Thursday, January 31, 2008

International Adoption In The Spotlight Again

Newsweek has a new series of articles about international adoption that's sure to refuel some debates. I don't think the articles are great or broke any new ground. In fact, although the articles overall seem to lend support to international adoption, I was surprised by some of the offensive and negative language they used, talking about the adoption "mill" (which evokes images of puppy mills) and about "supplies" of children, as if you're buying pens from Staples.

One article focuses on UNICEF and its opposition to international adoption. I had only become aware of UNICEF's stance against internatonal adoption since starting my own adoption journey some 15 months ago now, and I've since stopped supporting this organization. While it would be wonderful if we all lived in a world where there wasn't a need for adoption, the fact is that there is a need for adoption, and UNICEF's single-minded approach does a disservice to children who need safe, loving homes now -- with people who (for the most part) feel honored and privileged to be adoptive parents. Yes, I believe that countries like Ethiopia and Vietnam would benefit from programs that increase the ability of parents to raise their children rather than place them for international adoption. But in the meantime, millions of children need homes right now; they don't have time to wait countless years while UNICEF and other organizations put the infrastructure in place.

Here's a selection of quotes from the articles. Links to the full articles are below.

"UNICEF's exclusive focus on domestic programs amounts to an obstacle to international adoption and prevents untold numbers of children from improving their lives through international adoption."

***


UNICEF and some foreign critics have encouraged countries to look at international adoption as a form of colonialism," says Dana Johnson, director of the International Adoption Clinic at the University of Minnesota and an expert on global adoption trends.


***


"Forces at the very top are making international adoption more and more difficult," says Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Bartholet, who has written extensively on the subject. "What this means is that fewer kids are getting adopted, more children are required to spend time in orphanages, those who get out are of older ages, and are more likely to have developed serious disabilities that make them hard to parent."

***


The overriding need is to ensure that intercountry adoption is only carried out in the best interests of the child. For that to happen governments of both sending and receiving countries work together to put an end to the corruption that has damaged the image of intercountry adoption and everyone involved—especially the children.

***


My heart breaks when I think of the conditions at orphanages, of the fate that waits for these babies," says Olga Dereviagina, who cares for toddlers and babies at the infectious-diseases ward of Moscow's Tushinsky hospital. "I wish foreign parents would come in now and take all our babies to some beautiful, kind place, to warm, loving homes."

When There's No Place Like Home

Who Will Fill the Empty Cribs?

Managing the Baby Backlash

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Blizzard!

Blizzard Warning in effect until midnight CST tonight...
Wind Chill Advisory in effect until 12 PM CST Wednesday...


Yikes!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Big Owie

Poor Sophie Dog. The cold and ice, along with her overly rambunctious fetching, have continued to wreak havoc on her. She split a toenail badly this weekend and so it was off to the vet first thing this morning. They ended up removing her entire toenail, poor thing. Actually, the vet said she's probably in less pain now than she was with the injured toenail. They also said she was a champ during the procedure. (Unlike her nervous momma, but fortunately they shooed me out to the waiting room.) The nail should grow back eventually. In the meantime, no more walks for a couple days. And I definitely will have to buy her some doggie snowboots. Poor pup.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Friday, January 25, 2008

Some Favorite Sites (That Are Not Adoption Related)

Thought I'd pass along some blogs I've discovered recently that I enjoy peeking in on occasionally. These are not adoption blogs, so if that's all you're interested in, feel free to skip by this post (although you'll be missing some good sites if you're focused only on adoption-oriented blogs).

Baby Cheapskate
Babies? Cheapskates? Need I say more?! Oh, OK, I will. This site, as it clearly says, is all about saving big bucks on baby stuff. And to its credit, it has directed me to some good savings. If you want to know who's got baby stuff on sale, this is the blog to add to your Google Reader. Most recently, they directed me to a sale at BabyCenter Store. However, let me share with you one of my own shopping tips: Google the store name and either "coupon codes" or "promotional codes" to get better discounts, free shipping or other deals. These coupon codes sometimes add up to better deals than an advertised sale. For instance, BabyCenter Store had an "up to" sale (you get a certain percentage off based on your purchase total). Well, before clicking the "submit" button on my order, I googled for coupon codes and came up with some, and as it turned out, the coupon code I found for free shipping was a better value than the store's own percentage discount. So I ended up saving more than was advertised. Be aware that you can sometimes use coupon codes that are marked expired. And sometimes a Web site will even allow you to double up on coupon codes! It may be a glitch, as most don't allow this. But keep trying! For a few extra minutes of work, you can save yourself a lot of money using coupon codes!

