25 March 2008

Mama Hope and Miss Madina from Kazakhstan

Well people have certainly been generous to us in our adoption journey. Last week Miss Madina & her lovely mom Hope have donated just gobs of clothes and goodies for our little central Asian girl to come. The extra clothes we will bring and donate to the baby house when we go. This is just great, we are so appreciative of all the hand me downs and it feels good to see STUFF being passed along.

Pretty darn beautiful little girl eh? We thought, wow, maybe we should switch countries and then got ahold of ourselves. Of coarse if you are adopting or thinking of adopting or just watching a friend adopt you wonder. Will she be a beautiful baby? Don't tell me it isn't a worry. I know it's a totally real fear out there and I also know how hard I have seen people fall so hopelessly in love when their referral comes.....so we wait. Maybe life just gives you what you need and one of the things with adoption, you have to let go of some of that control and "hope" that the perfect one for you lands in your nest for you to love.

Thank you Hope & Madina (+papa Andy who was away for the visit.) We also found that we had another thing in common besides adopted kids from Central Asia. Amongst the chatting over babies and Central Asia, across the room, I spotted an art object from an artist we both happen to know and collect... Alma Allen, and I have to mention his dynamic partner Nancy. Alma creates just the most odd & beautiful sculptures. How nice to have things in common. This just keeps getting better.

Also thanks Madina for pouring me at least 20 cups of your imaginary tea. It was DELICIOUS!

*Warm thanks to sister Chris, Phil & Eden + Llisa, Mark, Lucia, Marin & Sonia for their GREAT and GENEROUS goodies for baby o. ***This is like Christmas*** Makes both Eric & I really excited that this is actually happening soon.

Looking forward to being parents!

15 March 2008

Our TRIBE...calling all Aunties & Uncles!

So here is our tribe....

This is a photo from our Wedding Celebration which was last June '07, around the Summer Solstice. We got married in San Francisco's City Hall on the Winter Solstice 12.22.06 with our mom's as our witnesses. We had our celebration party six months later. No we did not have our party on the tracks, we had a little adventure walking down to the railroad tracks while our tables were being set up for dinner. We liked this industrial backdrop for our cast of characters. The weather was superb, everyone was in good but genuine social form!!! A perfect day and so much fun! I for one thought that having the official ceremony and the party separately was perfect for us. The guy in the orange turban is the security guard next door.We were all forming into position waiting for the photographer when he ran up along the r.r. tracks carrying the bright yellow ladder. The colors of the orange turban and yellow ladder were unexpected and made everyone burst into laughter. Of course we invited him in for the photo. See the shadow of our dear friend Jaymie on the ladder in the photo?

So this adoption, to include baby o, into our tribe has got me thinking. Families are spread out all over the country, and some people in our lives, we wish were family anyhow. Just how many people does it take to raise a baby. I say a WHOLE TRIBE.

My good friend Angelina had her son, Jacobi, a year and a half ago. She had a hard labor which put her back in the hospital a few days after she brought baby Jacobi home. I had just returned from Brazil and Eric & I went over to stay with her NEWBORN so that papa Oliver could get some rest. Family flowed in and out of the apartment and back and forth to the hospital. Music was being played, the baby passed & cooed over. Food filled the kitchen table. We were all on shifts. Eric & I even spent a few nights with baby Jaco sandwiched in between us to care for him through the night. While this story unfolded under unfortunate circumstances for Angelina, both in being away from her new one, and also having to recover, we felt so privileged that we could help and be part of their lives. It was a precious moment that usually only new parents have. I felt my strong protective hormones kicking in seeing this little six pound being breathing between us and hoping for Angelina to get better. Which today by the way, Angelina is fine, a great mama and makes a beautiful clothing line, Ocelot, and Jaco spends his time running all around her studio and is growing like a weed.

Another story about family by extension; My dad grew up in Oahu, Hawaii. I will always remember visiting over there when I was six years old and calling every person I was introduced to as Auntie & Uncle. Now how can this be when my dad is an only child?

Our talented friends Craig & Cathy, parents to Zane, live part time in Hawaii and everyone is Auntie & Uncle to Zane, even the mailman is Uncle. Zane, now five this week, seems to be raised knowing that a whole community is raising him. No they are not hippies, but open to the influence of their creative & intelligent friends. I think this is great and I'm signing up people to be Aunties & Uncles either genetic or not, to be part of our community and baby o's life. No obligation required, only a desire to share yourselves.

Grandma Carla is already signed up for some Saturdays so I can be at my gallery. We are all making room for this exciting transition. We want to be inclusive with this new part of our family.

We also feel fortunate that we are starting to meet many families in the Bay Area who have adopted children and may I say...they have been just great to us! Your lucky when you adopt, your definition of family is asked to be reconsidered and you must leave the blood lines behind.

In Hawaii they have a word for extended families which is also part of Hawaiian culture. 'ohana' means family in an extended sense of the term including blood-related, adoptive or intentional. And 'hanai' means adopted family...here is a great story about hanai.

