Featuring Joy & Geoff, Big Brother , Little Brother , Sis , and various household (and outdoor) critters...

Monday, 22 December 2008

Priorities: Paperwork Before Christmas


A small sigh in the midst of ongoing bustle. The Durango's used tranny fix may not be working out so well (sad, but true), BUT our homestudy update is headed to the Ministry for a quick review, and our other Ghana paperwork (including notarized forms and so on) was sent off to our agency last week. So now we just wait for the Ministry approval and then it all gets put together by the agency and sent off to Ghana. Our goal was to get everything done on our end before Christmas, which we did, so that feels good.

Also important, we squeezed in a few minutes to grab a real Christmas tree to go with the houseful of artificial ones, and managed to decorate it, clean house, and wrap gifts before heading off on our 10th anniversary weekend and hosting some folks at our place earlier this evening. Starting to feel like most of our Christmas prep is done, so we can focus on having company and (another sigh - this one not so relaxed) looking for a new vehicle.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Ah, Life. Gotta love it...kinda...

I guess the Durango was feeling a little neglected, and decided to compete for our attention and financial resources by killing off its transmission this week. Yep. Which completely destroys my "the truck's a much wiser choice for now than a minivan (even though the van is WAY more accessible for kids) because it is more durable and the higher gas costs are offset by having fewer repairs" theory.

And so continues my 2008 lesson in never having an opinion or prediction or expectation or theory about how anything "works" in this world or what is "meant to be" (such as, "Gatsby can't possibly be deathly ill, because Phineas JUST died & it would be too coincidental for both dogs to die in less than two months", or "this adoption process will be exactly what we pictured, even if it goes slower than expected", or "of course my thesis will be done without another extension so that we can move on with life, adoption, etc." [ok, that one I did doubt...often], and then of course the vehicle theories...). But I think I get the point. And really, I'm pretty good at keeping busy and productive without all these extras! The good news is, this stuff might have been super-stressful a few years back, but I think I'm much better at taking things in stride now, and so (at the moment), I really am just smiling and shaking my head...and then on we go...

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Here Goes...

Well folks, we seem to be making haste toward Ghana. It is so difficult to make these decisions, but it seemed clear after talking with our agency and seeing some of the connections with Ghana emerge in talking with people we know, that this is the direction for us. We hope to have our file off to Ghana in early January, once our homestudy and Ontario approval are complete.

The Ghana process is similar to the Ethiopia process, in that we don't travel until after court AND until after the permanent resident visas are issued. This does mean a little longer wait before we meet our children than it would in the Zambia program, but also means that there is little uncertainty about our length of stay in-country (unlike Zambia, where length of stay would have depended on the unpredictable time between court and visa issuance). Travel to Ghana only needs to be 7-10 days or so, but we would like to aim for about 3 weeks to experience the country a little better.

We have been so thankful the way things have come together to point us toward Ghana - it is reassuring having that sense of heading in the right direction.

Ghana Orphanage

Here's the link to the organization our agency is partnering with in Ghana, which runs the orphanage in Accra where children will be coming from:


Sunday, 23 November 2008

Gathering Momentum...Things are Happening!

Well, we are ready to move on and move forward.

We are very thankful that in June 2008, our agency announced a new adoption program in partnership with Ghana. This week we will be looking further into this possibility. International adoption has been happening in Ghana for a while, although the program is new to our agency. So far, the process appears fairly stable, and we very much look forward to learning more about the country and its people.

It was very affirming this morning at church to talk with a couple, originally from Sierra Leone, who both lived in Ghana before coming to Canada. They were very enthusiastic about the country, and are happy to have us consult with them along the way. They described Ghana as a beautiful, friendly, and well-developed country. Good friends of ours also have missionary friends in Ghana, and so we are beginning to see some connections building there, which is encouraging. While we had originally been expecting to go ahead with the Zambia program, we believe that moving forward with Ghana is the best and most exciting fit for us - we remain very confident about our decision to adopt, and about seeing how things unfold in the coming months.

We will certainly keep you posted!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

One Thing Down...!!!

At long, long last, the master's thesis has been successfully defended! And now that means we can focus a lot more on adoption preparation and planning. SUCH a lovely thing to know that school is out of the way and won't be getting mucked up with the adoption process. Yay!

Friday, 7 November 2008

Hanging In & Keeping Up

Well, the usual questions about when we expect things to start moving along for our adoption keep coming. And the answer is still that we just sit tight...for a little while. It seems harder for others to accept the unknowns than it is for us, I think.

And never fear...we're still knee-deep in a few of the things that need to be "of the past" before we will feel truly ready to put all of our energies into adoption planning and referrals. If all goes well, that thesis of mine will hopefully be all done in about 3 weeks.

