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!

Monday, July 9, 2012

365 Days

One year ago to the day, Pablo and I took the decision to adopt.
We had talked about it before.

Several years before, when we were still unsure we even wanted kids, I had told Pablo adoption made so much sense to me. He had to agree (it does make more sense than making new babies in an overpopulated world filled with kids in need of a family). But he was not as enthused as I was. It was more of a "yeah... maybe one day... we'll see." reaction.

Then, in the year leading to our decision, we talked about it more seriously. We had even researched the process. But what we had found had slowed us down. The process turned out to be heavy (that's an understatement), long (another understatement) and expensive. And we discovered it carried risks and challenges we had not thought about.
We looked at adopting from Ecuador, where Pablo grew up and we still have family. But the process is very difficult there, and the children available where older than we would consider. We put the project aside again.

All we needed was a little nudge from life.
On July 9, 2011, after a very difficult day, we came to the conclusion that this was what we had to do.
We had no idea where to start or what countries were available to us, we weren't sure how long we'd have to wait and we weren't even married. But committing to that decision lifted such a weight from our shoulders.

In those 365 days, we've done a lot of bushwhacking and figured out most of the process. We got married, obtained our government's approval to adopt, were judged and evaluated by social workers as a family, gathered a lot of documents, put together our Dossier. We've fallen from our cloud when the program was suspended suddenly, we've questioned our decisions and had to defend them in front of strangers, killed time in these infamous months by learning about Sri Lanka, about parenting and about adoption. We've celebrated the re-opening of our program, gotten on the actual waiting list (which I picture more as a huge pile of dossiers in a Sri Lanka office), started picturing ourselves as an expecting couple. We've started the process to give our precious Canadian citizenship (with all the privileges it entails) to our Cinnamon Baby.
To this day, we have put in 3 weeks of our actual wait time.

In those 365 days, I've also started this blog and made friends with a number of amazing people. I've learned about other cultures and other processes. I've received all sorts of useful tips from other parents, adoptive and bio, and also from Sri Lankans. I've poured my heart out on days when this adventure didn't feel so glamorous, and I've celebrated every little victory with you guys. And I've received amazing support.

In those 365 days, Pablo and I have come closer to one another. We've cried and celebrated together. We've both changed our views on so many things, including birth families, racial issues and parenting. And our level of compassion for our fellow human beings has raised substantially.

This isn't an easy road to travel. It's scary, tiring and long. And it's lonely at times.
But it's also a beautiful and humbling adventure. We've never done anything as exciting as this.
And somehow, working this hard for our child has made us love him/her more than words can express, without even knowing anything about him/her.

So here's to another year of paperwork, blogging and learning!
(and who knows? this may be our year!)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Immigration: Which Process to Choose?

In this previous post, I had told you a bit about the different parts of the international adoption process in Canada.
So far, we've completed 1 step out of 3:

- Canadian Process (Home Study)
- Sri Lankan Process (Dossier and Match)
- Immigration Process

Step 2 is well under way (our Dossier is completed and we're waiting for a Match).
And while we wait, we're starting Step 3. The immigration process cannot be completed before you have your kid, but it should be started while you wait. If your country has a particularly quick process, you should probably even start while you're still in the Home Study process... I know some countries also require that the immigration be started before the Dossier can be sent out. It's not the case for Sri Lanka.

Pablo and I have just started looking at this process a few weeks ago. At first, I was severely overwhelmed by the amount (and vagueness) of the information to process. But my naturalized husband was unimpressed and took things into his own hands.

The very first thing to do is to decide on which process to use. Let me explain:
There are 2 ways for your internationally adopted child to become a Canadian citizen. 
1- Immigration Process: This is the old way of doing things. It's also slower and more complicated. It involves sponsoring your child, obtaining a Permanent Resident Visa (which will grant her Permanent Residency upon entry to Canada) from the Canadian visa office in her country of birth, and applying for Canadian Citizenship once the child is in Canada. Travelling outside of the country will be more complicated for your family as long as she remains a Permanent Resident. It may mean obtaining visas for her that you do not need for Canadian citizens. 
2- Citizenship Process: This newer process was put in place to simplify our lives. It's done in 2 parts. First, adoptive parents have to prove that they are eligible. Then they apply for their child's Citizenship. They can then obtain a Canadian passport for him. 

If the automatic Citizenship process is so much simpler, then why doesn't everybody use it?
There are several reasons to go the extra mile and choose the Immigration process. First, adoptive parents may not be eligible to apply for automatic Citizenship. There is a long list of conditions you have to meet... The other good reason to consider the long process is that automatic Citizenship is not hereditary...
If your grandchildren are born in Canada, then that's no problem. But if your kid ends up living abroad and having kids in, say, Zimbabwe, then your grandchildren will not be Canadians. In some cases, the only citizenship your grand-kids could have is that of your child's country of origin. And in extreme cases, your grand-kids could be stateless... Of course, if it's important to him, your child will come back to Canada before his children are born. But this limits his lifestyle options as an adult.

