Thursday, May 20, 2010

Makedaversary and Good-Bye

It was two years ago today that my daughter was placed in my arms and my life changed forever. I didn’t start this blog until after I received my referral, and it was intended to be as much a way of keeping in touch with all the wonderful people I’d met along the way, as it was about celebrating my daughter and our life together. So today I celebrate our two years together and say good-bye to this, my blog. I think the only blogs I comment on anymore are the ones where I’ve now met the authors face-to-face, and I know we’ll be in touch for years to come. But it will be by email, and in-person. Perhaps if I am ever able to overcome the fits and starts of adoption #2, I’ll blog again to honour that equally special child, but in the meantime, I hereby revert to lurking.

Thanks for the ride guys,


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A View of Current Circumstances in Ethiopian Adoptions

There's been a lot of chatter about the (not so) recent change to adoption processes in the Oromia region of Ethiopia, which have resulted in relinquished children being unavailable for adoption. We also know that certain orphanages in that region have been required to close. I've seen speculation that the relinquishment ban relates to concerns over whether kids were relinquished in an ethical manner. I've read rumours that the closures resulted from findings of unethical behaviour, or were politically motivated, or were due to lack of humanitarian efforts by those that were closed. I've seen hopes expressed that after the election this May 23rd, the relinquishment ban may be lifted.

As a concerned adoptive and prospective adoptive parent, the substance of many of these allegations concerned me. So, I used what few contacts I had within the country to gain a better understanding of what was going on, and some clarity as to whether the relinquishment ban is to be lifted in the near future, or at all. The individual I heard back from is well connected, but is not with MOWA. I don't profess his views on the matter to be definitive. He/she had no comments or insights on whether or when the relinquishment ban might be lifted. However, the comments in general were insightful, so I thought I would share some of them.

Apparently, some 12 orphanages in the Oromia region have been closed, and the closures are not politically motivated. These orphanages were closed as a matter of efficiency or because they were operating below the standards set for them by the government. Other orphanages in that region who continue to meet the standards as set, are being allowed to continue their work in the usual manner. Almaz orphanage, which used to be used by Imagine Adoption, is one of the ones that was closed, and the children from that orphanage are to be transferred to Selam orphanage, which is one of the orphanages currently used by Imagine. Assuming it is correct that the closures were not politically motivated, I don't think we can assume with any confidence that the relinquishment ban will be lifted after the upcoming election.

Apparently the orphanages ordered to be closed were not advised of what legal or other requirements they have not been meeting, that would warrant the closure. At this time, it appears that despite instructions to do so, the children in the closed orphanages have not been transferred. The situation remains inconclusive. There is an appeal process for the closed orphanages, which I understand are being utilized. I don't know the standards for winning an appeal, or the timing, at this point.

I also found out something interesting as it relates to the new requirement to travel for Court. As we have been told, the reason for the requirement for families to attend Court is so that they can see their referred child in person, prior to the adoption being finalized. However, I've never known the real reason why this was implemented, other than a general allegation that one or more families had refused to take custody of their adopted child, upon arrival in Ethiopia. What I have been told today is that this change was implemented due to one adoption agency's mistake in Ethiopia (the agency is not mentioned ) whereby a family (not Canadian) came to pick-up their child but found that the child was not the child they had been referred. As a result, the family refused to accept the child. It is apparently this incident that caused the Courts to issue the requirement that families must travel twice.

Now, I do not profess any of this to be the absolute final matter on any of the issues raised. But I do not believe these are simply unsubstantiated rumours, either. Put whatever weight on them that you choose.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Back in the Day, I was a Cool Mom

Now I'm just a mom. Poop.

You've gone to a better place Italian StudMuffin.

Yah, I got the price I was holding out for. Pfft. Still got all my gear. A girl can dream.

Monday, May 3, 2010

I Climbed the Great Wall of China

So, life's been a bit crazy since arriving home (some time ago) and it's been impossible to sit down and digest my trip or blog about it (or read anyone's elses blogs for that matter). Then last night for the first time I had a chance to flip through a photography book on the Great Wall that we bought at Tian'anmen Square, and noticed that page 1 contained a certificate with the heading "I Climbed the Great Wall of China", with space for your name and the date. So, I hereby declare that, me, Makeda, Gramma and Grampa climbed the Great Wall of China (at Badaling) on April 5, 2010. To be exact, we all climbed up. Then a certain 2 year old got carried the rest of the way as we all slid down. I'm not joking. I'm not sure exactly how defenders were able to stave off attackers on most parts of the wall, as the stones are smoothly paved in the form of a slide. A railing has been attached to the inside wall so you can shimmy down, but basically, on a snowy winter day, you could take your Crazy Carpet and whoosh to the bottom. Then you'd die. But it might be a fun way to go. I suppose we could have been spared some of this pain, but as soon as we got to the entrance, I took one look up at the highest parapet and said "I'm going thataway", and we were off, without giving much thought as to how one got back. Anyway, here are the photos from the bottom (way in the background is the high point that we climbed to), the view from the top, and the evidence that We Were Here.

