Monday, December 31, 2012

A Better 2013!

I want to wish a wonderful 2013 to all.
In particular, I hope 2013 is sweet for all those who had a tough 2012. Those who saw another year go by with no hope, those who's year was marked by loss or sorrow, those who will be too happy to burry 2012...
May 2013 be a wonderful, lucky year!

And f%€<* 2012!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

We're Off!

The Holiday season can be the most difficult time of the year when you're waiting to adopt.
In all honesty, I have come to dislike Mother's Day, my birthday, Halloween and New Year's Eve as well. But Christmas is so loaded with childhood memories, and so widely celebrated around here that it has become the time of year that I hate the most.
I believe it's not just the adoption community who feels this way. Christmas is difficult when you have recently lost someone close, when you live away from your family, when you are recently divorced or when illness has stricken your family this year.

I believe that, when life gets a bit rough, you have to do what's necessary to ease the pain. Even if it means not following traditions, or sometimes disappointing others.

So this year, Pablo and I are running away from Chistmas.
We're off to Greece for 3 weeks!
The first week will be just the two of us, on the continent. Then, we're meeting up with Pablo's parents and brother on Crete for 2 weeks.
Of course, we'll miss the rest of the family, and it's sad to give up the traditions that we love. But it's even more sad to follow your traditions when someone so crucial as your own kid is missing. Hopefully it's the last Christmas we have to run away from!

To all, a very happy holiday season! And may your dearest dreams come true...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Summary

I know a lot of readers are keeping an eye on this blog in hope that good news will come up here. Unfortunately, I have nothing new for you.
I keep getting emails from hopeful families asking if I have heard anything new. So I thought I would summarize what I know about the situation for international waiting families on the Sri Lanka list. The information below is what I have gathered from our agent in Canada and from other families all over the world.
The program was officially closed from November 2011 to May 2012. When it reopened in May 2012, only government run homes were allowed to place children in foreign countries. Private charity homes could only place children within Sri Lanka. As far as I know, this is still true today.
In 2012, there was 1 placement from Sri Lanka to Canada. The referral had been accepted before the program closed in 2011, and the child was in a government run home. As far as I know, there have been no referrals in Canada since 2011.
I have heard of one European family who got a new referral in 2012. We know for sure that this family was at the top of the international waiting list when the program was closed. As far as I know, this was the only international referral in 2012.
I know of one family who was able to put in their application in November 2012 and made it on the waiting list. At least until November 2012, new applications were still accepted in Sri Lanka. There are, however, rumours that they could stop taking new applications to allow for the waiting list to shrink down a bit.
I know that some European agencies (including the one who placed a child in 2012) are warning their customers about increased waiting times. Some have suggested that their customers apply to a different country. I have heard rumours of 5 to 6 years wait. This is only a rumour, but it makes sense with only the government run homes placing children internationally and a full year without placements.
I’m sorry that I don’t have better news for you. I’ll keep you posted if anything else comes up.
In the meantime, let's all try to keep in mind that these difficult measures were put in place to protect the children – our future children. It’s sometimes difficult to take a step back and look at things in a broader way, but adoption is all about the kids’ best interest. It sure is a lesson in patience for us!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

How to Fake Patience - Tip #4

When you are waiting to adopt, you have a lot of time on your hands, and money tends to run a little short.

And when the clock is ticking and hours feels like years, you have to keep busy to keep your sanity! But how do you use wisely the extra time while still saving for your adoption?

Here goes How to Fake Patience – Tip #4:

Shop for second hand children items.
You are going to need everything from clothes to toys, maybe a crib, a stroller and a change table, when your child comes home. And these things are really expensive.
If you feel able to, go to community sales where moms sell their used items. Every now and then, go online and look for good bargains. Kijiji, Craigslist and eBay can all be good places to start. If you don't want to buy used items, you can still keep an eye on your favorite stores and look for sales on children clothes and furnitures. Register for draws and blog giveaways.

You don't have to look at the stuff every day, you can keep it stored for now. When you finally get your referral, you'll be happy you started early and don't have to rush all the shopping at the last minute.

I realize this tip is not for everybody. Before you start buying, you need to consider whether you trust the process will be successful and how you would manage your collection is it didn't work out.

Pablo and I have allowed ourselves to indulge in the fun of shopping for baby because we truly believe we will have children one day (whether from Sri Lanka or from somewhere else). And we feel like, if everything fails and we end up not having children, giving away our baby items will not be the main source of our heartbreak. The process of deciding to give up our project will be.

So, if it feel right for you, shop away! It's so sweet when you make a good find!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Why Do We Want Children?

Have you ever stopped to think about the motivations behind your desire to have children?

At first, it might have been just to follow a tradition, because that's the way things go...
But why do we work so hard to have children when it proves difficult?

I have thought about this a lot, lately. What if this doesn't work? Could we be happy without children? Would we spend our life regretting what could have been? What would be missing in my life, if I didn't have kids?
I believe this last question is of supreme importance.

We probably all have different reasons to want children. Maybe you absolutely need the activity and excitement in your life. Maybe you're worried of the loneliness as years go by. Maybe you can't bear to disappoint a partner or deny grand-parenthood to your parents.

For me, it's the need to dedicate myself to something more important than me.
Sure, a life without kids would mean a lot more money, travels, freedom. But even the most exciting life seems a bit tasteless to me if it's all about myself.
With this in mind, I believe I could lead a happy life without children. It's the first time that I'm even able to bare this thought. I would have to find a greater cause to serve. Maybe I would dedicate myself to charity or something like that. I'm not ready to accept this yet, I would have to grieve the family I have imagined. But I think I could do it if it proved necessary.

