Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Crossing One Finish Line

The dossier is in the bag, or at least in the hands of F3d 3x. I feel strangely dispassionate now that it's out of our hands.

I had a last minute agonization over which family photo to replace. We had a new one from a couple months ago that was clearly superior to several others. But which of the others to replace? I finally (reluctantly) ditched the photo that was most excellent of my dad and sister and others, but looked semi-crappy of the rest of us. These photos are to represent us in our best light, yes? So...

I also dragged my feet over writing up the cover letter and doing the final arranging of the documents. I can't say it was any more perfect for all that waiting. I started to laugh at myself, putting off the decisions, as trivial as they were. Just do it, already! It was just the agony of anxiety.

The guys at the mail shop boggled when they saw my stack of docs; they have been seeing most of my mailings go out the last several months, but this was the biggest stack yet. Yup, I said, this is everything... I was semi-exhausted, not jubilant. I don't have it in me to celebrate just yet after month after month of thinking we were "almost" done. I don't feel we are "done;" we just have a reprieve for a while. Now begins The Long Wait (TLW). Or rather, first begins the dossier review and then the sending to China, and then the wait to be officially logged in, and *then* we wait. So I am too anxious and emotionally tired to feel whipped up about this, or even merely upbeat. It was like the end of a marathon when it's all you can do to drag yourself across the line. Since I couldn't bring myself to spend some $130 to get it there overnight, I decided two-day would do. After the mailing label went on the package, I started wondering maybe there's yet another alternative? The guy who would usually tease me and give me a hard time gently said--"no, this will be fine. It'll get there in good time. Don't worry about it." I must have been a little pitiful if he was being that nice to me.

I did go to my favorite ice cream shop and had a couple of very yummy treats and enjoyed thinking about things other than the dossier. No guilt over having dessert in the middle of the day. There's satisfaction to having accomplished that much, the last items on the master list checked off. Now to take care of the rest of my life...

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Do you copy me?

After 16 documents (average pages of additional certifications/authentications: 2), 183 copies, $15.63, 1 hour and 45 minutes later, we have our docs and all attendant documentation copied for the dossier.

It was a mondo project involving reverse order pages and stapling and such. I had no idea how long it was taking until I finished. M had his photos taken, then actually went home to get a book and came back and sat reading nearby for "morale support." M tried to figure the time per doc. You'd think it was just under a minute per page, but that wouldn't include the shuffling and sorting and stapling of each doc. The homestudy took the longest with something like 8 pages plus documentation. In that time, three people came and went from the photo station next to me.

The documents are showing their age now. They've been sent around and photocopied multiple times without unfastening *any*thing, so they are looking a little bent and dinged up. Even some of the edges of the thicker papers are nearly frayed. Hope the Chinese understand that they can't be pristine anymore. Not after having been sent hither and yon for documentation of all sorts.

All sorts of weird feelings come up when we get this close to the end. I imagined some acquaintences showing up and me having to fend them off (back! piss off! go away!) while I was doing this sensitive project, but it didn't happen. :) Jeez, delusions of grandeur. Yeah, MY documents come through the STATE department. lol M said he was afraid to send the *originals* after all this time (in case something should happen to them). Hey, that's why we use the trackable F3d 3x! :)

Maybe we need to print out one last last family photo. Oh yeah, Must transfer money. Must go track down new amount of that one fee. Other things clammer for attention. Oh, my head!


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Going without saying...

I'm trying something new with my comments. If you wanted to send a comment and were rebuffed before, try again. Maybe the internet gods will shine favor on them and manage to pass them through the "series of tubes" without losing them this time. Maybe the internet godesses will favor me with bloggy understanding. Yah, it could happen.

Err, yes, of course, if you are one of those @ssh0le tr0lls, forget it! :) (I mean that in the best possible way. *smilyface*)

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Friday, February 23, 2007


The last two docs came back from the Chinese Embassy today! After less than two weeks out! Woot! That means we are Almost. Finished. With. Our. Dossier! Woot!

Our mail carrier told me it would be so much easier and faster if I didn't require a signature for delivery on the express mail packages. Ha. Yes. I told her that it wouldn't kill me for the docs to be left on our doorstep, but if they ever went astray, I'd *really* hate myself, so the sigs were preventive of disaster. If they come a day later because I couldn't be there one day, I at least know where they are! I think she gets it now.

Knowing that the docs would show up in the next couple weeks, I had worked ahead last week and got my extra sets of passports photos made. These are for embassies and visas and such, not for our actual passport.