Chief Family Officer
This blog is by one family's self-confessed CFO, who happens to be a mom, a wife and an attorney who tackles family finances, cooking and parenting. You'll find information about budgeting, taxes, toy recalls, recommended financial readings, product reviews, and what's for dinner. Those are all topics I'm interested in, and the approach is straight-forward and practical.

Consumerist
This blog tackles all sorts of issues relevant to savvy consumers, from customer service to consumer lawsuits to consumer ripoffs to identity fraud to sneaky marketing strategies to taxes and everything else in between that bad business perpetrates on unsuspecting consumers (but not anymore, right?). Be warned: This blog has numerous posts every day, and I mean dozens. And it can be addicting. You won't believe some of the crazy stories you read about your fellow consumers being wronged (and the occasional consumer bad guy).

Fabulous Financial v2.0
How this blogger bills herself: "The author, Single Ma, is a 30-something single mom with a little diva in training (aka BabyGirl) and this blog is a chronicle of their journey to financial freedom." How I bill her: A mom who is surprisingly honest and open about her financial situations and strategies, with a refreshingly simple, no-nonsense style.

Mamanista
This is a product review blog with a sassy-chic attitude. They also offer contests and giveaways. They've been a little too heavy on the kiddie shoes lately, though. But overall, another site to keep up on baby gear and trendy stuff.

Mamas Like
This is a product review blog. While I'm not sure how critical the reviews actually are, this site has introduced me to many interesting, must-have products (that I don't-have yet). They also offer occasional give-away contests, which is always appealing (well, almost always. I have been trying forever to win something at Cool Mom Picks to no avail so have simply given up!). Even if you don't want to buy anything, it's sort of like window shopping from your recliner.

Moms' Buzz
"Helping moms balance their act." Clearly it doesn't work, as my act is still unbalanced. (Maybe she has never dealt with the messiness of adoptions, but that is not her fault.) However, it's fun to read sometimes. It offers tips about a variety of pressing life activities, such as peeling and seeding tomatoes, getting tax help, and using facial cream. Seriously, it's a cute little site (although it may be part of a conglomerate; I'm not quite sure).

The Pioneer Woman Cooks
I just came across this intriguing site the other day so haven't spent a lot of time with it yet. This self-confessed desperate housewife who lives in the country with Marlboro Man and wild ponies, offers tantalizing recipes with wonderful photos to document each step. Don't miss this one.

Thingamababy
Hip daddies? This is supposed to offer a "dad's-eye view" of baby and toddler stuff, but who's to say women don't also find it valuable? Sometimes goofy and silly, it offers light-hearted reviews, off-beat videos and lots of other stuff for dads. (And moms.)

There are lots of others but now I'm too tired to offer anything more substantive than the link to a few more so here you go.

Baby Toolkit

Cool Mom Picks

Great Green Baby

Now it's your turn. What parenting/financial/baby gear blogs (not shopping) do you find yourself frequenting? Let me know and I'll start a Readers Favorites section on my blog (which, remember, is not strictly an adoption blog. In case you were wondering.).

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Happy Happy!

Look what's on its way!

Whoa!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

L&O: SVU: Adoption And Fertility

Beware: Spoilers ahead, so if you haven't watched it yet, then I recommend coming back here after you have.



So did you watch Law & Order: SVU tonight? The one about the stolen embryos and Olivia's acknowledgement that she was considering adoption? I admit that the episode had me gnawing on my fingernails. (SVU is one of my favorite shows, so even when it tends toward the cliché, disappointing or just plain goofy, I still cut it some slack.) NBC had me at the promos for this episode because I just knew Olivia was going to reveal something interesting related to motherhood. But a couple things about this show left me dissatisfied and borderline angry.

