I remember that day when they first called with the referral vividly. We were in a restaurant called the Metro Cafe just south of Central Park in New York. We weren't expecting it then. We were out of town and working. Actually I was really excited about spending our last few hours in the city at the MOMA. We had a plane to catch in about four hours. Then my phone rang and we had just sat down to our sandwiches. It was a number I didn't recognize so I usually don't answer those. Amy says "Just answer it" and well I did. It was THE call and she said "are you somewhere I can talk to both of you?" I said it was too noisy but I would call right back. She said "I won't call anyone else. I will wait for the call." This would be the first time she lied to me and this was the first time I had actually talked to her on the phone.
I trusted what she said and we hurried over to the Park where we could be alone on speaker and it was quiet. A pretty tall order in the city. Oh yeah, and it was 15 degrees that day! So I called her... got the voicemail. Left a message, and then waited a few minutes. We were sitting on one of those huge rocks just inside the park trying to stay warm in the sun. She said she would wait right? Called again... nothing. Half an hour passes that feels like hours and I call the main number. The receptionist says she is on the phone with another family. What's that? Another family! But she said she would wait for us?! Okay, I said "tell her to call us, we are out of town and not near a good phone." "Okay, I'll tell her," she says. I think we were up there about an hour on that cold rock by ourselves.
The sun had started to move and it was getting colder. We called one last time, and nothing. "Sorry she's still on the phone" says the receptionist. Another message gets left on the voicemail... So we leave and head for some place warm. We are hurriedly searching. We try the Borders in the Columbus Circle Mall but it's too noisy for me. I don't know how this conversation is going to go at this point. I need some space. So we head up and up escalators inside until we find an empty hallway overlooking it all. We start looking for a place to sit and then the phone rings.
Huddled together on the floor, near a railing, we must look like we are planting a bomb. We strain to listen to the details, not that there are many, and she asks what we think and says that the packet is to be mailed to us. "Oh you're out of town" she says? How soon they forget. So after two hours of waiting on a call that should have happened right then, we finally got the news. Of course we didn't get all the details and soon after, we realized that our two month wait to travel was increased to four.
It's like that onion peeling, and the layers just reveal more and more changes in the game. So when people ask how I feel about it. I think, I'm still on that rock. Still waiting to hear the whole story. Still waiting to hear all of the details. Still waiting for somebody at that agency to do what they said they would do. It's cold on that rock and I'm tired of waiting. I'm ready to come home as a family where its warm and I don't have to wait on anything else. Control, just a little control over our fate. That's all we want. Not a bunch of, this could happen, or this might happen, or even - be flexible. Flexible? That little girl in the picture on my desk doesn't understand that, and at this point, neither do I.
If I hear that one more time I am going to scream!!
This is such a difficult time for us, we have no idea when we are going to become parents--it is completely out of our control. We cannot plan for our trip because we don't know when we are going. The thing I don't understand is why didn't they tell us this? I can post all the emails that I have received from the agency telling me that we need to plan on that date and arrange our transportation and boarding, then I get an email that says to wait until a week before the confirmed visa appointment to book your flight. I don't know where la la land is, but they are living there. You cannot purchase all of that in one week and still pay your mortgage, and I looked into tickets one week out and two weeks out and there were none!! Also, I am upset that the embassy has changed the appointment frequency for visas. When the American adoptions in Ethiopia are skyrocketing, our genius officials decide to decrease the frequency and amount of heard cases--WHY??? Also, I feel like I am held under a code--a code that says don't speak up or you will be punished. I live in fear that if we say anything negative we will be derailed in some way. I just want my daughter.
Yesterday we got an email from our adoption agency about our May 8th court date, here it is: I hope all of you are doing well. I know that you are getting very excited as your court date approaches. I’m sending this letter to address some of the questions and concerns that you all may be having regarding your May 8th court date and the visa interview date, as well as to let you know what you can expect from here on out as I know that many families are anxious to make travel plans.
The date that you have been given for your visa appointment is only a tentative date. Actually visa appointment dates are not confirmed until at least one week after the adoption is approved in the court. Previously visa interviews were held each week, approximately 3 weeks after court, however, as of March 2009, visa interviews are only conducted every two weeks. The visa appointment dates in May and June after your court date is completed are on May 28th, June 11, and June 25. We are hoping that your visa interview date will be May 28th, however, we can not know for sure until your adoption has been approved in the court, and all of the child’s paperwork has been completed for the visa interview after court. So many things can happen between now and your court date, and even after court, that we are unable to confirm a visa appointment date until all of these processes have taken place. We are all trusting that everything will go perfectly for all families of course.
We realize that some families have been given a different visa interview date who have court dates May 8th. Initially June 4th was given out as the tentative visa date as this was still when the visa appointments were being conducted every week. Since that is no longer the case, June 11th was presented as a tentative visa appointment date, as well as May 28th.