Coming to this conclusion, very new to me, has made me feel a bit relieved. We are not done with the heartbreak. But I know at some point, whatever fate decides, I will be fulfilled again. This state of waiting is temporary. And that gives me some strength to keep going.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Washable Wipes

As you know, we have started gathering baby stuff. We have already decided we would like to use cloth diapers. We are doing our best to reduce our impact on the environment and will keep doing so once we are parents.
One thing we have heard can make a different is using washable cloth wipes for the diaper change. I figure we're going to do poopy laundry anyway, this is not much different!

So the last time we bought new sheets for our bed, I decided to keep the old ones and cut them in wipe-size squares (that's about 8X8 inch). I don't know if the material will be absorbant enough, but I figure we have nothing to lose by trying!

I thought I'd share the tip. If you want to try washable wipes, start collecting your old clothes that are no longer usable early during your wait. This way, you'll have plenty of wipes by the time your baby is there!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

More About Attachment

If you have ever brushed the idea of maybe one day adopting, you have certainly heard about attachment theory. In fact, Reactive Attachment Disorder was one of the first things that were mentioned to me by one of my closest relatives when I announced our intention to adopt, before even Congratulations...

I don't pretend to be a pro in the field of attachment, but I've done some research since we have decided to adopt.
In a nutshell, attachment is the very important ability that a person has to create healthy, secure relationships with others. This ability is developed in the first few years of life, based on the repeated experience of a safe and trusting relationship with a primary caregiver.
Pretty simple, when a baby is born in a healthy family, to a set of parents who have desired and wished for this child. But life is sometimes messy, and there are a variety of situations that can hinder the development of this primordial ability.

Obviously, less than perfect attachment is a risk inherent to adoption. And the consequences of an insecure attachment can be very scary as a child grows.
Luckily, there are things adoptive parents can do to help their child heal and learn to trust. Attachment parenting is a technique that can be used for children in all situations, from the young baby picked up in an orphanage to the older child with obvious disrupting behaviours. Professional help can be obtained for the latter and, though I'm sure the process is not easy, therapies have shown tremendous results on affected children.

So here are a few things I have learned about attachment:
  • The belief that children adopted under 18 months of age cannot suffer from attachment disorder is a myth. Age at placement does have an impact on the attachment patterns and the intensity of the damage, but even a child adopted at 3 months needs attachment parenting if these 3 months were spent in a traumatic situation.
  • Attachment parenting is often counter-intuitive, and will most certainly be judged by well-meaning friends and relatives.
  • One of the basis of attachment parenting is that the parents should be the only ones responding to their child's needs for the first little bit. As a general guideline, Becoming a Family recommends that you count at least one week per month that your child lived away from you before you can start involving the extended family in caring for your baby. This means that only you should feed, bathe, change, rock, hold or comfort baby during this time. It also means that we'll have the difficult task to tell Grandma that she cannot give a bottle to her grandbaby...
  • During this time, baby should be in his parents arms almost 24 hours/day. Eye contact and skin to skin contact should be pursued as much as possible, and baby should spend her days in a carrier. It doesn't matter that we are tired, this is not about the parents!
  • Some books recommend that only one primary caregiver be designated for the first little bit. The second parent can then be integrated later.
  • Attachment parenting means that it's ok to co-sleep (safely), that a child should never be left crying  alone (even when he is being punished) and that baby's needs should be met immediately. Can you see how friends and family will judge you for "spoiling your baby"? That's what I meant, when I said it was counter-intuitive.
  • After a few weeks, when we can differentiate her needs a bit better, we can probably transition to more traditionnal parenting. We'll have to play it by ear.

Of course, our baby may not even need this. But we won't know until she's much older and I don't want to risk hurting her more by not even trying.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It Could be Worse!

Gina, over at One in Five Million, has written this post which came at a perfect time for me. I needed to be reminded that things are really not that bad...
So I've tried to give this some thoughts and put things in perspective.

Sure, this family building journey is taking far more time than I ever imagined I could survive like this. But did you know that, in some cultures, men who are not able to conceive with their first wife are allowed (sometimes encouraged) to take a second wife? I am so grateful that Pablo is sharing this journey with me!

Sure, I feel somewhat left behind while all my friends and relatives are building their families. But some women survive multiple miscarriages, failed adoption, even still birth. I can only imagine the pain of welcoming another baby in your circle when yours is missing...

Sure, my life plans are being pushed around. I really did not imagine myself still in this exact same place, a few years ago. Some of my life projects may end up falling off the shelf as the years go by. But the status quo could be much worse. I have a home I love, in the sweetest small town in the whole world; I have a good, challenging job; and I'm married to my best friend.

Sure, the program closure and very slow reopening feels a bit like salt in an open wound. But we are so lucky that we have access to programs like this. Single parents, gay couples, people with certain medical conditions or a more complicated past have a much harder time finding a country they can adopt from.

Lately, the hopelessness has blurred my vision a bit. I need to remember these things and snap out of my pity party!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

How to Fake Patience - Tip #3

Keeping busy is our only chance of survival during this excrutiatingly long wait for our children to come home. But how do we keep busy when there are no children running around the house? We're stuck in a circle...

If you've followed How to Fake Patience Tip #1, you already know quite a bit about your child's culture of origin. But here's something that will keep you busy for a long time!

