Friday, September 30, 2011

We Have A Date!

That' it: we're stepping into the next part of the process!
The social worker called and we have dates for our meetings with her. The first one is on October 12.
The home study will require 3 meetings, including one at our home. This one will be on October 22, and the last meeting will be in Calgary on November 2. The meetings should last about 2 hours each.

She then takes about 4 weeks to write her report, and it takes 4 to 6 weeks for the government to review it. If everyting goes well, we should have a completed home study by mid-January!

Our social worker sounded really nice. I'm looking forward to starting work with her!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Home Study Self-Report - The End

We’re done putting our Self Report together! The result is pretty seamless, and I find it does a good job at representing who we are...
The final version has 18 pages.
Both our SAFE Questionnaires are completed as well. Bring on the social worker: we’re ready!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Medical Reports

We just had our medical appointment. Our doctor had to fill a form on each of us to verify that we are healthy enough to adopt.
He had to ask about our medical history, from past ulcers to neurological disorders and susbstance abuse. Then, he asked about our family history with regards to deafness, epilepsy, developmental delays and psychological disorders. I think they want to know if we are at risk of developing any of these illnesses in the upcoming years...
He had to report any prescribed medication we're taking, check our ears, skin, eyes, throat, abdomen, blood pressure, pulse and reflexes, take urine samples and test our sight...
I wish they would give us as much information about our child when they send us the referral!
They had us booked for 15 minutes each, it took an hour and a half in total!

The doctor says he thinks this will be accepted as a routine medical and we should be covered by Alberta Health Care. I expected a fee, but I'll take the free exam, thank you very much!

At the bottom of the form, our doctor had to say if he thought there was any medical issue which may affect our ability to adopt. And he checked "No".
That's all that really matters!

A copy of this form is now going to our Alberta agency. We're keeping the originals for our dossier.

Also, we got our clear Alberta Children and Youth Services Intervention Checks back today.

Monday, September 26, 2011

An Interesting Bit of Information

Here is something really cool we learned at our International Adoption Seminar: it is legal, in Alberta, to pursue 2 adoptions at once! From what our agent said, Alberta is the only Canadian province to allow it.
What this means is that you could register for 2 programs (say, the United States and Sri Lanka), obtain 2 separate International Adoption Application approvals from the Alberta government and put together 2 different dossiers.
You still cannot have 2 children placed in your home within a 12 months period (unless they are siblings), so the second process would be suspended for a year as soon as you get a referral. But this would allow a quicker second adoption.
For a couple who knows for sure international adoption is how they want to create their whole family, this seems like an awesome option! Of course, it would be a financial challenge, having to pay for both adoptions in a relatively short period, but if you can come up with the money, you can save some time there...
As for ourselves, we’re still too unsure what our family is going to look like to get started on a second process. But I thought this piece of info could be great news for some families... If you’re interested, talk to your Alberta agency, they can tell you all about it!

Oh and, on an other note, it worked!!!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Send Some Positive Thoughts!

Please, send all the positive thoughts and energy to A, who should know tomorrow if her IVF has worked. She and her husband have been waiting so long for their child. If it’s true that patience makes good parents, they will be the best in the world!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Where Are You?

We don’t know what life has in store for us. I would only be moderately surprised if we ended up adopting a Martian child.
But let’s play pretend for a second...
From what I have seen, the home study process can take a few months. Say we expect it could be done and ready to go by January at the earliest. March at the latest.
Then, we were told the quickest referral for a Sri Lankan child in Canada was 8 months, but it can take up to 2 years.
We have requested a baby less than 12 months old. Kids are available from 4 months on.
So if the home study takes really long, and our referral takes really long, we could get matched around March 2014. Let’s just say I’m not a big fan of this option...
On the other end, if the home study goes really quick and our referral goes really quick as well, we could get a referral around September 2012. If this is for a 4 months old baby, it would have been born in May 2012. It would have been conceived in August 2011! Maybe we have a little embryo, somewhere on the planet!
And if we get a quick home study and quick referral, and our child is 12 months old at the time of referral, it would have been born around September 2011. Yes. RIGHT NOW!!!
It’s completely crazy to not know if you have a child in this world...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Quick Update on Long Process

It's awesome how much progress we have made in the past little bit! I just hope it keeps going!