After court is approved, we will be having a travel call with all families who have a court date on May 8th in order to help to prepare you for your trip. As well, all of the paperwork and documents for the child must be prepared and ready for the visa interview before you travel. These documents include the adoption decree, birth certificate, passport, visa medical, and for families adopting a child 2 years and over – a TB test. These documents must be presented to the visa officials 1 week prior (no later) to the US Embassy in order for the visa interview to take place the following week. We are trusting that all of the families paperwork can be done in a timely manner. As well, the US Embassy, where the visa interview is held, will only hear up to 10 cases at a time on the same day. Therefore we will have to see how this will all play out for all families. Fourteen families is the largest number of families that we have had going through court at the same time. Generally there are 3-5 families at a time; so I really encourage all families to be flexible as we move through these processes.
Some families may have their visa interviews actually on May 28 and others June 11th, or later, if everything does not go like clock work in Ethiopia.
The tentative dates that we give to the families are really an estimate so that families can start preparing their minds and have a general idea of when they can expect to travel. We will keep you posted as we find out any information regarding your visa appointment after court, or sooner if we hear, and hope that all of you will be able to travel as soon as possible.
I know that you are coming up on a time of great anxiety. We understand and want you to know that we are here for you. Your adoption consultant is happy to answer any questions that you might have. You may feel free to contact myself as well with any questions.
So, when we tell all of you that these dates and times are up in the air and we are on pins and needles because of this emotional journey, hopefully you will see this and understand why. I can't imagine having to wait till June 11th or 28th! I will die! I am already over the edge, how are people supposed to be patient and understanding? We all have lives, jobs, and most of us don't have huge bank accounts that enable us to buy plane tickets one week out--around $2-3,000 a piece. We also have to book all of our accommodations ahead of time and figure out who will cover our jobs, take care of our children and/or pets and forget about planning anything else in our lives. Either I need some meds or we need to petition our government officials to change the frequency of visa appointments. 2 weeks may not seem like a lot of time in their eyes, but to me and my child--it is forever. Can you imagine if you are in labor and arrive at the hospital only to be told they deliver babies on the second and fourth Thursday of the month and they have limited spaces available so you may not be able to be seen for a few weeks! Well we are pregnant and I want my child now, not next week or next month--NOW!!!! So if you are reading this and are wondering how I feel about waiting, or the swine flu or my business or anything else in my life, I don't care! All I am really worried about is ELLA. I want to go to sleep and wake up on the plane going to get her--everything else is of little consequence. I just hope that I don't have a mental breakdown before that.
Great find today, as I searched through Babies R Us for a few essentials for the trip to Ethiopia, I came upon this German made pacifier. BPA FreeNatursutten Orthodontic Pacifier, this is a great option if you are looking for an eco-pacifier. All Natursutten pacifiers are made from pure, natural rubber from the tree Hevea brasiliensi. Larger shield is designed to touch baby's nose, providing comfort by more closely simulating breast-feeding. Natursutten pacifiers are conform to the Pacifier Safety requirements by European standard EN 1400. Made in Germany. No allergy causing substance (the protein that on rare occasions can provoke a latex allergy is eliminated during production) No artificial color. No chemicals softener; parabens, PVC, phtalates and BPA (bisphenol-A) free.
There is not a big difference between the two when it comes to the final result--attachment, but getting to that point can take a while. When you adopt a child, you really need to be open minded and leave your emotional needs at the door. Many adopted children reject one or both of her parents-to-be. This is a natural reaction, her parents might feel like they know this child through pics and updates, but to the child--you are strangers. In order to get through this you must be patient and earn trust through establishing a routine. Experts suggest that you limit contact with other caregivers, making sure that your child understands that the two people she is seeing the most are going to be there for her--never letting her down. I read a story about this; A woman is married and is blissfully happy with her new partner. After a long day of activities they go to bed together and she wakes up in the morning, expecting to see her loving partner, but instead is faced with a stranger. She is shocked and upset. She mourns the loss of her partner and is forced to play the same role with this new partner. Through constant attention and love, she eventually begins to trust and love this new person and is once again happy. Unfortunately, she wakes up one morning to a new stranger. Where did her love go? It was happening over again. This story is to help adults understand the trauma our adopted children go through. The average adopted child goes through three or four primary caregivers before they come home with their new parents. This is why adopting parents are trained, through hours of classes and instructional books on how to bond and the dos and don'ts of the process. The major dos are to establish a routine, making sure that the child feels secure, let her sleep in your room for months before moving her into a nursery, take time off work to be with your child as much as possible. The don'ts: don't leave your child for long periods of time, don't let her cry for long periods of time--you cannot spoil a baby, don't leave her with others for longer than a few hours--she needs to see your face every few hours. I know that this is hard for people to understand, but there is a lot of information out there if you want to read about it. I strongly suggest that close friends and family members understand this and read as much as they can about the bonding process. The adopting parents are busy, tired and emotional and are trying to make sure that their child gets to know them as her parents.
