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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

T-21 hours and eyes wide open.

We leave tomorrow.
Daypacks that Grammy embroidered for Ru and Mimi with their Chinese names on them.
Seriously, could they be cuter?!
We're excited to meet our son and start our forever with him. We're excited to get to know him and discover what he likes and what he doesn't. I wonder if he likes hard boiled eggs as much as Mimi did. Has he ever taken a bath? He said his favorite food was fruits, like bananas apples and pears. I'm so excited to show him that what used to be a rarity in his orphanage is now something he can have every day! Does he understand, I mean truly understand what a family is? That he doesn't have to be a good boy to be loved. No, it's not likely he does. But I still wonder. Yes, I'm nervous. But I'm excited too.

But unlike me, I don't think he's excited. Nope, we don't that's happening at all.

Ru has lived in the same orphanage for almost 7 years. It's his home. His caregivers, nannies and friends are his family, the only family he's ever known. I'm sure like all families, it isn't perfect. Even abuse in his current home is a possibility. But being taken from one's family one has ever known... forever... isn't likely to bring on feelings of excitement. Or happiness. Or joy. Even if it's for his own good. Being taken from one's home and from the only family one has ever known is much more likely to bring on an immense amount of fear and sadly add yet another layer of trauma to a boy that's already experienced too much of it already.
Potentially gut-wrenching fear is a very likely scenario.

And of course we want to be prepared for his fear and help a scared Ru in any way we can. One of the things Papa and I do a lot of these days, in between sipping up the suitcases and checking off things on the enormous list of things to do, is to remind ourselves of what fear can can look like. It's important that we don't go into this with the mindset that this is going to be easy. Or a vacation. Or that Ru is going to be happy or thankful. Just the opposite. It's gonna be hard, and we want walk towards that likely scenario with our eyes wide open. Ready for the fear in whatever form it takes.

So what does fear look like Fear can take on a huge variety of appearances including but not limited to...

...crying. And screaming. For hours, days, weeks or months. In public. In private. In the middle of the night. Screaming in our face. Or silently with his back toward us in the corner. Crying in the presence of important public officials. Or contrastingly fear can look like silence and a refusal to talk. As one mom told me for a whole year.

...biting, hitting, scratching, pinching, hair pulling and kicking... Directed towards us. Towards children or adults alike. Like his siblings, including Boo and his new younger sister Mimi. Sweet Mimi. Or towards strangers.

...a constant smile and an ever pleasant disposition. Fear can look like loving those around them by showering them with hugs and kisses. Including sharing this affection with strangers and "mommy shopping." Or possibly the desire not to rock the boat or make a scene. Trying be a people pleaser and be perfect.

...running away. Running down the busy streets. Trying to duck out the door and get "home." Dangerous running.

...eating too much. Until he throws up. And/or hoarding food in his pockets, in his suitcase or his mouth. Or refusing to eat at all.

...incessant talking, singing, humming, asking questions All. The. Time.

...sleep issues. Like a lot of sleeping above and beyond a good night's rest and a healthy nap. Sleeping way too much. Perhaps during those important interviews when you have nothing but a lethargic child. Or sleeping at the drop of a hat. Narcoleptic type sleeping. Or contrastingly fighting sleep with all everything ounce of strength they have.

Fear, manifested in any of these ways would very be hard for us to deal with, but more importantly, not only are these challenges something we are willing to do, it's something we welcome, because fear manifested in these ways and so so many more, are a wonderful and beautiful indicator that a child was loved and felt love from others, from the only family that he's only known. And that's something we've been praying for all along. A child that hasn't bonded with others or felt love leaves the only home and family he's ever known easily. He leaves and changes care givers with little concern. A child that is a loved part of a family and has bonded with care givers, even if that home is an orphanage and that family is comprised of nannies and other orphans, is fearful of leaving. As hard as it will be, we pray that Ru will show signs that he was loved and bonded with his orphanage family ie, fear.

So as you see, parenting a child from international adoption is full of unknowns and is kinda contradictory to many things we do when parenting our bio children. When you're the parent of a child that's experienced loss, what's up can actually be down. What's easy is often hard. What's good can be bad and bad can be so very good.