All the embryo issue stuff aside, I was disappointed in how they portrayed the cancer survivor who wanted to be a mom. She apparently used a sperm donor to create embryos before chemo (I found the details about this lacking) and said that the chemo left her unable to create additional eggs. Yep, OK. So the embryos she had on ice were billed as her last chance to be a mom. Huh? So naturally, she was devastated when the embryos were stolen and ultimately left unviable. Yes, I'm sure that would be a blow to anyone Рit's another kind of loss. However, I just can't relate to her as a one-dimensional character who was so rabidly invested in giving birth to a child in order to be a parent that it was as if her own life ended along with the demise of the embryos. I suppose there are people who feel that way Рthat the only way to be a parent is to have a child biologically and give birth to it. But I'm disappointed that the show chose to portray a cancer survivor in such a disappointing role. Disclaimer: Of course, as a cancer survivor I might be biased. Another disclaimer: Shortly after my diagnosis at age 33, I did look into putting my eggs on ice in anticipation of upcoming treatment, but the technology wasn't there yet. Still, the SVU writers could have done better, even in the limited time available, by acknowledging that parenthood for cancer survivors is much more complex and multi-dimensional than this character suggested. And it may have done some good by educating people that even cancer survivors can adopt (before I started the adoption process, I simply assumed that cancer survivors could not adopt). I didn't get the feeling that the writers were deliberately trying to cast her as an unlikeable character because of her tunnel vision. To the contrary, she was apparently supposed to garner sympathy and leave behind a trail of weepy-eyed viewers. Trite. Clich̩. Unfair. Simplistic.

Then, when Olivia confessed to researching adoption options, my heart lifted for a moment. Wouldn't it be great if a terrific female character became an adoptive parent? And then she said she was turned down. Whoa. I think I did an audio double-take. Turned down for adoption? Yes, I know people are turned down. I myself was told by a major, reputable adoption agency that it would be difficult for me to adopt because of my cancer history and they recommended against it. So I moved on and found other reputable agencies that were more welcoming, open and accepting – and there are many. But Olivia said she was turned down because she was single, lacked an extended support network and worked long hours. I don't think that's good enough, and I will be sorely disappointed if SVU lets this story line fade. I thought that the parting comment by the shooter, about his time being up, and the camera panning to Olivia's pensive expression, offered a hint that it may not be over after all. What do you think? Is Olivia going to pursue adoption again? I hope so. I think she'd be a great mom and a great role model for adoption. Come on, SVU, let Olivia become an adoptive mom!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The "Four Things" Tagging

I've noticed that when things are quiet in the Blogosphere, the tagging picks up its pace. Duly, I've been tagged by that naughty Carissa, so here goes:

4 jobs I’ve had:

1. Health care journalist
2. Newspaper editor
3. Dish washer in a Mexican restaurant (summer job during college)
4. Pet shop assistant (summer job during college. Go ahead -- ask me about the dead puppies in the freezer and why I think it should be illegal to sell animals in a pet shop)

4 movies watched over and over:

Ah, sad, sad, sad. I so rarely watch movies, and rarer even, watch them more than once. But I’ll take a stab at this:

1. Christmas Vacation (definitely an annual fav)
2. Ratatouille (couple times over this past Christmas, if that counts)
3. The Incredibles (watched again this past Christmas)
4. When Harry Met Sally (yes, if I’m flipping through channels, I may stop and watch a few scenes because it brings back old memories)



4 places I’ve lived:

You mean besides New York (3+ places), Minnesota (2+ places), Indiana, Massachusetts (born there), Connecticut (3 places), Arizona (2+ places), Kansas, Missouri, Maryland, and Germany? That's all I can remember off hand.

4 shows I watch:

1. House Hunters
2. Grey’s Anatomy
3. Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency
4. Intervention

4 places I’ve been:

Way lots. Will just list a few of the cooler places I loved.
1. Kenya, where my Aunt Joanne is a missionary
2. Alaska,, twice to run a half-marathon, and my Aunt Fran went along with me
3. Portland, Oregon, where I was enrolled in a clinical trial for leukemia treatment
4. Europe (everywhere), Inter-railed with four girlfriends during the summer of our junior year in high school when we all lived in Germany

4 people who e-mail me regularly:

1. Mom
2. Mom
3. Mom
4.DadFranAnneShawnaTimRebaSallieEditorsBossmanDonnaSarahYvonneEllieDianneetcetc

4 favorite things to eat:

