Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Up in the Air

Aimee and Dan on the gondola

I just got back from an incredible weekend in cowboy country – Jackson Hole, WY, visiting my sister and brother. If you have never been – you need to go. The landscape is breathtaking and the skiing is even better. In fact, the best of my life, and I've been skiing since I was a tiny kid between my parents legs at Sunapee and Cannon.

It was a 4-day weekend getaway that was much needed after a week of grappling over what our next move will be in this adoption journey. As I said in last entry – there's a lot going on in Ethiopia right now, which could significantly slow down the approval of adoption cases. And while Ken and I are completely committed to adopting from Ethiopia (it’s all consuming) ... we are at the same time... realizing that we may need to look at other options. So here they are.

After speaking to the deputy director of programs at our agency WHFC – she strongly encouraged us to submit a dual application. This means we can apply to another country in addition to our current application to Ethiopia. Right now, there are pilot programs in 
Burundi, which is a tiny country described by our agency as "one of the poorest countries in the world," and is located in Central Africa, bordered by Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In an information packet WHFC went on to say...

"In Burundi, about half the population is under 28 years of age. Children are at risk for rape, prostitution, child labor, internal displacement, kidnapping and military recruitment - child soldiering being one of the country’s most urgent issues. The Government of Burundi is attempting to lower this risk through educational initiatives. There are 6 years of compulsory education, with a relatively high attendance rate. President Nkurunziza instituted a government policy supporting free primary education for all children.

Like other aspects of life in Burundi, health care has suffered due to years of political crisis. There is a great need to improve all health services. Infant mortality rates are one of the highest in the world due to a high incidence of HIV/AIDS, malaria, diarrhea, tuberculosis and other serious medical conditions. Moreover, although about 200,000 children have been orphaned because of HIV/AIDS, even more have been orphaned because of other diseases, poverty and abandonment."

After reading that – Burundi immediately went to the top of my list. But like I said – it’s a pilot program – meaning there are so many unknowns. I asked the deputy director of programs if there have been any successful adoptions yet from Burundi – and she said while there is paperwork in place, so far no one has brought home a child.

There's also a pilot program in the Congo (DRC) right now as well, and the Korea program just re-opened to new applicants after it was temporarily closed due to an announcement in 2008 that the government intended to end international adoptions in the coming years (which means pretty soon). In the beginning of all this, we met with an internationally-renowned orphan doctor to get some information, and she told us the Korea program is excellent and the kids are incredibly healthy and well taken care of.

So now the question is – where do we turn next?

I know where my heart is pulling me... but there is so much to consider. I will let you know what we decide in the next few weeks. Until then, there's nothing like spending time with family, skiing in two feet of fresh powder, and enjoying a little apr├Ęs ski to take your mind off of things.

Base of Thunder Quad Lift

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Equinox

Spring Equinox: The moment at which the sun passes through the vernal equinox, about March 21, marking the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

It is officially the first day of spring – and I can’t think of a better way to welcome in this new season than to get out on the water and row. That’s right. Those long and peculiar looking things hanging out of the side of my Mini Cooper are sculling oars. Ken got them for me for Christmas – a totally unexpected and amazing gift. (I really do have a great guy)

So – in honor of the vernal equinox, which is time of rebirth and renewal for us peeps who live on the East Coast… especially in light of the nasty and harsh winter we just had… I am celebrating in two ways.

1. Getting out on the water.
2. Keeping a clear and open mind as we move forward with this adoption.

First let’s start with number one. I don’t know if any of you did crew in high school or college- but it’s an extremely demanding sport – both physically and mentally. You have to be in good shape, you have to be committed and you have to be in it mentally. You have to be able to push yourself to the max. (Even though – at times – you may feel like putting your oars flat on the water and coasting – THAT is NOT an option in rowing.) And you have to be patient. DO NOT RUSH THOSE SLIDES. (Linda – you know what I’m talking about) 

This sport has also helped me to distress… and for the first time in my life meditate (even if it’s in a non-traditional way.) Being on the water and doing the same motion over and over is very therapeutic.  It helps to clear my mind.

This gets me to the point of keeping an open mind with this long and excruciating journey of adoption. Believe me – it’s easy to get frustrated and discouraged … especially with the recent news coming out of Ethiopia about a potentially significant slowdown in adoption cases (here’s a link to what’s going on). I must say – no matter how committed we are to Ethiopia and how enraptured we are with the country and its people… you mind starts to wonder – will it ever happen? 

Well – I am going to take some of what I’ve learned from rowing and apply it this journey. Be strong physically… be strong mentally and most importantly… have patience. Because when it’s all said and done –whether it’s 24 months or 36 –all the nail-biting,  sleepless nights and worrying if we will ever become parents ----- well, in the end, it will all be worth it when we meet our little peanut for the first time.  So here’s to spring and new beginnings!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Here goes...

I have gone back and forth for a while now about whether I really wanted to blog about my life and my feelings of going through international adoption. At first, it was such a private thing – something that  only my husband and I shared. And I guess I wanted to keep it that way for a while. Before we made this life-changing decision, we trudged down the road of IVF treatments. If you can avoid that road at all costs – I highly recommend it. Not only do the invasive treatments of being poked and prodded by 50 million different doctors suck – but there really is no camaraderie with other woman or couples when you’re going though this exhausting process. Never mind giving yourself shots or having your husband give you shots in the ass every night – which is bad enough – but what’s really the worst thing is that you feel so isolated. Like you have this dirty little secret of being infertile. It’s terrible.

After several tries and ultimate failures, my husband and I looked at each other over a Pimm’s Cup, which are delicious by the way (here’s the recipe from Food & Wine) , that we decided
we’d had enough, and in the end, it made absolutely no difference whether we had a biological child or not  – we just simply wanted to be parents to another little human being. And thus, our journey of international adoption began.  

And I must say the adoption community is so much more welcoming – I mean arms wide open – compared to that dead quiet, head-down crowd in those fertility clinic waiting rooms. I have met so many amazing people through email, Facebook and social events. Everyone is open and ready to share. It’s absolutely wonderful. That is one of the reasons why I wanted to start writing a blog. That… and the fact that I’ve spent the last several months “stalking” other people on their blogs in my free time. So it’s only fair that I should put myself out there as well.

I have no expectations except for the fact that this will hopefully be a cathartic experience as we endure the excruciating wait for a referral and then a court date and then another one.  
So – that’s my first post for now. Be in touch soon.