Boo

Friday was Liam’s last day of school before the fall break. Recently in school the theme has been all things related to autumn — leaves, chesnuts, hedgehogs, pumpkins, etc. And of course Halloween-type things too. So on Friday he brought home the “big project” the kids must’ve been working on for some time. Parents, you really ought to take pictures of your kids’ projects the second they come in the door. Because they’re just not going to last until you get around to it.


This is what remains of Liam’s project. As you can see, it was a flowerpot painted to look like a jack-o-lantern, filled with sand and roasted chesnuts, with a ghost cutout poked into it. Liam did the cotton-gluing himself. Unfortunately, this morning “someone” accidentally tipped this over onto our stone floors. I’m surprised this much survived.


….oooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…………..

I find it hilarious that tucked in the bottom of the flowerpot is a Jupiler beer mat! Maybe that’s why Liam’s been coming home from school so happy!

**yes, I know the thumbnails are microscopic. It’s a problem in our new and improved WP. We’re working on a workaround.**

it’s about time

We’ve been in a holding pattern for some time now. Just waiting to get our home study visit so we can move on with everything else. First we were gone, and then e-mail to our references failed, so they didn’t know what we had asked of them. Then paperwork delays. Then simply the inevitable back and forth of trying to schedule anything via e-mail. Finally, FINALLY we have a date for our home study. It will be broken out over two days, the 6th and 7th of November. Yes, that’s correct, just over a week away.

Our home study provider is based out of Germany, so we have to fly her in. And to get a fairly decent fare, she’ll need to remain in Belgium overnight. Hence the two day visit. No biggie. It actually will allow us to be a little more relaxed.

So one the one hand, WEEEHHEEEEE! Only one week until our home study. And on the other hand, HOLY CRAP! Only one week until our home study! I’m fighting the urge to hire a cleaner. And an interior designer.

Luckily, my son is on vacation from pre-school this whole next week, so I won’t have time to wear my fingers to the bone cleaning a house that is already clean. I’ll be too busy making pumpkins out of construction paper, driving the backup fire truck just in case “the chief” needs assistance, and probably watching “Cars” for the four billionth time.

I love being a mom. I can’t wait to double the pleasure.

So…Hungary

So… Hungary. It’s a long wait for a child under three, in fact, nearly impossible. Very few people adopt from Hungary, so there’s little precedent to follow and no established timeline to compare yourself to. The country prefers to maintain birth order, which means an even longer wait for us. To top it off, it’s a six week stay in country.

So why Hungary?

Let’s see if I can establish some sort of order to the list of reasons (I’m sure not complete, though). Here they are, roughly, from incredibly important to nice perk.

  1. The children are in foster care, receiving one on one attention and benefitting from a family-like atmosphere. (this is the primary reason we looked to Guatemala as our alternate.)
  2. Hungary’s medical care is pretty much on par with Western European standards.
  3. In this country, we have the ability to do an independent adoption. We like the idea of being in control of our adoption, rather than paying an agency to tell us how to do the work. Yes, we would certainly need and hire a lawyer and a translator in Hungary; we don’t plan to go completely independent and depend on the five Hungarian words we know to get us by.
  4. 3 and 4 are a toss-up. Hungary has a centralized adoption authority. We really appreciate this, as the process is streamlined and corruption-free. We’ve gone over and over the rules they have in place, and despite some of the restraints they put on us, we can see that they are all in place for the good of the children.
  5. Hungary can usually provide quite detailed family and medical history.
  6. There is a six week bonding period. This is a long time, we know, and it is a bit of a deterrent. On the other hand, it gives you six weeks in an environment familiar to the child to get to know each other. He’s not thrust into a completely foreign situation. As I understand it, you meet with the child in his foster home, and then out and about with them, a number of times. Then he comes to the apartment you rent for your stay. It’s a more gradual process than I see in other countries, and we really think easier on the child.
  7. Hungary is a one trip country. There is no torturous (for us) meeting our son and then having to give him up, uncertain of when we’ll finally be together. And there is no torturous (for him) getting to know new people, learning to trust them, having them disappear, going back to the “old” home, new people coming back…..
  8. Location. Hungary is in our timezone. It’s just a short flight away. So we don’t have to subject ourselves and Liam to two long torturous flights and days of jetlag. Ditto for son #2 on the return trip. We could make a day of it and take the train. Heck, we could make it a two day trip and take the car, staying with friends at the half way point.
  9. As international adoption goes, Hungary is relatively inexpensive. There is no child-placement fee et al; obviously attorney and translator fees, and accommodations in country will be our biggest expenses, but we estimate it will fall in the $10,000 range. IF we go independent, which we most likely will. An additional perk to this point: we’ll have much more money left over to put toward our child’s college fund.