1. Ethnic cuisine (Indian, Ethiopian, Vietnamese, etc)
2. My mom's Chicken divan (and not this recipe from the Food Network, although it sounds good too)
3. Meatballs
4. Whole-wheat spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and broccoli

4 places I’d rather be:

1. Alaska
2. Portland, Oregon
3. Seattle, Washington
4. Maine coast

4 things I look forward to this year:

1. Having a baby
2. Getting organized
3. Finishing my master’s degree
4. Time with family and friends

OK, now I have to tag four people: (I added in a few extra because who am I to say that anyone is actually reading this stuff so I need to swing the net farther and wider on the off chance that one of these people will see this!)

Anne W.
Jenna
Lina
Laura
Ann
Maria
Leslie & Shaune

The Reveal

I owe a debt of gratitude to Jenna for helping give my blog a fresh, new look. When I asked her for help (her reputation precedes her), she said, "Sure, it's easy." Well, several hours, yes hours, later, she was still fine-tuning. Apparently she's as much of a perfectionist as I am, only she's one smart cookie and has the secret blog code all figured out, to boot. Jenna worked with what I gave her (images, background paper, etc.), so if you don't like that part, don't blame poor Jenna -- she just brought it all together so it looks all bright an' shiny an' new an' stuff. Thanks, Jenna! You're a sweetheart, and I just know that you and Ed will have wonderful news to share about Ella soon! (Please don't everyone go and inundate Jenna with requests; poor thing needs some sleep! Or she should at the least be charging a fee to put toward the adoption fund.) Thank you again, Jenna!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Yikes!

Even colder this morning:



No walks with Sopie Dog in this weather. Too dangerous. Of course, this is not the coldest we've seen it. We've had regular temperatures dip down into the minus 20s. And before the windchill calculations were changed, they could get to 70 below. I feel so much warmer since they use the new windchill system now.

The sage advice from the weather people? "IF YOU MUST VENTURE OUTDOORS... MAKE SURE YOU WEAR A HAT AND GLOVES."

What's really sad is that there are idiots who keep their pets out in this weather and it's not even illegal.

Edited to add: By the way, I do have a heated bird bath running for our feathered friends, and lots of seed in the feeders. Poor little things.

Why I'd Rather Be In Anchorage, Alaska, Right Now

Anchorage, Alaska:



Where I live:

Monday, January 14, 2008

"White Kid, Black Family: Transracial Adoption"

This is from NPR. It's a fascinating topic, and I'm so glad to see it being talked about candidly. NPR promises to have more from this family, and I hope they do. (I do take issue with the comment that transracial adoptions are "en vogue." I guess for some people they are, but I don't think that's what drives the many adoptive families I know, and I don't think it drives me, either.)

***


A few days back, we heard from Lisa Marie Rollins, a black woman raised in a white family. Her story drew this response below from Mark Riding, a black man whose family is adopting a white kid. In coming days, we'll look to talk some more Riding and his family. For now, we'll bring his comment up and look for yours. He writes:

The timing of this NPR story is serendipitous for me. I have long been struggling with my family's in-process transracial adoption, but for almost opposing reasons to those in this story -- we're a black family attempting to adopt a little white girl.

I live in Baltimore infamous for its blighted "Chocolate City" status as well as for its distinct up-South racial polarization. When the little white girl came to live with us -- three years old, doughy face, Irish freckles, and deep red hair -- we faced immediate, unanticipated obstacles, many of which were internal. For example, I hadn't considered how often we talked about white people at home. I hadn't realized that dinnertime stories were rarely told without referencing the race of the players. I was also oblivious how frequently I used racial stereotypes. We began diligently censoring ourselves. Of course we've routinely adjusted our language and behavior for the sake of our white peers, neighbors, bosses and friends, but this little girl lives with us, which requires code switching and code creating at home. Headline News wouldn't care about some missing spring break girl if she wasn't er...blonde. America loves blonde girls. It has required more vigilance than I ever suspected; and I had long considered myself a fairly enlightened person.

