Do you have one?

Sadly, Mom and I attended the wake of a longtime family friend, C., who ran in the same circle of nurses who were recruited in the sixties, came from the Philippines single, married and made their lives in Jersey City. C. was a member of the Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital/Pollack Hospital Filipina nurses social group who all managed to be pregnant around the same time. So all of us kids, who are their daughters and sons, grew up together . . . attended family parties, played punchball during the Filipino Family Bowling League and picketed alongside our moms during their nursing strikes. A most joyful soul, beloved wife and mother, C. lived for more than 20 years as a kidney transplant survivor and had a chance to enjoy her grandchildren. RIP, Tita C.

Do you have one yet? Random Tita points to my uterus where there is no bump. No. We’re adopting (interrupingly, A relative?) and in the process of waiting for our child match.  A silent, Oh. Dumfounded look on Tita’s face. No congratulations. No enthusiasm. Why did I not use my longtime response, It’s up to God?

Random Tita asks Mom, Do you have any grandkids yet? Mom’s response, Soon.

I know it really shouldn’t matter what others think of our decision to adopt. It’s really none of their business. But if they’re going to publicly ask about whether or not I have kids yet, it’d be nice if they displayed some overt excitement. Otherwise, perhaps I need to go with Mom’s response. Do I have one yet?  Yes, soon

Sometimes Mom does know best.


ICAB update

A. & I had the opportunity to meet a couple of the ICAB board members who were in town accrediting adoption agencies in the States.  They happen to be making a visit at PSB.

The Philippines' ICAB recently put a moratorium on adopting out children three years old and below.  This comes after we submitted our dossier in February.  That means if any potential parent(s) has requested a child three years and younger, you're likely to wait more than two years.  ICAB is still trying to match folks from the last quarter of 2008.  We learned that matching parents to kids is basically a 3-tiered process. ICAB tries to look locally in the philippines, then regionally.  If no matches are made within the Philippines, it kicks out internationally. Filipino parents (like us) are given high priority, then couples where one parent is Filipino.

Also, the medical committee of the adoption board has requested updated information on A.'s health, including an updated blood profile and another update from his cardiologist. Funny thing is, no doubt 80% of Filipinos in the philippines have cardiac disease and are not under preventive treatment like A.  In the end, I suppose most impressive about meeting Lyra Myrna, two fo the ICAB board members, was that the Philippines has a most meticulous system in place for matching children to families.  ICAB is certainly extremely thorough in their dossier reviews.

On a crazy note, I need to run around a little this week to get police clearances from Jersey City and Sayreville since my fingerprints didn't go thru a second time with USCIS . . . What a process . . . I'm more unnerved than A. . . But I suppose, that's what makes us work so well together.  In our original dossier, we'd requested a child 0-4 years old . . . Apparently that puts you in the long waiting list pool, so they suggested that we explicity say that we'd be interested in a 3-5 yr-old. So many older kids never get adopted because everyone wants younger ones. A. & I have always been open to a child older than 3 years.

Run for Dad
Since I've made the decision to do ACS' Run for Dad (click on the title link above for more info) this year, I find myself more teary than usual.  Maybe I'm just overwhelmed by yesterday's visit with ICAB officials.  Surrounded by current and prospective adoptive parents as well as a couple of Filipino adoptees . . . Finding our way to our forever child is more than a trip across the world.  Maybe it's because as my cousins, K. & M., are in the Philippines for their Apong's funeral, they have also found time to take Michael out for his 41st birthday and somehow be in Dad's presence.  I've received a number of emails from them since they've been in the Philippines as they've also visited the home that Mom & Dad had planned to be their vacation/retirement abode which more commonly functions as the balikbayan go-to palatio for those vacationing from the States.  K. mentioned the tree in front of their home that was planted for Dad and sprinkled with some of Dad's ashes as well as the conversations remembering Dad, how emotional it has been to experience his presence.  Not a day passes that I don't remember something about my Dad -- what he would've said, how he would've reacted, what kind of banter he would have engaged in just to push my buttons . . . This upcoming Father's Day Run is for you, Dad.



a heavy heart
his spirit broken 
into sundry anguishes
falling limp into Life's Seven Seas
where the tides are unable 
to expunge the dismal scraps 
vibrant vim nowhere in sight

[prayers for those in despair . . . like the adoptee Russian boy & adoptive parents-in-waiting as well as those living w.mental illness & their caregivers]



grace set adrift
in the bay
thankfulness emanates
like the blessed sunshine
invocations murmur
like the sweet singing 
of piping plovers



U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  We're getting a small taste of what immigration bureaucracy was like during that third wave for our parents and so many others who chose courageously to make lives for themselves in the States.  I recently received a letter stating that my first set of fingerprints didn't go through, so I have to return to the Elizabeth (NJ) center early next week to have them retaken.  If my fingerprints still don't take (damn eczema on my right hand!), then I'll have to submit copies of my NJ and NY child abuse and criminal clearances.  Next we received a letter from USCIS, RFE -- Request for Evidence, requiring proof of my legal name (that's what I get for freely using S-H-E-E-L-A-G-H) and verifying whether or not I have resided in Washington, DC or A. has lived in New York State, which neither of us have.  I suppose these things happen. 

And despite the multi-layered clearances, sadly there are the stories of adoptees whose adoptive parents molest them.  Like the Whisenhunts in WA.  Or the Tylers in OK.  Heartbreaking. 

As A. & I anticipate parenthood and all the anxieties around raising a child, I don't have to question whether or not we'll be good parents.  No doubt.  We sure will be. 

s/he wonders
we wait
love waxes
as spring buds blossom
in the throes of hopeful expectancy


Intended pace of life

A. & I, along with Mom, were able to get away for a short overnight stay at The Colonial Inn, Smithville (NJ).  It was a much needed respite from months of deadlines, one after the other.   The short weekend arrived after my final plea for $470,000 to the NYC Council.  For A., a retreat was most welcome after intense running on the consulting treadmill.  And for Mom (& me too), the holidays are always bittersweet reminders of Dad's absence, so she too looked forward to a change of pace.

Last time A. & I were in Smithville was Thanksgiving 2008, a couple of months following Dad's death, so Smithville seems to be our go-to holiday retreat complete with strolls along the lake, in and out of shops filled with handmade items -- from shore and fishermen home decor to trendy jewelry and fresh cheeses.  My favorite was a sample of horseradish cheddar!  We wanted to treat Mom, so we had a short stint at Borgata in Atlantic City.  She was only down $5 after an hour or so at the slots, and A. was up $20 from Blackjack. 

We attended Sunday service at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Absecon.  Funny enough, a Filipino priest led the Mass . . . & shared his Filipino sense of humor during his homily.  On ourway home, we stopped by Rennault Winery in Egg Harbor for a quick peek.  Definitely worth a longer visit next time.  To top off our Easter weekend, we decided to unwind at the Keport Pier and watch the sun set . . . & I had a chance to visit quietly with Dad.   

Prayer of Gratitude

Thank you, Great Spirit, for the time to experience
a taste of serenity
a break from daily busyness

Thank you for our relationship with Mom
who gives so much to us --
weekly homecooked meals
unbounded love
shared enthusiasm as we wait for our child

Thank you for A. whose patience & care
are ongoing  gifts of hudsbandly affection
devotion to me
respect for his mother-in-law

I am grateful for these blessings