Baby bumpity-bump-bump

WARNING: I am in love with a child I haven't met yet.  I am in the process of adoption.  I am subject to cry at any moment.  Please bear with me until my referral comes. 

While I don't have a baby bump that is physically visible, others might see our baby bump(s) in our distress (and sometimes when I'm alone in my tears).  Our baby bump(s) is tangible, and we feel it ache not beneath my diaphragm, but in our hearts.  A year after we've submitted our dossier, we still have no child match.  And one year later, we have to resubmit criminal verifications, financial statements and an updated homestudy . . . at a cost of course - along with all of the associated fees.  My expert adoption mama, L., tells me the paper chase doesn't stop once we have our child, so get used to it.  

Our dossier is a year old, so we have to renew some documents.  Our immigration application expires in June, and we'll have to request an extension since it's unlikely we'll hear of any referral before then.  We know nothing of where we are in the match process on ICAB's end, except that R. on PSB's end in the Philippines has supposedly begun to shop our parent profile around to different orphanages.  Other than that, no other information. In addition to paper chasing, feels like we need to be a little more proactive with PSB, who isn't as forthcoming as we'd like.  All par for the adoption process as I've heard from a handful of parents who've been on this journey before.  We need to be assertive.  A. and I definitely need to be more dogmatic about checking in with PSB.

In what feels like our more desperate moments, it sometimes seems as if we'll never get our referral.  Or A. will be 50, and I'll be 46 by the time our child arrives.  That's eight years from now.  Or it'll just never happen.  Out of frustration, A. says we should just pull out of the process and take the loss.  Me?  I respond, how can we . . . we're so far into the process already . . . I want this.  In an effort to remain calm and patient, I tell A., this is the process.  Others who've adopted have experienced the same setbacks. 

To our chagrin, we wait, re-do some paperwork and try to keep the hope.  Bumpity-bump-bump . . . bumpity-bump-bump . . . look at us go!



boyhood of 41 years
manhood of 28,835 days
shared bottles of tanduay between father and son
what of shared glasses of basi
between dad and daughter
girlhood of 36 years
life span of 604,440 hours
common loss
two jersey city townmates now barkada
put their feet up on a cloud above lincoln park

For my friend, R., who buried his beloved father today.  Love & light to the Ontal family.


On jury duty [15.02.11]

Where do poems hide?
poems hide in my Bic Z4+ .7 black ink pen.
they crawl out of the pen cap
and jump onto the organic page of my handmade,
brick-red, leather-bound 
i-jot-down-everything-in notebook.
my poems like to play hide and seek.
they'll hide on a Monday then appear
from behind my computer monitor 
on a Thursday morning
sometimes after i've settled 
into my morning to-dos.
my poems have personality, 
and they tend to get personal.
usually when i've gone round and round in my heart and head
about stuff i don't want to give voice to out loud,
i can't be alone with.
that's when the poems seek me out,
and i try to hide behind my day-to-day.
truth is, it's a thrill when poems find me.


Not quite

Child A
Age/Sex  2 years and 10 months old / Female
Ref. No. 9248 (09-0311) 

The siblings were voluntarily surrendered by their birthmother. The birthmother has no regular income and thus could not provide the needs of the children. The birthmother has also sought the assistance of their relatives however they are also having financial difficulties.  Child "A" was diagnosed with asthma. She also suffers from skin eruptions along with her asthma attacks. She is also allergic to milk, chicken, fish and soya milk. At present, she walks and runs well. She can bend over to pick something up, take a step backwards, jump in one place and walk up and down the stairs while holding on the rails. She responds to “no” and she can express her emotions. She relates well with the other children and is affectionate towards her caregivers. She can feed herself and drink with a straw. She also likes to do action songs and play with dough. She gets fascinated whenever she gets to form different shapes when playing with dough.

Every other month, A. & I receive a list of special needs children from PSB. We comb through the listings, and usually the needs are much more than we can handle. We go through them anyway, hoping maybe there's a minor need we can manage . . . like asthma. Last week, there was one particular child who caught our eye.  How severe was her asthma? Could it be possible that she would grow out of it? We knew it was a far reach given that she was part of a sibling group, and it would be cruel to separate a sister and brother. Still, to be sure, I called PSB and asked.  

It ended there.  

Of course, they don't separate sibling groups. Sadly, Child A's younger brother has developmental global delay and some form of cerebral palsy. We pray that Child A and her brother, Child B, are matched with a family who can lovingly accommodate their medical needs together.

Many of the descriptions of special needs children read the same. The birthparents chose to leave their children with the grandparents or neighbors, who also could not care for them financially. Child C was sexually abused. Child D witnessed his mother being murdered. Child E is 8 years old and has the developmental capacity of a 4-year-old. Child F was left at the orphanage at age 6, was in counseling for inappropriately touching another child and now understands the difference between bad touch and good touch; she has been told adoption is an option and is very excited to meet her family.   

That so many children waiting to be adopted have experienced hellish ugliness in their lives is sadly humbling and reaffirms why we are on this adoption journey. No matter what ugliness they've witnessed, every child deserves to know protection, wellness and love.