Since we have officially registered with our Home Study agency (the Alberta one), they have asked for a number of documents. We have to provide copies of everything and keep the originals to include in our dossier to Sri Lanka.
Our file contains:
- our Agency Registration Form
- copies of our RCMP checks
- copies of our Interpol checks
- a copy of our wedding certificate
- a copy of my birth certificate
- a copy of our approved International Adoption Application from the Alberta government
- a copy of my T4
- a copy of Pablo's Notice of Assessment
- a picture of us together
- a permission to check with Alberta Children Services if there was any intervention at our home
- forms filled by our 4 references

We are still missing:
- Pablo's birth certificate (it's on its way from Ecuador)
- Medical forms filled by our family doctor (we have an appointment on September 28)
- An employment letter from my employer
- International adoption training certificates (they are on their way)

Then, when we get our first meeting with the social worker, we need to present to them:
- our completed Home-Study Self Report (we still need to put it together)
- filled out copies of the SAFE questionnaire our agency has just sent us by mail (they are questionnaires about our relationship with our parents as we grew up, but they are multiple choice questions, so it's not too much work)
- Originals of all of the above

I think we may have killed a tree, with all that paperwork...
If everything goes as planned, we should hear from our social worker sometime next week... We can then book our first interview! Wooohooo!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Home Study Self-Report - Part 5: Motivation to Adopt

This part is subdivided into 3. First, it asks why we want to adopt and how we came to the decision. We have to explain our views on adoption and our understanding of the challenges ahead. Then, we have to describe the child we wish to adopt in terms of health, age, gender, race and any other requirement. The last bit is about our views on open adoption.
Of course, we had already talked about why we want to adopt and what adoption will be like, but it got us thinking about stuff we had not really thought about so much. We had never considered how being an already bi-cultural family could make it easier for us to integrate our child’s culture into our family. Also, Pablo growing up so close to his extended family, with so many younger kids, has been a really good experience for him. That’s probably why he is so comfortable holding a new born baby (where in the world does a man with no children learn how to do this?!?).
But to me, the most important learning from that section was about the birthparents. I am slowly coming to the understanding that these people are making decisions that will give my child the best life they can have. It’s probably the most difficult thing they will ever do in their lives. Birth mothers don’t make adoption plans because it’s the easiest solution; they make them out of pure, uninterested love. I am going to tell my kid that they were not abandoned, and that they were loved so much that their birth parents had to let go of them to save their life.
And when things get tough, emotionally, I am going to think about these people, and keep in mind that I am on the easy, happy end of this adventure.
We are done putting out thoughts together for the Self-Report. We have 20 pages so far, but it’s mainly bullet points... We still have to write the final thing. It has to be done by the time we meet our social worker for the first interview.

Monday, September 19, 2011

International Adoption Seminar

The law in Alberta requires that potential adoptive parents obtain an International Adoption Training Certificate before they can have their Home Study finalized. The course is given by the same agencies that do Home Studies.
So we spent all day Saturday in a classroom, along with about 10 more couples, hearing about all things international adoption. It was really good! I’m glad the training is mandatory; it raised new questions for us to think about, comforted us in our decision, gave us a much better general understanding of the process and made us feel kind of normal among other adoptive families. I took lots of notes, to share with you guys...
We found that we were on the right track with the process. We’re actually farther along than I thought... They divide the process, in Alberta, in three steps:
-          Home Study: A registered Alberta agency has to approve our application. To do this, they need to be 100% sure that we are suitable parents. They need to see our police clearance, intervention checks, marriage certificate, financial statements and proof of employment, get references for us, have our health verified, interview us and see our home. They then write a nice long report on us. The government of Alberta will then review it and approve it.
-          Dossier: Once we have an approved Home Study, we start working with an out-of-province agency. Ours is in Ontario. This agency will put our Dossier together. The Dossier contains all our original documents and our Home Study. It has to be translated and notarized before being sent to Sri Lanka. Our agency will then work over there to match us with our baby. When they find the right child for us, they will send us a referral (via the government, then our Alberta agency).
-          Immigration: We can start this process before we get our referral. This way, we won’t have to wait months to bring our little one home. I don’t know much about this part, yet, as it is still in a little while. It’s the process that will give our child Canadian citizenship, and allow us to bring them in Canada.
We have applied for the Home Study and should get a call within a week or two to make our first appointment with the social worker. We already have most of the documents. It’s a big step, I’m excited!
We also talked about attachment disorder and how to increase our chances of successful attachment, trans-racial issues, developmental delays and much, much more.
We had 3 families come over to show their adorable kids (from the US, Ethiopia and China) and tell us about how the adoption adventure has been for them. Nobody had a smooth, easy road... I guess that’s something to keep in mind...
Our agent kept telling us to talk openly to our kids from the get go. She recommends we talk about their adoption, the birth parents and their racial difference before they’re even able to understand. She also said we should acknowledge the grief they are going through as they grow up without knowing their birth families.
I also picked up a few really interesting tips that I will share with you in a later post.
Saturday was big day: We got our mandatory training done and we officially started the Home Study process on the same day! (It also cost us $1600 in one day, but whatever!) After the course, we went to a BBQ restaurant we both like and celebrated with a good, unhealthy meal and a pint of Traditional.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Home Study Self-Report - Part 4: Home and Community