So bring on the crying and the running. Bring on the hoarding and indiscriminate affection. Bring on the biting, hitting and scratching, (but we pray it not directed at our sweet Mimi) because we hope that you have been loved and cherished, our son, like every child should. And we're gonna show you that we love you no matter what.

PS-If you'd like to keep up on our journey to Ru while we're traveling and in China, this blog is simultaneously posting to my photography page. It may or may not post on my personal Facebook page, and if it is, there's usually a 1-2 day lag. So like my page over there and check back to see what's the latest on our travels to Ru!

Monday, March 20, 2017

T-2 and sparkley things

We leave on Wednesday. Like the day after tomorrow! And I pretty much have the attention span of an ADHD toddler.
I try to pack and... Oh LOOK! Sparkly things!

My head is scattered... I try to gather the necessary documents and exchange dollars for Chinese yuan, and all I seem to accomplish is binge watching The Great British Baking Show because that's way easier. I'm re-considering our name choice. I'm cleaning our refrigerator for some unknown reason. What if he doesn't like us? I'm doubling already doubled recipes for every dinner so that our freezer is full when we return. Does my mom care about the ridiculous amount of dog nose prints on the sliding glass doors, cause I'm not sure I have time to take care of that. I'm making paper chains so Tess and Jude can count down till we return. I'm worried about how he's doing and if he's scared. I still need to buy tissue paper Pepto-Bismol. Surely the bed linens need to be changed before we go. How much toilet paper do we go through in 2 weeks? Everyone needs a rain coat so not to self-check to see if everyone has packed a rain coat. Surely it'll all fit in a carry-on, right? My favorite pants have gone MIA.

It's a lot of seemingly unrelated minutia rambling around in my head right now, and tomorrow will surely bring more of the same.

And Wednesday, right up until the moment we board the plane.
Thankfully Jude is here to help me pack. And keep me focused!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

T-6 and Does he speak any English?

SIX DAYS until we leave! Oh my! I think I'm having equal parts heart palpitations, giddy excitement and a bad case of the nerves. I'm happy and worried and nervous and excited and ready to go and so far behind all at the same time. I wonder if Ru knows we're coming so soon. I know at least one of the girls in his orphanage is leaving for her forever family on Monday. I wonder if he's scared. I wonder if he has a picture of us or if he's getting sad thinking of saying goodbye to the only family he's ever known. 

So here's one of the many things that's swimming around in my head these days. The good, the bad and the ugly. 

One of the questions we've been getting a lot is Does Ru speak any English? The good news is that our brave wonderful boy is bilingual! Ru has grown up speaking Cantonese. When he started school he started learning Mandarin, the national language of China, and it's the only language used in his school. (I think that's a thing where he lives, to use a different language than what the kids speak. Go figure, but it works for them, so what do I know!) He's currently in 1st grade so we know that at the ripe ol' age of 7 he's had at least a couple years of Mandarin under his belt. I don't assume he's fluent by any means, but I do think he's probably well in the direction of learning his 2nd language. The bad news, as you've already deduced is that neither of those languages are English. Nope, he doesn't speak any English. Except it would surprise me if he knows Justin Bieber. I hear he's pretty popular there. 

After folks ask me that question, the inevitable follow up questions is asked... 

Do you speak any Chinese?

Nope to that one too. Have you seen that language? The letters aren't even... letters!  They're drawings for crying out loud! No. With the exception of I love you, Hello, and Thank you, I don't speak Chinese. None of us do. We're trying to learn some key words, but seriously it's a tough tough language to learn even when you're just aiming to learn just a few key words. 

At first this seems like a daunting scenario. A scared and angry 7 year old stripped of everything he's familiar with under the supervision of new parents he doesn't know and who cannot share a single word between them. Except I love you, HelloThank you and Justin Bieber that is. Because I love youHelloThank you and Justin Bieber only go so far. One can foresee a scenario where one might need to say things like, We don't stand on the toilet. And Yes, you do have to hold mama's hand when crossing this busy street. And I'm so very sorry that this world is scary and unfair, but I promise to walk beside you through it from now on. More words will definitely be needed. 