This week, we've been getting acquainted with our new little niece, who was born November 2 (contemplated, conceived, carried, and born in much less time, I might add, than we have been working on this adoption). She's quite lovely, and we're glad she's nearby & will be a big part of our lives!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Yes, it will be a while...

...and that's ok, for now. We knew there would be lots of unknowns in regard to timing, and we have a long list we're working through to get ready for travel and for bringing two babies home. To be honest, there's been so much going on currently that we are looking foward to late fall and Christmas, to turn our attention more toward preparing for parenthood!

Through the fall, we are registered for various adoption workshops - basic infant care, lifebooks, hair & skin care. These seem to be a really nice way of connecting with other adopting couples, and maintaining focus on the reality of our future.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Just Because

Ah, camping. We did pretty well this summer grabbing a few weekends to get away. We both find it's one of the only ways we can totally relax - no responsibilities or distractions, and lots of outdoor time (which we're not so good at around home - sadly, and despite the lovely walking and hiking at our doorstep). Let's hope that camping still holds its charm when we've got a couple of little folks in tow! The trailer definitely makes things convenient in some ways, if we can figure out sleeping arrangements for babies. For this year, we're planning on at least one, if not two more little getaways before the campgrounds close for the season. And then we'll get busy on the nursery and all those little details around the house and yard that are waiting for us...

Oh, and I finally told my manager of our adoption plans...who emailed back a very kind and supportive response, which was lovely. For some reason I still feel self-conscious telling people, almost as if I'm just pretending and will be found out as being a silly girl playing house. Odd, but true. And as much as I am trying to be mentally prepared for any negative or indifferent responses, I do tend to protect our news so that nothing spoils it!

And just one more thing. It's looking like this thesis of mine will finally be finished up this fall, and we are so looking forward to being able to settle into our adoption planning and preparations for "real" at long last. Yay!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Adoption Issues: Ages & Stages

For two days last week, all the staff from my team attended a workshop on attachment. The education was geared toward our work with adolescents, but it was also pertinent for me given our adoption plans. The facilitator happens to be focusing her private practice mainly on adopted children at the moment, so she referred to adoption quite a bit. It was interesting hearing comments and questions from some of my team members, based on their perspectives on adoption. I do wonder, in my field, if there is more concern about adopting, partly because we tend to see and work with adopted people and their families when things are not going well. Not that my colleagues are necessarily unsupportive of adoption, but there seem to be lots of folks who express some respect for people who adopt while saying they would never do it themselves, or who really feel that it is much wiser to adopt only young infants. Certainly from an attachment standpoint, it is much better for children to be adopted as young infants, and I do believe this should always be the goal when the need for adoption is identified early enough. But I still believe firmly in adoption whenever it is necessary, knowing that the alternative for children is to grow up in group living environments. The research seems pretty clear that a nuclear family life yields better results than group living environments, even when children are adopted past infancy. Of course, loving group living environments are necessary as well, when there are more children than available adoptive families, and I strongly support any efforts to promote nurturing group living environments that provide the best possible experience for children. For parents adopting past early infancy, I feel it is essential to be well-educated and prepared to work actively at building healthy attachments with their children, and to recognize issues should they arise (not saying that ALL adoptive parents shouldn't be attuned to attachment needs, but that the issue becomes perhaps more important when adopting at older ages). Adoptive parents do need to realize the layers of complexity present in building parent-child relationships with their children, and helping their children develop the security and relational capacity to have healthy relationships with others throughout their lives. Parenting, including adoptive parenting, should never be entered naively...While I do hope that our family life reflects strong attachments, I also know it may not always be easy. But that's ok, because we are choosing this path, and are convinced of its "rightness" for us.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Name Games

It's an interesting process, choosing names for one's future children. Seems that every time we go through the books, we come up with some new ones, and every time I look at the lists I wonder whether we've figured it out yet. So far there are a few that seem to be sticking...

Since we don't know whether we will have two boys, two girls, or one of each, we are trying to pick 2-3 names per gender to have ready when the time comes.We don't really know whether we will name the babies before we meet them in person or not. It would be nice to have names to use in the months before we travel, once we know who these little people are. But apparently there's no rush at all - we actually have a year once the adoption is finalized before completing all the citizenship paperwork and so on...don't worry - we'll be choosing names at least before we get back from Africa!

We are definitely open to keeping existing names, if they appeal to us and are easily used in Canadian culture. And we at least want to keep existing names as middle names, so that's partly why we may need a few first name options of our choosing to match up with middle names chosen for us. Perhaps it seems like we're jumping the gun, but since we'll only have 3 months notice (or less) before we meet our children, we don't want to be scrambling to come up with names in the midst of travel preparation and everything else at the time...And I need a few months of feeling settled about our top name choices to make sure they have staying power. Truth is, I've always loved thinking about names, and at last I have a good excuse!

