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hahahaha!

yes, it has been a very VERY long time since I have written on this blog.

Over a year I believe.

But I am still alive!!

So… if you are reading this you might be wondering ‘what happened to Zobot??”

I am imagining the possibilities running through your mind:

  • kidnapped by aliens…
  • house renovations have gone horribly wrong resulting in Zobot and Husbot being crushed by house never to be heard from again…

or the big one

  • we were matched with our baby and were suddenly to busy to blog because we have been chasing a toddler around… (!!!)

well….

the answer….

none of the above.

Which is good news in terms of the house crushing and aliens thing. But bad news in terms of the baby thing.

The answer is much MUCH more boring then the ones listed above. I just got too busy. 😦

I am not sure if I mention it a lot but my work is really busy and very important to me. I look after around 20 projects on the Thai Burma border. Programs with Burmese refugees and migrant workers who live in Thailand. Last year because of  changes in Burmas laws to allow trade unions this has changed everything. For the first time in a long time Labour Activist in Burma can organise without the threat of being jailed (as they have been in the past with many spending years as political prisoners for labour organising activities. Or having to flee to exile to live).

So while this has been very exciting it has expanded my work and made me a lot busier. but it is very exiting stuff: http://www.apheda.org.au/news/1370491459_26690.html

But no…. no baby. not yet.

we are still waiting.

waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting…… same old story.

It has been over 3 years since our file went to Thailand, And it will be 5 years in October since we started this whole process back in 2008.

But even though I sound glib when people ask me “any news?” and I say “no… no news… still waiting”

I dont feel glib.

It will be my Birthday tomorrow and I feel crappy. I feel crappy that I am not a mother yet. I never thought I would be 36 (as I will be tomorrow) and not a mum. I want to cry.

 

 

So it has been a little while since I have posted a blog. But dont think this is because we have been doing nothing – the opposite in fact. You see after the builders finished their job on our house. What we discovered is that this is when we end up doing heaps of work – painting, landscaping (fixing up the front and back yard where it was ruined by the build), also unpacking those rooms that were stuffed to the gills with our things, building shelves, moving furniture, cleaning all the dust off EVERYTHING etc etc etc – you get the picture.

It is so helpful that this is also the period of the greatest changes in Burma since 1988, and work has become amazingly busy. So I am exhausted by work and then have to do stuff to the house on the weekends and evening. I am exhausted. Have been too exhausted to blog. It has been pretty much, come home from work, dinner/ walk Indai sit down in front of Masterchefzzzzzzzzzzzzz. totally Physically, mentally and yes, emotionally exhausted.

Why emotionally? Not because of the house. Of course it is because of the  adoption.

If you have a look at our ticker (in the left hand corner of this blog) you will see we have just past two years of waiting. Now remember this is two years of our file being in Thailand. This is what my ticker counts.

Before our file went to Thailand it took over 18 months from start to finished for us to get through the Australian approval system in our state (21 months when you add in some delays Husbot and I contributed). So our timeline looks like this;

  • Oct 08 – make contact with State adoption services to start the processes.
  • Dec 08 – attend adoption seminar
  • months and months in between – applications, meetings with social worker, all sorts of paper work made official by offical people etc etc
  •  May 2010 – letter of approval saying we are ‘deemed fit to be parents’
  • June 2010 – we prepare our file for Thailand
  • July 2010 – our file goes to Thailand
  • then… we wait.

But that timeline is only some of the story. Which is why I started this blog really, to try to record all the other stuff – the stuff inbetween the those dates that I am trying to record.

In the begining I went a bit nuts on the adoption education. I think in 2009 I read about every adoption book I could get my hands on. Books written by adoption experts, books written by adoptive parents, and books written by adult adoptees. It was great to learn. I also watched doccumentries etc – essentially anything about adoption I was interested in. I really wanted to see what the advice of adult adoptees was. Hustbot and I do not want to replicate mistakes of the past. We were keen to understand issues around attachment, bonding, multi-racial families, adoption language etc.

We also underwent an important process of a green tara puja to remove all the obsticles between us and our future baby.