I had to go at just the right time so that the sun was not glaring in the side window and making me squint. As usual, I had to have several versions taken before we got one without my eyes closed. My blink reflex is perfectly timed to coincide with the shutter. After they dialed the flash down, we got a decent shot. Better than the last one in which I was trying to both smile gently and avoid squinting, leaving me looking rather smirk-ish. lol! :P Yeah, I think not.

Now M has to get his own passport photos copies made. We had been "trying" to get this done together for weeks, but hadn't pushed through and actually done it. It always takes longer to coordinate and do something *together*, which I why I finally went ahead and got mine out of the way.

Side note: M rarely works ahead. We both tend to work at the last minute, but the bigger the project, the more I work ahead. I am organized. OH yeah. Whereas M will put things off 'til the last possible moment. He doesn't worry until the last moment either. Think last-minute-merger on the highway. hehe!
This translates into him being "laidback" and me being "uptight." Yeah, But I Get Stuff Done! I'm the one coordinating tasks and doing most of this (paper) work. If it were up to M, it would take another year to finish. I am not even kidding. Although it's also true, M is drowning in work now, and that is no fun. Let's play: How Long Can We Put This Off?

. . . .

Anyway... other than M's photos, the last things to do is make several complete photocopies of darn near everything (an interestingly tedious job) and *ahem* transfer money for the next humongous checks we have to write. Hear that giant sucking noise of money leaving our savings account? Yippeee! (That means we are almost finished.)

Not a biggie, really. I am taking care of it. But I can see it coming down to waiting for M to do his photos. Part of me is waiting to see how he deals with the pressure of having to take care of this piece. It's one of the few parts that I can't do for him. When *would* he get it done if I weren't hassling, I mean reminding, him about it? I often wonder. He will and does and has stepped up and taken care of things. But without me, he'd be equally as sunk as me without him. Poor tired baby.

So we might have our dossier in to our agency by the end of February, but I'm not setting my heart on it. But still! We are almost done!

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Favorite Distractions and Meta Blogging

I hardly know what to do with myself recently. Not that *that* is especailly uncommon, but I have a lot knocking around in my head.

I'm not doing that great in either of my classes, although I enjoy them. Sometimes the amount of information is overwhelming. I can see how it all fits together, and I can relate to that feeling of flying when it all comes together, but I'm not there yet, myself. I can do it in my other work, and I love it. In this new area, I'm still trying to get up to speed, or at least out of 2nd gear.

I sometimes take a long time to really get comfortable with new information. I currently feel I am being thrown into an amorphous situation in which I am asked to do more than I can figure out. Or rather, without more concrete parameters. I'm sure many people in a similar situation would have no idea what I am talking about! However, for me, my need for clear organization (and wanting to get it right) is really slowing me down. For example, being asked to come up with a lesson plan for some abstract class is just killing me. I brainstorm and come up with enough information to make 5 different levels! Yet I then have a hard time "deciding" what to program for because I don't have an actual class to work with and try things out on (unlike in my other work).

I am thinking to throw myself into a volunteer opportunity to make things more concrete for me. I actually learn better by *doing*, but I need the space to do something without my performance being explicitly judged, because then I just freeze up and don't want to risk exposing myself as imperfect.... *sigh* It's an unfortunate inheritance from my perfectionist parents!

So there's a volunteer opportunity which --on top of classes and all--would max out my weekday evenings for the next several months. But! I'm excited about it, too. I can learn only so much in my classes. I need real people to work with. I am trying to push myself to make progress here.... *ugh* So it's not my best situation, although I love the variety of other students in my classes.

Meanwhile, I've been distracted by other things.

* * * * * * *

It's only another few weeks before we go on our big backpacking trip. Without going into identifying details--hehe :) --I can say it's probably a once-in-a-lifetime event. We will certainly go backpacking again, but this particular trip takes so much effort--physical, financial, investment of preparation and time--that it may not happen again in the next decade if ever...

Anyhoo, my sister and I have been training for this the last several months. She's more out of shape and the least-experienced of any of us, so I have been working to help her become acclimated to the back-packing experience. It's actually been fun. Tonight or this evening, she, my Dad and I all went out for a hike together before dusk, while M stayed home and worked on his ever-present pile of work.

