Good News on Two Fronts

Adoption Journey — Day 213

First, I just received an email from our homestudy social worker that said:

I was in touch with the Ministry this morning and everything is fine on your file so you should receive your approval in the next few weeks. Congratulations, you’re on your way!

As soon as you hear about a referral, please let me know. We’ll meet again at that time.

And, secondly… it’s raining!

SQUEEE! <happy clap>

Three Dear Friends, One Perfect Gift

I’ve known quite a few people in my online life. I’ve “met” them through message boards, online communities, blogs, and the like. Many have, over the years, become really good friends, and people I have come to like very much. This despite the fact that I’ve rarely met any of them in real life.

Yesterday, two of these dear friends gave me an incredible surprise. Apparently, the two of them have been consipiring over this surprise for quite some time.

They both have come to know a fair bit about me, and know about everything that’s been going on with infertility and adoption, have followed my stories of cat adventures and misadventures, know the work BDH and I have done with volleyball teams, that sort of thing. And so at one point they made plans together to send me a gift.

One of these friends is Kelly, who I talk to almost every day and has been like part of the family to BDH and myself for so long, it’s hard to believe we met online. The gift was Kelly’s idea. Kelly commissioned this gift from our other friend Marcie, who, besides being a friend who has always been supportive and encouraging to me, is also an incredibly gifted artist. She works in stained glass.

So, yesterday I received a box from Monarch Glass and More, which is Marcie’s studio/business. (Now, if you think I am exaggerating when I tell you Marcie is gifted, have a look through the site at some of the work she has done. She has some incredible talent.) I opened it to find a carefully wrapped stained glass suncatcher.

It was my cat, Opus.

BDH tells me that Kelly tried to find a picture of Opus that she could use for this gift she was thinking of, so that I would have something special to always remember my dear kitty. Then she sent it along to Marcie, who thought she could make something that captured The Bubby. She made this gorgeous piece, just from looking at a picture.

And it’s perfect. The likeness is incredible. Somehow, Marcie has found glass that captures Opus’s tabby fur — it’s kind of striped in shades of brown and gray. She put two little white paws on her, just like Opus. Big bright eyes, just like my girl. And the pose they chose is perfect, like we often see from Opus when she’s relaxing in a sunbeam. I will post pictures once I get it hung up and can get some pictures of it.

I was so touched. Kelly was so incredibly thoughtful, to go to all the trouble of planning and ordering this, knowing how much I love my old kitty and all we’ve gone through with her over the last few years. I won’t have Opus forever, and so now, thanks to Kelly’s generosity and Marcie’s talent, I will always have something special to remember her when her time comes.

So today I celebrate three very dear friends. Thank you, Kelly, for your generosity and thoughtfulness and friendship, in this and always. Thank you Marcie, for your talent and hard work in creating something so beautiful. And thanks to both of you, I will always have something special to remember my special girlie, who has been my faithful feline companion for all these years.

I am so touched.

Steps of Different Kinds, But All Going Forward

Adoption Journey – Day 74

Huzzah! Our passports came yesterday!

This is a big deal for us. We had to get passports, obviously, so that we’d be able to travel to Ethiopia when the time comes to go get our Mystery Baby. And with all the new passport thingies from the U.S. government, there was a hullaballoo just getting a passport in a reasonable amount of time. But we got it done, and they came yesterday morning. We went out to the post office to pick them up last night. One big step on our adoption checklist is complete!

Once we got them, the first thing we did was rushed out to the car, ripped the packages open, and checked the date of issue.

March 29, 2007.

So that means, since the Ethiopian government mandates that we have to hold our passports for 6 months prior to travel, the very soonest we can leave to travel to Ethiopia is September 29. September 29! It’s hardly any time at all.