By 2010 I was probably still reading but also I was very keen to connect with other people in a similar position to Husbot and I. By then I was reading blogs of people in the adoption community. I figured the best way to connect was to start my own blog! So I did and we started to get to know each other. I was already a member of ASIAC which is an adoption support group. But blogging really helped me to connect me to people in the virtual world. We also got to know people around this time through yahoo groups and then facebook groups – these have both been incredibly helpful.

During these first couple of years I had quite a few dreams and feelings about our future babies.

In 2011 I had started crafting, making little toys and things, as a way of creating a welcoming environment for our child. I worked on setting up a playroom etc. But along with this there other stuff going on as well.

Of course I have always known about stateless children, my work has been with Burmese refugees since 2006. Before that I have been working with the Tibetan community in exile in some way or another since 2000. But I was a bit intimidated by the adoption process at first that I just accepted all the stuff they say about hague process, due process etc. But in 2011 I really started to question things. I mean yes it is best for children to stay in their culture when they can sure, but in the Solomon Islands about half of the adoptions I encountered were people who genuinly were accepting those children into their families (the children usually came from their extended families) and the children were treated just the same as a biological child – raised the same, offered schooling etc. But the other half the adopted child was not treated the same, was instead treated like an unpaid labourer or house helper, not offered schooling and not entitled to the same inheritance. Both can be claimed to be cultural norms… so… in terms of the hague – either family would be preferenced before an international adopter.

Regarding Thailand, if there is a question about the long waiting times, the answer is usually “there are more waiting families then there are children available for adoption’ what is actually ment is that there is not enough of the ‘right’ children. From what people say there are not very many orphanages that the DSDW work with or ‘approve’. there are many that are outside of the system. All of the orphanages for abandoned Burmese chldren that I know are not under the DSDW, these children are stateless and their plight is more difficult.

Occasionally you hear of stateless children coming through for adoption via the DSDW program. I can only hope that the DSDW understands that Husbot and I would so love one of these children who have had such a hard start to life. I would love it if more stateless children could be considered for adoption – rather then the outcome that is most common for them. A young life spent entirely in an orphanage/ instutionalised environment and then to have to leave that environment when they are too old and become an ‘illegal’ migrant worker.

This year, we have been getting ready by getting our house ready. I have been meaning to post photos – some of it is looking really good now! But also the waiting has been getting harder. 3 families have withdrawn their files this year. All of them have either been waiting longer then husbot and I or else have been having other problems getting through the system. But still it is really sad. I really feel for them. It is also really disheartening. With each allocation or match we hear about we feel really happy for that family and also of course like things all work out in the end. But then of course when people feel they have to withdraw it actually is much more sad then the happyness of a match. All the waiting and hoping that this family has done… for nothing. As you can see – it is not just time, or money that people invest in this process (which is perhaps what the beurocrats think) but it is the massive emotional investment people make – nurseries/ play rooms made, toys bought or made, little faces imagined, the feeling you get when you can just feel your baby tugging at your legs or feel them heavy in your lap… when they are still just a distant hope. It is a big deal to give up that hope. not just that hope but all future hopes of a family. It is a really big deal.

So where are we in 2012? our file in Thailand for 2 years now?

well, we have a house that is now ready for a baby (almost) yet we have no baby. Do we feel closer? well, we should – in truth we are much more likely to get ‘the call’ this year (or next year) then in years past – we had buckly’s in years past. So I think we should be feeling positive.

But lets just say that after 2 years, or if we go all the way back to the begining, all the way to Oct 2008  then after 44 months of this process… it is a little bit hard to do cartwheels. We are just happy that we still feel positive enough to keep going!

I dont really think I dream about my babies any more. I mean I do have feelings about them (sitting on my lap – pulling on my leg etc) but no I dont seem to have dreams anymore. I dont know what that means. Maybe it means I need to be more procative? That I need to make my own destiny perhaps?

I dont really write much about my husband. He is shy.

You are very familiar with his foot! It, allong with sleepy Indai is the star of my header…. But he does not like me to talk about him much so I usually respect that.