How to Fake Patience - Tip #3:
Go deeper. Much, much deeper.
I'm talking find English versions of prized novels from that region, figure out what music everyone is listening to, right now, find videos showing traditional dancing on YouTube, watch classical movies from your child's country, read English language newpapers and get a feel for what everybody is talking about...
Sure, it only takes a few hours to read a book or watch a movie. But, unless you're adopting from Florida, you'll have to spend quite some time to figure out real, authentic cultural items from tourist traps. Actually, you may surprised at how much time it takes to find real references. You may have to go on forums, try to find a cultural group in your area and get in touch with them or research on the Internet.
Sri Lanka has a very rich culture, and English is used very widely. You would think it would be easy to find out about the latest trends or the timeless classics, but I've been working at this for several months, now.
A good but basic starting point is the Lonely Planet book for the country in question. Some of them have a section about what to read or watch before going. These may not be the most representative sample of what is being done in local underground circles, but it's a beginning.

And if you have taken up my suggestion of starting a monthly newsletter to your extended family, these can be a really good source of inspiration for the (numerous) newsletters you have left to send!
That's two tips in one, ladies and gentlemen! Don't thank me: I'm as desperate as you are ;-)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Some Hope

Well, here is a little bit of information that I know some of you will like!
Our agent has emailed me yesterday that a family from Canada is due to go to court in November in Sri Lanka. They had received their referral before the program closed, so that doesn’t count as a new referral. But it confirms that the program is up and running again!
The child is in a government run home, though. Unfortunately, children who are in charity homes still cannot be placed internationally, as far as I know. Hopefully these open up soon!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Practical Book About Attachment

See this book on Amazon
Adoption parenting is, in a lot of ways, very similar to biological parenting. 
But there are a few very important differences. 
One major difference is that adopted children may have gone through traumatic events or abnormal attachment patterns. And this means that some parenting techniques need to be adapted to these children.

Lark Eshelman's Becoming a Family is somewhat of a guidebook to the healthy attachment we all want for our kids.

This is not the first book on the subject that I have read. But I really liked that this one presented a lot of realistic, concrete solutions. Some books talk about the risks of unhealthy attachment and paint the very scary picture of a severely hurt child, yet keep the constructive comments to some very general guidelines. Becoming a Family paints the same scary picture, but it also offers lots of advice to help avoid reactive attachment disorders. The book is grounding, yet generates hope.
For an example, you may have read that the Cry It Out strategy that can help a secure baby learn to get to sleep alone can be very damaging to an already fragile attachment. Becoming a Family says exactly the same. But it also offers a practical routine for a slow transition to get baby to sleep by himself. 

I personally learned a lot reading this book, and also feel more confident about parenting a child for attachment. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Big Piece

I have been on the lookout for baby furniture for a while, now.
Did you ever stop to calculate how much having a baby will cost your family? There's the cost of the adoption, of course, but diapers, formula, clothes, nursery furniture, stroller, car seat and high chairs aren't included in the deal. And it adds up!
I've looked for new cribs in stores, they cost up to $600 where we live! Given that we'll only need a crib for a few years, at the most, that's a pretty high yearly rate!

I finally found what I was looking for on Kijiji, last week.
This family was selling their convertible crib for $125. I went over and picked it up, and I couldn't believe the shape it was in! 2 kids have used it, and the wood is not even marked. Not a single tooth mark or scratch!
I'm not posting a picture because it is unassembled and nicely stacked behind our washing machine.
This particular crib can be converted into a toddler bed or a twin size bed. I've looked it up on the Internet, and new cribs like this cost around $500.
We'll get a new mattress for it when we get the baby's room ready.
I'm so happy with my find :-)

If you're going to consider used cribs, make sure you read through this web page from Health Canada. It's important to obtain model number and manufacturing year before you commit to buying. You can then check for recalls and make sure the crib was made after the new rules came out in 1986.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Running in the Family

You know those stories – almost legends – that each family carries around and magnifies from generation to generation? My family has one about a character nicknamed Simard-Banane (because of his amazingly long chin) whose family would host funerals in their living room and who spent his life going to random strangers’ funeral services in the little town where my mom grew up (and her parents before her). The man really exists, I’ve met him once – at my Grand-Father’s funeral.
In all reality, he was probably only an eccentric with a slightly strange interest for funeral services. Half of the stories about him may or may not be true. One thing is sure, his character was magnified and swollen from years of story-telling.
I love those stories and have all intentions of sharing them (and maybe creating new ones - he he...) with my children. Pablo’s family also has billions of them, and they have a much different taste given that they are set in small town, Ecuador.
Find Running in the family
 on Amazon here
This is exactly what this book is about. It’s not a novel, not even a fiction, really. And it doesn’t have a straight storyline. Michael Ondaatje is a Sri Lankan-Canadian (he’s the one who wrote the English Patient, by the way). Running in the Family was born from a trip he took to Sri Lanka with his children to explore his origins. He jumps from one family story to another, from present to past. The characters – his extended family – are magnificent. The stories are all bigger than life, like that of his Grand-Mother’s drowning in the monsoon floods. The setting is so exotic, you can almost smell the moist rain forest air, like when he tells the story of crazy rainstorm showers (with soap and all) he took with his kids in the middle of the jungle. And the words he uses are beautiful.
If you’re adopting from Sri Lanka, you have to read this book. If you’re even slightly interested in Sri Lanka, you still have to read it. And if you’re into good story-telling and poetic beauty, then you also have to read it.
On top of that, I love the picture on the book cover!
I’m leaving you with a few jewels from Running in the Family:
Asia. The name was a gasp from a dying mouth. An ancient word that had to be whispered, would never be used as a battle cry.” p.22
“They all went swimming again with just the modesty of the night. An arm touched a face. A foot touched a stomach. They could have almost drowned or fallen in love and their lives would have been totally changed during any one of those evenings.” p.52
“[...] a pendant off the ear of India. [...] This pendant, once its shape stood still, became a mirror. It pretended to reflect each European power till newer ships arrived and spilled their nationalities [...]” p.64
“Across the valley, a waterfall stumbles down. In a month or two the really hard rains will come for eighteen hours a day and that waterfall will once again become tough as a glacier and wash away the road. But now, it looks as delicate as the path of a white butterfly in a long-exposed photograph.” p.167