Even though transracial adoptions are en vogue, many people (especially white people) are troubled when they see us out together. At the park in our historic Baltimore neighborhood where adopted Asian kids play with their white siblings without a blink, we are greeted with uneasy curiosity. We don't receive the knowing smile and assumption of family that those other adoptive families enjoy. White park-goers often assume (out loud) that my graying mother-in-law is the girl's nanny. Given close enough proximity, white people are almost always compelled to question our relationship with her. "So who do we have here" they ask, hardly veiling their anxiety. Even white friends and colleagues from the progressive private school in which I work are clearly disquieted, despite the fact that middle-class white parents with adopted Romanian, Asian or black children are in growing number there. "Oh this must be your little foster child." A colleague announced loudly outside a kiddie concert held on campus. Our little girl was troubled; her family secret had been publically revealed and she didn't understand how or why. I was doubly upset because I couldn't even carp freely about the indirect racial prejudice and insensitivity of this white person when I returned home.

My wife, like her mother, has little tolerance for strangers' nosiness and gives purposely inelaborate answers; she is our little girl, period. Conversely, until quite recently I have accepted us as an oddity and have readily explained as soon as the little girl bounces out of ear shot. I'm certain only some of that has been empathetic; the rest was to assuage my own peculiar feelings. I have never felt as self-consciously black as when I hold our little white girl's hand in public. However, after several white people have asked me, "and there was no one else in her family that could take her!" my leaf has turned. Now when asked I try to reply plainly, tapering my repugnance with irony: Nah, you know how those families are." With due emphasis placed on the term those.

She officially lives a few blocks away with my mother-in-law but I mention that for the purposes of accuracy only. We operate as a single family in two houses and she spends countless evenings, weekends, and every vacation with my wife and our two kids (who adore her). For the last nine months or so the family has been going through a particularly scrutinous adoption process. It's sadly ironic. We're all securely middle class professionals; my mother-in-law owns a small adult care facility, my wife's an executive, I'm a career educator. The family took her in despite a history of passive aggressive fecal smearing and after twelve unsuccessful foster homes. My mother-in-law is compassionate to a fault and despite her busy life couldn't bear considering a small child living so unstably. She's been with us for five years. We've loved her openly and genuinely and despite the complications she brings to our lives.

She's a bright, opinionated, eager to please, and difficult to quiet eight year old. She is a challenge to parent but it's mostly because smart and precocious children are challenging to parent and less about anything else; though none of the other factors makes our lives any easier.

I'm writing this because I am compelled for this story to reach a broader audience. Overwhelmingly, the evidence suggests that many if not most white people, no matter how liberal or tolerant they think they are have deeply ingrained prejudices that have untold affects on their perceptions and judgments and in the case of my family a little white girl.

Crafty Lady (I Wish!)

The crafting bug bit me the other night. While I really like doing crafty projects and admire those who are so talented, my skills (and patience) are sometimes lacking. OK, who am I kidding -- my skills are frequently lacking.

I have lots of great ideas (partly because my brain has been saturated by HGTV, partly from visiting many of the nicest homes in my area for the remodeling magazine articles I write, and partly from the numerous home and garden mags I get). Yes, lots of good ideas. Follow through? Not so much.

For instance, I have big plans for Baby's room. So big that it's been too overwhelming to start. So right now, there's nothing but yawning, empty space. I suppose this is the only good thing about a long wait in international adoption -- you usually have plenty of time to get homefront projects done. But one way or another, the adoption will be happening, and I better get cracking (right, Mom?).

So here's the little project I tackled the other night while sitting on the adoption sidelines - storage bins:



If you want to see some fabulous nurseries and kid rooms, check out the nursery colors contest.

On a different topic, I just know there have to be other people who are getting as annoyed with the show "Jon & Kate + 8" as I am. Mainly, I'm annoyed with bossy, crabby, control-freak Kate who is constantly correcting her husband (in front of the kids) in a generally condescending way. I really got a kick out of the show when it first started but it's not cute anymore, and the honeymoon's over -- and their's too, it would seem.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

“You’re Being Notarized”

Today I had to bring in some plumbers and electricians to get estimates on various repair projects. When I called one plumber to schedule the appointment, he kept asking me if I was related to so-and-so, who had a similar, but different, surname. Nope. When he showed up today for the estimate, the first thing he said to me was that he figured out why my name was so familiar. “You’re the one who writes for [XYZ] magazines,” he said – he’d seen my byline in some publications I frequently write for. “Just think” he said, “you’re being notarized.” I had to suppress a chuckle -- little did he know just how much I’ve been notarized lately!