Surprising to many, we're not really all that worried about this lack of a shared language. Are we trying to educated ourselves and avoid possible frustrations? Yes! But worried? No. On the day we get Ru, he will be entering a totally all-inclusive 100% English immersion program. Us! We are the immersion English-language immersion program. It's all we speak! It's sink or swim, and we know Ru will swim... eventually. It will be frustrating on both our parts. I wish this wasn't the way it had to be. Unfortunately Ru will lose both his Mandarin and Cantonese as quickly as he learns English. It's almost impossible for an adopted child living in a family that speaks no Chinese to keep their native language. So sadly he will lose his native tongue as quickly as he gains a new one. I wish he didn't have to have the additional hardship of learning a whole new language on top of the loss of this country and culture, but he probably will. Adoption is full of loss and sadly the loss of native tongue will be another in a long line of losses for our brave boy. 

Also very important, even if we don't speak each other's language, it doesn't mean we won't be able to communicate. We remind ourselves that communication and language are 2 different things. There are translation apps, modeling and pantomiming to name a few of the methods a that we'll rely on to communicate with him. While in China we hope that Ru will follow Mimi's lead when we're out and about and help him learn to do things like holding hands, brushing teeth and eating. (We hope but we're not necessarily counting on it.) We will also have a translator for much of our trip in China and are looking to hire one to visit us frequently when we get home. Once thankfully once we're home, there will 3 more littles for him to model after. 

We are learning that the brain of a child is an amazing thing. From the experience of those who have adopted before us, we expect that Ru might know and use a few key words in English by the time we get back home. We're hoping these words might be bathroom, hungry or help. And after a few months time we think it's very possible that we'll be able to "communicate" even if it's not in English. In 6 months we hope that we'll be able to converse in English well enough to get by. And in a year's time it's very possible that Ru will be fluent in English. I don't know about you, but in a year's time I don't think I could be anywhere near fluent in anything. Did I mention how amazing our boy is? 

So that's why we're not worried. 
I might change my mind about this whole lack of language thing later. That happens a lot these days.
Right now my mind is worried about packing all these t-shirts. This is only about half of them. Surely a boy doesn't need so many t-shirts for a 2 week trip, yet I can't seem to get rid of any of them! Thankfully I have 6 days to figure it out! 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

T-8 and Who's going?

When Papa and I decided that we were going to adopt from China again and decided that we'd be adopting an older child, it was a no brainer that we both go on the trip together to get our new son. China only requires one parent to travel to China to get their child. But we both know that there's every possibility, even likelihood, that this will be a tough trip. It's not a vacation. It's a life altering moment in one's life that can be met with crazy hard grief that manifests in crazy hard ways. What may be a happy celebratory time in our life, is a tough reminder of loss for Ru. It's another change for him, another in a series of losses in his life. It's a source of pain and possibly anger. And we are the cause.
Ya, tough stuff.
So Papa's coming. Because that's what husbands and wives do, stick together through the hard stuff. We've had a really tough adoption in country. People get sick. Children get sick. The unexpected happens. We pray it doesn't turn out like that this time, but if we need each other to get through it, the other one will be there. Going solo just wasn't an option for us.

But we have a couple other travelers coming too!

First up, Boo. Yay Boo! (Maybe at 6'2" he needs a new nickname? But since we really do call him Boo around here, I'm sticking with it on the blog!) I'm so crazy excited to take him with us! At 14 years old, he's maturing into a such an amazing young man, and if I could make a confession it would be that my current little love affair is with him right now. He's just amazing, and I'm so giddy that he's sharing this journey with us. We've explained that this ain't no vacation, and we expect him to be a work horse when need be. We've explained the hard stuff that's to come. Livy has gone on both our prior adoption trips. The Man Child went with us to China when we picked up Mimi. But Boo hasn't. Actually when I first asked him about it he was hesitant to say yes because he didn't want us to spend the extra money. Ya he's that kind of kid! But we convinced him that we could make it happen with our hard earned points, so he's coming!

