Waiting for PA

We finally got confirmation from our coordinator that our on-line application went in.  Now we wait for PA (pre-approval).  I have a feeling it will take a little longer than normal. Buzz on the blogs and forums is that the CCCWA has reorganized yet again. Some say they moved and disconnected all phones and computers. So even dossiers that went in 2-3 weeks ago have yet to be logged in. Our coordinator said she expects to get the PA in about a week.

So what to do in the meantime. Hmm.  Well, I just sent in yet another check.  This will be the best 80 bucks ever spent!  For $40 we can get an update on our little girl.  Size, weight, other measurements, physical, mental and motor skills development and in general what she likes to do, how she behaves, etc. It will be pretty interesting to see what a quick visit by an outsider garners.  The sample we read was pretty sad.  In the box of commentary for speech and language development, this is what it said:  Because there is no one-to-one talk in this institution, he is fairly behind in language. It’s almost unfathomable to imagine these little babies in cribs all day without ANY adult interaction other than feeding and changing. No one-to-one talk. Think about that.  It’s deeply disturbing.  Even more so when it’s our little girl who has to endure it for 6 more months. Oh and for the additional $40 we will get 3 new photos.  Yay.  Hope to be able to share them with you soon.

You may notice I am calling her little girl now.. it feels a little early to grant her baby sister status, but I promise as soon as we have confirmation we’re gonna get her, she will then forever be referred to as baby sister.

On Friday I sent out Parker’s birth certificate to a courier in Chicago.  I just got it back from the state of Minnesota a few days prior. I had to have it state certified before this last, final step of authentication.  We should get it back in about a week and a half.

I also finally started our on-line class. You may recall we were advised a little late in the game that we were a couple of hours short in our pre-adopt training requirements.  So I started the on-line class Wednesday night.  I wouldn’t say I’m learning a whole lot but just more of the same.  I already have a good idea of what goes on in the orphanages, how the kids develop (or don’t) as a result, and the challenges we face in the early months, and the class pretty much just reaffirms all of this.

We have a few notarizations left to take care of and after that our dossier will be ready to go. Save for the I-800A approval.  Regarding that, early last week we received a letter from the Department of Homeland Security that our application and all fees have been received and the next step is that we’ll be contacted from a local USCIS office regarding our fingerprint appointment.  Hoping we get our appointment very soon. I’ve read varying thoughts on this.  Some say to wait for your appointment because in doing so you will already have an officer assigned to you who will process your application start to finish. I’ve also heard that rather than wait for your appointment that you can just walk in.  This is where it gets controversial. Some say it speeds it up (since you just walk in say tomorrow rather than wait for your scheduled appointment, say, 2 weeks away).  Others say if you do that, you still won’t get an officer assigned to you until the original fingerprint appointment date. I think we’ll just go with the process as it is suggested.  We’ll need the time to plan ahead as I am assuming Parker will need to leave work and I’ll have to get a sitter for the boys.

From the get go, I have been trying to move the process along as swiftly as I could, or as was in my control, but now I have an increased sense of urgency.  I’m sure I’m going to go completely insane and back, maybe a few times, in the coming months.  It’s so strange and unnatural to think we have a little girl who is just sitting there waiting, all the while barely getting her basic needs met.

We have started tossing around names. We had some great names already agreed upon from when we pregnant with our boys. But now that we’ve seen her little face, it’s sort of a game changer. It’s not just coming up with a name that we both, or rather, we all like and agree on.  It’s different because we’ve seen her and now we are kind of caught up in the “well, she doesn’t really look like a …”  We watched a movie last night, as we do pretty much every Saturday, most Fridays too, and as the credits rolled, a name caught my eye.  A name I would never have considered but now we’re toying with it.  I should also mention our big kid has pretty much vetoed all previous name considerations.  He even came up with a super cute name on his own when we threw it back at him. So I guess we have at least a couple of names we’re tossing around.  A lot of people have asked us if we’re keeping her Chinese name, and the answer is no, we don’t plan to.  If her name had some significance to it, we would, of course.  But she was abandoned and left in a field and the orphanage just gave her a name.  I think she deserves a fresh, new start.



I am a total mess now.  You’d think it would have gotten better now that we have made our decision but it’s sort of a mish mash now.  What the heck do I do next?  I’m still all jittery.  A mix of sleep deprivation & mental/emotional depletion with a sprinkle of nerve ending reconnection by way of emotional decision completion makes for a little anxiety and much excitement.  A foggy headed emotional hangover is about where I’m at now.  I’m spent and excited but trying to keep it at a minimum just in case something falls through.  Just from reading this, it’s apparent, I have a bad case of A.D.D.!