Last night BDH was kind of complaining that we should have gotten our passports sooner, and if we had done, we’d be getting our child sooner. He blamed it on himself, procrastinating. But honestly? I don’t mind. Six months is NOT that long when you are preparing for the arrival of a baby into your life. We are going to need all that time to get things ready, to get the house ready, to get our lives ready. Plus, with the millennium celebrations happening in Ethiopia during September, I don’t want to travel then anyway, since it will be tough to get hotels and flights and so on. So October or November suits me just fine.

We also took another step — or more correctly, a lot of steps — in getting prepared for imminent parenthood. And it was a tough one.

We got up early this morning and went for a walk.

BDH hates exercise, he really does. And honestly? I’m much more comfortable sitting in front of a computer these days than getting out and sweating. But in order to improve BDH’s blood sugar levels and keep his diabetes controlled, he needs to exercise. So we decided to start our morning walks again, weather permitting, and when the weather is bad, he’s going to get on the treadmill in the basement. As for me, I already do yoga, and get on the treadmill, and go for walks, but it’s intermittent, and this will motivate me to do it more faithfully.

There were a lot of reasons that pushed us to start walking again, but it all kind of hit home for BDH at the home study meeting the other night. We talked a bit about health issues and adoption, and BDH really realized there’s a lot riding on this. One, I’d like BDH to live a good long life, so he has to learn to control his diabetes. And I am a candidate for high blood pressure so hey, I can use all the exercise I can get. But even more important, the healthier we are, the better our chances for adoption, and the better equipped we will be to keep up with a youngster. We don’t want our health (or lack of it) to jeopardize our chances.

So yeah, we did it. It was freezing cold this morning, but we bundled up and off we went. 4 km. He complained the whole way, but he did it. And he’s hurting now, but it will get better. The first day’s always the hardest. Me, I quite enjoy the morning walks, once I actually get going — and especially now when it’s cool, as opposed to humid summer mornings. Hopefully I can keep him motivated to keep going.

So there are a few more steps done on this long journey to meet Mystery Baby.

Lessons Learned

Yesterday was full of learning experiences. I learned many things.

  • Wearing comfortable shoes does not stop blisters from bleeding all over your socks. Only band-aids will do that.
  • It is a bad idea to do your financial paperwork for your homestudy JUST before you go to the doctor who is testing you for high blood pressure.
  • The pain and grief of infertility never goes away, even when you are adopting. No matter how much you like her or how happy you are for her, when your neighbour tells you she is pregnant with twins it will make you cry for hours afterwards.
  • Looking out the window is no way to tell how warm it is outside.
  • If your garage is peopled with Adventure Mice, it’s a good idea to wear gloves when cleaning it out.
  • If you get rid of cable or satellite, you don’t miss it. But if you get rid of your DVD player, you’re nuts.
  • Our neighbour really IS wonderful. She took the time to come and tell us about her pregnancy privately, because she knew we were struggling and wanted us to hear it from her first.
  • There is really no other option but to lose 30 or 40 pounds.
  • Cats really ARE nocturnal. Turning off the lights makes no difference to them, or to how busy they are, or how noisy they are.

I hope today involves a little less learning. I could stand to learn a whole lot less today.

A To Do List On A Grand Scale

Adoption Journey – Day 63

Yesterday, we booked our first appointment of our home study. Now it all starts in earnest.

It’s great news for us. It means that we are getting into the biggest part of the adoption process, the part that takes the most time and patience. If we get it done and successfully, we will be allowed to adopt a child. It’s the key to a future with a child in our lives.

I must admit I am intimidated. Not so much by the home study process, because I think answering the questions won’t be such a big deal. But I am intimidated by everything we have to get done before we can have someone in and “inspect” our home. There’s just so much.

Our house is day-to-day clean, in terms of what you’d expect from two busy and not-so-neat adults living together. And having 3 cats, one of whom is elderly and pees on stuff from time to time, certainly doesn’t help. But although it is tidy enough for everyday, there’s no way it’s clean enough to pass inspection, and it’s going to need work before we bring a child home.

