Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Orphan Villages

This is from 4-more's website. They are a non-profit that works in Rwanda on behalf of the orphans of Rwanda. They are currently in Rwanda now, working on installing their first water purification system in two orphanages, and while they are there they are traveling the country and making other contacts as well. This is from their travel blog today. Counting my blessings and holding and hugging them a little closer as I kiss them goodnight tonight after reading this. People ask us why adoption. We point to the great need. This is that great need.

"We were able to visit one of the 45 orphan villages throughout Rwanda. The homes in the orphan villages generally consist of an average of 4 children and do not usually exceed 9 people.

Sadly, only 3 of the 45 orphan villages have water, which means they have a place to go (sometimes average of 5 kilometers away) and have to pay for their jerry cans to be filled (these cans are 20L and cost up to 100 Rwandan francs, which is about $ .25).

At times they are able to afford this water, and other times they are not. The other 42 orphan villages have no access to water of any kind. Their only recourse is to capture rainwater in buckets (as pictured).

Despite the many struggles and inherent disadvantages, the orphan villages are focused on improving the lives of children through such things as educational opportunities. In fact, 100 orphans have been sent to university and 54 have graduated!

In Gabo’s words, “our homes currently are just a drop in the ocean” according to the great need in Rwanda. The current number of homes within the orphan villages is 447. The estimated need is for 20,000.

Right now, the most desperate need in the existing orphan villages is for what seems the simplest thing – clean water."

Clean water to drink, a dry and warm place to live, a school to go to, food to eat and shoes on your feet. These are the bare basics of life. 447 homes in 45 orphan villages are not getting these. What is to become of the kids who need to live in the non-existing 19,500 orphan homes? Its enough to break your heart. Go to www.4-more.org to find out how you can get involved to help the orphan crisis in Rwanda.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Totally Stealing Christina's Post

I'm feeling too tired to say much today, but I read a great post by Christina and I wanted to share it with all of you. Actually, Christina and Jeremy have been doing a great series on the misconceptions of adoption. Her latest entry is on the myth that adoption is only for couples who struggle with infertility. Okay, go read it - she says it better than I do. (Oh, it's the Jeremy, Christina and Nate blog on the blog roll).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

If only I knew then what I know now....

I turned another year older yesterday. Yes, the sands of time are catching up with me. I am in the process of investigating wrinkle creams (though that is a conversation for a different blog I'm sure; still suggestions are appreciated), and am considering getting serious about pilates. I need things to stay in place. I've got some years to go and I just can't get away from this gravity stuff! Its all around me all the time!
Okay, the point is, looking back, you always wish you would have done things differently. I wish I wouldn't have done that perm on Christmas day of 2000. My sister Abby's turned out amazing. Mine, turned out disastrous. We washed it right away (skipping the 3 day no wash policy) to try to get it out FAST, and it still stayed in my hair until I finally cut the last bit out two years later. Looking back, that was a mistake.
The adoption process is the same way. Mostly, we're all new at this. We try to gain wisdom from those who have gone before us, or from our agency, or from people in the field, but really it is one of those unique journeys in life that can be commonly shared yet be vastly different for so many of us. I find that so strange yet so fascinating at the same time. Here we are, all gathering roughly the same documents and putting together roughly the same paperwork, give or take a document here or there, picture pages here or there, family presentations here or there, and sending them to countries around the world or to just across town, and the quest that these documents take us on are so different. That is why I love reading your stories. Your love stories between you and your children. No two are the same and that is so beautiful.
Now, back to what I wish I would have known. I wish I would have known I needed TWO certified copies of my marriage certificate - one for my dossier and one for my CIS application - because I thought I only needed one and now I have to go back across town and get another one.
I wish I would have done the homestudy FIRST so that I could be getting the rest of my dossier done while waiting on my homestudy report to be written, but instead we did it last and now just get to.... wait.....
I wish I would have known I would have turned into a slightly hyperactive and stressed out not pregnant but sort of acting like I'm pregnant minus all the cravings and sickness (so really just moody) person. I don't know what I could have done about it, but at least I wouldn't have been in denial about it for so long. As they say, "Denial is not a river in Egypt." Acceptance is good.
I wish I would have gotten my doctor to sign me up to a clean bill of health when I saw her in September so I wouldn't have to scramble my way into an emergency physical. Of course, we hadn't settled on Rwanda in September, and I definitely didn't have the medical form needed then, but still, this is hypothetical, and that is what I wish.