Figuring out our "name personalities" has been enlightening - not only the sounds we like, but the "vibe" we are going for...Sadly, I was a fan of "vintage" names long before they became the trend, so I've had to let go of a couple options that have become too popular - thankfully, there are choices galore. So, we'll keep narrowing down & keeping an eye on the names that stay at the top of the list, and see where we end up.

Monday, 18 August 2008


...and here's what I've added to my repertoire - the all new, "any-gender-friendly" Africa messenger bag...so far the tan with camo has been the top seller.

Building Birdhouses

Here's what Geoff's been up to...building birdhouses for selling & gifting...
We're really enjoying our crafty side these days...too bad the house (including nursery renos) & gardens don't take care of themselves while we're working on our projects!

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Off Topic: My Amazing Computer Savvy

Ah ha! I am a total computer genius. While browsing links on our adoption agency's website today I found the link to the adoption tickers I have seen on everyone else's adoption blogs (I was having some serious ticker envy but had not bothered to ask anyone where they came from). Well, I just have to brag that I followed the directions on www.lilypie.com, which included making a ticker by clicking my choices (very tough stuff...kidding) and then copying html code from that site...then I guessed correctly where to find the info I needed on the blog layout page, and TA DA! - a little pasting, and it worked!!! I will definitely be attracting some major computer programming contracts any time now.

AND, this post is actually not completely off topic - allow me to draw your attention to our lovely new adoption timeline ticking away at the top of the blog to help us all keep track...enjoy!

Jobs: Unfortunate but Necessary

Ok, I haven't totally given up on my belief that there really are great jobs out there that are a perfect fit for people...I'm just looking forward to the next phase for me, whenever it arrives in the form of two little siblings from Africa (I'm hoping that job will be the best fit yet...we'll see)!

Now, Geoff is one of those folks who has a job that fits like a glove! As I've posted before, the only issue is that in his current position, I would pretty much have to work a day or two in order to keep things afloat. We're really not wanting to get ahead of ourselves, but there's a chance things might shift in a positive direction in the near future, and that the goal of full-time parenting *might* be looking a bit more realistic...something to keep in your thoughts & prayers for sure.

Confession (& Warning): Growing Cloth Diaper Obsession

Uh, yeah, it's true. I'm finding cloth diapers fascinating. It will be such a shame to use them - they're so clean & lovely. So far, then, my faves (without having tried them out yet) are the Rumparooz (by far, I think - that lovely double gusset, stretchy elastic, and super-soft lining are fabulous, not to mention my super-cute outer prints & fabrics), the Whamies, and the Berryplush (only drawback with these is that there's no one-size option). I'm thinking that the Baby Kangas & Bum Genius could be near the top of my list as well. Eventually, I will be able to do the "action research" and let you know!

Meanwhile...I have managed to tie diapering in with decorating (I can pretty much link anything with decorating)...Once I got thinking about where on earth a person keeps 50 diapers (the idea of separate bedrooms made sense all of a sudden - I'm thinking attractive wicker laundry basket for the clean ones???), I also realized that the dirty ones have to go somewhere too...and that's where things got ugly. Literally. Diaper pails are ridiculously hideous contraptions it seems. I cannot fathom willingly placing one next to my lovely antique dresser. And then a little googling brought http://www.thegoodmama.com/ to the rescue - lovely, waterproof, zippered hanging diaper pail bags in beautiful prints. Relief.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Things are Getting Serious...Contemplating Diapers