Since posting on Saturday night that we’re moving forward with a little cutie, I’ve been busy.  Most importantly I’ve been busy getting our ducks in a row.  In order for our agency to submit our on-line application directly to the CCWAA, we had to provide the following:

- Passport photo jpg ME
- Passport photo jpg PARKER
- Family photo jpg
- Letter of Intent (LOI)
- Family Info Sheet
- Homestudy

I got to work first thing yesterday morning to get everything emailed to our coordinator.  Mission accomplished save for one edit to the LOI which Parker made late last night.  Whew!  I sent in the next check covering a couple of fees on the long a$$ fee schedule.  Once our coordinator receives the check, she’ll have everything she requires in order to submit our application.  I’m hoping she’ll be able to send it in either tomorrow or Wednesday.  I heard through the yahoo group, however, that she is busy sending out LOAs (letters of authorization) so if she has her hands full with those right now, it may not happen until Wed/Thurs.  Side note – Our coordinator is sort of a one man show in our agency.  She does it all, from translations, to matching, to communicating with the CCWAA.  As you can imagine, she has to work on the most important/urgent matters first, not just a first in/first out type of communication.  I totally get it and I’m sure when we’re next in line to travel I’ll be glad she answers me immediately and makes the poor suckers waiting for their match wait… until then, we’re kind of those suckers.

After our application gets sent in, we wait for our PA, or pre-approval.  The next steps are as follows:

PA: Pre-Approval. After submitting your LOI, you receive pre-approval from the CCCWA to adopt a specific child. Typically, you will receive your PA anywhere from 1 – 10 days after your LOI is submitted.
DTC: Dossier to China. This is a celebration day! You have finally collected all of the required paperwork. This is the date that your dossier is mailed to China.
LOA: Letter of Acceptance. This is the official approval from China to adopt your child. This comes after LID.
I just may be holding my breath until we get PA. After that, we’ll feel confident enough to share more about our little girl, show you some pictures and.. ee gads.. let the boys in on it!
Concurrently, we’re gathering everything for our Dossier so that once we are granted I-800A approval, we will be ready to send our DTC.  We still haven’t been advised of our fingerprint appointment from USCIS for this step of the I-800A so I’m assuming we’re at least a month away from approval.  After we get approval, we’ll have our Dossier documents ready.  Our agency will courier everything to the embassy in San Francisco where everything will be authenticated, then they’ll translate and send to China (DTC).  All in all, we’re looking at about 1-1 1/2 months for I-800A approval, 2+ months from DTC to LOA (letter of authorization to adopt our specific child) then another 2 months to apply and be granted a visa for her from USCIS with TA (travel authorization) shortly thereafter.  I think.  I will confirm all of these boring details as we get closer.  So many hoops to jump through. Seems if there’s a loving home ready and waiting, they would make a carpool lane for us to zoom through .. it would be better for all, especially the little girl who now has a family that she won’t get to meet for another grueling 6 months.  That’s sooooo freaking long in the life of a child.  I am killing myself with thoughts of all the things we could do and accomplish in that time.. and all of the things we will miss in her life!
On a fun note – we’re hoping to work with a 3rd party to get updated medical info, growth values, etc., and some new pictures.  It should be easy as they’re supposed to help you out if your files are 9 months old and our files are close to, so by the time the request goes in, we’re hopeful we’ll get what we’re asking. For $40. Silly.  If only they knew what we’d be willing to pay.
I can’t seem to tear myself away from all the discussion groups.. I found one that’s dedicated to special needs adoption just for the province where this little girl is at … how wild!  And sometimes you can hook up with a family who is traveling months before you and they’ll snap a pic of your kid while they’re there picking up their kid.  Strange little adoption world!  Strange yet helpful and fascinating at the same time.
I’m all over the place people.. and I don’t expect it to get any better anytime soon. Once we get PA, I’ll breathe a sigh of relief but I won’t be able to calm down and accept it all until we get LOA.. so hold onto your hats, it’s gonna be a long-winded ride.

Leap of faith

I’ve said it and/or heard it and/or read it countless times in the last week.  International adoption in and of itself requires a leap of faith but special needs international adoption … well, it should be called more like a free fall of faith.  You lose your stomach as soon as you take the leap.  You aren’t sure what’s going to happen until you land.  And the ride down, well, it’s pants pooping terrifying!

