Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It's my blog and I'll bitch if I want to....

This past week has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. We had a conference call with the director of the African program at our agency about the Burundi pilot program. I thought it was going to be pretty straightforward, with her telling us about what a pilot program involves, the risks, the potential health issues etc. Well... that's not really how it went down at all.

First she asked us why we wanted to adopt from Africa. Now, we have already gone through all of this on NUMEROUS occasions with our caseworker, during the home study etc. etc. etc. Honestly, why would someone want to go through this process if they weren't passionate about adopting from Africa? But of course both Ken and I explained why we chose this route - and then it was on to the next questions. Do you think you can be a "Pioneer" for us in this pilot program? Are you capable of handling the ups and downs?  Yes and yes we told her. And then she asked us if we had traveled, specifically to a third world country. We said yes. She then asked if we'd be OK spending time alone in Burundi and if we were prepared to stay in minimal accommodations. I told her "yes, we are pretty adventurous people, we've have done a lot of traveling, and we don't expect to be staying at the Four Seasons!"

And then she proceeded to continuously push us towards the Korea program, which has reopened for a window of time. (The government is supposed to close the program down in 2012). She even said at one point, "It may feel like I am pushing you towards Korea, but I'm not." Well she definitely was. I'm not sure if it's because Ken and I qualify for the Korea program due to of how long we've been married, our ages (you can't be over 43) and that fact that we don't have any mental issues (at least not right now)... but she was like a Rottweiler. And this was a great one too. She informed us that she is the "gatekeeper" of the Burundi program, so basically we have to go through her if we expect to move forward with this dual application. LOVELY! GREAT!

I guess I feel discouraged because this woman has no idea who we are, what kind of people we are, what we are capable of handling - and it felt like during the entire call - that she was judging us and basically made us feel like we weren't worthy of being "Pioneers." Bull S*** I say to that.

In the end she instructed us to watch the pilot program webinar on the website and schedule a call with the Korea program peeps, which we did. And I must say, the paperwork is super minimal and the wait time was pretty manageable (and the woman on that call was super nice and NOT condescending). But still, I know where my heart is. By the way - during the webinar - they ask you 10 questions to see if you fall into the category of being able to handle a pilot program. Here are a few of them... (brace yourselves!)

1. Do you drive the back roads without a map when the scenery is beautiful?
2. Have you ever traveled to a place where you didn't speak the language?
3. If friends call at the last minute needing a place to stay, do you say yes?
4. Do you jump right into the pool without checking the temperature first?

.... ALL very serious questions - don't you think?

So.... that's what's going on in our adoption world right now. We're still trying to figure out if we want to submit a dual application at all. Maybe we'll just stick to our initial plan and let things ride. As they say, time flies when you're having fun, and we're planning a trip to Spain in July to Run With the BULLS... so that should take our mind off things for a while. Hopefully no one gets gored!

Monday, April 18, 2011

My Aching Neck...

I must say - I beat myself up pretty good this week. I started off with a 3 mile run on Monday in the "blistering" 79 degree weather, which as you know is pretty warm for this time of year, especially for the East Coast. That was followed by some good ol' P90 X on Wednesday (I could barely walk after) – and then I rowed at 7AM on Saturday followed by an intense hour-and-a-half row on Sunday morning.

And while all of these workouts felt great and serve as a way for me to let out all of my frustrations – I overdid it just a little bit on Sunday. A woman I row with challenged us to a push-up/ab session on the dock. First problem right there... doing sit-ups on a wooden dock – definitely not the best idea. Needless to say,  after it was all done, I started to feel a slight twinge in the back of my neck, which soon turned into a full-blown "I can't turn my head to either side and where the HELL are the muscle relaxers!!!"

My aching neck is very similar to how I feel about our little adoption journey.

In the beginning, everything (just like working out) is exhilarating and feels good, and then a few months down the road, that little ache starts to set in. First with the paperwork… running around getting everything notarized, getting fingerprinted, the faxes, the letter writing, the photo copies…  the endless FED Ex envelopes. And although you find a little reprieve in between – when your dossier is sent in and USCIS finally approves your application – that ache soon returns and starts to move down your shoulder and into your back, until you can barely move your head.

That's how I feel right now, like we're stuck in a rut, and I can't turn my head in either direction because it's too painful.

Do we submit a dual application to Burundi, which like I said is pilot program, and while promising, has many unknowns. And if we do go down that road, it could mean the end of our dreams of adopting from Ethiopia, at least for now – because once a referral comes in from one country, you are immediately taken off the list for the other country.

Or, do we just sit still and wait to see what happens with the Ethiopia program? As our agency said on a recent conference call, "The good news is that overall the feeling is there is still a great need for adoptions in Ethiopia, and this is a necessary and viable program. It could take longer to bring your child home after a referral (18-24 months), which likely means kids will spend more time in orphanage care and will be older when they do finally come home, but it is still a viable program."

Well, with that said, and my neck still aching, Ken and I started to sort through the paperwork over the weekend for Burundi. So I guess this means, the aching is going to stick around for a bit longer in my neck... and as cheesy at it sounds, in my heart as well.

I will update you on the so-called "paper chase" in my next entry. Until then, let's hope those muscle relaxers kick-in!

I can't get enough of this song... Even if you're not a Sex and the City Fan (it's the last song that plays in the series finale) - it just makes you want to turn the volume up!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dear Phyllis

A little over a year ago, a very dear friend of mine passed away just months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. This woman was a rock for me – someone I could call no matter what it was about or what time it was. She was my sounding board and I miss her dearly. After she passed away, Ken suggested that I start writing her letters as a way to help me deal with the loss --- not only losing her physically, and what I mean by that is being able to talk to her face to face, but also dealing with the loss of that spiritual connection I had with her. Not in a religious sense at all…  I mean in the sense of “hey, this person really gets me.”

And so I did start to write her letters – and this is the first one I wrote her. It’s insanely private, but now that more than a year has passed, and with so much that has changed in that year -- I thought I’d share it.

Dear Phyllis-
It's day 5 of my second round of IVF – and I must say this time around they (the drugs) have been hitting me more than before – I am incredibly irritable... I mean BEYOND!! It wasn't this bad the first time, but I'm just trying to take it in stride. As usual - Ken is a saint. Even though I want to explode at times… he is the voice of reason. I've been thinking.... I was so devastated the first time... that I've come to the conclusion that I'm not going to have any expectations.  And I mean that from a perspective of someone who has already gone through this process and from a perspective of someone who doesn't want to feel that pain of disappointment and loss again -- even though I'm strong enough to take it again. I know Ken is a little weary of this process and even talks about not opting for a 3rd try, but I have my heart set on doing everything we can before we give up. If we didn't - I wouldn't be able to live with myself. At the end of the day, as Ken loves to say, if it doesn't work out – we can always try again – and if it doesn't work out ---- it wasn't meant to be. The scary thing is - sometimes I think God is trying to tell me something… maybe I'm not supposed to have kids. I don't know. I always thought I would be great at it…  I mean being a great mom. Only time will tell. I miss you Phyllis.  I still can't believe you are gone. Talk to you soon- a BIG hug, Karlie

It’s funny, after reading this letter over again, it’s somehow so appropriate for what Ken and I are going through right now with this adoption journey. Feelings of uncertainty... doubts if it will ever happen... and the fact that this process (just like IVF) emotionally terrorizes you. That made sound harsh, but it's true.

But as a wrote in the letter to Phyllis more than 12 months ago... “I am strong enough to take it.” And with everything currently going on in Ethiopia and deciding if we want to apply to another country… I really have to believe that I am.

Again, thank you to my friends and family for all the support. It means the world to me.