Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Just to Confirm...

Doubt creeps in pretty easily... That’s what happens when you’re not in full control. And control is not a luxury we can enjoy, when it comes to adoption!
I have been exchanging emails with this Canadian adoptive mom who brought her little girl home through a different agency than us. The other day, she wrote about making sure that we met all the requirements, including being married 2 years.
Do you think 2 weeks will do?
We had confirmed we met the requirements with our Ontario agency, and I had an email where they clearly stated that there was no minimal length of marriage required. But this mom had been there, and it was a requirement for them to be married at least 2 years before adopting! That’s when doubt started creeping in. I was staring at our agency’s email that said we were alright, and still pictured us having to change countries and shop for a new agency. Worse: imagine our agent had made a mistake and we realized months into the process that we would have to change countries!
So I sent another email to our agency, insisting on that one particular requirement. And the answer came back yesterday: no minimal length needed (our agent was nice enough not to send me to hell for asking a question she had already answered in writing).
That makes me wonder, though... Why did this family face different requirements? It must have been an agency requirement, but how unfair would it be for an intermediary agency to add obstacles on top of the Sri Lankan demands?
It also made me realize that I will need to learn how to give up control. I hate doubt so much, I almost asked my agent to send me official Sri Lankan documents that would describe the requirements. Not that I don’t trust her, but doesn’t feel natural to not be in full control!
Anyway, if anyone wondered, the answer is out there: there is no SL requirement to be married more than a single day to adopt from there. You have to be legally married though. Most countries don’t recognize common-law spouses.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Action-Reaction

Let me just make one thing clear:
ADOPTION IS A BEAUTIFUL, HAPPY THING! We’re having a baby! We are really, honestly excited about it!
Adoption is not, to us, a sad, last resort solution we resigned to after grieving the “better option”. It may have different challenges than the other way of making babies, but it also has its own riches.
So thanks a million to all of those who understand that and celebrate our decision with us! We know you may have done things differently, if you were in our shoes, and we appreciate that you can respect our vision for our own life! We all have lessons to take from you...
To the few others, I understand where you’re standing: this is not how you would have handled things. Maybe you would have tried the old baby-making sport a bit longer, maybe you would have chosen the medical path to your family, maybe you would have waited until you’re 35, maybe you would even prefer not having children to adopting. And that’s all fine and respectable. But try to keep this in mind: it’s US walking in our shoes, here! And adoption is a beautiful, happy thing in our eyes. Isn’t that all that really matters? You guys are also teaching me a lesson, in a way...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's a Girl!

The news just came in: we are expecting a Goddaughter! We already love her so much!
I'm just about to go to work. I'll think of her all day :)

She's our fourth niece, no nephew yet. And that's just perfect!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Police-aucracy...

Arrggghhh!
We are waiting for the Interpol police clearance to be able to get started on the Home Study. We went to our local police station for fingerprints almost 3 weeks ago. The lady there said we only had to send our prints to an address in Ottawa, but she seemed rather unsure. We sent everything, with a return envelope and a small note saying that this was for Interpol checks and to call my cell phone if anything was missing.
Today, I got an RCMP envelope in the mail. I was all excited: we were going to be able to move on to the next step!
Well, the envelope had our forms, untouched, in it. It also had a printed sheet of paper saying that we had to send a money order or certified check to the Receiver General for Canada, for $25 per person.
It took them 3 weeks to tick the little box next to the unpaid fees statement... I just can't imagine how long it's going to take them to check our fingerprints in their database!
Deception, deception.
I find it hard to be patient with bureaucrats...

Monday, August 22, 2011

References

Part of the Home Study is getting references from people who know us. We need 4 references to fill out forms about us, our personalities, our experience with children and their perception of our parenting skills.
There are a few conditions to be met, when it comes to picking our references:
  • There can only be one reference from someone in our family
  • These people have to know both of us for 5 years or more
  • There can’t be 2 references from 2 members of the same family
  • They have to speak a reasonable English (this seems obvious, but remember we are French and Spanish)
It may be just me, but I feel like being picked as a reference for adoptive parents is a bit of a privilege... I mean, it involves some work, but you become some sort of mentor to the child, in a way. I will for sure tell my kids, as they grow up, who was involved in getting them home to us. And our references will be high on the list!
There are a lot more than 4 people I would have liked to ask for references! 
All our friends from Alberta do not qualify: we have only lived here 3 years, so none of them has known us 5 years or more. Also, on both sides of the family, there are a whole lot of people who are supporting our project and know us very well, but we could only have one reference from the family.
So we ended up picking those 4:
-          Pablo’s sister, G. She is a real sweetheart! She has known me since I started going out with Pablo. She has 3 gorgeous daughters, 2 of which we have spent quite a bit of time with. They have stayed with us, without their parents, a few times, including a full 2 weeks in Alberta. G knows us very well and she knows how we behave with children.
-          Our common friend C. I have been friends with her since college. Her husband and her came to visit us in Alberta several times and she was my Kilimanjaro partner. They are awesome friends... They have a beautiful little boy and, although we have not met him in person yet (they live in Quebec), she knows we’re already crazy about him.
-          My almost-sister N. I met her when I was 3 years old! Our friendship has been through a lot... Actually, that’s an understatement... She is one of my role-models in life. She also knows Pablo from before we moved out of Quebec, and she has been a prime witness of all the highs and lows of my relationship with him. There is not much N does not know about me! She has an adorable little girl who has the same first name as my great-grandmother.
-          My high school friend S. She will bring a different perspective, as she has been really present in my life at a different time as the others... We kept contact, of course, and she knows Pablo too. But we used to spend a lot more time together when we were teenagers. Actually, I am going to take this opportunity to reconnect with her...
Everyone accepted to fill out the forms for us. I am really grateful that we are so well surrounded! It's good to be reminded, every once in a while :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Agency Application Form