Today I remembered to bring our bathroom scale so we could all check the weight on our packs. We were all at about 30-35 lbs. That's 10 lbs. more than I want to carry on the trail, but tonight I had both our new tent and the new sleeping bag, when in practice, my husband carries the bags and cooking gear, and I carry the tent and extra fleece clothing. So when I first put the pack on tonight, I was like--OMG! But after 10 minutes of walking, my body adjusted enough that I forgot all about how heavy it was. I love it how my body does that. That adjustment happens every time I backpack. Then when I put on the pack, my body almost welcomes it. The pack is well broken in, so it rides comfortably and it's a familiar load... Even the usual hip bruises feel familiar.

Honestly, I feel pretty good. I've been carrying various weight loads for various miles throughout training. I don't feel achy afterwards or the next day. Tired, yes, and maybe a little sore in the feet or hips (sometimes shoulders, but the hips carry most of the weight), but achy and painful... eh, not really. In fact, I recently feel somehow "lighter" and physically more "alert" and lively. It's hard to describe, but I notice it now.

And on a similar note, I noticed this week that --amazingly enough -- my belly is getting smaller and my thighs are getting slimmer. I thought I was imagining things at first. M has been very encouraging. He reminds me that he also has to work, work, work for a while on his fitness without any apparent change, and then all of a sudden, things look and feel different.

I would love to get back to my college weight, back from when I could eat anything and still look like my cute skinny self (haha!). I'm assuming that won't happen, seeing as I really love my little truck, but I'm starting to dream that I'll get away from my relatively sedentary self I've become. Now that I'm not sitting in front of the computer for 12 hours a day and all that...

* * * * * * *

I'm also still distracted by my current work/love. I just love, love, love it! It's unfortunately virtually impossible to scrape together a living at it (and/or without traveling way more than I want to be away from home and M), but I still love it. I love helping people and helping them accomplish things while having fun. But meanwhile, when I try to work on other projects, it's calling me subliminally! I'm always looking at new material or practicing another presentation or looking for new gigs to undertake... And there is always more to learn and improve and/or speculate with my similarly-minded geek friends! So it's an perpetual distraction! :)

I also love my list of blog reads. I know, I don't have anything up on the blog. I had some once upon a time, and when I switched blogger accounts, that all went away, and I've been too lazy to even try to recreate it! But I have a great list of blogs and sites that I check in with daily, weekly or periodically. It's fun to run across people who write well, humorously and authentically and who make me laugh and make me think, inspire me and sometimes provoke me. I like sharing the small slice of their life and thoughts that they put out there for the rest of us. I like being exposed to different viewpoints, even if sometimes totally new and potentially uncomfortable. I read from other adoptive moms and dads, birth mothers, bloggers from various identities and life experiences. It gives me a lot to think about and process. On some issues such as birth and identity politics, I don't force myself to even decide what I think; I let things percolate for a while. Sometimes I read for sheer unproductive entertainment value, because somebody is just too funny. I feel for people undergoing challenging and painful times; I've been there myself at various times.

Recently, I've been searching for new readings, new finds. I go exploring and see who's out there. I put some new links in my bookmarks and try them out for a while. Some of them turn into keepers and favorites. I try to comment periodically, if I feel like I have something--anything!--worth saying!

I've lucked into a good streak of finding neat and interesting women bloggers recently. Most of them do not have one particular issue or topic that they fixate on (not that there's anything wrong with that! :)) but write about their lives with, of course, their predominant interests. I bask in their writing. ... Hmm I wonder if I need more women friends of this nature... I mean, more friends IRL (in real life).

... I've also been thinking about blogging and how some people manage to let a lot of their lives hang out--not in a bad way, but letting us see more of them. I always struggle with that because I am both expressive and private. I want to spill it all and then constantly rein myself back in. Haha! You can imagine my internal dialogues when I blog. So far, I've been blogging mostly about our adoption process. The blog has been a place to vent, or to note aggravations and triumphs along the way since it's so frustrating to try to talk to friends IRL about much of this.

I have been so inspired by some recent bloggers that I want to try talking more outside the adoption box. So I'm trying out the idea of revealing more of myself without outing my identity on the internet. To be more authentic and more multi-dimentional. Yeah, good luck with that, I tell myself. :) Well, it's a start. Thanks for listening.

* * * * * * *

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Questions and Thoughts

Finally, FINALLY, the US St@te Dept has finished with our last two documents, and the F3d Ex return shipment has started on its journey back to us! This has been an even longer wait than before--it'll be 3 weeks compared to about 2 for the earlier batch.

I had been checking the tracking number for weeks without so much as a peep, so I'm glad to see it has at least started home to us! I am preparing myself to whip those docs back out to the embassy the same day. And then we wait some more... although it tempts me to start hoping we finish by the end of Feb.