So, that’s it in a nutshell. I have second thoughts every time I visit someone’s blog and see them getting referred a precious bundle of newborn joy. And yet, I’ve had my baby. I loved every second of it. But I really see the next child entering our lives as being a toddler, not a newborn.

So here we are. Hungary.

Moving House

I am, in the next few minutes, assuming my son allows me the time, and with GREAT trepidation, going to attempt to import my posts and comments from blogger to our WordPress blog. I am petrified that it won’t work, because this is the new version of WP and maybe still has some bugs, or because I’m using a Mac and the rest of the world is designed for a Windows machine, or that there will be a major power outage in the middle of it, or that blogger will be cantankerous, and that ALL OF MY POSTS WILL DISAPPEAR.

Come find our new home at:

The Ohlsson’s Adoption Blog

p.s. I have so little faith in this working that I’m copying this post to TextEdit so I’ll at least be able to leave you with this!

See you at the new place!

Dossier

Although it certainly won’t be our deciding factor, the dossier preparation for Hungary is FAR simpler than for Guatemala. Here’s what I’ll need to get:

  • Birth certificates
  • Certificate of marriage
  • Home study
  • Proof of annual income
  • Expert’s opinion on aptness (psychological report)
  • The home country’s permission to the adoption
  • Proof of nationality (for ex.: photocopy of passport)
  • Statement on the purpose of adoption and expectations about the adoptee (sex, age, health)
  • If they use an accredited body: proof of the competence, authorization
  • An approval that their data can be handled in the national register

No divorce decrees, reference letters, name affidavits, witness statements, yadda yadda yadda. Nice and succinct. Of course these still have to go through the whole authentication process, but that should go without saying. I’d like to get started on this NOW! But I know that, in reality, it will be at least two months before we have our homestudy paperwork back and certified and all that good stuff. Then THAT has to go to CIS. Sometime in that in between time I’ll start assemblling the dossier. I’ve already got most of it, but will probably have to have the stateside documents reissued, as Hungary requires all documents to have been issued within the last six months.

So we’re still in the wait and see phase, but that’s only a technicality. Like a disclaimer, reserving our right to change our mind and not look like wishy-washy idiots. In reality, we know that Hungary is the right choice for us. That’s where our son is waiting for us. How could we look elsewhere?

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

…at least in the stores. Halloween isn’t quite here, yet all the stores have their Christmas decorations and displays up. It’s got me humming Christmas carols, which I’m sure will get exceedingly annoying by December 25th. Although we despise the fact that the holiday has become so commercialized, these displays do serve as a reminder that I must get to work on my holiday shopping and Christmas letter.

I’ve got a few ideas for Liam for Christmas, but have yet to send our credit card into action. As for Jesse, I have come up with the absolutely most perfect present of all time for him. And he’ll never guess. Because I will not hint. Ever. But I’ll tell you all about just how great of a gift it was AFTER Christmas morning.

Today I started gearing up to write our Christmas letter. I think of this as a yearly thing, although I think we’ve seen it to fruition only once. Last year we had intended to continue the tradition, but with losing Isaiah I just wasn’t in the “let’s write a happy cheery letter” kind of mood. But this year we’ve got lots to talk about. Look forward to the Ohlsson Family Christmas Letter coming soon to a mailbox near you! Now with artwork by Liam!

I like to include a quote by some famous author/thinker. I spent about half an hour today looking for the perfect quote. Here it is:

Happy, happy Christmas,
that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days,
recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth,
and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home!
–Charles Dickens–

Quite happy with my choice, I pulled up our Christmas letter from 2004 to see what quote I had used. Yup, the same exact Dickens quote. So, it’s back to the drawing board.

….what? You didn’t come here to hear me ramble? You just probably want to see some pictures, I’m guessing. Fine, here you go:


Here are some shots of Liam earning his keep. He’s washing the windows.


I love his face in this shot. A little too bright, but he has the best expression.


Hard at work. Also, please note: he picked out his own clothes.

Well, I’ll be FedExed!