Later we stopped by Spirit Way at the Ming tombs which is guarded by greater than life size statues of animals (both real and imaginary version) and officials. This is a Makeda size lion.

I didn't think it could get any better than the Great Wall. But it did. Soon we were off to Xi'an to see the excavation site of the Terracotta Warriors. None of them survived intact, and apparently it will take about a 100 years for all of the shattered figures to be pieced back together. But the best preserved have been restored and they are breathtaking, even without their original paint. These are a few of the best. I've also included Mr. Yan, the farmer who discovered them. He is a Chinese national hero. He is also my personal hero for being the only illiterate farmer I'm aware of who is able to carefully autograph the hundreds of souvenir photo books put out for sale before the gates open each morning. Lastly, Makeda wheeling her spiffy new luggage at the Xi'an airport.

Well, that's the most blogging I've done in a month, so I'll save Shanghai, Guilin and Hongkong for another post. But first, a few more random pics from this most awesome journey:
Widget, Ruff and Tessie were photos 1, 2 and 3 so we could say "hi" to them in the camera when we missed them in China:

Family shot in Tian'anmen Square:

Flaked out in a Beijing silk factory:

Grampa helping guard the Ming tombs:

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bon Voyage

Tomorrow Makeda and I are taking a little journey together, so I'll be offline for awhile. To China in fact. Beijing, Shanghai, X'ian and then Guilin, followed by Hongkong where I have some business to attend to. Yup, me and a two year old...on a plane...together... for 11 hours. But, I'm no fool. This is a project for not one, not two, but THREE adults. Yes, Gramma and Grampa are coming along. Aren't I lucky? We've travelled together before, so it's quite safe. Except they will have 3 weeks 24/7 exposure to my parenting skills, or lack thereof. Judgements may be passed. Hmmm, maybe this wasn't such a good idea afterall. Oh hell, they've known me for 41 years - they know how useless I am. Three adults to one small child. That is a ratio I can travel with.

To keep things simple, Makeda sat through her first professional braiding session. It's supposed to last 3 weeks, but I'm not so sure...Please join me in prayer that the cheap travel dvd player I bought lasts out the trip...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What's New and Exciting

So, I've been gone for awhile, working my east across the country. I started out Wednesday in Calgary where I met dear Biset for the first time. This is my favourite shot (I'm pointing out mama Haze which caused all sorts of teary-eyed excitement).

I also like this shot. But for a different reason. I don't have a lot of talents in life, but this is my main one, captured for infinity by Haze, and I think some of you can learn from it. Just tear yourself away from the cuteness that is Biset and check out the safety technique that I am illustrating - how to keep an iron grip on an unsteady child and a full glass of wine, while tipping neither. Perfection.

It takes years, people, years. Don't beat yourself up if you can't get it right away.

So, let's see. Then I went to Toronto, and then I went to Waterloo to partake in the "Celebration of Hope" festivities, a.k.a. a fundraiser for our back-from-the-dead agency. No pics, but a lovely time was had by all.

I got back late this afternoon (Sunday), zipped over to Aliyah's birthday party where my precious babe was waiting for me (Tessie looked after her for the weekend for me, including getting her to the big party), yakked with the Ethio posse for an hour and then zoomed both of us over for a quick pop-in to Auntie Suze's birthday dinner before heading home to bed.

I'd like to say that after all that it's going to be a quiet week, but nope - more on that later.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It's Report Card Time!

Normally, I'm not much up for doing reports. This is the first of Makeda's annual update reports to MOWA that I have done on my own. I thought it would be a necessary inconvenience, but I actually enjoyed doing it. It made me reflect on all the progress she's made over the past year, and gave me (another) excuse to do a photo op. I made copies of everything for her lifebook, and extra copies of the photos for her birthmom, who, I am told, is thrilled to receive them. Here are this years' photos: