Adoption, Lifestyle

An adoption update

Wow, I can’t believe I haven’t posted in over 3 months.  If that isn’t an indication of how busy life gets then I’m not sure what is.   Typically the fall is busy for us, but it starts to wind down mid-October once we are in the swing of it.  This year, given the fact that Mia started school and is involved in more activities than previous years, we haven’t slowed down and I’m sitting wondering where did the months go?

I can’t believe it’s already December 1st.  Of course, we welcomed our Elf, Sparkle, back this morning.  She will be sticking around for the next 24 days, which means that we need to be creative for 23 more nights and find some unique hiding spots for this elf.  It’s actually quite a stressful job, and no, I won’t be Pinteresting hiding spots, because who has time, and let’s be honest, energy,  for all of that?!  Along with Sparkle’s appearance we have started getting the house ready for the holidays.  We got our tree up, hung the stockings and strung the lights on the house.  We are basically set, we just need the jolly man in the red suit to show up and we are good to go.

This holiday season is bitter-sweet for our whole family. We learnt back in early October that we would not receive a referral before the new year.  Honestly, both Tony and I felt that we would have our daughter home with us to celebrate this holiday season.  I had imagined Christmas morning and all the festivities with our daughter so many times and felt that this year would be the year for us. This will be the 3rd Christmas, since we set things in motion, that we are without her.  Several people have been asking about the adoption lately and so I thought I brief update before the holidays was in order.

While you wait you are constantly worried that your documentation will expire. In order to avoid this, you are constantly updating and double checking dates. Up to this point, our updates included mainly police checks, RCMP and Interpol checks. At this point; however, within the first few months of the coming year several of our documents are set to expire. These are documents that we didn’t think we would need to update at any point as they were valid for 2 years, but without a referral we cannot let any document in our dossier expire. We are now back into the throws of paper work and processes. We just completed our medical documentation, have called on our reference families for new letters and will need another police and RCMP check. At the same time, we are updating our family profile. This document is the heart of our dossier and highlights who and what we are as a family. This is a large document that actually doesn’t expire; however, when we first wrote it our little Mia was 3 and she is now 5 and doing so much more. She can also articulate what this process means to her and how excited she is to welcome a sister.

As a family we continue to prepare our home and of course our finances for our journey to South Africa. We have slowly started to put her room together, but it is difficult to know what we need when we are unsure of so many things.  When will we get the call?  How old will she be?  Will she sleep in a crib or a bed?  We will ready what we can, and leave the rest of it for when we are 100% certain.

It is an interesting wait, it’s almost like being pregnant (minus the cravings and weight gain) but with no due date. We are so thankful for the support that we have received towards our adoption and our family, be it financially or emotionally.   It takes a village to raise children and we have are surrounded by an amazing village!

We want to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season spent with loved ones.  We look forward to being able to share our good news in the coming year!

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Adoption

The best kind of mail

I love getting mail and I love living in a community where (for now) the mail is still delivered door to door.  There is something magical about opening up the mailbox to find an envelope with your name on it.  You know the letters I hate receiving?  Letters from the government.  There’s nothing more alarming than a thick manila envelope from the government of Canada.  I always think, did I forget to pay my taxes?  Did I not pay enough? Am I being audited?  Am I ready to be audited?  I’m sure most of you can relate to those dreaded envelopes.

During the adoption process checking the mail has become our full-time job.  We seem to always be waiting for updated documents, letters of approval etc., and with each piece of paper we are one step closer to being matched.  Mail is a big deal for us!  Today, like many days in the last week we received another piece of the adoption puzzle.  We are the midst of redoing some of our clearance checks because those expire after one year.  Last Friday I received my police clearance and today it was husband’s turn, but the biggest surprise?  The 8 1/2″ X 11″ brown manila envelope from the government containing the final piece of the puzzle.  Today we received Part 1 of our Citizenship application for our daughter.

For the average folk this may mean nothing.  To someone who is adopting internationally, this piece is huge.  This is the document that allows us to apply for citizenship of our new child.  It’s big, and it takes forever to receive.  I had just about given up ever getting receiving this approval.  Here’s a brief run-down of how this whole Part 1 application went down, so that you can understand the importance of this particular piece of mail.

We applied early July for Part 1.  We had left it a little late, but after switching programs from Haiti to South Africa, we needed to be approved with everyone before we could go ahead and apply for this.  So…July 5th was the official application date.  July 23rd, I received a letter from the CIC (Citizenship and Immigration Canada) stating that it would take approximately 14 weeks to complete the application and that I could call the Call Centre should I have questions.  That day I took out my calendar and set an alarm 14 weeks from July 23rd.  Fast forward, it’s October 29th and still nothing.  At 14 weeks +1 day I made my first call to the Call/Help Centre.  This call left me frustrated as once you have entered a series of 6 different digits from 6 different menus a lovely voice lets you know that the volume of callers is particularly high that day and you should call again later.  CLICK. 14 weeks +2 days, I figured out how to dupe the phone system and wait for an operator; enter your series of digits as soon as you have selected English as your language.  At 14 weeks +2 days I finally spoke to someone and after 40 minutes of waiting they told me they couldn’t help me.  CLICK.  I called everyday that week until the following week someone spoke to me as if they cared why I was calling.  At 15 weeks, they finally put a note in my file, or at least they told me they did.  I repeated this every week until week 18.  At that point I was mad.  We had been waiting 4 weeks past the expected due date and I was not satisfied with the level of communication.  I asked some fellow families in waiting and they suggested I contact my MP as they can work on your behalf with the CIC.  At 18 weeks +4 days I signed an authorization form for Jason Kenney’s office to contact the CIC on behalf.  At 19 weeks +5 days I received the most depressing call back from his office.  It went a little along the lines of…”it could take 24 months to process.  It’s a case by case basis.  Why don’t you know the name of the girl you are adopting? We are trying to stop child trafficking.”  CLICK. It literally deflated me.  I cried all the way home and that night starting writing to other MPs to see if they could help me.  After 4 MPs I ran out of relevant options and my husband said “you’ve done all you can do”.  Two days later an email from the CIC stated: you are now approved!  Who knows why we were approved when we were.  I’d like to think that it had nothing to do with the MP who so rudely told me that they were protecting children and that it had to do with my advocacy.  With the fact that I called everyday for a week and then once a week thereafter.  That I showed those CIC Call/Help Centre employees that I cared about my situation and I wanted to know what I could do to move the process along.  Honestly, I think we were approved because they were sick of hearing from me.

Hopefully this helps put into perspective what a small piece of paper means in the eyes of a family in waiting.  It means that we can accept our match and not have to wait for further approval.  It means that once our court date is set in South Africa we can hop on a plane or two and make our way to our daughter.  It means that while we are in South Africa we can apply for our daughter to become a Canadian citizen and a passport can be made for her.  This one small piece of paper, 21 weeks in the making, literally means everything.

Adoption, Lifestyle

What Not to Say…

Happy Wednesday!  I can’t believe it’s only mid-way through the week.  It seems that the closer we get to winter holidays, the longer the weeks seem.

A few months back this video appeared in my inbox.  We had just shared our adoption news with some of our closest friends and had shared our concern about what others might say to us about our adopted daughter.  My words must have resonated with my girlfriend as a few days later she sent me this video and said “maybe this’ll help!”.

To be honest, when I first saw the title I was a little taken aback, but as I watched I was amazed at how powerful and thoughtful the video was.  It aims to educate those around us who do have questions about adoption but are unsure how to ask them.  It is difficult when talking about race.  No one wants to come across as racist, but friends and family are and have been curious and this video is a great tool to help educate on how to ask questions related to adoption.  Adoption in general can make some people uncomfortable and generally speaking most questions come from a place of curiosity and love but people are unsure how to frame their questions.  This video is not a cure all but it does expose some of the most common questions asked and given alternative forms to asking them.

I hope you enjoy!