Our agency* requests that their clients open an account with FedEx, DHL, UPS or the like for mailing important paperwork back and forth and to our chosen country*. So a few days ago I set up the account with FedEx and ordered some (free) supplies. Then I checked into the fees. Now, I was well aware that shipping via one of these carriers was more expensive than using the USPS. It does not surprise me that to 2 Day a packet from my mom’s zip code to, ohhh, say, the Dept. of State in D.C. cost approximately $10.31; to Standard Overnight it $26.56, and so on. What surprised me was the cost of shipping from our residence in Belgium to the states.

Care to wager a guess? Go ahead, guess. You’ll never guess. Nope. Higher. Higher. The lowest rate quoted me 88,59 EURO, so $110.88. So…… let’s just say I won’t be FedExing anything unless …. hmmm…. actually, I can’t thnk of any circumstance that would cause me to do this. Maybe if my kid needed my kidney or something.

*We are in a battle with our conscience about this process. Rather, we are becoming more and more convinced that, despite the long delays in Hungary, that is the country that we are the most comfortable adopting from. The children receive excellent care in foster homes, and the centralized adoption authority truly works with the children’s best interests at heart. If we do indeed revert to Hungary, our agency does not have a program there and we will be out what we’ve already paid to them — although that’s nothing we’re losing any sleep over. I’m not completely ready to close the door on Guatemala, but I’m beginning to think that’s the inevitable conclusion.

Identity Crisis

The last twentyfour hours have been quite trying for us. After reading a whole lot of negative things about Guatemalan adoptions on messageboards, listservs, personal stories, we contemplated switching from the country entirely.

Ou agency also works in Kazakhstan, and that country has great appeal to us. We’d prefer to adopt from somewhere “over here,” to save all the transatlantic flight issues. Although the children are in orphanages, the care is supposed to be very good compared to typical orphanage care. Young children, a fairly direct process, …. I don’t even need to go into this, do I? Everyone reading this blog has looked at the details of every… single… country…. possible to adopt from internationally and weighed the pros and cons themselves.

In the end, there is no clear cut winner for us in the Guat vs. Kaz matchup. They both have their really great points. They both have issues that make us uncomfortable. That is, I think, an undeniable truth to ALL adoptions, regardless of whether they are international or domestic, regardless of country. I can’t lie and say that the stories of corruption, PGN horrors, and the like (not to mention the Hague issue looming in the future) don’t concern me. But upon further investigation, there are plenty of issues with Kaz adoptions as well. The grass isn’t any greener there.

We’ve decided to stay with Guatemala, for better or worse. The children are in foster homes and therefore are getting (we feel) much better care. That has to be our primary concern, not length of time, or convenience of travel, or saving a couple thousand dollars.

I’ve also decided that I’ll be blogging more and message-boarding less. Michelle’s post about the blogging community being a better support forum than the various message boards struck a chord with me. Additionally, they supply me with too many “what ifs” and worst case scenarios. I need to start thinking more positively about this process and let it work. We spent a long time researching our agency, and are convinced we made the right choice. Maybe I just need to sit back and let them do their job.

the long goodbye

School seems to be going better for Liam, although the goodbyes are getting much worse. Today Liam clung to me with his arms and his legs, and I felt like the world’s biggest heel as I walked out of the classroom with him calling for me. It was one of those days when I question, “am I asking too much of him?” It’s not like I’m so desperate for three hours to myself that I need to subject my son to this. But that’s not what sending him to school is about. It’s about socialization and separating from me and lots of jazz that I, with my armchair degree in psychosociology would be happy to share with you, if you have the time. No? Ah, well…. But it’s still one of the hardest things I’ve had to do yet as a parent.

So great was my guilt that as soon as I made it back to the house this morning, I grabbed my mobile and walked back to the school, slowly walking past the windows hoping for a glimpse of my son. Actually hoping for no glimpse of him, because if I can see him that means the teacher is carrying him around, trying to comfort him. No little American boy in sight. But still I craned my neck and strained my ears. Another mother came out of the school and, seeing me, told me, “he’s fine. He’s playing now.” That was a relief to hear, and I’m so thankful that she took pity on me and shared the news.

It only takes a minute or two to walk to, and from, the school. So within four or five minutes of me leaving he was happily playing. That helps relieve much, although not all, of the guilt. So, another week down, and with the exception of getting bit by a little girl a few days ago, he’s doing better every day. And so am I.

Whining Gets Results

Apparently I need to do some more whining. (although my husband would be quick to tell you that I do PLENTY) Within twelve hours of this post bemoaning everything I was waiting on, I had:

*final reference letter handed in
*package from our agency
*tentative dateline for our home study

Hopefully, my complaining and whining will ensure us a speedy trip through our referral and PGN, et al.