It does seem that some days there are reminders everywhere of this adoption process. For one, I know I’m not the only future adoptive parent who suddenly feels surrounded by a herd of pregnant women. They’re everywhere! No offense to pregnant women. Some of my good friends have been or are pregnant women. But I swear that unbeknownst to me, the last 12 months were declared National Pregnancy Year.

Some reminders are in the unlikeliest of places. The other day when I was at the post office, there it was again – the letters DTV on a license plate! I’ve seen PAP on license plates, too. (And in certain medical exam rooms I’d rather avoid.) This phenomenon isn’t unique to adoption. When I was diagnosed with leukemia just about 8 years ago – and this reminds me, it was actually January of 2000 that I had my first inkling of a little problem when blood work came back abnormal; it just took three months to get a diagnosis, so I guess this is my “soft” anniversary date (an inside joke for you, um, PAPs out there). Anyway. I also started seeing acronyms for various leukemias and medical procedures everywhere I turned, and also on license plates. And now it’s adoption. For Pete’s sake, there’s even a channel on DIRECTV called “DTV” and every time I flip by it, I do an involuntary double-take, like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, was that something about Vietnam adoptions?!” Oh, just DIRECTV. Gets me every time.



So, yes, I’ve been notarized, PAP’d, DTV’d, and hopefully some day, AP’d and MOM’d.



One more thing about the plumber, by the way: I had a few plumbers in who estimated a repair job for my main bath/tub at several hundred dollars. But this other plumber, who may have gotten his terminology mixed up, was the only one who told me a simple, five-minute fix would take care of the problem – and it did. And he did not charge me a cent, even when I tried to insist. He just said to remember him the next time I needed a plumber. So for those of you who live near me (you know who you are), if you ever need a plumber, let me know, and I will pass along his name. He may notarize you, too!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

40 Is The New 60 (And A Little Adoption Update)

Forty is the new 60. It was 40 degrees today, and as I worked in my dining room (washing all of the walls by hand, followed by installing shelving using my power drill - not an easy task when you have a vintage house with plaster walls), I cracked open my sliding glass doors to let in the fresh air. With a hint of sunshine, it felt like a balmy 60 degrees. After all, it was 40 degrees warmer today than it has been other days this winter.

Forty can also seem like 60 when you're waiting for international adoption. Forty days seems like 60 days. Forty weeks seems like 60 weeks. With adoption, everything is always at least 50 percent longer than you thought it would be, and more likely, 100 percent longer, or even more. The latest information I have now is that I'll probably be matched with a baby sometime between May and August. That would put me at 100 percent longer than I thought it would be when I started the adoption process back in late fall of 2006. But I am happy to have this timeframe. It's something tangible. Time normally slips away from me so quickly that this period of waiting will probably pass in a blur. And so many people keep telling me that things are working this way for a reason. I have to believe they are right -- that everything that's happening, all of these twists and turns in my adoption, are somehow meant to be, no matter the outcome or where I'm led.

I'm spending my school break cleaning and organizing. On Saturday night, I went through my baby stuff -- stuff I've bought and that family and friends have generously given me. I know some people have a hard time shopping during adoption before there is any tangible sign of Baby. You don't want to be hurt, especially if you've already experienced the loss of a baby or the loss of an opportunity to parent. At the same time, there is a tug to enjoy these days just as any expectant parent would. So while I've been accumulating baby stuff, it's all been neatly hidden away in drawers and closets and bins. Still secure in original boxes and plastic wrap. And still sporting price tags. That was my emotional safety net. I could get the stuff, but it was stashed away, all left intact, in case it had to be donated or returned. In case the adoption didn't work out. Even as I got stuff, I mentally calculated who it would be passed along to.

But on Saturday night, I dug everything out and began removing the plastic wrap, the cardboard packaging, the boxes, the tags and the numerous (annoying) twist ties. I spent many years after my leukemia diagnosis believing that I would never be a parent. Now the opportunity is stretching before me, and I've held myself back. That's not how I want it to be. I want to be invested in it emotionally the whole way, 100 percent, not 40 percent or 60 percent. I don't want to deny myself a joyful experience because of fear of the unknown.