I don’t think with special needs adoption (from China no less), that we will ever feel 100% confident with a based on paper only child.  1. We’ve never seen or watched her with our own eyes.  2. We’ve never had a kid with special needs and 3. Who the heck knows what gets lost or misinterpreted in the translation.  But are we comfortable enough, based on what we’ve learned so far?  Yes.  Do we think we can handle it?  Yes.  Are we in agreement on the potential risks?  Yes.  Are we totally prepared?  No. Hell no.  How can we be?  Are you ever totally prepared for what comes with a new child?  No.  You never know what is going to happen in early developmental stages, nor do you know how an additional child will impact your family dynamics. You just have to live it, to learn it.

I must have read a hundred China special needs adoption stories last night (other blogs) and while it scared the pants off of me, it also made me realize that you just plan for the worst and hope for the best, because in the end you don’t really know what you’re getting.  I read a whole blog about clefts.  Cleft lip, cleft palate.. multiple surgeries, some that “took,” some that didn’t.  Bone grafting stories, pain and agony, speech therapy.  One family was in the process of adopting a little girl with a heart defect, which is considered a minor special need.  A heart defect easily repaired in the US.  Just a month or so before they were to travel to get her, they got a call that tragically, she had died.  Another family brought home a nsn (non-special needs) little girl only to be shocked by the onset of seizures in the month or two after they were home.  I could go on and on but you get the picture.  We aren’t adopting a healthy kid. Period.  We can’t compare to anything we know.

We talked and talked last night until we were both emotionally spent.  While Parker was on the phone with our dear friend, looking for a little guidance, I burst into tears after reading all of the adoption stories.  The enormity of this decision hit me like a ton of bricks and I was facing fear in the face.  Fear like I’ve never known.  Making a decision to bring a child into your family, whom you’ve never met, and know that on paper, she may have some serious long-term medical issues, is scary.  It’s unnatural!  I was so scared to say yes or no!  If I say yes, would I be the one swaying the vote and if I say no, am I turning my back on the girl who is meant to be our daughter?   Even though I was a little uncomfortable, would I be more or less comfortable with the next file that came our way?  I know we can do this and I know our family will be stronger and better for it.  But I am very scared of the unknown and even more scared of making a decision that could potentially have a negative impact on the family dynamic that we now enjoy.  Long term, we’ll be fine. Short term it’s sure to be a bit of a shit show.  Honestly.

I remember just before the birth of our second son I started to panic. How would our older son handle it. It had just been the 2 of us during the day all day, every day, for 2 years!  And then our easy, happy little threesome after Parker would get home from work and on the weekends. He was the center of our world. And we were just about to rock it by the addition of a baby.  What if he hates me?  What if I don’t have time for him?  Will he think I don’t love him?  How will this all work out?  In the end, my fears were for naught.  Sure we had our difficulties, power struggles and lots of lots of mommy guilt.  But now our older son has a best friend, a confidante, a shadow, that I cannot imagine him being without.  I am considering all of this as I look forward and hope the day comes, sooner, rather than later, that we look at our 3 kids and rest assured they are stronger and closer and better off because they have each other, because we took a leap of faith.

I guess what I’ve been trying to say with all of this rambling is that we’re mid free fall right now.  We’ve taken a leap off the edge and into the unknown and are moving forward with adopting this little girl.  Unknowns, big risks and all.  Like Parker says, she’s worth taking a chance for.  I’ve felt it in my heart from the moment I saw her but have been afraid to fully commit.  But committed we are!  She’s not ours just yet.  There’s the LOI (letter of intent) to write and then we have to receive PA (pre-approval) from the CCWA.  Both of which shouldn’t be an issue, just standard procedure.  After that we’ll move along the same paperwork path we’re already on.  Waiting for I-800A approval and then sending our DTC (dossier to China).  We’re hopeful this will all go as planned and we’ll be traveling to pick up baby sister late summer.  I don’t want to give too much away in case it doesn’t work out, but she’s a beautiful little 17 month old who loves to ride a plasma car during her activity time.  A girl after our own hearts!  The boys don’t know about her just yet.  We are going to wait until we have the paperwork that grants us approval .. just to be safe!  Wrapping their little heads around adoption is tough enough so we need to make sure she’s ours before we tell them about her.

I am going to sleep like a baby tonight!  Or rather like a happy, expectant mama!


Just deciding…

The long, exhausting wait is over.  I checked my phone about 10x last night.  Parker had to travel today and so of course we stayed up too late (11:30ish) since making a flight is easier to do tired than is showing up and actually having to work!  I slept restlessly until about 3:45 when I just couldn’t take it anymore. I finally got up and walked to the kitchen for a glass of water. I thought about just staying up but working to make my body go back to sleep is a lot easier than staying awake with nothing to do but think!  I nodded off again somewhere between 5:30 and 6am.  Little kid woke up early, around 6:30 and came in for a snuggle.  That warm little body helped me relax and I slept again until a few minutes after 7.  After the big kid woke up, we got up and started our day.  Checked my email a thousand more times in the next hour.  Managed to make breakfast and lunches and get the boys dressed and out the door on time.  Drop offs complete … autopilot to Starbucks. I finally couldn’t stand it anymore so before I went in to get my coffee, I sent a note to our coordinator asking her if she could please just let me know if anything came in.  She emailed me right back, while I was waiting for my coffee, and said to call her. What is up with that?  Why doesn’t she ever just call me?

So I ran to my car to call her. There wasn’t much of an update given.  We aren’t surprised though as we didn’t even know if we’d get anything!  We do think it’s enough to help us make a sound decision.  We’re waiting for the doctor’s feedback, which may or may not be helpful.  Upon receipt of her thoughts, I think we’re ready to make a decision tonight.  I say I think we are because I think I am and I know we have to so …

I don’t really know what Parker is thinking.  We texted back and forth quite a few times but didn’t get to actually speak until he was at the airport getting ready to board his flight home.  Not a conversation you want to have on the phone.  I find it’s easier for me to just not talk to him on the phone with this issue looming overhead.  I talk .. a lot .. too much .. too often .. so I can’t even get started.  I’m saving it up for tonight’s face to face.


Just waiting

It’s been 11 long days since we met this little girl in photos and on paper.  I finally got a good night’s sleep last night, comforted by knowing the information we’re waiting on wouldn’t be coming in at any moment, so I wouldn’t need to wake up to check my email a few times a night.  t talked with our coordinator yesterday and we are getting an update, hallelujah, but not until the woman at the orphanage who can provide it, gets back from her trip on 3/9.  The good thing is that it’s 3/9 in China as I type this.  YAY!  But I don’t know if it means she’ll be back in on 3/9 or that we’ll get something on 3/9.  But I do know it will make for another restless night tonight if we don’t get anything by the time we go to bed. Which I’m sure we won’t because said woman has to return, write up the info, send it to the agency in China facilitating this, who will then send it to our agency, who then has to translate it… When will we actually get it?  Aye, aye, aye, I don’t know, but I’m really hoping it’s tomorrow.  Of course Parker is traveling tomorrow so just our luck we’ll get the info while he’s en route to his meeting and will be expected to make a quick decision.  If there’s more medical stuff, I don’t even know if they’ll give us more time to have our doctors take a look.  If there isn’t, I wonder if they will expect it immediately?  There are other families in line, ya know.  Weird to have to 1) make a decision about a kid and 2) be hurried because of other families breathing down your neck to get that kid that you may actually want!  Weird and awkward and nearly impossible.  If I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it now, being pregnant is so..much..easier.  I would rather be 42 weeks pregnant, peeing every hour, wheezing without even taking a step, not sleeping, popping tums like tic tacs with a head on my bladder a couple of feet in my ribs… AND CANKLES!  All that physical crap is nothing compared to this, especially when that baby comes out and you love him so much that it doesn’t matter what his future may look like because he’s yours and you love him and whatever will be, will be.  Well, that and this being my personal story. I’m sure many of you have horror pregnancy/child stories that top this but in my little bubble of rainbows and puppies, pregnancy was a breeze, pre-eclampsia and all and my kids are healthy.  There were no tough decisions to be made.  When I was pregnant with our little guy we didn’t even do any of the non-required testing because it didn’t matter.. we were having the baby no matter what.  And now we have to make a decision.