Up next, Mimi is coming too! We knew we wanted to take one of the littles with us. We think having another little person, like Ru himself, could really help with Ru's transition to being a part of a family. But again, this isn't a vacation, and it could be a tough trip. Jude was a natural choice to go, since he's a boy, like Ru. But he's super duper sensitive. Tess would be an easy choice to come too, mostly because without prompting Tess is everyone's friend. But Tess often doesn't handle transitions well. Mimi is sensitive too, but she is 100% hook like and sinker attached to her family, she's an easy kiddo and she and Ru are not-twins. The deciding factor is that even though she forgets, Mimi is Chinese! And if any of us should go to China, it should be the China person, right?  (Mimi calls people from China "China people" rather than saying they are Chinese. We're working on that one!) So Mimi is coming, and I can not wait to show her where she's from and share more with her about who she is.
Don't take this as lack of enthusiasm about going to China with us. Boo was a bit ticked at me for making him take a pic before we left for school. He is a teenager after all. 
And that's it. That's who is coming on our trip!
On our trip in 8 days. Just in case you wondered if I was counting.
I am.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Itinerary and T-9 days!

We're in the single digits folks! Single digits till we hop on that plane, travel 7, 254 miles, meet our son for the first time and start our forever with him!
This pic was taken last week by the mama that had just adopted the young lady in pink. That's Ru on the bottom, 
front and center looking at the camera. This young lady and Ru are/were in the same orphanage. 
She was returning just after being adopted, just like we hope to on 4/6, to say goodbye and hand 
out some treats to those that remain behind. Maybe it's art class? 

I was telling some friends a couple days ago, the he's had 7 birthdays, 6 surgeries, his first day of kindergarten, lost 1 tooth, surely skinned knees and bad dreams in the middle of the night, all without a mama by his side.
And I'm going to change that!

Last Friday we received the last piece of the puzzle we needed to settle our itinerary. Wasting no time we picked the first possible date to leave and spent this weekend booking our flights and making hotel reservations. It was kinda surreal. It was kinda amazing how quickly I went from pushy and whiny to anxious and nervous.

Our itinerary will probably be like this.

Wednesday & Thursday 3/22-3/23 - We fly from Phx to LAX. Kill a few hours (which is kinda fun to do in the spirit of people watching in the international terminal at LAX!) and take the 1:05am (!!!) flight for 15 hour and 35 minutes (ouch!) to Hong Kong.

Friday 3/24 - We land in Hong Kong 7:40am and try not to fall asleep until a reasonable hour. We'll adjust to the major change in time zones and explore Hong Kong for a couple days.

Sunday 3/26 - We try to figure out how to take the train from Hong Kong to Guangzhou, Guangdong, China. It's only about a 2 1/2 hour train ride, and we can figure out how to use the taxi stand all by ourselves, right?

Monday 3/27 - Ru day! We go to the Civil Affairs Office and meet Ru! He will be ours forever and ever from that moment on! I'm excited and simultaneous really nervous already. I have no idea what he's going to be feeling, but I'm assuming it's not gonna be good. I wrote THIS 5 years ago right before we traveled to get Mimi, and it much sums it up what we're expecting. But in a 7-year-old body this time. I think I need to update it (quickly) to get my head on straight. Let's just that we're not expecting sunshine and rainbows. We'll spend the rest of the day (our lives) getting to know each other.

Tuesday 3/28 - These are the exact words our guide sent us... "Adoption Registration and notary work at civil affairs office. The child will be considered same as biological since this day. Adoption will be completed according to Chinese law. Grocery shopping." Grocery Shopping. A new child forever and ever. Life goes on new family member and all! 

Wednesday 3/29 - Medical. Ru is required to have a medical exam prior to getting a U.S. Visa. He'll have a TB test among others. 

Thursday-Tuesday 3/30-4/4 - We're on to explore the city and keep getting to know each other. We'd love to explore some of the sights, but keepin' it real, we're going to take Ru's lead on this one. He's the reason we're there after all. We might to to the zoo or the circus. Sample lots of dim sum. Or it may be best to hunker down in the hotel for a while. Or not. We're not sure how it's all going to play out, so Papa and I will be making it up as we go. 