And just what would I be saving myself from anyway? And who would I be fooling? If the adoption doesn't work out, keeping toys and clothes in plastic wrap and cardboard packaging isn't going to protect my heart from grief. The sorrow will come no matter what remains stashed away in a dark drawer. The only thing it would do is prevent me from fully enjoying the wait, from basking in the anticipation. I would be living a half-truth, only partially invested in this adoption.

If I allow my joy to be larger now, it's possible that my pain, too, may be bigger later. But I will have had the experience of that joy, in addition to the pain, whereas otherwise it may only be pain alone that I've experienced and carry in my heart.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Vietnam Adoption Standards Of Practice Update

For those of you following the efforts of the Joint Council on International Children's Services to improve adoption practices in Vietnam, here is an update, which was posted on Jan. 3, 2008:

"The timeline regarding the finalization of Joint Council’s Vietnam Standards of Practice has been extended. This decision was made in order to ensure that the most up-to-date information is incorporated in the document which will be presented to Vietnamese provinces and the DIA by Joint Council President & CEO Tom DiFilipo.

"New information obtained from USCIS and USDOS officials at Joint Council’s Board of Directors meeting next week as well as the feedback received from Joint Council members and external Summit attendees will be incorporated into the document which will be available for your review around January 20th.

"Our extended Vietnam Standards of Practice timeline is as follows:


  • January 21, 2008 (updated) – Joint Council’s final Vietnam Standards of Practice will be issued and will reflect feedback received throughout December and January


  • February 1, 2008 (updated) – Adoption Service Providers return signed Vietnam Standards of Practice to Adam Schlicht, Child Advocacy Program Manager at adams@jcics.org


  • February 2008: Joint Council will present our Standards of Practice to DIA and Vietnamese provinces through Joint Council’s International Relations Initiative


  • July 30, 2008 (updated): Vietnam Standards of Practice compliance for all signatory ASPs


"Again, Joint Council is thankful for your participation as we establish a comprehensive Vietnam Standards of Practice and continue to advocate for the right of all Vietnam's children to a safe, loving, and permanent home."

You can also read more on the USDOS's Vietnam adoption Web page.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

One Month, One Week And One Day ...

.... since DTV.

(Scroll to the very bottom of my blog to see my adoption timelines, if you care to.)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Ups & Downs Of 2008 (Already)

The new year is getting off to a frigid start, but at least the sun is finally shining again. Sophie Dog and I braved the cold to go on a walk this afternoon. It was just 1 degree, with a windchill of minus 16. That’s up from the 1 degree and minus 25 windchill when we walked yesterday afternoon.

Each time, I told myself it would just be a brief, 10-minute walk. But each time, when I reached the turn-around point, we kept on going. It’s a good way to trick yourself into walking farther – promise yourself it only has to be 10 minutes. Then just keep going. We only walked about 30 to 35 minutes, which is nothing compared to our fair-weather hikes. But in this cold, it’s good enough, and that’ll have to do. Sophie Dog wears her fleece sweater and works up a sweat playing fetch, so she doesn’t get cold, but her paws still take a beating. She is having the post-holiday doggie blues, after getting so much attention and running around like a maniac with the kids for hours on end as we played in the snow and sledded. Poor thing. She’ll love having a human sibling (assuming she survives the toddler years)!

I spent New Year’s Eve with some special friends, new and old. We ate dinner at one of our favorite local Vietnamese restaurants and enjoyed swapping notes about our adoption experiences and hounding new mom Shawna for details about the logistics of parenting. Ann S., here’s to speedy travels to meet your baby Kim in person!

Now it’s back to the same old grind. Work, freelance work and school in a couple weeks. I still have to put away my Christmas decorations, but I don’t feel like it, mainly because it’s such a hassle!

I’ve been monitoring the volatile post-election situation in Kenya. One of my aunts is a missionary in a small town in Kenya, north of Nairobi. While safety is always a concern there, hundreds have died following the re-election of president Mwai Kibaki, and it seems as if the situation may continue to deteriorate. Keep my aunt Joanne in your thoughts! I spent a few weeks visiting with my aunt in Kenya many years ago. It’s a beautiful country, so it’s sad to see Kenya, and other African nations, torn apart by violence, famine and disease.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, all. Let's hope 2008 brings some good adoption news!