This may sound nuts but we totally underestimated how gut wrenching this would be.  We anticipated following the process, getting a referral, and accepting the referral.  We thought the hardest part would be deciding which special needs we would or would not accept.  But then I jumped the gun and looked at the kids our agency is placing and how could I not find one of those little faces to love?  So rather than checking special needs off of a list, we are now considering the needs of this particular little girl.  Like many things, when you put a face to it, it is much more meaningful.     
One of the things I find comfort in is that there are other families in line so if we do end up having to say no to this little girl, I hope one of them are able to take her.  I was so distraught at the thought of us saying no only for the other families to do the same for the same reason.  That reason being the big unknown, the what if, the worst case scenario.  But over the last few days, what I’m learning is that in the adoption world, there are all sorts of families.  All sorts of welcoming, loving, flexible, open families.  Some families are better equipped than others for this or that special need.  Some are able to adopt a 10 year old as if it’s no big deal. I can’t even imagine.  Language issues, hurry up and bond before she’s off to college. My eyes have been opened to families on the same journey but who are taking different routes.  It’s a unique way to build a family so there really isn’t a right or wrong .. only what’s right for us as a family.  What may be wrong for us may be the perfect fit for another family and vice versa.  We have the resources for a lot of things others may not. Not just financial resources, but consider where we live. We are a 15 minute from Oakland Children’s Hospital and a 45 minute drive from Lucille Packard’s Children’s Hospital at Stanford.  Not to mention some of the top Pediatric Therapists, Neuropsychologists, you name it.  If you live in timbucktwo, there are a lot of medical conditions you can’t take on because you simply cannot make a 2-6 hour drive for surgery, post-op appointments, physical therapy, occupational therapy, etc.  So I hate hearing “oh blah, blah, you’ll get the right little girl.”  Suck it!  Kind of like telling a woman who is battling her ovaries “don’t worry, it will happen.”  So stupid and insensitive.  BUT!  I do believe we will FIND the right little girl for us. She won’t just be dropped on top of us like magical air mail from China.  (Dag nabbit.)  Instead, we will find her through hard work, soul searching, honest communication and top notch medical advice.  
Cheers!  Hitting the ambien, I mean chardonnay. 

Holding my breath

We talked a lot last night after I wrote my last post.  As much as we know this may end with us still searching for baby sister, we’re both still holding out hope that this little girl is her.

I am trying to be patient but the suspense and the unknown is killing me!  So I broke down and emailed our coordinator this morning.  I asked if she could at least let me know if she’s heard anything at all or if something is in the process, anything.  As I drove down the road after dropping the big kid at school an email came in from her. I pulled over and almost hopped the curb, which would have been minor to most vehicles but could have totaled mine.  Should have hopped it…

Email said to call her.  So I called Parker and started to panic. He said just go home and let’s both call and he told me how to do it on my iPhone. I’m turning into such an old fogey that I now need help figuring out my own darn phone.  Next on the list after getting a kid is catching back up on technology.  Jeez.  So I ran in, turned on Franklin and Friends for the little guy then flew into the office to make the call. I called Parker first then the agency. I was so excited to hear what she had to say that I just let her start talking without saying Parker was on.

It turns out no news is good news.  We made our request for more information on March 1.  The same day, it just so happens, that the CCCWA changed the rules for providing updates.  She called and talked to them and they agreed to be flexible.  But then another complication arose in that the person providing the updates is traveling on a train to a conference or something.  So the good news is that we are going to get an update and hopefully very soon.  There’s pressure too, however, as other families are hounding the coordinator for this girl and complaining that we’ve had the file for over 72 hours.  But it’s not as if we’re twiddling our thumbs and taking our sweet time .. we’re asking the same questions they will want answers to .. so we have to be given a little more time.  She said a couple or a few more days.  Hopefully within this time we’ll have enough information to make a good decision.


Maybe she’s not baby sister

I’ve gone from ecstatic to optimistic to hopeful to doubtful to fearful to pessimistic.  We haven’t gotten any updates. Maybe they’re working on them… maybe they’re somewhere being translated… or maybe they aren’t coming at all.  And unfortunately if we don’t get any additional information or the answers to even the simplest of the questions, we won’t be able to take the leap of faith to move forward with the adoption.

I’m thankful that every time my emotions spiral out of control that my husband is a male who is, by default, rational.  I’m also thankful for kind, wise and generous friends.  Without these things, I’m not sure I would have what I need to get comfortable with any decision, let alone the one that will leave me deeply saddened.  Parker is a facts and numbers guy and he has laid out his thoughts methodically and rationally.  At the end of our discussion about this little girl on Thursday night we thought it sure would be great if we had some help or advice that wasn’t just on paper.  We decided to call in the help of a dear friend and mentor.  He’s on vacation so Parker sent him a quick email.  We heard back the next day.  Long story short, I checked my email at 5am this morning (hoping for an update from our agency) and there was an email from a world renowned doctor from Europe who was kind enough to take a look at the little girl’s file at the request of our friend.  Amazing.

The one thing we’re feeling good about is that the advice we’re getting is consistent.  Same risk factors, same potential issues that may or may not present in the future.  Consistent, yet unbelievably depressing.