So how exactly do you decide? These are questions you should consider when choosing your process:
- Are you eligible for both processes? The conditions are listed here
- How important is it to you to keep doors opened for your child to make his own decisions about where he lives in the future? Does your family culture encourage relocation and long term travels?
- How limiting is your child's country-of-origin's citizenship? If your grand-children end up having citizenship only from a third world country, travelling (even to visit Canada) could be an ordeal for their whole life. If, however, you adopted from a rich country with an easy-to-live-with citizenship, you may decide the consequences of them not being Canadians is bearable.
- How much will you need to travel in the months after you bring your child home? Are you willing to obtain a visa for her every time you travel out of Canada? Approximate processing times for Citizenship Applications are available here.

For all the information about the differences between the Citizenship and the Immigration process, see this page from Citizenship and Immigration Canada's website.
There is detailed information about the first generation rule on this page too, under New Citizenship Law and Adoption

And if you end up choosing the long, unclear Immigration process, stay tuned! Pablo and I, although eligible for both, have decided that the risk of our grand-children being Sri Lankan and not Canadian outweighs the extra paperwork. We're going to try to sponsor our Cinnamon Bun and obtain the PR visa for him/her. In the coming weeks, I'll post about how the paperwork is coming along, and what I understand about the process...

Friday, July 6, 2012

Tips From the Pros

According to our agency, the youngest our baby could be at the time of referral is 3 months. It will take 2 to 3 months before we have all the paperwork ready to travel to Sri Lanka. We have to spend 4 to 6 weeks there before bringing him or her home.
So the youngest our cinnamon baby will be when we meet him or her is 5 months. In this case, we would take  him or her home at 6 months.

My sweet niece is 5-1/2 months old right now. Her visit was a great learning opportunity for us!
Here's what I've learned, both from her and from her Mommy (their flight from down under was long too!):

- With the help of a cushioned head support, an umbrella stroller should do the trick over in Sri Lanka. (YAYYYY!!! No gigantic Cadillac for us!)
- We won't need a bassinet, baby bath or infant car seat. Our cinnamon bun will be old enough for a crib, the big tub and, probably, an older baby car seat.
- We'll take a baby carrier or a sling over there. It'll be great for walking around town and, according to E., it's really convenient on the plane. If baby gets bored, you can just walk down the aisle with the carrier.
- A diaper bag filled with more disposable diapers than you think you'll need, a blanket, toys and clothes is a must on the plane.
- E. told us to take full advantage of the early boarding for people travelling with small children. It gives you time to take out all the stuff you'll need for the long flight.
- If you're travelling alone with a baby, you should get help from the flight attendant. They can hold your child while you use the lavatory, for an example.
- The bassinet that's attached to the front section of larger planes is only good for younger infants. Even then, flight attendants will wake you up everytime the seatbelt light turns on to pick up your child, which will also wake her up... It may be more comfortable to sleep with her in Dad or Mom's arms.
- According to E., you should take extra clothes for your baby, but also a change of clothes for yourself. She learned this the hard way: it's when you don't bring the extra pair of pants for yourself that baby will have an violent, explosive diaper overflow while sitting on your lap.
- E. took all the stuff she needed for little T.'s sleeping routine. She nursed, read her usual story book and then sang her usual lullaby (yes, she sang out loud in a full airplane cabin) before putting her to sleep. It's not home, but little things like this feel familiar and reassuring, ever 37,000 feet above the ground.

And one last tip, this one from little T:
- If you want the seat next to you to be left empty, just go onto a major crisis, crying at the top of your lungs, the very moment your neighbor is settling into his seat. If you're lucky, he may ask to be relocated somewhere quieter ;-)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Royal Visit

Remember my little dragon?
Well she just spent 2 days over at our place. I know, 2 days is painfully short! But it's at least a million times better than nothing...
My sister spent 2 weeks in Quebec, showing the little princess to the family. And on her way back to Australia, she made an extra stop in our mountains. I was so incredibly happy to spend time with my sister, to witness a live smile from the dragon (she was 3 weeks old last time I was with her) and to finally introduce little T. to her godfather (that's Pablo).
To be fair, I have to say that Skype is pretty amazing, when your adorable 5 months old niece lives on the other end of the planet. Still, there's nothing like cuddling with an actual dragon!
I'm so crazy about this little girl! And she managed to seduce Pablo too... I can't wait to meet her cousin :-)