While we wait for our Interpol clearance, we are filling the Application Form for our Albertan agency. It covers the basic information they need to open a file for our family. It is also getting our thoughts process started on the details we should have figured out before the Home Study starts.

In addition to really basic questions (date of marriage, do we have criminal records, do we already have children, etc), it has a more personnal section for each of us to fill separately. It's a really short one, but it feels like a mini-rehearsal for what's coming... It asks for a short description of our personnalities, our values and interests and our motivations to adopt.

It requires a little bit of thinking, and I believe it's a good thing. We are soon going to be scrutinized in every corner of our personnalities during the Home Study. They will want to know everything about our beliefs, our upbringings, our views on very specific issues (mostly related to raising children), our relationship and our support network. This form first, and then the Home Study Self Report that we will have to fill in soon, are helping us slowly step up to the level of indiscretion we are going to be exposed to!

The form also has a section about our finances, where we have to detail our earnings and expenses, and all the assets and debts we have.

The toughest section is the last one. It is about the child we wish to adopt. It felt very odd to tick little boxes about the potential health issues we are willing to accept... We want to be good parents and be accepting of who our little one really is. This "grocery list" process felt really strange...
We ended up asking to be matched with a baby less than 12 months old, with no gender preference. We also said ethnicity was not important. We asked for a healthy baby, as much as possible, although we know we are going to love our kid anyhow. I am really hoping that this takes us to the one child that is meant to be ours!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Big Sacrifice: Inter-Country Adoption for Canadians Living Abroad

I had a really tough day today...
Pablo and I share the dream of living abroad for a little while. We have wanted this for years, and worked for it to happen. I have made my professional decisions based on this long-term project.
We want to eventually come back to Canada, for our kids to be close to our families.

Well, today, at work, I had an opportunity to apply for a job in Beijing, China. And a pretty good one, at that! I have been waiting for this opportunity for YEARS!
What a timing! Just when our hearts are on their way to Sri Lanka!

I looked at all options, trying to make both projects happen at once. It's allowed, for Alberta Residents Temporarily Living Abroad, to adopt internationally, whether they live in their child's country of origin or any other country. However, international adoption is a very complex legal process. Adding an extra country means adding a whole new dimension of complexity! Even then, complexity does not scare us... But to be considered as an Alberta Resident Temporarily Living Abroad, you need to prove that:

  • You used to live in Alberta (which would not be a problem for us)
  • You still own a property in Alberta (again, that would have worked for us: my employer would have paid for accommodation in China, allowing us to keep our home)
  • You plan on coming back to Alberta within a year or two (proved by a letter from your employer)
... but the posting was for 3 to 4 years. 
I really don't think I could have gotten that status, not until a few years at least. So our adoption really would not be possible if I accepted a job in China. 
So it came down to deciding what our priority was: adopting our cinnamon baby, or fulfilling our dream of living in a new country. 
Of course, there is no question there! We already love that child, even without knowing anything about him (or her)!

I decided to trust that life will take us where we should be. I'm sure more awesome opportunities will come my way, when the right time comes. If I am patient, I will have both my baby and my international career. And  those new opportunities will be better than the one I just let go of...

I guess we are now real parents: we just did our first big sacrifice for our kid :-D

Monday, August 15, 2011

Clear! (in Canada, at least)

Our RCMP Criminal Record Checks came back today! We are now waiting for the Interpol checks... That's expected to take a bit longer, because they need to check international databases. I'm guessing these are quite a bit bigger than the RCMP database, and the process to deal with Interpol is probably heavier as well...
Once we get the Interpol results, we will be ready to sign up officially with our Albertan agency!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Paperwork Shmaperwork...

We got our approved Internation Adoption Application in the mail yesterday. This gives us the right to get a Home Study done by a registered Albertan agency.