We have here the clutter of 10 years of busy life together, 10 years’ worth of stuff accumulated by two pack rats. And precious little storage space. So, one of the first things we must do is start throwing things away. We have to be ruthless. We have to just bite the bullet and start getting rid of stuff. I have to learn to throw away my Canadian Living magazines and my craft stuff and clothes I’ve been holding on to that I will never realistically wear again. And BDH has to learn to part with his old computer components and gear, most of which is useless, and his hobby stuff. We have to chuck the lot.

And don’t even talk to me about the garage. I shudder to think about the work that will be required for our garage, since it has been impromptu storage all these years. That’s going to require days of work in itself.

We have to get rid of old furniture. We have to throw away dishes we don’t use and bikes we’ll never ride and tools that never get used. We have to just learn to live with less clutter. And we have to buy storage to put away all the stuff we do need to keep. We also have to replace any of our old not-child-friendly furniture with brand new stuff. And since we have only one income, we have to learn to be realistic about what we need, since we cannot take on any more debt than the already painfully expensive cost of the adoption itself.

We have to wash windows and paint walls and mop floors and vacuum carpets. And then we have to get the carpets deep cleaned. We’ll likely have to hire someone to come in and clean the house and deep clean the carpets professionally after we do it, just to be sure.

And, one of the hardest things of all: we have to put Opus in her cage overnight and when she is not supervised. Granted, we’re putting a little 7 pound kitty in a huge Great Dane sized cage, so she’s got plenty of room and a comfy bed and food and water and litter — she has everything she needs. And she really doesn’t mind it so much, because she is so old she sleeps all the time anyway. But it hurts to take away her freedom and her ability to run around, especially now that she’s so healthy and happy. But we cannot have her peeing on stuff.

And then, once we get all the cleaning and general maintenance done, we have a long list of baby-proofing things that must get done. There are things I expected, like getting cabinet locks and outlet covers. And there are things I had not expected, like buying escape ladders for the bedrooms and carbon monoxide detectors and bolting our bookshelves to the wall. I don’t know one single person who has ever done these things in anticipation of having a biological child, and yet, we are required to do so to adopt. So we will cheerfully buy outlet covers, and escape ladders, and fire extinguishers, and gear to hide all our electrical cords, and put a cat-flap in the basement door for the cats to get into and out of the basement.

Before, this was just an item on a list, something that had to be done sometime. It was in the future. But now, it’s immediate. When I think of everything we have to do, I get so overwhelmed. I want to just sit down and cry. Paperwork I can handle. Bureaucracy I can handle. But this is just so much to do, and all on my own essentially, since BDH is at work all day.

I just have to remember why it is I am doing all this stuff. I just have to suck it up and get it done. And when it’s done, it’s done. It’ll all be worth it in the end.

But I don’t even know where to begin. Hell, I don’t even know where to begin my list.

Time Out To Appreciate Things

I’ve been doing so much research this week, my eyeballs are rolling around their sockets. So today, I took a little time out to appreciate things.

  • This morning, at 4 am, a beautiful little 7 1/2 pound girl was born to a co-worker and friend of BDH. She was eagerly anticipated, although early, and already much loved.
  • I sat and watched the snow fall today. It has been bitterly cold here recently, but looking out over the conservation area, as deer walked by, it was lovely.
  • I had a good laugh at my and Kelly’s expense today, rereading a post she made on her blog that captured one of our many IM conversations one evening. I laughed so hard I cried and wheezed. It was brilliant.
  • We’re doing our best here to get healthy before the time comes for us to welcome a child into our home. I’ve been walking on the treadmill each day, and although I get all sweaty and nasty, I do enjoy the exercise.
  • Sometimes, a cup of sweet milky tea and two cookies really IS all you need.
  • Silly can be good for the spirit. Thanks to 5 minutes on homestarrunner, now I will be randomly yelling “Emergency Marketing Meeting!” a lot. And hoping for an opportunity to say to someone “I don’t know whether to puke or have a seizure.” And I’ve decided that my new favourite phrase is “It is time to resort to extreme measures. With Gene Hackman.” I can see that being VERY useful.