Wednesday 4/5 - Appointment at the U.S. Consulate. Government officials will ask us some questions and maybe even ask Ru some questions too. Then we all take an oath or something swearing our allegiance... I think. Something like that. 

Thursday 4/6 - A visit to Ru's orphanage, or as China calls them, Social Welfare Institute or SWI for short. This is a tentative visit, we may or may not go, but it is our hopes that it will be a chance for Ru to say goodbye to the only family he has known for 7 years and hopefully provide some closure. I cannot image. It will also give us a chance to experience this home first hand so we can tell him as much as we can about it when he asks. 

Friday 4/7 - Receive Ru's U.S. visa and pretty quickly hop on the train back to Hong Kong. No sightseeing this time because 1-there will be no time for it. And 2- I'm sure we'll be anxious to get home. The hotel that is attached to the airport will do fine thank you very much. 

Saturday 4/8 - Hop back on the plane and fly 13 hours and 15 minutes (Thank you jet stream for shaving off a couple hours, but still! Double ouch!) to LAX, navigate through customs, and then finally fly back to Phoenix, arriving home that night and introduce Ru to the rest of the crazy us.


Find our new normal.  

Thursday, March 9, 2017

A letter to myself and TA

November 01, 2016

Dear me,

I know you've already been working on this adoption adventure for months now. Gathering a ridiculous amount of papers and getting them all notarized and sealed just so. I know how consuming the "paper chase" is. And I know that you've finally come to an end to that totally consuming process and now you're just waiting. It's a change in the process for sure. At first you're so busy doing so much. And now you're not. You've seen your son half way across the world and fell in love pretty quickly. You were doing lots. You were doing something. But now you're not doing more than staring at his photo and waiting, waiting waiting...  Now starts the part of the adoption process that is a long series of steps that all involve waiting for an undefinable amount of time for the next step. I know you're not good at all this waiting and doing nothing much.
I want to tell you that this waiting is going to be hard, harder than you think. You're not going to be able to control any of your progress. In fact lots of other folks you don't even know, some half way across the world, will be the ones that say when you'll be able to check off the next box, each box a step closer to a treasured son you've never met. Let me be straight with you. I want to tell you not to complain so much. Not to be so quick to anger and judge. Not be so emotional. It's hard on the people you love. I want to tell you not put so much pressure on the very people that are trying to help you, not to act like a baby by adult throwing temper tantrums and try to force your way. If you could only step back you'd see that it's embarrassing. But in the end I know it's no use telling these things. You're going to do it anyway.

Then despite your behavior, you are going to make some progress! NOT due to any of your sniveling, pushing and griping. You'll make progress towards your new son because time inevitably passes. You can't make it pass any faster. Yet another reason that you should just relax, but again, I know you won't. Nevertheless, China will eventually grant you your "Letter Seeking Confirmation" in late December, a month after you thought it would come. And in January and February, the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security will look over the documents to determine if Ru is eligible for a U.S. visa to come home. They'll decide there's a couple problems with your application, and that step will take twice as long as everyone else's. Unlike all those tears you shed over it, you have a great agency and they'll fix it for you quickly!  Really almost every step in our adoption journey to Ru will take longer than the averages. And your reaction isn't gonna be pretty.

4 months from now, on March 9th, 2017, the phone will ring, and your case worker will tell you that you have "Travel Approval," the final permission you need to go to China and make Ru your son, the one you've been waiting for the most! It's the most important step yet and then 1- your gonna  do the ugly cry on the phone with her right then and there. And 2-you're gonna realize what a bad attitude you've had for months now. I wish I could convince you during this waiting portion of the journey to just let the time pass and not try to control the timing of each step, which is impossible and only will lead to your frustration and yes, even anger.

