The Dossier

We're in the second major phase of our adoption process: The Dossier. More documents to prepare, more questions to answer, more forms to complete. Our homestudy has been scheduled for Saturday, December 12, 10am. Wow, this is really happening. Of course it is. We just paid our first substantive fee to begin the homestudy process, which will last 2-3 months. A social worker will come to our home and spend half the day with us . . . asking us questions, determining how fit our home is, how fit we are to be parents. I have to remember, the goal is the same for both the social worker and us -- to have a child placed in our home.

To prepare for the homestudy, one of the tasks we've been given is to write a letter to our future child's birth parents.

Here's an excerpt:
"You have given Birth to your child, and we lovingly welcome giving her/him Life. Your child is our child. It's as simple as that. S/he is not our 'adopted' daughter/son. S/he is ours, and we will always be graciously thankful to you for that. While we've known that we are already a family with the two of us, we have looked forward to expanding our family and sharing our Life's loves and passions with a child whom the Spirit blesses us with. And I don't take the gift of parenthood, or Life for that matter, for granted. Since my husband and I have been together, we have experienced both his unexpected open heart surgery, my father's death from stage 4 prostate cancer and in between, numerous nieces' and nephews' births into the world. It's quite an interesting paradox -- witnessing the circle of Life alongside Death or just having to think about the possibility of death in the face of a medical trial.

As our future child's birth parents, know that we honor you for choosing Life for your child, and we promise to provide the best Life possible. S/he will always know how much you love her/him and wanted more for her/him. When s/he can understand, s/he will learn what options may or may not have been available to you in your life's circumstances which led you to choose adoption, just as s/he will learn what led us to choose adoption. I honor you by closing with this short prayer --

Thank you, Great Spirit,
for connecting us to a Goodness greater than we could ever know
You have gifted us with a bond to Birth Parents
You have committed to us -- a child from our Homeland
Rich with history and memories . . . & most of all,
A Homeland which holds for us our hearts' celebration --
the journey to Our Child"


Elephant pregnancy

A. & I had an amazing experience at our home study seminar on the property of the Peal S. Buck Foundation, an historic farmhouse in the midst of farmland not too far from Quakertown. We also had the opportunity to tour Pearl S. Buck's original home and see the desk where she created many of her literary pieces, & we saw many family photos. She was so ahead of her time in terms of living out her belief in globalism. A. & I were grateful to have our choice of PSB as our adoption agency affirmed.

We spent the entire day with three other couples, who plan to adopt from Korea and Nepal. The home study group was diverse. One couple already had two young daughters, the wife was South Asian, and they were adopting from Nepal; in the other couple the husband was Korean, his wife was White, and they were adopting from Korea. And the third couple, probably the one that A. & I will keep in touch with . . . he was Portuguese, had a pacemaker since he was 19 when he suffered from heart failure (he's fine now, a successful restaranteur), and his wife was White, a middle-school science teacher, they're planning to adopt from Nepal. And how could I forget the single mom-to-be adopting from Costa Rica? I would guess that the age range of adoptive parents in the room was anywhere from 27 through early 40s. A. & I were representative of the older folks. Our faciliators were an adoptive parent and adoption program coordinator -- thankfully, H., who happens to be coordinating all of the families applying to the Philippines.

Our adoption journey is our elephant pregnancy. The metaphor speaks for itself. An enormous undertaking . . . One of the groundrules to sharing the day with our fellow adoptive families was not sharing any information about our jobs, and discussing infertility issues was ruled out as those are such personal issues. I have to admit, there were a number of times throughout the day when I was overwhelmed either by our parent facilitator's stories of her & her husband's own adoption journey from Korea (her daughter's now 24) or wondering how A. was feeling & reacting to discusison topics such as attachment or parenting those initial months and getting to know our child when we bring her/him home. And when infertility issues did arise, it was heartbreaking to see how the other women in the group reacted. It was obvious that they'd spent a good amount of funding on unsuccessful infertility methods. While I know that I chose not to go down the route of infertility treatments, there's something about being a woman, knowing that becoming pregnant just isn't happening at the moment and having to think about my inability to give birth . . . being pregnant just may never happen . . . so heavily wrought with all kinds of emotion.

Another meaningful affirmation was, all this money we're spending is not for the cost of our child. We are not paying for our child. A child is not an economic commodity. We're paying for all of the administrative and government fees associated with facilitating a successful adoption process. Much to my surprise, we also learned that the adoption tax credit may no longer be offered, so I need to write our Congress people immediately about not doing away with that tax credit! (And if you're reading this, perhaps you might consider doing the same too?) And how ironic it is that A. & I are required to attend a parenting seminar, which should maybe be mandatory for all parents. As for dealing with awkward questions or unwelcome advice from extended family, I realized, it's okay to be private about our adoption journey as much as I want all of our extended family to be supportive too. And it's okay to be direct with them about either not wanting to answer their questions or telling them we're happy to discuss their concerns at another time . . . or even coming up with some poignantly humorous responses to gently put them in their place. Many times, I wish my Dad were still with us as I know how excited and supportive he would be.

This adoption journey is ours, & this time is precious . . . A. & I are allowed to be alone & enjoy our moments along the way.

I know that the day was worthwhile for A. & me individually as parents, but also as a couple. It was of tremendous support to be in a room with others who are on a similar journey and to discuss our concerns with the PSB staff who've only been names on email & voices on the phone for the past three months. After the seminar, A. & I decided to celebrate our homestudy milesone (finally begining the homestudy process!) with dinner at a Spanish restaurant as we processed our entire day. We cleared the air on . . . A. thought that I much prefer adoption over pregnancy which isn't the case at all as I don't prefer one over the other. I reassured him, I'd welcome pregnancy if we were blessed in that way whenever it happens . . . Now that we've begun the adoption process, I wouldn't want to halt something that we'd already begun. Once I've set my mind to something happening, it needs to happen! More importantly, if we were to become pregnant during the adoption process, I wouldn't want us to not carry through with the adoption at all just because we were having a biological child. A. & I agreed, we would lovingly continue with the adoption if that were to happen.

Here's to our elephant pregnancy & great expectations.

2.54pm -- Just received confirmation via email that our completed application will be reviewed by the Adoption Coordinator, and a copy of our file will be made for the social worker, so that we can start the home study process. That makes two milestones in one week. I radiate with gratitude.


On waiting

Some expectant mothers knit or quilt, and others savor the motions of 'nesting.' Me? I've recently taken up jewelry-making, which is teaching me much patience. More experimental than developing a craft because then that would mean I actually have skill! Apologies for the rawness of the jewels & the photos. Here are a few items I've worked on:

"Earth" -- brown & glass green bead earrings

"Ocean" -- aqua blue shell bead earrings

"Plum" -- purple glass beaded ring

"I love fall" - gold heart & green leaf bead bracelet

"Olive" -- emerald green glass bead necklace


On choosing PSB

So much goes into choosing an adoption agency. Now that we're close to entering another phase of our adoption process, I am more and more content with why we chose the Pearl S. Buck Foundation. [Click on the link, & see Apl.'s of the band, Black Eyed Peas, adoption journey.] Next week, A. & I are scheduled to attend the required home study seminar at PSB. We've completed our application and will start our home study process, so that we can begin to enter our dossier phase. Completing one process and entering the next are milestones within themselves. Once our completed dossier has been sent to the Philippines' adoption board, ICAB, then we wait.

For the past few weeks, A. & I have been on edge about the new eligibility requirements which ICAB just put out for those wanting to adopt from the Philippines. They are not accepting anyone diagnosed with chronic disease such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis etc. They will not accept anyone who has had any major organ transplant or anyone who has had a stroke or heart attack. While they did not specifically refer to heart disease or open heart surgery of any kind, we understandably experienced some anxiety, esepcially when this had been our concern prior to choosing an agency. When we finally submitted our initial application, PSB had reassured us then that any new requirements would not apply to us since ICAB had not finalized any details then. Thankfully, the most recent update is that the new eligibility requirements will not apply to anyone who submitted their application to PSB before November 1, 2009. Does not apply to us as we submited our initial application in mid-September. Whew! What a relief. Even so, we'd included a letter from A.'s cardiologist stating that his heart bypass was preventive and was not a response to any cardiac episode, further noting that the surgery has no impact on his ability to parent.

This adoption journey is some ride!



I meditated this afternoon as I focused on the Native American statue I have in my sacred space -- a mother and her six children. E. lent me the statue some time ago as a prayer for motherhood. Meditating, I realized -- the number of babies in the sculpture corresponds to the number of godchildren I have . . . 6.

Thankful I am of the Spirit's tenderness towards my deepest wishes . . . and the wonderful blessings I have in friends and family who have entrusted their children to me.

Amazing grace.


Dia de los Muertos

que llorar su muerte
celebramos su vida
te extranamos muchisimo, Papa
pensamos en ti todos los dias

we mourn your death
we celebrate your life
we miss you dearly, Dad
we think of you every day