The fourth section is about where we live: our house and our neighbourhood. It is a lot less personal than the previous parts, and is less intimidating. We’ll see if I still feel that way when a social worker comes to look at every corner of my condo to decide if it’s an appropriate place to raise a child!
We do have an extra bedroom for the baby. They will probably ask that we baby-proof our home, but that’s something we can do while we wait.
Again, some things we have included in there:
-          The town we live in being so small, everything we need is close: the school, stores, community center, city parks and hospital are all within 15 minutes of our home, by foot.
-          It is a very friendly town, where people say hello to strangers walking by and it’s considered acceptable to slow down the queue at the grocery store because you’re not done chatting with the till attendant.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Interpol clarified!

Now that we have our Interpol checks, I can tell you what it took to get them...
First, you need to go to your local RCMP station and get fingerprints. They will charge $50 per person for that. They will then send your fingerprints to get checked (I think they scan them). You will get RCMP checks, back at your police station, within a few days.
After the prints have been made, they give them to you right away. You can send these to the address (in Ottawa) that is printed at the top, along with a money order or certified check to the Receiver General for Canada for $25 per person.
It took about 3 weeks for us to get our clearance, by mail.

I have read there is another way of doing this, in an L-1 office... I don't know about this, but if anyone does, please leave a comment for my fellow adoptive parents!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Home Study Self-Report - Part 3: Relationship

This section was easy! It’s about us, as a couple.
If I had to pick one aspect of my life that is going steadily at its awesomest (yes, this word exist. No need to look it up), it would be my relationship with Pablo in the last few years. I already told you how good a father he will be, but you have no idea how good a partner, husband and best friend he is!
So when I’m asked to describe our relationship, talk about how we met and what I enjoy about Pablo, it’s easy.
My thoughts:
-          Seeing how happy I am now in my relationship, all the work and growing pains were well worth it (and believe me, there were some).
-          It’s important to me to be able to provide a model for a healthy, loving marriage to my children. That’s how they will learn to interact with their partners when the time comes. I want them to know that it’s not supposed to be always easy, but that it’s worth the effort.
-          I also want us to be a model of respect for each other and for ourselves.
-          It feels good to read a description your partner makes of you… I know Pablo loves me, but it’s sweet to read details about what he likes in my personality! :D

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Home Study Self-Report - Part 2: Family

Once the personal section is completed, the rest of the Home Study Self Report has to be written together. We have decided to jot down a few ideas on a shared file. Next week, we have a date to get working on the final document. How’s that for a romantic date?
This way, we are going to be able to organize the ideas from both Pablo and I and put them together in a nice, seamless report! I think we can do the final redaction in one day, if all the ideas are already written down.
The second section of the Self-Report was about family. It asks about us as a family, but also our views on what being a family means. It covers activities we do together, our views on parenting and values that are important to the family.
I talked a lot about outdoors activities, being that Pablo and I enjoy camping, hiking and skiing together so much, and that it’s something we want to pass on to our children.
Here are a few thoughts that came out of it:
-          Pablo and I enjoy our time together tremendously! Even the unexciting, day-to-day stuff is more fun when he’s around...
-          A lot of our favourite traditions revolve around holidays. I am an unconditional fan of Christmas and I think I have infected Pablo over the years. I was really glad he mentioned our tradition of taking a drive around town on an evening, around Christmas time, to take in the colors and the joy of Christmas lights. It’s something that I used to do with my family as a kid and have carried over to our family.
-          It’s crazy how similar our answers are... Either we have developed such a strong common culture that we are slowly turning into the same person, or Pablo has copied my answers.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

They're here!

Pablo just told me that we got our International Police clearance by mail!
It's perfect: we will put our application package together and take it all to the agency on Saturday, when we go for the International Adoption course!