It's my sister's fault. She actually beat me to the research & shopping in the diaper department in preparation for her coming baby, so it goes without saying that I had to jump on the bandwagon, and quickly (digression: I always have a strong visual image of literally jumping onto a bandwagon when I use that expression, and it makes me laugh a little internally). Anyway...it was pretty much a given for us to plan on using cloth diapers (hear the cloth diaper advocates cheer, and the convenience-oriented "realists" shake their heads at my naivety...) - I've been reading, of course, about all the options and pros and cons of every possible diapering solution, and from different perspectives as much as possible (although pretty much every cloth vs. disposable link is pro-cloth...). The arguments (and sample calculations) showing the cost savings of cloth (even when factoring in hot water use) AND the environmental implications (even when factoring in water and energy conservation) were convincing...and then I started browsing the cloth diaper websites. And oh, the colours and patterns and styles. It's like a whole new wardrobing opportunity for babies & toddlers - involving guilt-free shopping since they're an absolute necessity! So, I've ordered samples of various styles - mostly one-size as we don't know the ages and sizes our babies will be when we meet them - and they're starting to trickle in. The cow-print Happy Heinys one-size is very cute, and I'm so curious to see the Evolution gnome print (one of my exceptions that was ordered from the USA rather than Canada). The Mommy's Touch Easy Clean in Jungle Safari will hopefully be as great as I expect it to be, and the fun colours of the Whamies, Baby Kanga, Bum Genius, and Rumparooz are hopefully worth the wait. But...nothing is likely to compare with the first of the oh, so lovely Berryplush animal prints that have arrived - the loveliest, softest possible plush outside, with the softest ever "soaker" lining - and in fabulous jaguar and leopard prints!!! Who would have thought diapers could be such fun...at least before actually having to deal with them and launder them every couple of days. Now here's a frightening thought - with two babies or baby/toddler in diapers, we need two full sets at a recommended minimum of 24 diapers each - depending how often we feel like doing the laundry. That's between 50 and 60 or so diapers. At least at that rate, I can definitely try out pretty much all of my favourite colours and styles...

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

A Reflection...on Adoption & Otherwise...

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet

Frederick Buechner

Friday, 27 June 2008

Moving forward...

Well, our agency has just announced a new adoption program in partnership with Ghana. And like Zambia, we've got some connections...primarily through a couple at church from Sierra Leone, who lived in Ghana before coming to Canada. Very neat! We definitely picked a great agency!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Bag Pics Are Ready!

I finally posted pictures of the Africa bags on Facebook - so you can go there to look at them if you're on my friends list, or you can send me a comment through this blog, with your email address, and I can email you the photo album! I just posted them last night, and already have 9 sales as of this morning - wow!!!

Since I only had 15 left BEFORE selling 9 more, I guess I'd better get busy...

Thanks for your support :)

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Long-term Parenting & Schooling Reflections

Just getting some recurring thoughts in writing while they're on my mind yet again. In the 10 years since I began my career, my ideas about how we will negotiate the work/parenting roles have certainly shifted. Early on, being the primary income earner & loving my job, we always discussed the possibility of me continuing to work full time, while Geoff became a full time stay-at-home parent. Seemed like a great balance - Geoff would get to keep cooking & cleaning (something I don't relish taking on as a primary responsibility - pancakes again, anyone?) and I would get to spend evenings with the family in quality time mode. Well, as easy as that would make things logistically, things have changed. Geoff loves his work, while mine has lost some of its lustre for a myriad of reasons. As a result, we are now looking at Geoff continuing full time in his job, which leaves me in the less-than-desirable position of having to consider very part time work - we would both prefer that the stay-at-home parent be at home full time. So, over the next year or so, there are some big decisions to make about what that picture will look like. And in the back of our minds is the hope (not fully unreasonable) that things may change a bit for Geoff so that I can be home full time. If I do have to work a bit, I have no idea what that might entail, and there's a part of me that also harbours the thought of home schooling (a big MAYBE - we have two lovely, small schools right in town) if I am not working...Anyway, we're trying to take it easy, knowing that things have a way of coming together. Our biggest desire at the moment is that Geoff's job will eventually mean that I can stay home full time (willing to work a very minimum number of hours to maintain my professional license), and that these things will become clear at least before my parental leave ends, if not sooner!

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Preparing & Keeping Occupied

We've got way too much stuff lying around! So in thinking ahead to clearing space for babies AND clearing our minds knowing there's not as much disorder hiding in the closets, basement, and garage...on May 31 we held a garage sale, which went really well - thankfully, as we found our first attempt last year to be pretty tiring & not always pleasant (I don't particularly enjoy the whole price negotiation aspect of things). Anyway, we sold a significant amount of stuff, and had a steady stream of customers from 7:00am to nearly 1:30pm, when the torrential downpour & hail arrived. It was a good day - we had signs about where some of the money is going (see Kids Alive & Blood Water Mission links), and were asked lots of questions. All the responses were positive, and there were a few fun interactions. First, one boy in a group of teens on bikes who stopped by asked about our signs, as his sisters have been to Zambia with Kids Alive. By his features, I figured out right away who he was (although he doesn't know us, being the youngest, Geoff & I were youth leaders at his church while his oldest sister was in high school). Later, a woman stopped by who had also been to Zambia with Kids Alive, and had her pictures in her purse! Turns out she is the aunt of some former classmates of mine. One customer told us about how she and her siblings are all adopted, after finding out in the process of conversation that we are adopting, and another man talked for a long time with Geoff about his experience adopting two children 20 years ago. Then my uncle from out of town, on a long haul to the States, showed up for a quick visit, which was fun! The next day, most of our remaining odds & ends in the driveway (a throw-away vacuum, two chairs, and some glassware left to fend for itself in the rain) were scooped up by some Mennonite folks who happened to be driving by...and who kindly gave a small contribution even though Geoff kept insisting all the leftovers were free. Being on a main rural roadway between suburban areas helped business a great deal, and with all the customers, it was a great opportunity to interact with pretty much every segment of Southwestern Ontario society! Another meaningful connection coming out of the weekend started when an old friend from university stopped by the garage sale & discovered our plans to adopt. She lives in town, and our only contact is brief and unplanned. She ended up calling on Sunday afternoon wanting to give us her remaining baby items in support of our adoption. We stopped by to have a look, and ended up visiting for a couple of hours & enjoying a lovely visit with her and her husband and children, complete with home-baked loaf & ice cream!