* * * * * *

Another friend asked me yesterday how things were going with the adoption process. I said Paperwork Paperwork Perseverance. She immediately jumped to how wunnnerful it will be when I travel to China. I explained to her that I can't even get worked up about that right now; I just have my head down to the grindstone working on the process.

She herself has done a dossier and gone through the same process (but it was a long time ago and things happened so nothing worked out--a long sad story that is not my place to tell). So she is probably reliving some of those times.

She said she felt like everything was on her shoulders to get it done and get it right, and she was hugely stressed until the dossier went off, and then it was ahhhhh, and she could relax and not worry anymore. I suspect I will be similar.

Yes, I get stressed, but I have to manage it so I don't get overworked. And there are some things that I deliberately try to not think about too much to avoid additional stress and frustration. Such as how long this is taking! Or how much longer we will wait to be matched. OR any number of things that could go wrong.

I do sometimes have mini fantasies about having our daughter home, the kinds of activities we might do together, the kind of challenges we might face. It's not so much the picking her up in China that I fantasize about; it's holding her at home and singing to her, or reading to her and showing her things in her world. That's why I need to be a parent--to share the amazing cool things about the world. And cuddle. And support and be firm when they test their limits. Taking her to the park, having a morning routine.

(... thinking about having our daughter home...........)

Anyway, I got all defensive when my friend asked and assumed things about my process, trying to be what felt like overly hopeful. She said that when she was waiting, the process started moving faster than they had been told.... Like she was trying to get me excited about maybe only a year. It took all my emotional strength to tell her, no, it was 12-14 months when we started, and then it went to 15-18, and now it's 18-24 and could easily get to 36 months before we are matched; and furthermore, any slowdown/speedup because of new requirements will happen behind us, not in front of us! I had to give her the little mini-lecture of how RQ and others have analyzed the number of dossiers matched each month and the number going in, and how the pile keeps getting taller and taller.... So I let her know that I could not even afford to start hoping for a 12 month turn-around!

So I did ok responding to my friend, but I definitly got more worked up than I'd like. I guess I don't like to be hurried into somebody else's fantasy (my friend never got to go to China). I know I get grouchy at being "pressured" by somebody else's emotional reaction. I just hate it. I know I am too-easily affected by other's emotional waves, I am too sensitive, I know, so I have to be super-vigilant against having my own stuff confused with somebody else's stuff. It took me many years to learn this about myself! But I function better if I am aware of and protect my sensitivities. (See: The Highly Sensitive Person, etc, eg http://www.hsperson.com/pages/hsp.htm with much interesting stuff.)

Anyway, I have been reflecting on how to do a better job of protecting myself and managing other people, as it were, because having a conspicuous family, this won't go away. And I don't want to be a bitch on a regular basis. You should have seen me when I was younger! Hoo-boy! lol But I have developed a thicker skin and am more comfortable with myself in the last few years. It's one of the advantages of gaining age. :) I have NO patience with others trying to define me, or trying to speak for me, or determine how I should act or be. I've lost a few so-called "friends" while I was growing out of allowing that. Sooo At least I have the stamina to see what others are doing and react with wry humor or a level of firm politeness. I guess I will do okay; I just know there will always be work to do.

I just don't know the answer to well-meaning friends and family who pop in without being part of (and therefor rarely aware of) the long, grinding process. Yes, I'm STILL doing paperwork. Welcome to my life.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

In the Doldrums

Not much going on here, recently. I mean, there is, actually. I have started my courses and have been enjoying them, although it's taken me some time to shift gears enough to give them the proper amount of attention. Must do homework!

But with the paperchase and all, things have slowed down to a crawl. The large packet of documents came back from the embassy a while ago. I was briefly alarmed because the authentication certificates had some Sonya Somebody listed instead of Condi, whereas the other docs had the Secretary of State's names on the form. My agency quickly set me straight... apparently somebody named Sonya Somebody signs things for Condi? Or something?? Okay, as long as the embassy has authenticated them with the proper seal, I guess I don't really care! But in that case, why hasn't this "Sonya" signed our last two documents by now? They are still up in DC awaiting the vital signatures for the last two weeks. I swear, it's like watching a rabbit go through a python..... ie boring and even more lengthy than anticipated. I am just trying to stay calm about this wait, 'cause you know those last docs THEN have to go to the Chinese embassy in DC for another intermitable number of days and weeks, and Aaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiigggghhhh!

So yes, I am trying to stay calm and occupy myself with other things.

