are just waiting on our NY police checks and then she’ll have it all.  Oh and we need to send her some photos – we’re having trouble picking 8 photos to put in our home study.  They can be sent via email so they are not a huge deal.

HOPEFULLY our home study will be complete by the end of January.  And then it is time for our i600a.  Other than the home study I have everything ready to go for that.  The only thing we need to decide is if B or I will be the main petitioner.  The main petitioner MUST travel to DRC to apply for our new child’s exit letter.  We are both planning on traveling, but things do happen. I think I am going to be the main petitioner. I feel the NEED to go to DRC and see where our child has come from.  It also makes me super nervous to think of possibly going without B.  We shall see whose name is on the form first when we send it.

I have not read another book in the past two weeks.  I am in the middle of one….. and keep falling asleep.  It has been a very busy two weeks at work and we’ve been busy at home too.

We met an amazing DRC adoptive family this Sunday.  It was awesome to meet their Congo cutie!!!  She and C played so well and it was great to make connections to other families who are DRC adoptive families.  They are starting the process of their second adoption from DRC.  We’re using the same facilitator and only live about 90-100 minutes away from each other.  Hopefully we’ll be able to make even more Congo connections in the North East as we move forward.

It has been bitter cold! And my running has been non-existent.  I need to start training for October!  It looks like I may be the only one doing a full 26.2 miles, most of the others who want to be a part of our team are interested in the half marathon.  You know what?  That is ok!!!  I’m the mama, I CAN run a marathon, I was in labor with C for 48 hours, I can run for 4 or 5 for my next baby :-D   

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Marathon, really?

Well maybe a marathon or maybe a half marathon.  B will be walking a half marathon and I will be running either a half or a full marathon to fundraise for our adoption.  I figure I labored for 48 hours with C with no medication, I can run a marathon for the next Baby Bates.

The goal is to fundraise in a way that doesn’t feel – to us- like we’re just putting our hands out and begging.  We have tightened our belts and are looking into options to increase our income, but it looks like we will need some help.  What we don’t feel comfortable with is sending out letters just asking for donations.  We know that is a legitimate option and many people have great success with it.  We feel like we should be doing something on our end.  This, of course, is not to pass judgment on any other families who take a different path.  We feel like we’re showing our dedication by participating in a half, and possibly a full marathon.

Over the holidays multiple cousins expressed interest in running with us.  I am so overwhelmed with the generosity of spirit in my family.   We’re looking into all our options to make this happen.  I have this fantasy of a 10+ person team running for our child.  My heart just melts with the support we received over the holidays.

Initially we wanted to participate in the Chosen Marathon for Adoption.  However, it is in Texas, so getting down there would be a challenge for everyone.  It was pointed out that the finances involved in getting everyone down there could just go right to our adoption fund.   Now I’m looking into runs in both the late spring and fall here in the Northeast.  We will probably participate in a run up here and create a profile with Adopt Together to give donors the option of a tax deductable platform.

So it looks like I really need to start running regularly again, and figure out these logistics.   When I run regularly it really helps me to process and feel less anxious.  I get out all the nervous energy and have time to work through a lot of thoughts and emotions.  Sure sounds to me like it’ll be a great thing to be doing during this process :-D


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year!!

Ahhh the holidays! Time for cold weather, lost of driving and of course spending time with family!

It was a family filled holiday season for us.  Christmas Eve was spent at my dad’s house with both my sister’s in-laws and my in-laws.  There were fourteen of us, and Mason our dog.  We drove out to B’s parents house that night and spend Christmas day with B’s family.

In my family, when we were little, my parent’s had us sing Happy Birthday to baby Jesus before we opened our presents.  It was a way, outside of church, to remind us that the real reason for Christmas was Jesus’ birth.  While I get made fun of quite heartily this is something we have done since C was born and will continue to do.  I remember so vividly the coffee cake mom made every year, and signing to baby Jesus.  While I didn’t make mom’s coffee cake this year we still sang and had a pretty darn good Boston coffee cake.

Santa filled our stockings and C made out like a bandit with presents from Mommy, Daddy, Nana, Haha and other family members.  My dad joined us for Christmas dinner at B’s parents place.

We drove back home late Christmas night and I had a few days of work before heading back to Dad’s on the 30th.  The T clan descended on dad’s house for NYE starting on the 30th and a few people trickled in on the 31st.  There were 38 of us this year and we deeply missed those who could not make it!!!  We spent those three days catching up, staying up, eating up and chatting it up.  I think I stay up later with my relatives on NYE than most any other time over the year.  We’ve been getting together for NYE for the past 10 years.  I honestly cannot say I know any other family that is as close as we are.  I am so very blessed to have them in my life and can only hope that my generation can continue the work our parents started by creating such a solid family foundation. We’re expecting one marriage and two babies in 2013- so far!  Hopefully Baby Bates will be new baby # 3 in 2013.

Multiple cousins have expressed interest in running a half or full marathon to help raise funds for our adoption.  I think it is going to be an amazing experience for many of us to do together.  What a way to help bring our baby home- how loved will this child be?  I am looking into ways we can run a race up here in New England and make the donations tax deductable for people.  Both spring and fall races are being looked into.

On NYE dad had us take a field trip and revealed the waiting room dedicated to Mom and Aunt M in the new breast center.  Dad had the routine mammogram waiting room dedicated to the courageous and dedicated two women of our family who fought breast cancer and lost.  It was a really cathartic experience for me, and a lot of the family.

B and I celebrated four years of marriage on NYE!!!! I can’t believe it has been four years.  It seems both longer and shorter.  I really am one of the luckiest women on earth.  B is an amazing husband and my love for him grows everyday.

We came home late last night and I am so exhausted.  It is 2013 and it is a brand New Year filled with new hope and unknowns.  I am so excited (and a little trepidatious).   

Happy New Year everyone, May your 2013 be filled with wonderful things!