Other than trying to sort, organize, and downsize unnecessary "stuff", we're keeping pretty busy in general. I am somewhat anxiously watching time fly by for thesis work, and am finding that it continues to be such a slow process, but with increasing pressure to finish (both internally, and based on my official timelines). This is more than a little stressful some days...

We continue to have more after-work commitments & busy weekends than we usually aim for, so we're pretty much up & running all the time. I'm hoping to find some time to plant my flowers over the next week or so, before my second annual hike on the Bruce Peninsula! To cope with the pace, I'm trying to keep our lists comprehensive & prioritized as best as possible.

There hasn't been much chance to keep up with adoption reading over the past weeks, but it has been refreshing to keep squeezing in baby product research & thinking about our eventual trip to Africa. So, that's just a bit about what we've been up to lately, and where things are at for us. Thanks for your continued thoughts & prayers & support!

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Spring Trilliums!

It's Trillium season - and for once I actually happened to be in a forest at the right time!

First Hike!

Some lovely weather on May 25 enticed us to set aside garage sale preparation & take Hesper for a lovely hike at our nearby provincial park! She did beautifully - even fjorded the stream with minimal coaxing - and we're looking forward to a lovely, outdoor summer together!
Our little family in November 2007 - memories of the first phase of life at our home. Our canine friends, Gatsby & Phineas, enjoying their last fall with us. Cats Scat & Motet managing to at least be in the shot!

Friday, 23 May 2008

Getting Crafty - Africa Bags For You!

Somehow, while waiting for Spring, and procrastinating on my thesis (correction: as a balanced way of spending time while also working on my thesis), I spent some time making Africa tote bags/purses with some extra (i.e., lots of extra) fabric I had lying around. The result is handy little bag with rustic charm, and it has done well in field tests so far!

Most are taupe twill with various combinations of cotton calico linings & Africa silhouettes. There also are (and will be) a few black houndstooth/plaid ones, a few hot pink ones, bright blue ones, and a number made of light blue twill with white pinstripe. Might be tricky to specify lining & Africa silhouette colours, unless you see me in person - but feel free to ask. I am also open to making silhouettes other than Africa - your favourite dog breed, for example!

Each bag is $15, with $1 going to charities supporting African development work (particularly in the areas of water and AIDs development) and Africa children's programs. For now, that will be Kids Alive (of interest to us because of people connections we have locally), and Jars of Clay's Blood Water Mission (AIDs support & water development) - see my web links to check out their sites! I'll work out shipping costs as I get further along in planning...lots of you are likely within hand-delivery distance.

We have a few other creative ideas in the works, provided we find the time to get crafting, so stay tuned!

If you're interested in having a look at the bags, send me a comment with your email address & I'll email you the photo album from Facebook where I've posted the pics!

Thursday, 22 May 2008

My Travel Skirts

Bottom line is, I'm terrible at packing. When I try really hard to pack light, I regret everything I didn't bring, so generally I stuff in as much as possible. And in Canada, who can say that's a bad idea? Even August vacations mean anything from sundresses to mittens. But for Africa, I want to be able to bring home as much as possible, thereby leaving as much space available as I can. I'm also disinclined to have to worry about ironing, finicky laundering, etc. while away. And then, of course, there are heat/UV factors. Enter the Macabi skirt - http://www.macabiskirt.com/ - long, lightweight, easy to hand wash & hang dry. I'm very excited. I may be falling heavily toward looking a bit 'tourist-y', but the Macabi, with a pair of Birkenstocks, a cute polo T, and my new hemp Tilley looks pretty fun & travel-friendly, if I do say-so myself!