But not today. We had a little awww moment on the weekend and I feel like sharing.

We see our little nieces as often as we can because we love them and they are completly adorable. Little Z is 2 now and a little chatterbox, Teeny H will turn 1 next month. they are really lots of fun!

When we went over on Saturday afternoon Little Z was busy playing but Teeny H was at the window – staring out a bit forlornly… her mum had gone out for a little while. So we arrived and I saw her face go from expectation “the door – maybe mummy has come back!” to bitter bitter dissapointment when it was just us (LOL) “your NOT my mummy’ was written all over her little face.

Then she burst out crying. Husbot was already engaged in conversation with Little Z, my brother was taking the dogs out the back. I was looking a bit hopeless as my teeny little niece cried her eyes out. Husbot says “pick her up!” um… ‘but she doesnt want me!” so I did but as soon as my brother came back in the room I ploped her in his arms.

then she settled down. all good.

Later on we were out the back and I was with Little Z in her cubby house. Teeny H was on the lawn. Husbot was watching her. My brother was somewhere else. Teeny H starts wailing again….

what does Husbot do?

Without prompting he picks her up… he pats her back and ‘there there’s her over and over until there are no more tears. Happy baby!

And he kept going even when my brother came back. – no baby palm off like I did earlier! (whoops!)

I was really proud that he was braver then me 🙂 and able to bring that bubs back from cryfest to happy smiles!

I think he is going to be a good Dad 🙂

so. I feel pretty down at the moment.

Lots of things really. Mostly work actually. I just have so much to do all the time and I never feel on top of it all 😦

But every now and then adoption stuff creeps up too.

Like when I see this video (below) it is of the little baby girl I met last time I was in Thailand. Naut (all humans are born equal) She is Burmese, she is at the Mae Tao clinic which the organisation I work at supports. Her health care is lokoed after by BCMF, who we also support. So I know she is in good hands.

But just like back in February I am so sad that she does not have a mummy and daddy. All children need them. But sick children need them most of all. They need advocates and loving hugs to get them through. It is not a secret. I wish I was Naut’s mummy. I wish I could keep this little girl safe and help her to get well. But unfortunatly it is not possible even though I am approved to adopt a child and she is a child who needs a family.

Here is beautiful Naut’s story (so far):

So I have ben a little quiet lately… on this blog at least.

It is partly because of the usual story – very VERY busy at work, lots going on with the renovations (more on that soon).

But also there is more to it.

I am just so sad and heartbroken. It now happens every time I go overseas for work. Before I don’t know… I held some little flicker of hope in my heart that some of the stateless children – the Burmese children would make it through ‘the system’ and would be going to forever homes… and that maybe one of these babies would become our baby. That is what I hoped.

But each time I visit I meet another baby who is stateless and abandoned and in need of a mummy and daddy. I know that I could be that person. I know others who have been waiting with their file in the Thai system for years… who keep getting told by authorities in Australia ‘your wait is long because there are not enough children needing families” HA! Where do they get this from? Who is telling them that? Because all I can say is… What a bloody lie! The truth is that not enough of the ‘right’ babies are needing families.

Well I don’t care about that. I care about the babies that are at the bottom of the heap. And I can tell you this it does not get any more bottom of the heap then being a refugee baby, abandoned and sick.

I met two babies like that this trip. I would mummy to them both right now. Why not? My file is in Thailand – these babies are in Thailand – they were BORN in Thailand. Husbot and my file says on it ‘fit to be parents’ and that is what these babies need – so badly!

Like this little boy, 11 months old. Born and abandoned at the Mae Tao Clinic. This is a good clinic, which my organisation funds, who take care of over 100,000 patients per year. There are over 3,000 babies born there every year and maybe about 30 are abandoned. The clinic keeps the babies and cares for them for months in case the mother comes back.

While this baby boy was waiting (to see if his mother came back) he contracted TB. He is now one sick little boy.

He is tiny tiny tiny. Like a baby only 4 months old – not 11 months old. I tried tickling his foot and touching is leg to see if he responded to some gentle touch. But he was just too sick. heartbreak. HEARTBREAK.