Still waiting. For the one we love.

From the Book of Ashley 13:13

Yesterday, our niece, A., and her middle school team came in first place at her cheer competition as we proudly held high our homemade cheer sign, A. 13:13.  Today A. turns 13 on February 13.  We are ever thankful that she doesn't mind hanging with us, especially now that she has entered teendom as we enjoy taking each of our nieces and nephew out individually to celebrate their birthdays.  We truly believe it's not so much what gifts we give them, but the time that we experience with them and how truly present we are in their lives.  From cheer to lunch at the Olive Garden to a Glee episode, from Apples to Apples, sharing music videos, Fenga (like Jenga as our niece, N., dubbed it) toppling to Monopoly, and yes, dinner in between, we were funned out!

Amazing grace
Now that we've switched our weekly meetups in JC with Mom from Wednesday night dinners to Sunday brunches, attending Sunday service has also changed to Saturday evenings.  My cousin, K. has pointed out to me, we spend most of our waking moments pushing away life's stuff that we don't want to deal with so much that when we are finally alone (or in God's presence), that's when we're most vulnerable.  And it's so true. Whether it's my bus commute into the city, a drive alone, or a solemn moment at church, that's when random memories creep up.  

I'm kneeling at St. Rose of Lima.  Acoustic guitar in the background, and a singer songwriter voice croons "Amazing Grace" contemporary Christian style.  Amazing Grace never fails to speak to me.  Slowly . . . Father's Day brunch with my Dad at Hamilton Pub by Hamilton Park in downtown JC.  Dad & I watching the New Jersey Nets v. Phoenix Suns at Brendan Byrne Arena. Weekend barbecues in the backyard starting Memorial Day and lasting through the summer.  My eyes closed, I don't want to have to search through my pockets for tissue that isn't there.  I try hard to remain kneeling and . . . be in the moment.  Memories flood past me, my eyes still closed.  The song is over.  Silence as the last of the crowd walks up for communion.  I continue to kneel . . . in amazing grace.  

How present we are, works with Spirit just as much as it does with those so dear to us. Inspired by the Book of Ashley 13:13.

Gratias autem Dea • (Thanks be to Goddess)
alone i am with Amazing Grace
your angelic melody 
soothes my speckful, earthly lifing
my spirit settles into softened solace


For Isabel

among 1940s beauties
in black and white film classics
elegance danced amidst yellow daffodils
and walked alongside her French-furried companions
grace dainty like edelweiss
now sparkles among stars

For Isabel Little, a longtime family friend, who recently passed away and was like a grandmother especially to cousins K. & M., who grew up in Connecticut, where I spent many summer vacations.  An exquisite jewel of a woman, b. 11.23.1917 - d. 02.04.2011.  



Since I've read Natural Habitat Adventures' piece on Gross National Happiness (GNH) in Bhutan, I've been thinking much about how I can humbly assess my own GNH while not being dragged down by the widely accepted Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the common economic indicator that measures the sum of all goods and services produced by a nation which most perceive as personal material success.  Perhaps the nomadic shepherds in Bhutan have it right.  How do I maintain centered serenity while living and working in the metropolitan East Coast area?

Connection with friends and family is super important.  As I get older, my circle shrinks.  And there's only so much time to get together with folks in the midst of work deadlines, commuting and family events.  It really has to be a mutually beneficial relationship where all parties make an effort to keep in touch and engaged in each other's lives.  Last Thursday, I was blessed enough to finally meet up with two of my close girlfriends, J. & L., whom I've known since coming of age in my twenties.  J.'s son, G., is my godson.  Due to scheduling conflicts, we missed seeing each other before the holidays.  Our last attempt was botched by a blizzard.  So the soonest we could get together was last week.  And it felt so heartwarming to finally catch up.  The kind of heartwarming where just feasting on decent sashimi and a couple glasses of wine is all we need.  We're pretty much on a see each other every two to three months basis.  And the time we spend together is precious. 
Mindful activity is critical too, especially with our partners.  Today's 40-degree weather felt like the groundhogs maybe migrated along the Bhutanese shepherds in a previous life, leading us into an early spring (hopefully).  While it's Superbowl Sunday, it seemed a most welcome opportunity to hike along the neighboring Hook, where some of the sand dunes seemed like frozen tundra, and the low tide made it easy to feed the seagulls some leftover swai from our fridge while A. poked around the sand with his walking stick.  He ended up finding an unusual black rock with shiny specks all over.  (We discovered it's not a meteor as it has no magnetic pull.  Lava rock?  But no volcanoes nearby.)  Our sunny trek by the ocean brought us much needed peace as we patiently wait for Nature to turn its course towards sun kissed days.  

When it comes to GNH v. GDP, the indicator for success is in genuine relationships with family and friends and not so much in individual material wealth.  Seems easy enough for those of us who totally agree and try to live it.  For others, a heftier challenge.

the ocean salt soothes
my day-to-day busy wounds
as i reconnect