Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Utter sadness

Manalimo has cerebral palsy. Pretty severe cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy was something that, months ago when Jason and I were filling out the list of special needs that we could accept and not accept, we decided that we weren't prepared to handle.

We're still not prepared to handle it.

We've declined the referral.

I am heartbroken.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Smiles and more smiles

OK, I have his corrected name spelling and pronunciation: Manalimo, which is pronounced MAH-nah-leemo. Patrick can already say it perfectly; Jason and I are still working on it a bit. I find myself saying it throughout the day and picturing his perfect little face. He's got such long eyelashes and big, beautiful eyes. I just want to be able to tell him that we already love him, even though he doesn't know us yet.

We're planning on having the boys share a room and will be getting them bunk beds. Patrick has been wanting a loft bed forever, so we'll probably get that early next year and get him used to it before Manalimo comes home.

The next steps are these: we have to officially accept the referral, and we're waiting on the medical evaluation from the University of Minnesota International Adoption Clinic before we do that. Once that's been done, they'll get a court date for us, probably 4-6 weeks after we accept the referral. We won't be there for that day, but that's when they examine our dossier and approve us as Manalimo's guardians. If we get through court the first time (sometimes there's a delay), they'll work on getting his visa so that we can make travel plans. Travel is usually 4-6 weeks after court. So at the earliest, we probably wouldn't travel before the beginning of February, more likely mid-February. Instead, because I need to keep my job, we'll have to delay travel until spring break. I'm just praying everything comes through in time for that or we'll be faced with making the choice of waiting to bring him home until May or of traveling earlier but not having a job for the next academic year.

I don't know for sure that they wouldn't hire me back. They can't deny the travel because I'm covered under FMLA, but they don't have to give me a new contract for next year. The related issue is that I'm applying for a tenure-track position here and I definitely wouldn't get hired for that if I take off a couple of weeks mid-semester. Anyway, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

For those of you who were asking, this is some information about our agency and the care of the children in Ethiopia: We are so thrilled that Manalimo is being cared for so carefully and that we will have so much information for him. I appreciate that you've all been so respectful about not asking for more information than we're comfortable sharing!

Thank you so much for the excitement and happiness of your responses. We feel truly lucky to be welcoming Manalimo to our family.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

"Who has dreamt about you"

On Wednesday afternoon, I got the call.

Jan had called and left a message for us on Tuesday, simply asking us to call her back. I started shaking as soon as I heard the message, because I suspected that's what it was going to be. I knew that the only family on the list who was waiting for a referral of a boy in the same age range had gotten their referral on Monday. I knew that we were next, and I didn't think it would take very long because referrals have been coming out pretty quickly lately. So I called her back and left a message. We didn't hear from her that day; the next day, her voice mail said that she was gone for Thanksgiving and I started to panic. I called and left messages for both Cara and Alexa, whose voice mail messages said they would be in that day. Nothing all morning, and I even joked to Courtney over lunch (we'd taken Patrick and Micah to the zoo that morning) that if I had to wait until Monday, it was going to be almost anti-climactic.

Not ten minutes later, the phone buzzed in my pocket and I looked at the number. It wasn't even the 651 area code of CHSFS but somehow I knew as soon as I saw it. It was Jan, who said "I have a little boy I'd like to tell you about," and I immediately started shaking and crying. I managed to talk through the conversation, though I probably only took in about half of the information that she gave me. And then I got off the phone and sobbed. Courtney sobbed with me--the people at Fellini's probably thought we were crazy. I drove home very carefully to get the e-mail and see his picture and read all there was.

Manalemo may be 2 1/2 or may be a few months younger--he's not any older than that. He is 22 lbs and 32" tall. He has some medical issues that we can likely accept, though we will have a pediatrician check out the information that we have. We know a ton of information about his family that we will share with him when he's older.

And his name, Manalemo, means "Who has dreamt about you". It was given to him by his mother, with whom he lived until three weeks ago. I couldn't have asked for anything better. All this time, I've prayed that he would be with his family as long as possible, because I wanted him to be with the people who most loved him. We will almost definitely get to meet them when we go to Ethiopia to get him.

(Picture removed for privacy!)

Jason was at work and so I forwarded him everything after calling to tell him he was going to be a daddy again. I showed Manalemo's picture to Patrick and told him that was his little brother. His immediate response was "Why is he that color?" I told him that that was the color of people in Ethiopia, just like some of his friends who are from Ethiopia (which we'd talked about before, but it clearly hadn't stuck). He said "Oh. He's so cute! Look at his cute smile--it's just like this" and imitated the expression on his face. And then I started crying again and hugged him so tightly.

I have another son. Another adorable, perfect son. I am the luckiest of women to have been so blessed. This is the most amazing Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Patrick tales

Patrick amuses me every day, even on the days when he's "challenging". The other night when we were in the car driving home, he was regaling me with a story about a caterpillar that crept across a branch and made himself a cocoon. And he was explaining how he was peering through a window to look at Jason at one point. He also told me that he had noticed his friend on the playground at school. It's really funny when an almost 4-year-old uses words like crept, peering, and noticed in proper context and with his adorable little voice. He's had some other good ones lately that I can't remember, but actually has been a favorite lately as in "Actually Mama, I would like to have some chocolate instead of baby carrots."

Jason's been teaching Patrick to add numbers. He uses his fingers and we're working on how to go higher than 10--he's OK if he's only going to 11 or 12, but gets a little confused beyond that. He's gotten very good at visual number references--he can simply look at a group of objects and no longer has to count them out loud to figure out how many there are. That's one of the things that's helping a lot with adding. When we drive home, he likes to practice adding. The other day, I asked "Patrick, what's 2+3?" and he replied (picture counting on fingers--two on one hand, three on the other) "One, two, three, four, FIVE!" Then I asked "What's 3+4?" and he replied "Achat, shtayim, shalosh, arba, chamesh, shesh, SHEVA!" He did it in Hebrew. I was mightily impressed.

Before this past summer, he would cry nearly every day when we dropped him off at daycare. He was always perfectly happy right after we left, but it was heartbreaking to leave him with tears running down his face. Now, however, we get halfway to school and he's saying "I want to be at school now!" This morning he said it while he was still in jammies. I don't know if it's simply that he's older or if he just loves the JCC as much as we do, but it does my heart good to know that he's so happy there. He's made a lot of friends, which is wonderful to see for a shy boy like Patrick*, and is excited to see them and play with them every day. He is learning so much and we're thrilled that we switched him to a place where they don't focus on academics, but there's a lot of learning incorporated with the playing. We'll be keeping him there for official pre-school next year.

His birthday is on December 3rd and his party is on the 2nd. For those of you who are also Jewish, you can probably see the problem we're going to have. Party on the 2nd = presents. Birthday on the 3rd = presents. Hanukkah on the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th = presents from both sides of the family. Oh wait, then we get two weeks off and then Christmas on the 25th = presents from Jason's side of the family and my dad's side of the family. We do bring at least half of his toys to the basement to be brought out at different times of the year (we trade out toys--if he wants a new one from the basement, he has to bring one of his other toys down there). But still. He's going to be spoiled beyond belief by New Year's.

Especially since we bought him the present he's been asking for since almost his last birthday--drums. Bongoes, really, but he'll be thrilled all the same. And yes, we're insane.

*Don't laugh, he really is shy when it's a new situation and new people. Ask his teachers--he barely spoke the first two months at the JCC. You all just know him well and can't remember that when you first met him, he was probably hiding behind my leg.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Sorry all! I know that I started this blog to keep you updated but, since there's been nothing, I haven't been updating.

We've been waiting for 2 months as of November 6th. That's perfectly normal since our agency told us it would probably be 3-6 months until we get a referral. Time is passing quickly in some aspects, but it still feels like forever. I suppose that's because we've been openly talking about adopting for almost 2 years but didn't start the process until the end of February 2007. It's been just over 8 months since we sent our initial application to CHS.FS, not long at all.

We continue to keep our eye on the waiting child lists, but the only boys on there now are either older than Patrick or less than a year younger than he is--we want our boys at least a year apart so they won't be in the same grade.

It is frustrating because I've got an opportunity to take on a couple of extra classes in the spring during normal hours when Patrick's in daycare anyway, and the moneywould be very helpful when it comes to travel expenses (which will probably be over $5000). They're classes I'm already teaching, so there wouldn't be any extra prep time--just the time I spend in class and grading.

I don't want to do it if we're going to be travelling in the spring for a couple of reasons:

1. My schedule as it currently stands is perfect for bringing home our son. He'd only have to be in daycare two days a week, and probably not full days either day.

2. My schedule as it currently stands is as good as it gets for the possibility of getting permission to travel from my department chair. I can find subs for nearly all of my classes quite easily and can probably videotape the lecture for my pharmacology class (there's no one else who could cover the class, as I'm the only one who teaches it), or even reschedule it if necessary.

I spoke to my agency contact person and she really can't predict when we'll get a referral and so it's a tough decision, because she completely understands the financial pressures of adoption. She did assure me that if we need to, we can travel after the semester ends. And I know that Jason can travel on his own if we were to get a referral early next year and not want to wait until May to bring him home. One of the reasons we chose Ethiopia is because only one parent has to travel and, since I'm a contract employee, I might not be able to travel and still have a job the next semester.

Since I carry the family health insurance, I have to keep my job.

I've already said I will teach the lab. That one is Monday afternoons. I may also agree to teach the lecture, which is Monday and Wednesday mornings. Up until now, I had NO classes on Mondays and my only Wednesday class is an anatomy lab that starts at 7:30 p.m. My other three classes are Tuesday and/or Thursday. So it's a lot of classes but not a bad schedule.

I just hate the idea of potentially getting a referral in December or January and having to wait until May to bring our son home. But we do need the money.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I've been tagged!

Laura tagged me a bit ago and I haven't had a chance to do this until now, so here it is:

Jobs I've held:
Discovery Zone party hostess
Safety shuttle dispatcher
Catering waitress
EMT at a summer camp
7-11 cashier
Pool supervisor
Lab technician
Inorganic chemical analyst
Childbirth instructor
College instructor

Places I've lived:
Poughkeepsie, NY
Richmond, VA
Columbia, SC
Atlanta, GA

Foods I love:
Corn chowder
Steak with sauteed mushrooms and onions
Anything combining pasta and cheese

Places I would rather be:
On a beach
In the mountains

Movies I love (not even close to all of them):
The Princess Bride
Star Wars (the original trilogy)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Legally Blonde
Tristan and Isolde
The Pursuit of Happyness

TV shows I watch:
Law and Order
Any show involving DIY home improvements--my house (and Jason) are suffering because of my love of these shows

Books I love (also not even close to all of them):
The Time Traveller's Wife
There Is No Me Without You
The Good Earth
Calvin and Hobbes
Snow Pea and the Secret Fan

Favorite music artists (tough to pick just a few!):
Rascal Flatts
Eric Clapton
The Chieftains
Brad Paisley
Andrea Bocelli
Chad Kroeger
Panic at the Disco
ZZ Top