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I Dreamed It Was Our Turn

It may be because of Gina's post, last week...
I dreamed last night that we were told by our agency about a couple of twin girls, due to be born on November 1st. They had told us we would get a proposal for them, but that it would take a few months after they were born.
I know, that's not exactly how International Adoption works, but isn't that what dreams are for?
I woke up feeling serene :-)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Another Thanksgiving

It's Thanksgiving week-end again, in Canada.
And since I'm writing this in an airport, on my way back home after a full week with my family in Montreal, I have to say something about them. I am so very grateful that our baby, when she finally comes, will have accepting grand-parents, amazing aunts and uncles and the cutest cousins in the world. We are really lucky that everyone is so anxious to meet our kid.

Each birthday, holiday or milestone we hit is a reminder of how long we've been standing here; how much the whole world is moving and changing and how stuck our life is since we decided to start our family. This is my second Thanksgiving post on this blog... Last year, I was trying to find the silver lining in all the clouds. This year, I want to start creating more opportunities to highlight it. To do this, I'll follow my own advice and plan all sorts of non-baby-friendly activities.
These years are making me stronger and more compassionate. They are giving me tools for survival and I think they'll make me a much better Mom. This is something to be grateful for and, though it's hard to see right now, I know I'll be glad things happened this way, when it's all over.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How to Fake Patience - Tip #2

Months are flying by, seasons are starting and ending, years just keep on piling up and you’re still standing in the exact same spot. Waiting.
It’s hard to stay graceful and stoic when you’re waiting for your child to come home!
That’s why I give you How to Fake Patience – Tip #2:
We all know that parenting is a demanding job. However badly you want this child to join your family, there will still be some sacrifice.
To help make the wait more bearable, try to think of a few things that you’ll have to give up when your adoption is complete. Then, plan for those things in a given time frame. For an example, you could try to do one thing per month that you know you won’t be able to enjoy as much once your kid is here. This won’t make up for not having your child with you, but it’s a bit like a consolation prize!
Having a hard time coming up with ideas? Maybe these can inspire you:
-          Have a romantic date with your sweetheart, without having to worry about what’s going on at home.
-          Stay up late on a weekend night. You could go to the late movie show and get up reeeaaallly late the next morning. And why not have coffee in bed, too?
-          Go on sports outings. If you like bicycling, go for a long, tough ride. Pick a hike that would be way too long for a toddler. Sign up for an ice-climbing class.
-          Walk around the house naked, have some fun with your partner in unconventional places, and be loud. The living room couch will forever be for watching TV once your kids are there...
-          Eat at a restaurant where kids are out of place. Eat osso bucco, spinach and risotto.
-          Plan a trip you won’t want to do with kids. Go winery hopping, take a super long road trip, backpack through Africa, go on a culture trip and visit museums until you drop.
-          Already have kids? Remember that some activities will get more expensive once your family is bigger! Why not go to the local amusement park?
-          If your kids are not going to be of the same gender, you could do something super girly with your daughter, or something boyish with your son.
-          Spend some quality one-on-one time with your kids. Take an extra half hour to rock them to sleep, play or do something crafty together.
Any more great ideas? Feel free to share in the comments!
And when you’re up cleaning stomach flu accidents at 3am on a Wednesday, you can think back to that sweet safari in South Africa you did while you were waiting!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Adoption Breastfeeding

Adoption means arriving a bit later than usual in the life of your kid. Most parents conceive, carry and give birth to their children.
For some adoptive families, there is a sense of loss around the portion of their children’s life they missed on. Adoptive mothers are not going to feel their baby kicking in their ribs in the middle of the night, they will never experience that magical moment when, exhausted and sweaty, they hear the very first cry of their tiny newborn.
But did you know that some adoptive mothers are able to nurse their babies?
Yep. You read me right. Women who were never pregnant, who did not give birth but rather travelled across country to meet their brand new baby can produce milk and breastfeed them.
It’s not for everyone. The process is demanding, you have to start much before your baby is even born, and most women need medication to get their milk supply up. The baby has to be either brand new at the time of adoption, or already breastfed by her birthmother. And there is no guarantee that it will work. Often, a supplementation system is needed, where formula is given at the same time.
Consideration also has to be given to the birthmother. Is it OK to ask her to breastfeed a baby she will have to grieve for in a few days, until you can take over?
On the other hand, if all conditions are favorable, it’s a great way to foster attachment between the mother and baby.
If you decide this is right for your family and feel like the hard work and dedication is worth the chance that it will work, have a look at this web page. It has lots of information on how to get started and what to expect.
As for ourselves, nursing is not even an option. Our baby will be too old when we meet her and very probably bottle-fed. Even then, adoptive breastfeeding doesn’t feel like the right option to me. I know that’s the best source of food for a baby, but the amount of work it represents and the relatively high chance of not succeeding wouldn’t make it that appealing. Also, it would feel a bit weird to me (though I fully realize that it may be the best option for other families).
On top of that, I like that Pablo will get the attachment benefits of feeding our baby as much as I will!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Peter's Curry

It had been a while since we tried a new Sri Lankan recipe. Since we were camping with some friends this weekend and were responsible for Saturday night’s supper, Pablo cooked a huge batch of curry on Friday. Our friends didn't know that we are adopting, yet!