When he is well (please little boy, please get well) he will probably go to live at Compasio in the babies home: http://www.compasio.org/Compasio/Blog/Entries/2012/1/24_Safe_in_His_Arms.html

Then there is this beautiful little girl. She has a serious illness. She was abandoned at 2 months old because of her illness. I think from memory it is a congenital heart disease. On our paperwork Husbot and I are approved to adopt a child with congentital heart disease – her illness could probably be fixed in Australia quite quickly with our advanced medical facilities. But this little girl is a refugee, she is abandoned, without parents or an advocate.

As you can see she is being cared for very well. Not only is the Mae Tao Clinic looking after her, but because she has a special needs illness she is also being looked after by another partner organisation of ours, the Burma Children Medical Fund. They have become her advocates.

watching her breath while sleeping was very sad for me. She is so small and so alone. She really needs a mummy and daddy. It does not make sense to me that a system can just shut these babies out.

You can follow this babies story on the Mae Tao Clinic’s facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/215094205197206/#!/photo.php?fbid=349092045113096&set=a.144640118891624.22043.142846872404282&type=1&theater

Which is what I will have to do too. Because even though I have seen with my own eyes babies that desperately need loving homes. Babies who have already been cast aside by the policial unrest in Burma (causing their parents and now them to be a refugee) and then cast aside again by a system that does not care for them because they are stateless…. babies who are truely on the bottom of lifes heap. I still get notified every now and then that the long delays are because “there remains a greater number of applications in Thailand than children in need of intercountry adoption.”

If only I did not know the truth.

So I think a lot about birthmothers. Already. Maybe this is heightened by by being in Thailand right now. Maybe not – I do actually think about it all the time.

I don’t know my child/ children yet so I don’t know who their birthmother is yet. It may be difficult for us to find this out, or the information might be available, we don’t know. There may also be a photo, maybe not.

I hope, I truly hope that our family will know as much as we can about our child’s birthmother right from the beginning. I think that this will make things easier for our children, especially as they get older and go through adolescence. But I also think it will make things easier for me.

Because I worry.

Already I worry. I worry that right now she is going through one of the most difficult and traumatic experiences of her life, and that she may feel completely alone and unsupported and scared. I wish that I could intervene in her life, to help somehow. It may be possible or it may not be possible for me or anyone else to intervene in a way that would allow her to keep her baby. But if not, then at least to be able to let her know that her baby will be loved and cared for – for the rest of its life – if that baby was to come into my family.  I worry that she is worried for her future and her baby’s future.

But I know that it is impossible. Not because such interventions cannot be made. I work in humanitarian aid and everyday myself and others are doing important projects that are about empowering people, providing them with opportunities, and choices, and hope for their future. Lives do get changed. No not because of that do I need to worry.

But because that the only way I will ever come to know the birthmother of my children is when decisions have already been made. When ‘the dye is cast’ so to speak.

Our lives will only intersect at those crossroads where the baby she has cared for becomes the baby I will care for – for the rest of my life. And I hope that there is some way that I can at that point assure her that this is my commitment. My vow.

I know that my children will think about their birthmothers. That they will be curious about her. I hope I will have some of the answers for them – but I know I won’t know enough, probably.

But I feel a great love for her. I feel so much sorrow and compassion for her situation. If the world was a fair and just place then all babies would stay with their mummies. But it is not a fair and just place. So I just pray for her and  hope that the difficult situation she is in now does not remain with her. I will keep her in my heart and hope that she can believe later that her child will be safe with me.

Whoever she is, wherever she is, whatever she is going through. The birthmother of my children.

arrrgh!!

So I think I have mentioned it before but I cant remember where or when. But there is an invisible baby that sits on my lap and work. Sometimes this baby pulls at my leg – tugs at my hair  – pleads with me to pick them up. This baby is very distracting. In fact it can be hard to concentrate on meetings or get any work done sometimes.

The baby is actually with me everywhere but at home it is ok. It is ok to be involved with your baby (real or invisible) when you are at home.