Ah, Baby Stuff - Random Ramblings

Preparing for little new family members means...shopping, decorating, & just generally making lists and plans!!! My laptop (yay Google), my funky notebook and I are in our glory (other than the fact that work and my thesis are really interfering :)

So, if you turn your attention to the sample photo, above, you will see Motet graciously modelling one of our Beco Baby Carriers (this is one of the last of the retired "4th Generation", and we also have another in the new "Butterfly" model). These are "soft structured carriers" that are bit more ergonomic than slings and wraps (I've got that residual whiplash to consider, after all), and carry children from newborn to advanced toddlerhood (i.e., 45 lbs) - unlike most other structured carriers that only go up to 20 lbs or so (if one feels so inclined to carry an older toddler, and if the toddler is inclined to be carried). Anyway, I've been getting sort of earthy here and there, and have been reading a bit about babywearing and attachment parenting - not likely to become a guru or anything, but there are some good points to be made, and in trying to facilitate as much healthy attachment as possible with adopted babies, we're thinking we'd rather wear them than push them as much as we can (yes, we'll have the stroller along, too, just in case - realistically, wearing a heavy baby in 30 degree Ontario weather while trekking the zoo isn't really something I envision as part of my future). For one mom's experience with the Beco, see http://www.bostonmamas.com/2007/09/baby_wearing_with_beco.html

Ok, so for all those stroller times, I don't think anything quite compares to the beauty of our marine blue Bumbleride Queen B! This gorgeous and classic multi-terrain pram-style stroller is no lightweight, but looks perfect for meandering around our mostly sidewalk-free town in ultimate parent-child comfort. One of our main requirements was the ability to have baby facing us (more attachment parenting stuff) or the world, and we also considered things like adjustable handle height, bumpy ground versatility, etc. Now, we do expect to be in the position of being a multi-stroller family, given that a twin stroller will likely be needed for a time, whether we have twins or siblings...but we also figure that a single stroller is handy, too, even with twins. AND, this stroller comes with an optional toddler seat that attaches to the handlebar (a pretty neat, sturdy design), turning the Queen B into a double for shorter rides (no headrest on the attached seat). In the double stroller department there's the whole tandem vs. side-by-side debate - good points on each side, but I think we're more tandem people (less potential for wrestling/physical altercations, easier doorway fit). I LOVE the Inglesina Domino & plan to get my hands on one to have a look at, but it's not at all compact (not that tandems really are petite, generally). The Kolcraft Contours Options double looks really neat, too. Both have multiple seating configurations, which is a major criterion for us. The Joovy Caboose is not bad, either.

So that takes care of the stroller discussion. Cribs are another story altogether. I am much less passionate in this department. Cribs are not really all that interesting to me, and are used for such a short time that I can't get all excited about them. What is exciting, though, is that we (meaning "I") made use of http://www.kijiji.ca/ to find a great deal on matching cribs & matresses (matching mattered since we've decided to have a shared nursery for now) - the cribs are in beautiful condition, are a current model despite being 4 years old, and as a bonus, they provided the opportunity for a lovely drive to Kitchener area with Hesper, including a side stop for some delicious cheese & curds at the Bright cheese factory. But I digress...In cribs, I would have picked cherry tone, but maple will do the job nicely...

Thanks to a friend clearing out baby items, we also have a jungle animal themed Pack n' Play & a cute vibrating bouncy chair. Ok, and I've collected a few more baby clothes over the years than I realized...but hey, I was just being forward-thinking. Eventually we'll need car seats & feeding seats (the type of high chair seat that straps to a regular chair - we can't possibly put two full high chairs in our kitchen) - but I think I can hold off on those items for a while (just a little research here and there to satisfy the need)!

We do have some work ahead on the nursery...my sister managed to live in that room for a while, but it's definitely in desperate need of some love. Window upgrades, baseboards, floor refinishing, doorway trim, repainting, etc. are all on the agenda over the next few months. The cribs look great in the room, though, and the finishing touch is a very quaint, rustic antique dresser that a friend bought & painted for me for Christmas - it sets the tone perfectly!

New Details

Looks like the Zambia program is getting closer to being up and running, now that the suspension has been lifted & the process is being clarified there...

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Ethics, International Adoption, & Transracial Families

While we haven't really had anyone express many concerns or questions around our plans to adopt internationally, and to adopt transracially, I'm sure that some of you reading this may have uneasy feelings, or may at least find it worthwhile to spend a moment considering some of the issues facing potential adoptive parents who are considering their decisions.

As I wrote previously, I have always wanted to adopt both internationally and transracially - I don't know if this desire is a childhood fantasy that has never been let go, or a calling of sorts, but it has deep roots, and certainly continues to feel like an appropriate and important thing for us to do. I know that our desires are shaped by our experiences, and also that they can reflect directions we are meant to follow. I think our experiences are not necessarily coincidental, and that they can act as means through which we recognize our paths in life.