Last night I re-read the files again as well as the pages of notes I scribbled during our conference call with the doctor to review her report.  I’ve mentioned before that the doctor said this little girl is doing amazingly well. She also said there isn’t anything in the medical report that is terribly alarming.  Both fairly positive.  BUT, the one big issue this little girl has could have been caused, or is a symptom of, a number of different things OR it could be self limiting OR it could just be something she was born with and is part of her anatomy.  In order to come to some conclusions, we have to isolate each of the causes or symptoms on their own and think about it from the perspective of okay if this is the cause/symptom then the worst case scenario is “x” and just go down the list to make sure we talk through each of them.  There is only 1 of 8+ potentials that is scary.  So last night I told Parker this is insane. We’re looking at it from the perspective of the worst possible cause and the worst possible outcome. It’s almost ridiculous to even think the odds could play out that way. But they absolutely can. And if they did, we probably wouldn’t know it until she starts school or even later in high school.

Because she’s doing so well now, I really don’t foresee in my heart of hearts that she’s just going to take a nosedive.  But she very well may peter out at some point.  Or she may keep developing normally but have something else go haywire in her brain. It could impact her mood, her relationships, her temper, her ability to hold down a job.  These are big issues but really just the tip of the iceberg as the stalling out of development would be an even worse outcome.

Bottom line is that we’ll be able to make the best decision with the addition or absence of additional information.  We really don’t need much more to sway us, but if we don’t get anything, we can’t rightfully agree to move forward.  There’s too much risk and we can only do it if we both agree it’s the right decision. Parker doesn’t want me to be disappointed that he’s not comfortable moving forward given the risk factors that we’ve been told time and time again.  And I won’t be able to live with the guilt of putting this on our family should the worst of the scenarios play out in the coming years.  Thankfully, thankfully we are able to talk through all of this.  Almost too well. I can’t even think straight right now,  I’m so overwhelmed playing out the scenarios in my head, checking my email every 2 seconds, switching the subject of any and every conversation we’ve had in the last week back to this girl without even intending to.  My mind is stuck and I am looking forward to becoming unstuck.


We need more time

That about sums it up.  Making a  decision of this magnitude is almost too hard.  If we were pregnant and presented the exact same set of circumstances, we would have no choice.  We would take it all in. Hope for the best.  And deal with whatever happens, when it happened.  But we don’t get that privilege. We have to make a decision. And soon.  We’ve asked our agency for more time, which they were happy to give to us. On top of getting a boatload of info to process from the doctor today, we also need to talk about this face to face.  Which couldn’t have happened today or tonight because of Parker’s work obligations.  We also need some questions answered.

The call with the doctor went really well. She was candid but understanding and reasonably warm.  The most difficult part of this whole process is the lack of information.  We’re going off of one set of values taken when this little girl was 9 months old. She is now 17 months old.  And there is a whole lot that happened between her “intake” date at just over 2 pounds and a day or to old, to the miraculous catching up she’s done to date.  It all sounds too good to be true. And that may well be the case. She may be a miracle baby, much like I was.  A refresher, I was a few months premature, 2 pounds 9oz, supposedly had hydrocephalus and was developmentally delayed.  I didn’t have a single hiccup as a child. Perfectly.  Healthy.  I’m not naive enough to think that’s the case here. But at the same time, that’s kind of what it seems like.

On the flip side, however, there is one HUGE unknown about this little girl.  There is one glitch that’s big enough that if the worst case scenario panned out, she wouldn’t be able to become a productive, self sufficient adult.  Like Parker said, I can be proud of a Starbucks Barista, but we really have to think long and hard about an adult who cannot take care of herself, etc.  No offense to Baristas out there.  Point being, we don’t need baby sister to go to Harvard or win a Nobel prize, but we do want her to become a productive member of society.  The odds here are a shot in the dark.  Best guess is that it’s 25% chance.  But again, that’s with how little info we have. Maybe we could whack these odds in half if just knew a little more of her story. And the doctor also pointed out that there really wouldn’t be anything that could get us as low as 5% given her challenging beginning.  But even if the odds are what they are, there’s still a 75% chance she will be fine.

25%.  Haunting, double digit risk factor.  Is it worth it?  Can we get better than that?  Can we get something different?  We have absolutely no freaking idea.

Since the call I’ve talked myself into wanting to move forward only to then find as many reasons to talk myself out of it.  I’m not sure how we are going to make this decision. Perhaps the answers to the questions we asked will help. Our doctor came up with the most important questions to seek answers for.  There is little chance we’ll get answers to them all, but if we can get a few more tidbits of info, it will lessen the fog of mystery and help us come to some sort of conclusion.

I am definitely one to take an emotional risk.  Thankfully Parker’s approach provides a balance.  He is a fact finder and verifier and a number cruncher.  And he’s a dude. He’s emotional to a point but his rationale wins out time after time after time.  If it was just me, I would say yes, absolutely, I want to be her mother.  But I can’t do that.  We can’t do that.  We have to think about everyone.. short term and long term.