So there are a few things for you newbies just starting out on the journey of independent adoption from Rwanda. Turns out I had my items slightly out of order for getting the dossier completed in the most time effective manner. If efficiency is your game, you may want to take these notes under advisement. Disclaimer: I can not be held responsible if you go mental in the process.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Crazy, or Crazy Practical?

Caution: The ramblings of a crazy and obsessive, sleep deprived and over-stressed, recovering type-A perfectionist ahead.
As I was lying in bed late last night (later than usual due to the time change and a rare but much needed nap earlier in the day) my nightly visitors came calling. These visitors are lists of things I need to do or get in the upcoming week, and they race constantly through my mind until I think I have a handle on them. At last, I am able to move onto other things - usually scenarios of adoption doom (I mean, don't I sound like a blast to hang out with right now??). These include anything and everything from my kids hating me and not wanting to be adopted by us, to not having the documents at the airport and missing our flight home, to our kids pooping constantly and it running out all over us uncontrollably. One of my nagging fears is our dossier getting mis-mailed, misplaced, set aside, ignored, lost in transit, etc.. I can not let this one go. I think I have been obsessing over it a bit. Anyone else?? Anyone else lie awake at night thinking of worst-case scenarios? And I am a perpetual optimist, so this is new ground for me.
Well, to combat the fear of my dossier getting lost, I thought I had the most brilliant idea ever last night. It helped me to finally get to sleep and put my mind at ease about this one particular problem. My solution? To simply insert a GPS tracking device into my dossier. TADA! Perfect! Problem solved. It is like taking UPS tracking to a slightly elevated level. Now I can see exactly where my dossier is at all times. If it is spending too much time at one location, I can just make a call and ask why. This is brilliant, my problem is solved, I can not wait to tell Jonathan in the morning. Oh, and before I fall asleep, I think of an even more brilliant solution to another nagging problem. Why do I need to be kept in the dark the whole time while my dossier sits on that desk or gets translated or whatever is happening to it? And what is happening to it? I NEED TO KNOW!!!!!!!!! So, while I have a GPS thingamajig on it, why not just attach a sound transmitter as well?? OF COURSE! I AM A GENIUS. I could give the sound transmitter to my friend Saba, who speaks French, AND just got back from living in Rwanda for a year, so she's totally used to their accent and dialect. She can translate in her spare time (Saba, you could even take it to work, those crazy people won't know the difference). My plan is perfect. I will know where my dossier IS at ALL times, and what is going on around it. YES! PEACE OF MIND. SLEEP.
So, I got up in the morning, eager to tell Jonathan the SOLUTION TO ALL OUR PROBLEMS. He did not see it that way. He said I was crazy. As in borderline mentally losing it. I was sort of offended. I mean, okay, maybe it is a little overboard, I admitted, but... No, he insisted, I need major help. Turns out, if you send a GPS thingy with a listening device, I guess you can be arrested for spying. Like, internationally spying. I don't know who would want to spy on Rwanda, especially in the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, but apparently I now qualify. I don't really want to spy, just listen for my own sake, not sell the information or use it for anything.. Turns out that doesn't matter either. So, even if I scratch the listening device, he still thought I was being crazy. Something about being obsessive, needing to let go, all we need to know is that Peter gets it, blah blah... AHHHHH
Why are the men so non-emotional about this?
Why am I in constant knots about this? I am never like this!
I will leave you with one final thought that I also can not get out of my head. I can not get the School House Rocks, "I'm Just a Bill" song out of my head. It has been playing in my head for almost a week, driving me crazy. What grown person goes around singing that song? And I keep picturing the little bill all tied up neatly in the middle with his smiling face. Anyway, it has impressed upon me the need for School House Rocks to come back and make a song and video about a dossier, and how it is put together and what it goes through, ending with a family being united in then end. So, anyone have any connections to them? That would really help me out. And that concludes this editions of bizarre wanderings inside my head.