When we bring Ella home it will be a big adjustment for all of us. We will be meeting our daughter for the first time, but she will not understand what is going on. Her first 6 months of life will have been in different homes and orphanages, she has bonded with many of her nannies and caregivers, but it is now time to bond with her parents. All of the experts suggest that we stay with Ella at all times, only leaving her for short periods of work within the first 6 months of her life (with us). She will need stability and this involves constant attention from her parents. Charles will be going back to work and I will try and drive to Sarasota for lunches in order for him to spend time wih Ella and so she can feel safe that he is still here and hasn't left her. The first 6 months are particularly important in her life. We are upset that we cannot attend my brother-in-laws wedding in Mexico, we really want to go, but Ella's health is the most important thing right now. If we are hesitant to do things as soon as we get Ella, I hope that everyone can understand and be patient. We are new parents that want the best for our little girl.
We have been really busy this month, besides preparing for Ella, we have been getting ready for Earth Day! We have quite a few celebrations scheduled, the first of which was this past Sunday at Lowry Park in Tampa. We set up our Tampa Street Market tent and I started looking around--guess what I was looking for--baby stuff! Here is a pic of the cutest onsies--they are organic and locally made!!
20 Days!! There are 20 days left until our court date!! I have turned into that person that can only talk about 1 thing--Ella. It is sad but true, I am that girl that I used to make fun of! Charles and I are busy getting ready for Earth Day. We have 3 events within 8 days! Tonight is an art show in St. Pete called Art Pool--featuring mid-century inspired art pieces. We are entering 3 large pieces. The second event is at Lowry Park tomorrow, 4/19. It is the annual Earth Day event. We will have a tent set up with some product and information about the shop. Lastly, is Eco-Fest which is in channelside on Saturday 4/25. We are again, setting up a tent and displaying a few items with information. A lot of work, but fun at the same time. Everybody loves Earth Day--right??
I got some sound advise from Aunt Laura--exercise. She is right, the only time I feel better and can sleep is when I do something physical--yoga, run, long walk. I am going to run tonight and yoga is scheduled for Thursday. Thanks Aunt Laura for the support!
I did order some G Diapers from babies r us last night. For those of you who don't know about G diapers http://www.gdiapers.com/ please go to their site and check them out. I have not tried them yet, but have friends that love them. They are completely compostable (not in the garden compost mind you!), flushable and biodegradable. The normal diaper takes up to 500 years to break down, these babies take only 1 year! Watch the videos on their site, but beware that this might change the way you feel about the diapers you are currently using!
Let me know if you have used them or know anyone who uses them, I would love to share comments with everyone.
24 days left till our court date when (keep your fingers crossed) Ella becomes ours. I feel like a kid again, when a week felt like a year! I have been reading other blogs, I think that I am looking for some sanity. I need to read about someone that isn't blissfully happy waiting for their baby. I did read a couple today that made me smile, finally some fellow nut-jobs. Others that are fed up with the waiting. I don't think that anyone who is not going through the process can really understand the emotions we are feeling. It isn't fair, we get sent these pictures of our children and we fall in love....love like a parent loves their child, then we are cut off for 4 months. I have received 2 updates and an updated picture in 11 weeks. I got the picture and I cried for half an hour because I was so happy. I just want to know that she ate today or that she smiled--a smile would make my week! I don't know if I can take it, I have been patient, paying my dues but I want more. I want to hold her and kiss her and examine every inch of her. I want to know what she smells like. I want to see hear her cry, smell her breath and see her smile. Until tomorrow.
We made our flight reservations last night!!! It makes it feel real, not that the house full of baby stuff doesn't, but we are really going to get her. We will leave Tampa on Saturday 5/23/09 just before 5:00 and get into JFK at 8:10. We transfer from Delta to Emirates Airlines and leave JFK at 23:00 headed for Dubai, a 12 hr and 45 minute flight! We land in Dubai at 19:45 and will spend the night in Dubai. Monday morning we catch a flight from Dubai at 8:25 am to AddisAbaba, getting in at 11:30 am to Bole International! Whew!! Monday is the day we will meet our daughter, Ella. I can't wait! The return flight is a little easier. Monday 6/1/09 7:35 pm flight from Addis to Dubai getting in at 12:45 am. We leave for JFK at 2:00 am and fly for 13 hours and 45 minutes to JFK--with an infant!!! We get into JFK at 7:45 am and leave for TPA at 1:00 pm and arrive home in Tampa at 4:00 on Tuesday June 2nd! We are still looking into Guest Houses in Ethiopia.