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:

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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:

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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...