Monday, March 8, 2010

HELP! I'm Trapped In My Car with My Kids!!

"Busy" used to be how I described my old life. My pre-adoption, pre-house selling/house-house hunting, pre incontinent dog life. You know, the life when all I had to think about was taking care of my two kids, my family, my volunteer stuff, my house stuff (laundry for days and days, my gosh where does it all come from!!), and feeding and keeping everyone alive, and as a bonus, get to have a social life. I would get to relax. I would go to girls nights and have fun, i.e. not still be stressed out from the day. I would visit with friends and not have racing through my head all the places I still had to be and go that day. Oh, how I LONG for the busy days.
Now my life feels like it is in an utter tailspin. I mean, I guess when people ask, I still describe it as busy, but I think ridiculous would be a better word. I have to give a big thank you to Erin for giving me the best little mini vacation morning last Thursday. I was just at her house, but I swear it was like I was at a spa. She did an amazing job on my hair, and even gave me warm hot chocolate made with milk. There is something about taking care of yourself in the midst of chaos, and well lets face it, about having great hair, that can change your attitude about just about anything. I have never had great hair, or anything close to it, but Erin has me on the right track. It is good to have a friend who will be honest with you about things like that, and even better if she is an actual professional hair stylist. Thank you Erin! I didn't feel like a crazy person for at least the rest of the afternoon!
I am trying my best to keep a semblance of balance for the kids and their social lives, which is making my world shrink to the size of my van. Soccer, play groups, play overs with friends, after school playground time, I have to make time for them so that the looong trips in the car driving all over Austin won't feel so claustrophobic. And we have been having quite a few long car rides all together lately.
Have you ever felt trapped in your car with your kids? Because that is exactly how I feel. Adeline now hates getting dressed first thing in the morning because she knows it means we have to go somewhere and that means AUSTIN TRAFFIC all the way down Mopac. I told her that it makes me want to cry too. She didn't seem to understand. Tell me your tricks for surviving in traffic stress free with your kids. Maybe you can change my life!!

I Didn't Do It, I Swear

So I try to do all of my "official" adoption errands sans Asher, just to make them run a little smoother, but that really only leaves me Tuesdays and Thursdays and if I EVER want to get this dossier sent off, and I DO!, then I need to start utilizing every day I've got. With that in mind, we took a family trip down to get fingerprinted on Friday. Jonathan came on his "lunch break" and we just knocked it out. Hopefully we won't get matched up with any unsolved crimes.... and on Monday I will go and pick them up along with a copy of our State of Texas criminal background checks. Then I can send a copy of our fingerprints to the FBI for our FBI background check, and I can check one more thing off my list. HOORAY!!! I love making those check marks! Okay, confession, I LIVE for making those check marks. Sometimes I will make a half of a check if I have done part of a line item, just so I feel like I am making some sort of progress.
While Jonathan and I were getting our fingerprints electronically scanned, Asher became increasing interested in having his fingerprints done. The girls doing the fingerprinting were extremely nice, and they let Asher take his very own set of real ink fingerprints. He got to write his own name on his own card, then they took him the real ink block and took his whole set, both hands. He loved it! They were super patient with him and even gave him candy. I know all the cliches about government offices and so on, but they were just the opposite. They absolutely made his day, and therefore mine. Although, I don't want to see him giving his fingerprints again for a very long time! And even then it better be for a good cause!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Thanks, Mr. Postman!

It's just like Christmas morning! Okay, not quite, but getting documents in the mail feels like an accomplishment even though all I really did was point and click with my mouse (plus wrack my brain to answer all the anti-identity theft questions at the end of the order correctly, and I think I still missed one). So hooray for official government documents! And especially hooray for them coming right to your door and not having to wait in government lines at government offices with cranky kids by your side.