At work it is more difficult. Especially at the moment when I feel like I am drowning in a quicksand of paperwork….

I would take a photo of my desk but it is too shocking! LOL. I will paint a picture in your mind. SO. Much. PAPER! I am totally confused and feel quite inadequite at work. I know I must be letting people down…. but I am just barely hanging on with all the stuff that is going on at the moment.

It sucks to feel like this. The real trouble is that I love my job but I really feel that I should be on parental leave at the moment because I feel like my baby should be here. This imaginary baby wont let go of me and wants a lot of my attention. But I dont know what this means… Does it mean that maybe somewhere in the universe we are already connected and we just dont know each other yet? Does it mean that I need to do something? Somehow fight for my baby? That they need me because they are being ignored by the system/cast aside? I dont know.  I heard today that a cyber friend who is in Thailand now meeting her son, was actually matched with her son 11 months before the allocation was offical. 11 MONTHS!! I am shocked.

I mean I understand that there might be some paperwork or process to go through between matching and allocation but for that to take nearly a year has floored me. I truely thought that once you were matched you were in the home stretch.

For my cyber friend and her partner that is sad. A year of waiting added on to their life. But for her son it is potentially a greater tradgedy – firstly almost a whole year where he could have been in his mummys arms! Now – lets be clear that I am not saying that this applies to her son. But statistically they say that for every 4 months of living in an institutional environment can cause 1 month of developmental delays in a child, being any or either of a; gross motor delays; fine motor delays; cognitive delays; language delays; or social /emotional delay. Now these delays can be undone and the child can catch up – due to the intervention that happens when they change to a family environment (it is not by any means a life sentance!) BUT how can it be justified to expose children to these risks? 11 months means potentially 3 months of a delay in any of the above areas. Add that 11 months to the time the child spent in institutional care before matching. It is for the childrens sake that we need to ensure that due dilligence is followed, but in a timely manner. It really does matter.

Anyway, maybe my invisible baby is not really invisible…. by that I mean maybe someone in Thailand is holding my baby in their arms right now. Maybe my baby is only invisible to me. We might even be already matched. But it still might be 11 months before we know about each other and before I can hold my baby in my arms.

But dont worry baby, I know your there. I cant forget you. Not when you are always in my lap and pulling my hair… tugging at my leg… it is imposible.

So, today our ticker hits 1 year and 6 months since our file traveled to Thailand. 18 months.

18 months used to be the average wait time. now it is not. Now the average wait time is 3 years plus. I know people who have been waiting longer.

We were told waaayyy back in Oct 2008 that the wait was 18 months (as I said before here). So if that was true I would be getting very expectant about a phone call right about now.

But by the time our file had traveled to Thailand it was obvious that the waiting times were blowing out, and now the waits were much longer. In fact we were lucky that our file went at all, because Thailand had frozen the program because there were too many files, as I said before we were a replacement file.

But now the wait is 30 something months on average – or even longer. So we are only half way through.

Well, maybe. Matches are not done chronologically, they are dones some other magical way where parents are matched perfectly with the child for them. So it means someone whose file was sent after ours could be matched sooner then us. or the other way, that we could be matched sooner then someone whose file was sent before ours. No one really knows how the Thai authorities know which parents will be perfect for which child.

I wonder if we are closer to our child? I wonder if he or she is born already? If they are already known to the authorities that will one day match them to us. I heard that yesterday was a matching day… who knows if there will be any good news for any of my friends, and subsequently for their babies waiting in Thailand for a forever family to love them. xxx

So as a Buddhist who is married to an agnostic, some might wonder – do we celebrate christmas?

the answer is “nah, but yeah, but nah”

To be more articulate I can say, we don’t really. We don’t decorate a tree or the house, sing carols, watch Christmas movies, attend a church service and other things.

But as we do live in a society, a society that on the whole celebrates Christmas we do  quite a few things around Christmas time.; there are many social activities – Christmas parties at work and the places we volunteer. There are family get togethers. Every other year we use this time off work to visit Husbots family who live interstate.