I will make sure to publish more details about how exactly to get the Interpol clearance in the next little bit. I thought the information was hard to find, given that nobody at our local RCMP knew how to proceed! For now, I feel like celebrating...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Home Study Self-Report – Part 1: Personal Description

We have to write the first part of the Home Study Self Report separately. It has lots of questions about your personality, childhood and upbringing. It asks about the health history of your family, the parenting techniques your parents used, your religious beliefs, the house you grew in, your employment history, what you do to relieve stress and much, much more.
And it’s not a form, we’re talking about. Oh no! It’s more of an essay, we have to write!
I have been honest through it all. I have nothing to hide and, although I am not perfect, I doubt they will judge me inapt to raise children because I am uncomfortable with confrontation.
A few good things have come out of it and, once I was done writing my part of it, I was excited for Pablo to read it! It’s not that he doesn’t know me. Sometimes, I think he does more than myself. But it felt oddly satisfying to have put words on so much of myself!
Anyway, here are a few thoughts that this part of process has left me with:
-          I was blessed with an amazing Mom.
-          I love my family very much, and what I call family is much more than those who share some genes with me (although my sister has a really special place in my heart).
-          I can’t wait to watch the Muppets’ Christmas Carol with my kids (it’s my guilty pleasure).
-          I wouldn’t even have dared to ask life to give me a husband that would carry over the one family tradition that I am so attached to. It’s unbelievable that Pablo plays guitar so well!
So far, our Self Report has 5 pages.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Night in Paradise

And I'm not talking about  my wedding night!
This is where we had our coffee, this morning, after an overnight camping in the backcountry of our beloved Rocky Mountains.
Pablo and I are both outdoors enthusiasts and I can't wait to take our kids out! I would have loved to wait for the bald eagle to come back alongside the excited looking face of a little one, or for Pablo to explain to them how to hold the fishing rod and wait patiently.
My Mom always loved everything outdoors and I spent most of my childhood vacations biking, canoeing, hiking, skiing and camping. I don't think it's a coincidence if I am happier in a tent than at home, and if I spend all fall looking forward to getting my cross-counrty skis out on the trails! Kids learn to appreciate what they are exposed to. I also learned really young that a little bit of discomfort is nothing, when it means waking up to the first ray of sunshine crossing the walls of the tent.
I keep beautiful memories of the times we were outdoors with my family and, as an adult, I have just kept adding to these memories with Pablo.
I consider myself infinitely lucky to have this heritage, and I can't wait to pass it on to the next generation!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Home Study Self-Report - Prologue

I already told you about our Agency Application Form, and how it was some sort of a mini rehearsal for the Home Study.
Between being asked what our strengths and weaknesses are and having a social worker questioning, live, every single little detail of how we manage the frustration surrounding a pair of dirty socks left on the floor at the end of a stressful day, the step is gigantic!
So to make things easier for us (I believe that’s what their intention is), our agency has kindly provided another step along the way. It is called a Home Study Self Report, and is somewhat like a biography we have to write. It has several sections, each divided in specific questions we need to elaborate on. It covers details from childhood memories to family traditions, all the way to anger management, relationship history and medical background.
It is a lot of work. But it also is a great reflection tool. It’s not something you do in one afternoon. We are working at it little bits at a time. In fact, our goal is to have it ready around the time we get our training, which is on September 17.
As we work our way through this document, I will share with you some of the thoughts that arise from it.
And I thought making babies only involved having one glass of wine too many and a friendly state of mind...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Tu Papá

I was 19, when I met Pablo. I was closer to being a child than to having one, and babies were not really on my mind. So it’s safe to say that his potential as a great dad for my offspring was not exactly a selection criteria when I fell in love with him...
I was unbelievably lucky, though. Because although it didn’t seem important back then, it is of utmost priority now!
My husband is one of those men who wear time well. He doesn’t get older; he gets wiser. Experience and self-knowledge have turned him into the greatest partner ever. And he will be a perfect dad, too!
He is a family man, that’s for sure. Family is probably at the very top of his list of values, and he will always be loyal to his family (extended and close). He’s also really good with kids. I can’t explain why, but he’s got a lot more patience for kids than for anything (or anyone) else in life. I’ve seen him take half an hour every night to care for little playground scratches that didn’t actually require any treatment, when our nieces were staying with us. He also is sooooo much more laid back than I am, he often brings me back to earth when I get worked up on silly details. And because I know how involved he will be with our children, I am trusting him to stop me when I get too protective or overthink the whole parenting thing.
Yep! Without even knowing it, I have picked THE perfect father for my kids.
And no, he is not for sale.