08 March 2008

Paper Pregnant...Time line

10 . 01 . 07 Sign up with our home study agency
02 . 12 . 08 Turn in all paperwork for home study
02 . 13 . 08 Mail in application for Kyrgyzstan Agency
02 . 19 . 08 Paperwork mailed to San Francisco CIS
02 . 22 . 08 Paperwork confirmed arrival to SF CIS
02 . 25 . 08 Home study finished!
02 . 27 . 08 ON THE LIST #16 ,including 3 families with referrals waiting to travel
03 . 01 . 08 Working on dossier for Kyrgyzstan Government; told to notarize in May.
03 . 18 . 08 Finger printing appointment
03 . 24. 08 #12 ON THE LIST
04 . 01 . 08 In our mailbox today; yeah our I-171H all approved!
05 . 04 . 08 Just check in with the agency....#9 on the list + hoping all reopens soon in Kyrgz.
05 . 06 . 08 News that the embassy is open again.
06 . 25 . 08 Dossier officially state certified.
06 . 26 . 08 Dossier is out of my hands on it's way to be translated! I think we are #8 ON THE LIST.
08 . 2008 Slow down on the adoption, we will not travel until at least Winter.
10.04.08 Number #5-7 on the list, 2 families on hold in front of us...hence the sliding number.

still expecting....Maybe a referral for baby o in September 08...
06 . 26 . 08 update: well, maybe later....referrals have been slower...so maybe October? November?
10.04.08 Probably Dec - Feb?

So there you have it, we are 7cm paper pregnant. I couldn't find the ruler in inches but you get the picture. I thought I'd post our time line and update as we know more. Unlike a pregnancy it can go slower or suddenly faster. Now you know what I've been doing.....paperwork and research. I can say one thing, I'm having more fun waiting to adopt that waiting to get pregnant.

01 March 2008

Kyrgyzstan....where & why?

I have heard Kyrgyzstan referred to as the wild west. This was only after we decided to adopt from there but it kind of has that adventure ring to it. I think they meant that in relationship to Kazakhstan, which is considered the wealthiest of the Central Asian countries because of their natural resources. Kyrgyzstan is considered the Alps of Central Asia, being about 75% mountains. Well there it is on the map. The little blue country sandwiched between Kazakhstan and China, bordering Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. It is a small country, I read it is the size of South Dakota. Central Asia is comprised of five independent republics: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan. So the "stans", but not all of them. It is for many of us the other side of the world. It will take us around 23 hours with stopovers to get there from Californ-i-a.

I always said that if we could just adopt from Japan I'd do it in a heart beat. Our exploration of adopting from Japan was, it is very difficult and super pricey. We also did not find the folks except for two very nice women, Eryn and Nancy, very open about sharing their experiences. I know that adoption is not common in Japan and not talked about so maybe the extended community reflects their wishes? We did find one agency, thanks to Hope, who did have a new program. This was all towards the end when we had almost picked Kyrgyzstan. We were rejected after they examined our photo for a week ...was it personal or really my husband's age. (47) Or was it fate?

Asia was always CENTRAL on the adoption scope although for a brief time we entertained domestic. For me I was more interested in a connection to somewhere in Asia. So after we finally decided on Vietnam their government and ours started and continue to clash. I have heard actual stories of people that are having difficulties getting their baby back to the U.S. and that it is unstable for now. We were sad to leave our great Bay Area Adoptive Vietnamese families behind. They had all been so kind. So again, researching another country......we then were reminded about Kyrgyzstan.

I was at the bookstore getting some books on Vietnam when this beautiful book titled, Kyrgyzstan leapt off the shelf. Beautiful people and traditional costume in Kyrgyzstan. Wow I was intrigued and truly taken by the beauty. For those of you who know me you will know BEAUTY might just be near the top of the list of things that drive me. Also I would have to add community to be big on the list which includes family and friends. So later that night instead of reading my books on Vietnam I started researching Kyrgyzstan and also returned to my original thought of Kazakhstan too after meeting Madina, child of Hope & Andy, possibly one of the cutest little girls from Kazakhstan.

Let's just say the instability of Vietnam adoption, beautiful culture that it is and having to stay in Kazakhstan for 2 months, us both being self-employed. Seeing and reading about the people of Kyrgyzstan and well the The Tien Shan Mountains kind of sealed the deal for me. More beauty, I'm a Japanese-German- French American raised in Utah. The mountains called out to me. I am a mountain girl of mixed heritage. Suddenly my first pick of Japan seemed to rigid and pure. Kyrgyzstan it is.

For those of you who are just starting your adoption journey or folks that have not adopted.....International Adoption is not like a pick chart of selecting just ANY country that might catch your fancy. There are many guidelines, most strict, set by each country or the agency, from age, weight, number of years married, who will consider single women, etc. Age gets hard after 45 to adopt an infant, and for years married they like to see 3-5 years and well I can tell you that I did not meet Korea's weight requirements. And if you know me I'm TALL not fat.

So as some of my other adoptive community friends say.....once you pick your country you can't imagine adopting from anywhere else.....KYRGYZSTAN IT IS!!! I do have a backup plan in case this small country runs out of babies but let's not talk about that yet...I have my trip to the Tien Shan mountains and baby o waiting for me.