He used this recipe for Cashew Nut Curry from My Sri Lanka, and he added some chicken. The result was delicious!

Oh! And our friends were pumped that we're adopting!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Financial Talk

As you know, adoption is expensive. International adoption in particular.
While you wait for a referral, it’s a good idea to try saving as much as you can. This way, you can minimize the amount you have to borrow to pay for plane tickets, in-country expenses and professional fees and to make up for the lost salary if you’re going to take parental leave.
Whether you cut back on restaurant expenses, downsize your vacation plans, take a second job, collect donations from generous friends or organize a fundraiser, you’ll see your adoption account slowly swell to a more comfortable level.
The question of how to maintain the value of this money will certainly come up at some point. It has for us.
Yesterday, we met with a financial advisor at our bank. We sat with him and explained what our goal was. Since we don’t know what the timing of our adoption will be, and we have a very specific goal that we cannot concede on, our conditions were pretty rigid. Our basic question was: “Can you help us get the most interest for this money while  a) keeping it fully cashable within a few days notice and b) keeping it completely safe?
So we looked at all sorts of options. We looked at Guaranteed Investment Certificatess, but cashable ones have ridiculously low interest rates right now. We talked about mutual funds and stocks, but we can’t afford to risk our baby’s homecoming money. We even looked at using our mortgage as a credit line. Although this option has advantages in the long run, it would create a cashflow problem at the time of our travel to Sri Lanka.
After crunching numbers and looking at interest rates for almost an hour, we came to the conclusion that our money was best exactly where it was now.
So here is what we figured was best for someone saving for an adoption who has no idea when they’ll need the money and who will get very little notice:
-          Open up a Tax Free Savings Account – pick the one with the best interest rate that is cashable at any time and guaranteed.
-          Deposit your adoption money in your TFSA until you max out your limit.
-          Deposit any extra money you manage to save into a non-registered savings account – again, pick the one with the best interest rate that is cashable at any time and guaranteed.

Note that if you pull money from your TFSA, you have to wait to the next year before you can refill it. So if you know you’re going to need some of the money in the short term, you might as well deposit this money in your non-registered savings account until you need it.
One more side note: this is true in today’s financial world, with very low interest rates. When things start picking up again, other types of savings account may become more interesting.
And one final piece of advice: don’t take my word for it! If you’ve been putting money aside for your adoption, you owe it to yourself to book an appointment with a financial advisor. You don’t want to find out 2 years down the road that you could be $1000 richer!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sri Lanka Wildlife

Sri Lanka has an incredibly rich wildlife, especially given its relatively small territory.

Elephants, wild boars, giant bats, crocodiles, exotic birds, even leopards! Just for fun, here are a few pictures I found of Sri Lankan animals:

 
Picture from http://www.asianews.it/files/img/SRI_LANKA_(F)_1016_-_Elephant.jpg

Picture from  http://www.naturephoto-cz.com/photos/sevcik/pteropus-giganteus--pteropus-giganteus-3.jpg 

Picture from  http://holidaysinsrilanka.net/Assets/images/inside/SriLanka_Leopard_At_Yala.jpg 

Picture from  http://ceylonbestholiday4u.lk/images/sri_lanka_brown_headed_barbet_fruit_tree.jpg 

But I really wanted to write about this weird reptile... In English, it is called the Water Monitor. Isn't that already a strange name for an animal?
In Sinhala, they are called Kabaragoyas. And apparently, they are pretty common on the island! They can measure up to 3m (that's 9ft), but they also have a little brother called Thalagoya.
I had never heard about it, and it will probably make me a little nervous if we go on any type of nature walk in Sri Lanka...
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Kabaragoya:

 
Picture from  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9c/Sri-Lanka_water_monitor.jpg 


Pretty, eh?
I'd love for this little guy to come rub against my leg!











I don't know how much freedom we'll have, with the paperwork and all, when we go to Sri Lanka. Still, I really hope that we get to go in some National Parks or maybe even on a safari when we're there! How often do you get to see elephants and water monitors in the wild?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Answers from Colombo!

Aaahhhh! That feels so much better!
I have a much better understanding of what is expected of us from Citizenship and Immigration Canada!

After we got this ridiculous email, last week, we had tons of questions.
Pablo tried calling the Canadian High Commission in Colombo. Since we have 11.5hrs difference with Colombo, he had to stay up late to call during their office hours. Only to be told that they did not provide information over the phone and that, if we couldn't find what we needed on their website, we would have to either come to their office in person (yeah right!) or send out an email.
So I sent out a nice, long, detailed email with a list of questions.

I received a reply just a week later (which is pretty good, given that there was a long weekend in there).
And the reply answers all my questions very clearly!