But on the other hand, this super vigilance (that leads to ungraceful behavior and embarrassment) is also sign of attachment to a son that you've yet to meet. Which is actually pretty amazing when you think about it. Loving a son like that that you haven't even met. I know you know that all children should be loved like that, and that not all are of course. But Ru is loved like that! He's loved fully and fiercely by a mama that he doesn't know. And that's a wonderful beautiful blessing (wrapped in a hot complainy mess) indeed.
So hang in there, Nancy. Time will pass. You can't change the inevitable delays, your slow progress and extra hurdles you will have to jump. But I can tell you that in the end, you are going to China to get your son! It will happen! It probably seems like forever away right now, but soon you'll be packing those suitcases and booking your flights! About 5 moths from now, sometime next March or April, you'll be getting on that plane and making your way to Ru.

And only then, does the real adventure begin.

ps-You're going to be told his favorite color is blue. You're just gonna have to wait and see if that one is true or not. But judging by the by the photos you're going to receive on your final update, I'd say it's probably likely!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Happy forever family day, my love

What you can see...
The day you came to us 5 years ago, and the first moments we sat there seeing each other in-person for the first time.
The fear that permeated every part of your tender 23-month-old soul in those first weeks.  
The eye contact that you'd occasionally make searching for something familiar. 
A few of the layers of clothing you came to us in, 6 of them in all. 
Eczema on your sweet cheeks, an example of your eczema all over. 
Your gorgeous quintessential Chinese profile, almond eyes, full cheeks and beautiful bow-tie lips. 
You my love, an orphan no more in the first minutes of life with our unconditional familial love. 

What you can't see...

The pee that soaked through all 6 of those layers, soaking me as well as we sat there getting our first looks at each other, mother and daughter together for the first time. 
The way you looked out the hotel window for days, waiting for your "mama" to come back for you. 
Your heartbreak and cries every time an elevator or car door opened and you saw any Chinese woman, a woman you knew you wouldn't be going with. 
The genuine smiles that would come after a couple weeks in our care, more regularly over the next few months and all the time once you felt the love we wrapped you in. 
The girl you would become in 5 years, quick to smile and loves to twirl, giggle and be a girl. 
How you prefer to skip rather than walk. 
How you are still so sensitive to injustice. 
A chocolate lover. 
A daughter. 

Happy forever family day, Mimi, my love!


Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Computer

Boo is 14 years old now. We joke that he's a man of few words, like he doesn't talk a lot. He's easy going and doesn't like to cause a stir. 

He just recently completed building his own computer... mother board, graphics card, overclocked CPU, auxiliary CPU cooler and all. I know nothing of these things. Lots of flashy pretty sparkly lights and colors is all I know. Amazingly he didn't need much help but Papa was there to give it when he did. It was money I'd rather not spend, but we figured when your 14 year old shows not only an interest but also an aptitude in doing something, the least we could do was help him in that way. When his teacher calls you out of the blue to tell you she thinks he's doing wonderfully...  He's really a great kid. 

He assembled the whole thing with no assistance. He's wanted to be an engineer since 5th grade. Recently he's thinking computer engineer. We think he's got an amazing future no matter what he decides to do! 

And ya, we still call him Boo. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The reality of what adopting looks like

It feels like we can't catch a break in this adoption journey. We're hitting every hurdle and slowing down at every opportunity. ***If a step in the process normally takes 30-45 days we'd better plan on it taking 60+ for us.
What once looked like February travel to go pick up Ru, turned into March, turned into mid or late March, and is now looking like it'll more likely be early April. As I've said many times throughout this process, if we were talking about handbags or even puppies, accepting the delays in the process would be easier to accept. But we're talking about children. Children with special needs that need medical attention. Like Ru. And that makes it particularly hard to accept the seemingly ridiculous delays and lack of efficiency in the process. Don't even get me started on the money.

Case in point for those of you not immersed in all things adoption, did you know that almost the entire international adoption process is still on paper? No electronic filing of anything. No scans. All applications, affidavits, supplements, are printed on paper on a forest of paper, signed, and depending on the document often notarized, state certified, federally certified, and internationally authenticated, and delivered to their proper recipients. The US government relies on USPS to deliver the most important notifications. It's costly, a waste of our resources and time consuming. And not for purses or even puppies, but for children that have already waited too long, like Ru that has already waited nearly 7 years.

