Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Eve with the Ethio Crew

Earlier in the evening with Auntie Judy...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Lucky Number 7

I have been blessed over my past couple of years of blogging to discover an amazing village who have been gracious enough to share their journeys with me as I travelled mine. And I’ve been even more blessed by virtue of the fact that, as a result of my work work, my work for the CFA Institute, and the aeroplan points generated by both, I’ve been able to spread my wings and meet a great number of these amazing women in person.

Work work takes me often to Calgary where I met the first of my adoption peeps, the amazing Haze. Through Haze, I met Gina. An IAMASLUT convention last May took me to San Francisco where I frolicked with Haze, Porter, Tasha (private) and Suzanne (private). Tash made that trip all the way from Ohio which frankly, I couldn’t even find on a map if my life depended on it. At Afrikadeys in Calgary this past summer, I added Dianne. And now, after a trip down (and to the right) to Washington DC, I’m excited to add Tami to my “in-person adoption peeps” list. We had dinner at Dukem, where my friend Leslie (aka one of the aunties) took this lovely snap of the two of us. Is her hair killer or what? She has agreed that notwithstanding how gorgeous she looks with that hair, she will side with Haze and make sure that Makeda does not get near any straightener until she’s at least 18.

And this list doesn't even include the non-bloggers that the bloggers have introduced me to - big shout out in particular to Marelise, Bridget and Evelyn. Love all you gals - thanks for sharing the ride!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Some Very Merry Christmas News

Hot off the press from my adoption agency:

"Hello Imagine Families!

It seems this is a week of very good news here at Imagine!

As was communicated yesterday, we received our Ontario Ministry License
renewal early this week. We have further received word today that our
NGO license renewal in Ethiopia has been approved!

We are also very excited to inform you that we have been able to
commence the process of referrals once again!

We trust that this news brings you all a sense of relief and joy, as it
did in our office today! We recognize that there may be challenges
ahead. However, there has been much accomplished in these last several
months, and we know that the lives of these children and families, one
by one, will be forever changed!

The Board and staff continue to await the final review and approval
from BDO. The Board does not anticipate there to be any significant
issues that will arise during this process."

5 exclamation marks! We're back in business baby!

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Bumpy Start to the Season

Apparently Christmas is to receive no more deference than Halloween.

Our seasonal festivities started this weekend with a Santa Claus breakfast. No sooner had we arrived with our entourage (both grandparents and nanny tessie) than gramma was kind enough to point out what appeared to be a very damp baby bottom. Normally this would not be a problem, but today, with the distraction of extra people and trying to get her in and out of gymnastics before the party started, the diaper bag got left behind. M didn't seem distressed, so I decided we would try and tough it out. Unfortunately, she wasn't sitting still, and it was really hard to pretend I didn't see it the huge wet spot. I felt the inevitable "bad parent" balloon start to float around my head.

I decided to take her up to the craft table to make a reindeer hat. This entails tracing small child hands into an outline that resembles two antlers, cutting them out, and stapling them to a paper headband. This is where things started to fall apart. Firstly, said small child refused to let the headband touch her head, so I couldn't measure it and had to guess at the right length. Another "bad parent" balloon started following me as I guessed wrong and made it too small. Now it had to perch on top of her afro just to stay on. However, that turned out to be irrelevant as, upon finishing, nothing in the world, including 2 goofy grandparents modelling the headgear for her, would entice Makeda to let it come to rest on her curls. And forget the tears - they are no longer necessary. Unlike Halloween, now I get a hand in my face, or perhaps a karate chop, with a loud "No" that causes the "bad parent, child abuser" balloon to attach itself to me as the crowd gathers.

Luckily, at that point, the pancakes arrived, so I put her on my lap and fed her, thereby closing her mouth and hiding the wet spot. The "bad parent" balloons started to float away. Unfortunately, the wet spot started to transfer to my lap, which was uncomfortable and easily observable as I stood up to get more food.

Then Santa arrived. Santa is often a good distraction, but not when you have a small child with a Santaphobia that will not allow her to get closer than 5 feet to even a picture, never mind the up -close-in-person version. She screamed as soon as he made eye contact.