So here is what you need to know if you're using the Immigration process for your adopted child:
  • The threat of refusing your application if all documents are not received in 30 days does not apply to international adoption.
  • There is a list of required documents specific to each country on the CIC website. They can all wait until you have accepted a child. This way, all forms will have the right name, gender, date of birth, etc.
  • If the Schedule A document is listed on your checklist, you don't need to send it for the adoption of a child under 16 years old. If you want, you can send it with NOT APPLICABLE written on it, just to be on the safe side.
  • If you need to send out IMM5406 - Additional Family Information, you do need to include yourselves as the parents.
According to email I received, Pablo and I do not need to provide Police Checks or Certificates of Citizenship. But I would confirm with the Visa Office in the country you are adopting from.

If you're going to email your Visa Office, here's one tip I want to share: Include a list of all the documents you understand are required. I did this, all in bullet points, and then asked the Visa Office in Colombo to confirm that the list was correct and complete. This will give you the assurance (and written proof) that you're not missing any important (and time sensitive) document when you travel to pick up your child.

I am feeling sooooo much better now that I have a better understanding of what we need to do! For now, that's pretty much nothing, anyway... The guy did ask for an email update on our adoption every 2 to 3 months, but that won't be a big deal.
And to be fair, after the initial email and phone call, we got some very good service from the High Commision in Colombo.

So here's to clarifying another bit of the process!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How to Fake Patience - Tip #1

Nothing is moving on the Sri Lankan international adoption front. Nothing at all. Not a single referral since the program shut down in December 2011.
Sure, it has officially re-opened in May 2012. But private orphanages are still waiting for the new procedure to come out and, in the meantime, government run homes don't seem to be have a lot of children to match.

We knew adoption was a loooong and difficult road. We all know it before we start. We were told we would have to be patient.
What is patience? Is it not caring too much about the outcome? Or is it just shutting up and pretending you're dealing with the wait with grace?
They say if you can't make it, fake it.

Well, that's what I'm proposing here! If you're waiting for your child and feeling as impatient as I feel, keep reading! I'll share with you a few tips on how to fake patience and grace in this excruciatingly long and important wait!
If you follow my advice, you'll fool the whole world into believing you're a strong, patient and graceful expecting parent.

So here is How to Fake Patience - Tip #1:

Are you adopting across cultures?
Great! There's a whole world for you to discover!
Spend some time researching your kid's culture of origin. Start with borrowing a Travel Guide Book from your local library. They usually have very succint general information sections where you can get a quick run through on the people, the economy and the history of a country. Find a recipe or two on the Internet and try it at home. Research celebrations from this culture. Do you know how Chinese New Year is celebrated? What African American weddings are like? What Guatemalans do for New Years Eve?

If you find it hard to motivate yourself to do this kind of research, find a way to give it more meaning. I find my blog is great motivation for me. On top of making me feel closer to my baby, those bits of information about Sri Lanka are great material for my blog.
Why not start a monthly newsletter to send out to family and close friends?
That would be a great way to keep you support network involved. And if anyone is not quite warm to the idea of your adoption, that could be a good tool to get them used to it!

If you follow this first tip, you should be able to use up the time you spend worrying about your adoption (let's face it, it can become an obsession at times!) to do something positive. And to the outer world, you will appear excited, but also strong, patient and graceful!

Stay tuned for more Tips on How to Fake Patience!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Welcome to Canada

Do you think Canada is a welcoming country that treats immigrants with respect?

We received our Approved Application to Sponsor earlier this month. As you know, this gives us permission to sponsor our child into Canada, provided that we assume full responsibility for meeting her needs.
Here are some bits from the approval letter:
"Dear Gen, This refers to the Application to Sponsor a Member of the Family Class you submitted on behalf of the child you intend to adopt..."
"... You have met the requirements for eligibility as a sponsor. Accordingly, details of your application..."
"... Should you need to submit additional information or make any enquiries during the processing of the Application [...], you may contact the visa office by email, fax or in writing..."
All in all, pretty courteous.

The email I have received on Monday, addressed to my not-yet-Canadian baby (also not-yet-born, but that's a detail), has a somewhat different tone. Here are a few extracts:
"Dear " ", We have received your approved application to sponsor. We are awaiting submission of a completed application for Permanent Residence..."
"We require the following information from the applicant in order to continue processing the application..."
"... The information /documents we have requested should be provided to us within 30 days from the date of this email. No further requests will be made. If we do not receive the information within the time indicated, we will proceed to assess the application based on the information on file which may result in refusal."
And I did not add the bold and underlined...

Is it me or are they a lot less polite to my child? 
I hate to say it, but I think Citizenship and Immigration Canada thinks potential immigrants don't deserve to be treated as nicely as Canadian citizens.

We see ourselves as a pretty open, tolerant, multi-cultural people. It makes me wonder how welcoming our institutions really are...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

We're Moving (backwards) on the Immigration Front

It's a well-known fact: I just don't get Immigration.
I was great at dealing with adoption agencies, organizing home-study appointments and fingerprints, finding out how to go about the next step of the process, gathering documents and sending everything off in time.
But the Immigration process is waaayyy above my head!

I have received an email, this week. It is addressed to my child. They call him/her " ", since we don't know what the first name is.
The email states that the sponsorship approval was received in Colombo. It then lists several documents that " " is required to send out.
Some of those documents are not yet available (birth certificate, adoption order, passport, etc). Others were sent to the Mississauga office with our Application to Sponsor.