This is where that damn list comes into play.  If we had just filled it out and agreed to it, we probably wouldn’t be considering this little girl.  Why? Because while she doesn’t present with any major issues, the one she has would impact her emotionally and mentally.  We talked earlier on that we would rather have a physical issue than a mental one.  And now look… here we are at a crossroads because we haven’t filled out that damn form.  But like I told Parker on the phone today I don’t want to just make a decision now based off of what we thought we wanted versus what is in front of us now.  We owe it to ourselves and to this little girl to dig deeper.  Dig deeper within ourselves and dig deeper medically and historically to make sure we are making the right decision.  So that’s what we’re doing. The excavation has begun.  I’m hopeful we’ll uncover some useful facts, but overwhelmingly stressed that we won’t.

Still cautiously hopeful.


The weight

has finally been lifted.  We got our medical review file from the doctor just a bit ago.  It’s been a rough day!  I am not one to check my phone but I had it out and visible at all times.  Thankfully I had some distractions.

I met a friend for lunch in the city after an endodontist appointment.  Turns out my root canal re-do is alright. Yeah hoo.  So I met my beautifully peeled, botoxed and invisiligned friend for lunch.  The perfect, entertaining and fiercely supportive distraction.  I showed her a couple of pictures of the little girl we’re reviewing and she tried really hard to make me cry. But I stayed strong.  I want to melt into tears over baby sister but I have to make sure it’s going to work out.  For both of us. For ALL of us! So I’m keeping that layer of protection over my heart for now.

After that I picked up our little guy who was filthy and full of sand and who talked and talked about how much fun he had at sool.  (school).  Music to my ear’s from my lil’ mama’s boy! Only took a year and a half!

We then went straight to the big kid’s school to pick him up.  I was super early as he does an after school program…  but my boys provide the best distraction and perspective there is so I wanted them around even if the “schedule” said otherwise.

On the way home, we stopped at the local UPS store to send out my and Parker’s birth certificates to get apostilled by our respective secretaries of state.  It took a while because the addresses and zip codes weren’t matching up. So rather than risk my big kid reading one of a hundred dirty cards to the little guy, I made them sit along the side and take turns playing angry birds with the promise of ice cream afterwards. It worked.  Amazing what a little mid-afternoon treat will do.  I enjoyed it too!  Better than taking them to the bar.  Oh wait, we live in a no bar town.  Can you even believe that. Sheesh.

When we got home, I put the boys in the bathtub.  Weird!  I know.  But I had a 5pm hair cut and color and Parker does not like doing bath time so I was doing him a favor.  Only to be called… by him…  from his office… in the city… at 4pm.  CRAP! What about my freaking hair?  I can’t have gray roots on my 39th birthday.  Thankfully traffic karma was on our side. He met me in the parking lot outside the salon at 4:59.  We won’t discuss what kind of Mario Andretti, ahole driving he had to do to get there that fast.  The important thing is that he showed up alive and on time.  Now my hair is dark and shiny and ready to party.

I may have checked my phone 125 times during my hair appointment. I felt like one of “those” girls.  At least I wasn’t wearing my sunglasses inside too.  But I am most certainly not that girl.  I just played the part all day and all night.  Then it came.  An email from the doctor.  But it was just a tease.  An update that she had read the file and would now begin compiling her report.  AAAHHHHH… LADY you’re killin’ me!

So on the way home I tried my best to implode my car.  I listened to all my faves as loud as I could stand it.  And it worked.  It not only drowned out the noise in my head, but it made it sort of a freakshow of driving distraction.

Got home.  Husband so graciously had water simmering to build the fresh ravioli I brought home from our favorite Italian deli in our old neighborhood.  We finally sat down to relax.  He has a lot of not so fun stuff going on at work and I can’t stop thinking about this little girl. But it’s strange.  I don’t think either one of us really wants to talk about it because we really are trying hard to not make an emotional decision.  It’s the white elephant in the room with two people who are talking, intimately.  Weird, weird, weird. After checking my phone for the umpteenth time I finally said this is killing me!  And he said me too.  We talked for a brief minute but we both caught ourselves. This is such a big deal that we can’t really talk about it until we have something more to talk about.

So we hit play on the American Idol that was on pause.  Ugh. I finally made a deal with myself that I would try to go 5 minutes… then stretched it to 10.  And then it came in.  An email from the doctor with a pdf attachment and a question about what time we can conference call in the morning.  I ran to the computer with hands shaking to print out 2 copies.  Meanwhile Parker grabbed the iPad and began to read the report.  We sat down on big beige as I am now affectionately calling it. Those of you who recognize the, no it’s not crusty and it wasn’t free, but it’s so comfy and such a part of us now that’s it has been with us for 3 1/2 years that I think we’ll keep it forever.  And it helps that you can simply wipe off anything that intentionally or accidentally gets on it.. puke, poo, crayon, marker, snot, ketchup… wine.