It does not help when a friend asks me... "but I thought the last time you talked about this months ago, you were almost ready to send things off to be translated then" Yeah, well, *I* was ready, but the documents take their own sweet time.

And see, this is *exactly* why I don't share the process with too many friends or relatives. It's bad enough to be waiting on the minute details of the process. It's even more annoying to have other people asking you why it isn't done yet. And I don't want to be tempted to swear or scream in public.

I did get an opportunity to vent and roll my eyes when one of my mother's friends passed on some "adorable pictures" of her girls to me. Now, I didn't know this person at all, and as my husband pointed out, the question still remains: why did she know anything about our adopting since I'd asked my parents to not share that with people, huh??? But anyway, I guessed immediately that the only reason she was giving me pictures of her children that I don't know is that she had, yes, Chinese daughters! Whee! That for some reason she thought I would want to see their pictures since I was adopting. I still don't get this. I told my Mom that it was like an infertile woman having other people's babies thrust at her. My IF sister nodded her head...
I just do not get this. It's probably some misguided effort to be supportive, but again, other people's adoptive children do not automatically thrill me. I mean, I like children a lot, and I like meeting and talking to them as the people they are, but to assume that I will be more interested or like them more because they happen to belong to a particular group is just addled. And it's always awkward having people thrust at you for whatever reason.

Meanwhile, one acquaintance who was "thinking" about another adoptive child when we started the process has already LIDed. Meanwhile, an old acquaintance who got married the same day we did has had his child home two months! Yes, I feel jealous that we are that far "behind." I know they had both had earlier experiences that moved them along the process. I don't know why. It makes me sad. My husband pointed out that at every step along the way, we resisted having to shift to a new strategy and a new set of ideas. And it takes a while to get to the point that you feel good about where you are going and can shift strategies to make those life-changing decisions with some level of confidence or at least resoluteness.

* * * * * *

When I think about how long it took us to be convinced enough we had a problem... Well, I was concerned, but everyone else, including my husband, was very laid-back about things panning out. We knew so many people who had had their first child in their late 30s and early 40s, so we were just gleeful about having children ourselves even though by medical standards we were "old." We didn't realize we also knew a LOT of people who had *never* had children because of other, unexplained issues like IF. So yes, we see what we want to see. We don't like to think we have a problem.

Another big thing we were told was that there's no need to worry because "sometimes it can take a couple years for an older couple to conceive." Older meaning people older than 30-35! So we were encouraged to bide our time. MEANWHILE during all that waiting our parts were aging into crinkling balls of useless geonome material!!! Oh no, they don't tell you THAT. At least, not that you ever want to hear. Even the first doctor or two we saw were incredibly blase about our dwindling chances. Only one friend who had gone through her own saga of heartache ever told me that I shouldn't wait, and I was too convinced that we would end on the good side of the odds to listen. I was pissed when another friend was giving me grief about "waiting" during that brief period of time of "planning." Ha ha ha! So to be fair, we did not want to hear the worst. M the eternal optimist had to be convinced by repeated failure, even with medical intervention.

Nobody wants to hear the worst, even if it's happening to someone else. So when we tried, early on, to share what we were going through with other people, all we got were ridiculously blind platitudes and dismissive reactions. NO-body wants to hear about bad or sad things going on. Even another friend who had gone through her own IF story kept wanting to tell me that she "had a feeling it was going to happen" for me, which pissed me off no end. At least with her, I finally told her that it really didn't help and in fact made me feel worse because somebody else's feelings weren't going to up my odds. She's since become more sensitive. But I still end up catching other friends saying and doing things that are just obliviously mean. Like playing the odd tune: "It's so chic to be pregnant at christmas" at a holiday party so that we can all appreciate it. Someone who should know better if she had bothered to think about it. But yet, I have hid most of my reactions to these insensitivities. I LOOK like I'm doing okay. And mostly, I am doing okay. But still, it's like rubbing a raw patch to have people do and say these kinds of things.

* * * * * * *

When I saw my old acquaintance with his new [adopted] baby, I didn't press for details. I said--how wonderful and how old is now? And how long has he been home, and I'm so happy for you! Not wanting to rub any nerves about age, I opened up my mouth to say that I knew that the developmental age tended to get reset at adoption, but I got drowned out by another well-wisher and shut it again. I'm thrilled that he finally has his son. I don't really need to say anything else.

He told me that he was an incredible amount of work, but that the joy outweighs the work. And he said thanks for the good wishes. :) Can I get an Amen?

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