And then it asks for these documents to be sent out within 30 days. Hummm... We may not have a birth certificate for our unborn child in 30 days...

I get that the sponsorship for family member can be used to bring people of all ages into Canada. But this letter has a few specifics about adoption. Why didn't they also adjust the last sentence? In fact, there is even a bold and underlined statement that failure to send the documents within 30 days could result in " "'s application being refused.

It's just plain stupid. I hate trying to figure out instructions from Citizenship and Immigration Canada!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Hague Convention

Over the past year or so, I have become a huge fan of the Hague Convention.
That's right! With all the red tape, all the paperwork, all the added work, I'm still so happy we chose a Hague country to adopt from...

It's true that the Convention adds an extra layer of complexity to an already messy process. But it's also a guarantee for our children and for ourselves.
As I have discussed here, I am fully onboard with the idea that maintaining a child in her birth family is the best option. I also believe that children should be placed in their country of origin whenever possible. But I know for a fact that they need a family and that, though placing children abroad is a last resort, we are still a great way for a child to grow in a safe, loving environment.
Of course, this doesn't give us priority in getting the baby we long for. But here is one more thing the Hague states: the interests of the children should always prevail. And I agree with that too. These kids are in tough situations and so vulnerable. They need protection and their needs should be a priority.
One day, one of these children will be my son or daughter and I will want to know that their best interest has dictated every single decision made along the way.

Under the Hague Convention, children are, at least in theory, matched by government officials.That's something else I like! The government adds a layer of control between parents (who have money and have been waiting for a terribly long time) and whoever has custody of an orphan.
See where I'm headed?
Don't get me wrong, I believe that most adoption agents, orphanage workers and foster families are wonderful people with a heart of gold. But all it takes is one dishonest person to suddenly stir the focus away from one child's real needs.

I wrote this post over a year ago. And I believe it now more than ever.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Are We Making a Difference?

I have been wanting to write about this for a while, but it's a difficult subject...

There has been an interesting discussion on ichild, lately.
For those who don't know ichild, it is a Yahoo Group of people touched by adoption from India and the Indian sub-continent. A  lot of discussions are specific to the Indian adoption process, but there are also talks about adoptive parenting, adoption travel, culture and more general topics that I find very relevant to our Sri Lankan adoption.

These past few weeks, someone has raised the issue of our motivations to adopt internationally. And it has sparked a deep and thoughtful discussion.
Why, indeed, do we adopt internationally?

It's true that some orphans are destined to a life in very poor conditions. And children who grow out of the orphanage/child care system have very little hope of anything better than a life on the streets. These children need a family, and we are giving them just that.
That is one of the main reasons Pablo and I decided to adopt.

The Hague Convention recognizes a few principles:
- A family is a much better place to grow than an orphanage
- Whenever possible, a child should stay with her birth family (unless the family is abusive).
- When the birth family cannot keep the child, he should be placed with a local family and stay in his birth country.
- If the birth family and a local family are not viable options, then international placement may be the only way to offer the child a family.

I tend to agree with these principles. Though we have good life conditions and I consider our family to have a rich culture, I do not have the pretension to be any better than a Sri Lankan family for a Sri Lankan child.

And that is where the problem arises. An adoptive mother on ichild asked a very difficult question:
We are spending a lot of resources to adopt our child - Money, time, energy, we are even going to travel halfway around the world! If we want to help these orphans, why are we not putting all these resources toward helping a Sri Lankan family keep their baby? Why not invest in a local family to help them take a child under their care?

On the other hand, I wonder how realistic this view is. If I traveled to Sri Lankan and gave all the time, money and energy I've invested in this process, would I even be able to do anything at all for even just one child?
Some birth families have complex stories, where poverty is not the only reason for placement. What about unwed mothers? Illegitimate children? Teenage mothers? Cultural barriers to adoption?
Is it true that money can solve the world's problems?

I would love to hear what other people think about this (please keep the discussion respectful). Any insight from waiting families, adoptive families, Sri Lankans, maybe even adoptees?

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Chinese Must Know...

It’s the second time this happens since we started this process!
I’m taking this as a promise...


I just wish they had provided a timeline!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Immigration - Part 1

We have received our Approval to Sponsor from Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Part 2 of the immigration process is the Permanent Residency Visa application. It requires documents such as our child's Birth Certificate, a name and a date of birth, among all sorts of forms to fill out. So we can't really do anything for now...
All we can do is wait for our referral!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Who Will it Be?

As you know, I’m keeping a just-for-fun pool with friends and families (and readers too! Go to this post to participate!).
So far, 19 have voted on our child’s gender, age at referral and year of referral.
On average, we’ll get a referral in 2013 for an 8 months old boy. It’s funny because that was Pablo’s exact prediction J
I have to say that I believe wishful thinking is playing its role here… 2013 is very optimistic. And I’m the only one so far who is predicting a referral past 2013! I guess I should thank everybody for wishing us a quick process! I sure hope it happens this way!
My own personal guess? I say we’ll get a referral for a 4 months old boy in 2014.
And for the record, 4 of our friends and family members think we’ll get twins J

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Advantages of Cloth Diapering

Picture from http://aprilmackinnon.wordpress.com/

Pablo and I have decided to use cloth diapers on our Cinnamon Bun. It’s not to say we’ll never use a disposable, especially when we’re living in a hotel room in Sri Lanka, but we’d like to use cloth as much as we can.
We’ve already got 3 cloth diapers: 2 used that I bought at a sale back in May, and 1 brand new that little T. brought as a gift for her cousin.