Currently we are in the part of the adoption process where we are trying to confirm Ru's U.S. visa know as the I-800 application. He needs it before we can go get him so he can come home. Even after getting "pre-authorization" from the USCIS back in October, which took a little over a month, this part of the process is currently taking about 2 additional weeks. On week 5 of the wait (***see mention above where every step in our journey takes 2-3 times longer than it takes most) the USCIS, (who is run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security) was requesting that we provide additional documentation, in addition to the literal almost 1 pound of paperwork that I had already forwarded to the USCIS the month prior. The documentation the federal government was asking for was state legislation to prove that specific requirements for AZ adoption certification did not exist. (You analytical, left-brain types are already scratching your heads at that last statement, right?) Or any ol' official state documentation because evidently there was some ambiguity as to what they were looking for. Basically they wanted proof that something didn't exist... which makes it especially challenging to find something that 1-doesn't exist (Insert hair pulling here! I took logic as a college Freshman so I would know that one cannot prove the negative!) and 2-specifically define what it is they wanted. If this documentation cannot be found then they'd also accept a 3+ month state re-certification via court ruling, a process that doesn't even exist in the great state of AZ. If all of this is as clear as mud and you're only half following along at this point, you're not alone. Enter conference calls with 2 adoption agency directors, federal officials and Papa and me to figure this mess out. Meanwhile Ru waits.

I walked into my hair appointment with a good 1 1/2" of grey at my roots wearing sunglasses and asking for tissues... cell phone in hand on one of the many aforementioned conference calls. Note to self-crying on the phone with Federal officials is never a good idea. Susan has been doing my hair for 15 years now, through all the 4 adoptions. I figured she could see me at my worst. And she did. Maybe you need a visual at this point in the story. I'm in the stylist chair with the ever-flattering black cape, hair dye at my roots and black-painted eyebrow because I'm old enough that even my eye brown need to be dyed. I look like Gracho Marks minus the mustache. Susan is being as quiet as a mouse as she's doing me up and the cell phone is on speaker because I can't put the phone to my ear. Together we listen to officials and agency directors make their case, explain that one cannot prove the negative and the only alternative avenue doesn't exist.
Hair dye.
Gracho Marks.
Cell phone on speaker.
It was all quite the scene.
This is the reality of what adopting looks like in all it's literal and figurative ugliness.

In the end, 6 weeks into the normally 2 week process, yesterday we got word that USCIS is most likely going to approve our I-800 application next week, giving the official U.S. government's okie dokie that Ru can come home with us and will be a U.S. citizen as soon as he touches U.S. soil, which unceremoniously will be in LAX airport. The newest immigrant. Our son. I've had my share of melt down moments in this adoption so far, and I'm sure I'm not done with them yet. Adoption is beautiful, but it's born of loss and is full of hard stuff to which I'm far from being immune.
Thank you, God, for something that is trying to be like patience in my heart. Thank you for loving me so much that you've given me that strength.
Thank you, Susan, for making my hair purdey in the midst of the hard stuff.
Thank you, Diana, for walking us through the crazy.
Thank you, Tess, who looked me dead in the eye and said, But didn't we already get permission to bring him home? which confirmed the lunacy.
Thank you, Mary, for being my adoption buddy through it all.
Thank you, Melissa and Kate, for being my besties with shoulder's I can cry on at any moment.
Thanks to Bob our mail carrier and the FedEx guy that handle the ridiculously crazy amount of papers and haven't lost or damaged any of them.
Thank you to my photography peeps, that provide me with wonderful distractions when my reality gets too hard.
Thank you, Papa, for being my rock and craving our new son as much as I am.
And last and most importantly, Ru, my soon-to-be son, thank you. Thank you for waiting. I promise you my sweet brave boy, that we're doing everything in our power to come get you as quickly as we can. I'd move mountains, jump from burning buildings or step in front of a moving car for you, son.
I'm your mama after all, and it's what us mama's do.
I cannot wait to teach you all about it!

Friday, January 20, 2017

"I am a good boy"

translation: Hi Mama and Baba. I am a good boy. 

I cannot wait to hold his hand. Watch him sleep. Help him tie his shoes. Help him do anything. 
Show him, good good boy or not, he is ours. And we are his. 
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