We are still waiting on our Criminal Record Checks. They were supposed to come on Tuesday, but it seems to be taking longer. I think it's because we have moved several times in the last 5 years...
Anyway, even if we got the RCMP checks back, it will take a few weeks for the Interpol results...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

TTC and Adoption

We spoke with both our Alberta and Ontario agents about an eventual pregnancy during the adoption process. The information is difficult to get... In Alberta, there is a law against the placement of two adoptive children (that are not siblings) in a 12 months period. The law is not so clear when it comes to one biological child and one adoptive child.
Of course, in all cases, it is strongly recommended not to adopt while you are pregnant and until your child is 12 months old.

If I accidentally became pregnant during the process, we would have to put our adoption file on hold. When we reopen it, we would have to get an update on our Home Study and on some paperwork. The costs should be less than the original Home Study, but it would still be a hassle.
Where it is not yet clear is if I became pregnant after we have accepted a referral. I would not want to lose our adoptive child then!
With all the info in hands, we discussed the issue, and it looks like we are going to stop trying to conceive. We don't want to take the risk of seeing our adoption slipping through our fingers...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Our First Approval

Well, it’s not a very difficult one to get, but it still feels good to know that we are a little further along the way! We got an email from the Alberta Children & Youth Services saying that we would receive our approved International Adoption Application back in the mail shortly. This means that the province gives us permission to become an adoptive family. Next major step: register with our Albertan agency.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Big Step





What a great day we had yesterday! The ceremony was very simple and touching, the weather was perfect and we had a good time with our witnesses and their gorgeous little boy. In addition to that, I got married to the single most awesome man on the planet. What else could a girl want?

Friday, August 5, 2011

I Do!

We’re getting married tomorrow, after 10 years together...
This is the place we picked to do the ceremony, not too bad!




Thursday, August 4, 2011

Criminal Record Check

We just came back from getting our fingerprints taken at the local RCMP station. It was about $100 for both of us. They got us to fill forms and they will run checks on both of us. The lady told us our reports should be available on Tuesday, August 9, for us to pick up. We felt like criminals when they actually took the prints :)
Sri Lanka also requires an Interpol check, in case we have committed crimes outside of Canada. We are still trying to figure out exactly how to get that... We have our original fingerprints, I think we have to send them by mail to the RCMP in Ottawa. But I don’t know if they require some other form as well...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Chinese Wisdom

I found this in a Chinese cookie, last week... It has got to be a sign! (It only says south, but I’m sure it means to the south AND across the globe!)





Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Note to Self

We’re only just getting started with the process. I know it will be long. I know there will be times when our hope supplies grow short. Sometimes, we’ll feel like the Universe is against us, or we’ll be convinced our government, Sri Lankan officials or anybody slowing the process down is actively trying to prevent us from getting our little one. I know there will be ups and downs, and a lot of tears (I am a cry baby, and proudly assume it).


So right here, in front of you all, I want to deliver a message for my future self:
Try to remember that all this heavy process is only there to protect the children. And never forget why you’re going through all this. This little creature who will one day call you Maman is certainly worth it all. Just keep your eyes on the goal and keep trucking!


Monday, August 1, 2011

Why Sri Lanka?

Picking a country of origin for your future child is not an easy task. And when you start looking at the adoption process, you quickly realize it has to be pretty close to step one! You need a country to pick your agency and get registered. In Alberta, the name of the country has to appear on the International Adoption Application, which is the first form you have to send out. So apart from getting married, there’s not much we could do without this crucial step.
Still, it has a lot of implications! It will determine your child’s race and cultural background, of course, but also your political instability exposure, the risk for certain health issues, the duration of the process, the age of the child, and many more aspects.
So here is how Pablo and I did it:
A- We found a list of countries at http://www.familyhelper.net/ad/chooser.html. The list is not completely up to date, but it was a good starting point for us
B- We wrote down all the countries and researched the requirements to adopt. A lot of agencies have a web site where the requirements are listed. For the countries we could not find info on, we sent out emails to the agencies.
C- We rated each country as follows:
1, if we met all the requirements (or could meet them in a few weeks by getting married)
2, if we could meet the requirements in a few years (e.g. minimum 2 years of marriage, age requirement, waiting lists overcrowded)
3, if there was a major show stopper (e.g. minimum 10 years of marriage, country currently closed to adoption, children significantly older than what we were hoping for)
D- We were lucky enough to have 4 countries that were ranked as 1. We did some more research on health, political and process issues and narrowed it down to 2 preferences: Sri Lanka and the USA.
E- We contacted agencies and met with them to gather as much information as we could. In the end, it really came down to a feeling... Both countries have pros and cons, and we felt like both programs were equally interesting. This made the decision more difficult, but it means we have a strong plan B!
According to our agency in Ontario (yes, we have two agencies... I’ll explain that later), Sri Lankans that are available for international adoption are 4 months old and up and babies less than a year old are not a rare occurrence. The waiting time is up to 2 years and involves one trip of 4 to 6 weeks.
We love to travel and a long stay in such a far away land is far from deterring us: we’re actually pretty excited about it!