There are 2 good arguments for cloth diapers:
1-      Money: Cloth diapers cost ~$300-$500 to start, plus the cost of washing (energy, soap and water). That’s probably less than $1000 in total. Disposable diapers cost ~$2000-$3000 over the time a baby uses diapers.
2-      Environment: This is not as cut-and-dry as you’d think… If cloth diapers are bought brand new, used only for one child before being discarded, and machine dried, the environmental cost of manufacturing, energy and water pollution may very well equate that of manufacturing plastic diapers. If your electricity company produces from a coal plant, machine drying diapers is an important air pollutant. But if you’re going to buy used diapers, reuse your cloth diapers for your second child (or a cousin or friend) and/or line dry your diapers, then you’ll be keeping a few tons of waste from the landfills!
I found this article on the Canadian Government website.

And while we’re at it, I think I’d like to get some reusable wipes and liners... We’ll just try to make it a habit to hang all that stuff to dry! Is there anything cuter than a line full of colourful diapers? And our dry Mountain climate will help anyway!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pretty Curves!


Isn't written Sinhala beautiful?
Tamil too (the second line).
So much prettier than our straight, square letters!

This is the header from the letter we received on Tuesday, acknowledging reception of our application :-)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sponsorship Application

OK... So the Immigration Process is slowly starting to appear clearer in my mind... As you know, we chose to obtain Canadian Citizenship for our child through the Sponsorship process.

The concept of Sponsorship is that you become accountable and responsible for the person who is immigrating to Canada. You have to provide food, shelter, money, etc. For a set period of time (10 years for an adopted child), this person cannot benefit from Employment Insurance or Social Wellfare. Any money they could need has to come from you.
Obviously, adopting a baby involves way more accountability and responsibility anyway, so that doesn't scare us.

Once Immigration and Citizenship Canada has approved you as a potential sponsor, you can apply for your child to obtain a Permanent Residency visa in the Canadian Visa Office of their country of origin. To do this, you will need some documents specific to the child. This means that this step cannot be completed before the referral.

Our Sponsorship Application is ready to be sent out!
We have just finished puting together our Sponsorship Application. We'll send it out this weekend. Adoption related applications are treated as priority cases by the office in Mississauga, so we hope to hear from them really soon! That's why I've printed ADOPTION in gigantic letters on the envelope :-)

To compete our application, we used Guide IMM 5196.
If you're getting ready to fill out an application too, it would be wise to search for "Sponsorship of adopted children and other relatives — The sponsor’s guide" on the CIC Website. I'm guessing these get updated every now and then!

And if you have questions, brew yourself a pot of coffee (or two), call CIC (1-888-242-2100) and keep trying until you get someone!

I'll let  you know when our application gets approved :-)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

On Hope

I find that Hope is a very tricky element of the adoption journey.
Anyone who has ever heard the word patience in regard to their family building effort knows that Hope can be a very dangerous thing. It’s a simple equation: the more hopeful you are, the more painful the fall. And anyone who talks about optimism and how it’s supposed to attract good luck has clearly never been there.
So there are good reasons for trying to keep your Hope levels under control, however difficult that sometimes is.
On the other hand, the balance has to flip sides at one point. How do you prepare for the child that’s coming when you keep thinking it won’t happen? How do you even start preparing the people around you, your family, your friends, even your work team? How do you plan financially for diapers and ballet classes if you’re sure you’ll never have to worry about these?
So managing our levels of Hope seems like a very delicate, yet critical task to me. It’s something I struggled with in a lot of different ways, those past few months. And it’s still a struggle.
I am willing to believe that we’ll be parents one day and that we can start preparing. But anything more concrete seems too dangerous.
Our agency gave us a range of 8 to 24 months to referral.
I think buying baby clothes is fine. But moving our bedroom to free up the baby’s room? Telling my boss that I may very well go on parental leave in a few months? I’m not quite ready. And please don’t tell me to let myself be hopeful, I’m the one who’s risking the fall.
I can’t help but notice that today, we’ve waited for 1 month, that this leaves 23 months to the longest waiting time our agency has seen and that, if those numbers are right, 4.2% of our pregnancy has passed. That’s not even 2 weeks of a biological pregnancy. For now, this is about as far as I’ll go in hoping that our timeline isn’t too far off…

Friday, July 13, 2012

Take a Guess!

When our file made it to Sri Lanka, I sent an email to our family and close friends. Along with our pregnancy (on paper) announcement, I started an unofficial pool.
Just like some couples get their families to try and guess if they’re expecting a boy or a girl, I asked everyone to pick a gender, age at referral and year of referral.
It’s just for fun, there’s no money involved or anything else than the satisfaction of winning... And it makes waiting and dreaming about our kid so much more fun for us!
Take a guess too! Here’s what you need to know:
-          We requested a child under 12 months old. Babies are usually not available before they’re 3 months old.
-          We didn’t specify a gender, but we said that twins were ok.
-          There’s approximately as many boys as girls available in Sri Lankan orphanages, but our agency has received a few more requests for girls than for boys.
-          We started waiting on June 18, 2012. The average wait is about 18 months. The shortest wait our agency has had is 8 months, the longest, 24 months.
You don't have to know us personally to participate. Just leave a comment telling us:
-          Girl, boy (or twins)?
-          How many months old will our baby be when we receive the referral?
-          In what year will we receive our referral?
Whoever is the closest wins!