Now, international and transracial adoption are not without critics. There are valid points to be made on both sides of the issues. Even advocates of both, strongly support the necessity of internationally and transracially-formed families to create family and social contexts that ensure children grow up with a strong sense of cultural identity and awareness of their roots. Concern about international and transracial adoption is expressed by those who wonder whether the "western" world is simply trying to be "trendy" in creating globally and racially diverse families through adoption (i.e., following what is seen by some as a celebrity trend), and by those who feel it is always best for children to grow up in their culture of origin, and at the very least, their race of origin. Advocates of both international and transracial adoption argue that, for now, some countries are not equipped to fully meet the needs of their orphans by having them grow up in nuclear family units in-country, and that international adoption provides a means for meeting children's basic needs to have a home and parents of their own. Research does support that children who grow up in nuclear families do better in various areas of physical, social, and emotional development than children who grown up in (even stable) foster and/or group living environments.

Knowing that adopted children, even in transracial families, and even when adopted from another country, generally become healthy, well-adjusted adults, makes us comfortable pursuing this option, with the awareness that it will be essential for our children to be exposed to elements of their culture (i.e., traditions, music, food, social networks) in order to develop a strong identity and sense of wholeness. We believe that, globally, much needs to be done so that issues of poverty, AIDS, and other factors influencing the need for adoption, are reduced. In the end, we know that adoption is a best solution for an imperfect situation - both in meeting the needs of children in Ontario and abroad. Ideally, all biological parents would have the necessary inner and social resources to raise their children. Ideally, all countries would be able to support adoption of children in need within their own culture. We believe that in committing to international adoption, we are also committing to supporting the needs of our children's country of origin, so that eventually children within that country do not need to be adopted out, and so that the need for adoption becomes no greater overall than in any other part of the world. For now, though, there are children living, and soon to be born, who will need a family. We believe that it is best for these children to become part of a nuclear family from the soonest possible moment, in order to promote healthy development and the ability to form loving, attached relationships. For now that means adoption, even international adoption.

So in the end, I think that both are true - international adoption is an important and necessary situation for now, AND, international adoption is not the ideal long-term solution to orphan issues. Transracial adoption has a place as well, when children would not otherwise become part of a nuclear family. And that is where I will stop for today - these are complex matters, with no tidy answers. I can respect arguments on both sides of the issues. We are doing what we are confident is a good and right thing - for us - at this point in time. I certainly have not presented (and am most definitely not fully versed in) a comprehensive discussion of relevant ethical and social issues influencing matters of international and transracial adoption, but hopefully these comments are in some way a valuable response and introduction...

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Africa Adoption Options

So, our agency is currently working with Ethiopia and Zambia for adoptions, although they are always looking at new opportunities as well. It's such a difficult decision, because so many factors are important. Zambia is appealing because time from referral to travel is likely going to be shorter than Ethiopia - since we would attend court on our own behalf, we would travel 90 days after referral for the court process and wait in Zambia for the children's permanent resident visas to be issued. In Ethiopia, a representative attends court for us, and we wouldn't travel until court was done AND the visas issued. But that's not the only consideration by far...we really want to feel a connection to our children's country of origin, and with Zambia we know so many people in our city who work with Zambian programs and are familiar with the people and culture. As well, our World Vision sponsor child lives in Zambia, and it would be a wonderful experience to meet him in person! The Ethiopia program has been running smoothly for a long time now, and so the longer wait for a referral may be a trade-off for a more predictable process. There has been news, though, regarding Zambia: since last summer/fall, adoption has been suspended in Zambia while they review adoption practices to ensure that all children are adopted in a completely legal manner. This has meant that so far, no one (even in Zambia) has been able to accept referrals for children. The following link will take you to the news report:


However, the suspension has been lifted, which is very exciting for families who are simply waiting for referrals at this point, and since there are children already living in our agency's transition home in Zambia, we expect to hear about child referrals any day now for those whose files are already waiting in Zambia!

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Puppy Side Note...

Just in case you are wondering how we came up with the name "Hesperantha" for our new basset hound, here's the scoop:

Being a bit compulsive & always trying to cover every detail, I was really hoping we could find a name that reflected our future connection to Africa AND that paid homage to puppy's birth name, "Star"

After much googling, I found a list of plants that grow in Southern Africa (then decided that wasn't quite good enough - ideally the plants had to be native to Africa, not just grow there as well as in other parts of the world). On the list was "Hesperantha" - the evening flower. I had already come across the name Hesper, meaning "evening star" (from the Greek, Hesperos) but had not given it much attention. Needless to say, Hesperantha quickly made the short list for meeting both the "star" and the Africa criteria. It took a few more days of deliberating, then during another internet search (yes, it's a bit of a sickness) of "evening star" I stumbled on evening star-themed poetry by Poe, Blake, and Longfellow, to name a few. Well, our other dogs had literary names, and I appreciate a good classic for sure, so that pretty much confirmed it.