Also we try to reciprocate cards to people who give them to us (but I dont really send them out otherwise). We also reciprocate gifts, but mostly just to family and a little to friends.

But there is stuff about Christmas I really don’t like.

I don’t like that there is this myth around Christmas perpetuated by Christmas cartoons etc that it is celebrated ‘everywhere’ and that Santa brings presents to all girls and boys – but only if they have been ‘good’.  Which is untrue for two reasons – 1, it is just not celebrated everywhere. 2, many many children don’t recieve gifts from Santa at Christmas time – but I think that the fact that they dont celebrate Christmas has more to do with it then naughtyness – also poverty in many cases.

When I lived in the Philippines Christmas was a huge deal – but as it was a Catholic nation, Christmas was all about attending church etc. There was a little bit of present exchange – but not much at all. And it was not due to naughtyness.

It is like it is ok to call anyone who does not celebrate Christmas names: naughty, grinch, scrooge etc….  which is not very tolerant! Maybe some people just don’t celebrate/ celebrate differently because of their beliefs etc.

I also can’t stand how some people get at this time of year. The shops are manic! I can’t stand going to the mall at the best of times but I refuse to go around Christmas time because people really loose it. If we buy gifts for people usually we pick up bits and pieces through the year or as I travel that we think they might like and put it away for Christmas time.

Anyway like I said above, we do  actually do quite a few Christmasy things. The things I like to do are the family things, the things that remind people of togetherness etc

However the other thing we hate about Christmas is all the waste! By that I mean all the junky presents that are given with little thought to what the person likes or to the environment!

We give presents  that are one of the following;

  • handmade – so produced my me – see here-, or another small scale handmade producer ( I like to buy things in handmade markets)
  • made by a project partner that my work supports. So people might get a bag or some other beautiful thing that I have bought while in Thailand from the Karen Womens Organisation, or from Borderline who carry lines from many Border based womens organisations. If you can’t get over to Thailand you can still buy this beautiful stuff here in Australia or online from the Weft Shop
  • We also by Christmas gifts from organisations we support like, the Australia Tibet Council who sell beautiful Tibetan books, callenders, prayer flags and other things. Burma Campaign Australia also has some cool stuff that would make excellent gifts.
  • Another place we find ethical gifts is New Internationalist whose shop sells great stuff from around the world. Also from The Environment Shop for sustanibly produced things.
  • We also love to give and recieve donations as gifts, where I work APHEDA has a great Gifts that Change Lives program where a person recieves a card to represent the donation they have made – they can give that card to another person as a gift. One (number 5) supports a program close to my heart, the Burma Children Medical Fund – who arrange treatments for special needs refugee children with cancer and other serious illnesses.

Anyway… I guess there are things about Christmas to let go, and things to hold onto… in the future.

When I was in Thailand I picked up this book:

It merges Christmas with Thailand! Here is another page;

 Even though Christmas is not traditionally celebrated in Thailand, I think this is a cute idea. (another page);

and my favorite:

 I think there is no problem with inventing some new traditions with our family, when they come along 🙂

So whatever you are doing over the next few weeks. Whether it is celebrating a big ‘traditional’ Christmas with lots of presents and family, inventing your own thing to do with your own family or not really celebrating at all. I hope you have a happy and safe time 😉

While I am really looking forward to motherhood…. I am really not looking forward to things like the wiggles, Hi-5 etc etc

It is not that I am a party pooper. I just don’t get it.

Or think it is necessary.

When I was a kid I just listened to cool music, like the Beatles, the Who, Olivia Newton John and Air Supply (erm…that’s cool?… right?)

But what I mean is that is was not ‘special music for children’ it was just regular music.

I imagine that some wiggles/hi-5/whatever whatever will end up in our collection, for sure. Just as when I was a child we had some records for children too – like Basil Brushtail and Tina the Ballerina, I loved them too.

But I also think that a variety of music is really good for development and that there is heaps of music I listen too that I think would be great for incouraging imaginative play and dancing. 🙂

This video a friend posted on youtube made me smile – it is worlds of cute but also demonstrates that kids can appreciate a whole range of music 🙂

cute huh!