With a lump in my throat I read through the report as fast as I could. I was looking for the bad news, the bomb, the reasons why we shouldn’t consider adopting this little girl.  But as I read and reread, and reread the report, I couldn’t find it.  It wasn’t there.  It was a decent report.  A somewhat positive and somewhat hopeful report.

I will sum it up by telling you what Parker said.  He said “This is exciting.”  Parker never says the word exciting. He never gets excited.  He’s not excitable. He’s calm, cool and collected.  And when he’s not doing that, he’s falling asleep.  Because he’s narcoleptic.  I am beside myself with emotion.  I am afraid to let one tear fall because it will release the floodgates.  Why?  Because I really think we’ve found baby sister.  And I don’t want to break my own heart in case we have to decide, rationally, otherwise.

We have a conference call with the doctor tomorrow morning.  Her report was very promising.  But also practical and we need to talk through all of the issues and unknowns before making a decision. At this point, I’ll be very disappointed if we decide not to move forward, but I know we have to make the best decision for our family and our future.  So many components to consider and I can’t legally share any of the medical stuff until we decide.  Which we have to do by Thursday night.  Totally sucks that Parker has a sales meeting and I won’t see him until tomorrow.  Seems like a decision easier made and better celebrated, or not, in person.

Staying strong and level headed… or at least trying to!


Anxiety, insomnia and indigestion…

Yep, just like being pregnant.  But the good thing is I don’t have a heel in my ribs and a head on my bladder.  So, it could be worse.

These two little girls have turned my world upside down.  I made a thousand phone calls and sent two thousand emails yesterday and today trying to get some perspective.  Okay, maybe not in the thousand(s) range but it feels like it.. eating, drinking and dreaming about these girls.  I wish I could say that we are ready to embrace one of them, but we aren’t just yet.  It’s hard when you feel so much with your heart but have to think as clearly as possible with your head.  Thankfully there is one level head involved in this… my super awesome low key husband… and smarter minds… our pediatrician and a doctor at Oakland Children’s Hospital that reviews adoption files.  I’ve emailed her and called her.  I’m sure I’ve annoyed her.

I also had a really encouraging and supportive discussion with a complete stranger last night. The wife of Parker’s buddy from college.  My new friend!  I think I mentioned she use to be the coordinator for this program at an agency in Washington D.C.  She’s also the mother of 3 bambinos ages 4 and under.  And I kept her on the phone last night until 8:30pm my time / 11:30 her time.  So generous of her to talk with me.  The nuts and bolts of the conversation were that these are two seemingly good files. She brought up a couple of red flags from things in the reports that we never would have picked up on.  She also said if these files were at her old agency, they would have been placed immediately. Thankfully we’re in California. Nuff said.  She also talked me through other considerations.  Some people going through this want the youngest child they can get with the most minor special need… i.e. cleft palate.  But as easy as that sounds, there’s more to it than you think.  From a mother’s perspective she encouraged me to think about our support system, what we will do with the other two kids when the new little one has to have surgery, and post op appointments, and more surgery, and maybe bone grafting, and speech therapy.  She also said she’s seen these easy cases turn into more difficult ones as when the baby grows and continues developing, more “stuff” comes out… and with a little older one, you have a little better idea of what all the “stuff” is.  So much more to think about!

Parker is traveling but we talked late last night and have decided to have one of the files reviewed at OCH.  It’s costly. Not that it isn’t worth it, but we will start with one and go from there.  If we had both of them done, it’s more money and more work for us to process.  I agree with him.  We are having the younger and healthier of the two girls’ file reviewed as I type.  We’ve been cautioned that the pre-adopt medical review errs on the more conservative end.  Meaning they’ll tell you all the really bad stuff that could happen and give you the most dismal prognosis just to make sure you know the worst case scenario about what you’re up against. Again, like being pregnant.. you read those awful week by week or day by day, whatever the heck that crap is.  They tell you all the scary stuff that could happen to your baby but not the practical stuff that happens during pregnancy.  i.e. the stuff that Jenny McCarthy’s book DOES tell you.  So we’ll look to the doctor’s report for the scariest of the potentials and to the BTDT (been there done that) elders on the discussion group to give us practical perspective.

I’m totally stressed about this and I won’t lie, my heart is hopeful that one of these little girls is a good match for us.