The end.

Back-tracking...The History Behind our Adoption Plans

Particularly for those of you who are just finding out about our adoption plans, but also as a summary for those who know already, I want to provide a bit of background about what we are doing and why we are doing it!

I have always wanted to adopt - literally since late childhood, at least. I have four adopted cousins, and grew up with two close friends who were adopted. My desire has been to adopt from Haiti or Africa, and Geoff quickly grew attached to the idea as well! Of course, we married young, and had plenty of time to think about whether & when we wanted children. Over the years, we became wrapped up in renovating, master's studies (my fault - it was only supposed to be 3 years - really!!!), and so on, and kept procrastinating. In August 2007, during one of my sporadic adoption-related Google searches, I came across a nearby Ontario adoption agency I had not seen before (check out http://www.imagineadoption.ca/). In October they were offering a free information session. Well, we registered - it was free, so what was there to lose? During this session we learned that in January 2008, the Ontario government would be implementing 9 weeks (3 hours/wk) of mandatory parent education training at a fairly significant cost - that was, unless you had started your homestudy in 2007...Now, those who know me well know that I am a sucker for education, so while we would have been quite happy to take the classes, the cost savings were appealing, and the thought of adding that time to an already overloaded schedule (think: thesis, sick dog, ongoing renovations, etc.) seemed daunting. So, we got some names of local homestudy practioners, found one who could meet with us in late 2007, and all of a sudden we were taking action! (By the way, the perpetual student/occupational therapist side of me needs to stress that we really do value the education part & have been doing lots of self-study on all kinds of adoption and parenting-related issues - I absolutely believe it is essential to be well-informed and well-prepared). Anyway, a little external boost always helps me...just like an assignment deadline...(explains some of the thesis delays...few deadlines). Since then we have felt confident about moving forward, and I am even coping ok so far with the thought of serious travel (not totally my thing - but I think my backpacking experience last spring helped me toughen up a bit in that regard). So that's the "rationale" and story of how we got into this.

When we tell people we are planning to adopt "children" from Africa, they are always curious to know what that means! Geoff & I both feel strongly about adopting siblings so that our children grow up knowing at least one blood relative. While there is a small chance that our children will have a living parent, there are no guarantees that we would be able to have or maintain contact (although that is sometimes possible), and some children are, of course, "double orphans" (meaning that both parents will have died). I must admit that the thought of coming home with two little people I've just met seems a bit overwhelming, but we are sure that this is what we want to do! We plan to adopt either twins (under 5 months at time of referral) or siblings (the oldest no more than 15 months at referral, youngest no more than 5 months). We have not specified gender, as we are open to any combination of boys and/or girls! Before children are referred, they will undergo medical testing to rule out serious conditions (like HIV), and they will live in an transition house run by our agency, or a partner orphanage, until we are able to pick them up.

Well, that's our story so far...

Monday, 5 May 2008

Phase 2 Begins...

Welcome! It's about time for an update regarding our adoption plans - we're hoping the blog format is a convenient way for everyone to stay updated along the way.

So, today marked the official end to (the unexpectedly long) wait for our fingerprint clearances to come back from the RCMP (we were pretty happy the day those came in the mail - as you can see by the picture to your right!) so that we can keep moving forward with our homestudy.

So far we have been really pleased to receive so much positive feedback about our adoption plans. I'm sure there will be some difficult responses from others, but at this point we are simply quite thankful for all the support and enthusiasm that surrounds us! We look forward to the next few months of continuing to prepare our home, and ourselves, for our children. In doing so, here are some of the things on our minds, for you to be aware of:

1. Continuing to save money, spend wisely, and think creatively in order to make the best use of our financial resources and opportunities.
2. Thinking of our children (perhaps one born already, perhaps not, and quite possibly at least one on the way) and their mother, who is, or will be, in such difficult circumstances that will lead to her children becoming ours.
3. Becoming as fully prepared as possible to love & parent these children, whatever their needs and circumstances.
4. Prioritizing and planning clearly in regard to household and travel preparations.
5. Focusing and working diligently in other areas of life, while we wait, to make the best use of our time, contribute fully in our commitments & relationships, and accomplish what must be done (i.e., renovations & thesis - going fairly well despite recent paperwork & puppy preoccupations).

Well then, I expect this is enough to digest for one day! Thanks to you all for your interest & investment in our adventure...