I put her in the chair next to me to put some distance between her and the evil bearded man, and Tessie took over the breakfast feeding. A moment later, a look of alarm came across her face, but that was followed by "good, she was able to get a burp out". Unfortunately, the calm didn't last. Makeda exploded like a volcano, the likes of which we haven't seen since Grampa got caught in the cross-fire in our last night in Addis, when she was still the projectile queen. Not only was that meal on public display, but the "pre-gymnastics" snack and the morning milk followed closely behind. Despite the attempt at a quick cover up (she's a lethal but silent barfer), the rest of the banquet table guests cleared out. We felt we'd made enough of an impression for one day and slinkered out the door, the multitudinous "bad parent" balloons following closely behind...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Ethiopian Book Club

Way back when (it seems like forever), as our adoption agency was just crawling out of bankruptcy after a successful restructuring vote, 4 of us rather vocal BC'ers tentatively decided that our support group could perhaps now evolve from organizing conference calls to meeting in person and discussing common interests (adoption from Ethiopia seemed like a good start). We decided to start at my house, set a date of November 30th, and determined that we would discuss a book.

After much to-ing and fro-ing we settled on Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese. As time passed, of course glitches arose. Some idiot left her book in a hotel room in Washington, DC (ok, that one was me). Another forgot to get started. Another went to Hawaii and tried to finish it at the last minute and fell asleep and forgot the ending. Basically, we were meant to be together.

We cracked open a bottle (or two), toasted today's successful milestone of 246 amended retainer agreements received by our adoption agency; enough to just maybe get our adoptions back on track, and tucked into Thai food. Yes, perhaps the food/wine selection didn't quite match the reading material, but it's my party and I'll Thai if I want to. And just like that, new friendships were born. We never got around to discussing the book but we covered pretty much everything else. To keep the momentum going, we've settled on My Father's Daughter, by Hannah Pool, for January 2010, but I wouldn't bet money that we get a discussion going.

Here's to new friends!

Monday, November 23, 2009

More Belated Posting

This time from the big birthday party. Thirty people spread out over the house leaving me not too much time with the birthday girl. But we had a great time anyway. And in keeping with old wives tales, I measured her, sans afro, and she came in at a very respectable 34.5 inches. Apparently you take a child's height at age 2 and double it, and you'll get their adult height. Based on that, at 5'9", she'll measure up eye to eye with her dear mama. But her hair will take her over the top, no doubt.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Little Monster

Yes, I'm very late posting, but I needed time to get over the trauma. Halloween was not a happy event this year. She screamed just looking at the costume. The feet freaked her out so I had to tuck them out of sight, up her pant legs. Putting on the head gear was out of the question. It took two of us to stuff her in - one to manipulate arms and legs and the other to distract and console.

Finally, off we went, one mama and three aunties in tow. She refused to walk - I would set her down on each doorstep and she would quietly reach in a bowl and take her candy, put it in her pumpkin, and promptly reach for pick up with a solemn "up peas". Then I would carry her to the next house. This is why you travel with 3 aunties. Anything less and there's not enough people to take a shift and still collect enough candy for the adults to remotely make the event worthwhile.

The first smile I got was once we were back in the house and she had her first taste of chocolate bar - an Aero to be exact. With her mood having improved somewhat, we tried a photo op - but still to no avail. What you mostly see is a tricky manoever called the "headgear hover", such that said headgear does not actually come to rest upon the reluctant head. So, you have to imagine what the costume might have looked like by combining her body with her aunty's head. I will be amortizing this costume over next year I think.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there was an aspiring cirque du soleil performer who thought that jumping up and down in the crib was a good way to practice lift off. One day she went a little too close to the edge and bounced head first, right over. Luckily, her multi-talented coach, a.k.a. "mama" was standing close by and caught the little trapeze artist head first about 3 inches off the ground. Mama gave herself a pretty big pour. Then she went shopping for (another) baby trap. No more lift off for you baby girl!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Blue Steel

Also, perhaps, "Mini Me". Don't worry - the outfit match was accidental. I'm not that anal (yet). Although it rated a photo op.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Failure is Not an Option

MP Glen Pearson posted this letter yesterday, on his blog. He's perhaps a little optimistic about the guaranteed happy ending-to-come, but I liked it anyway.

Just Imagine
September 30, 2009 by glenpearson

Months ago, families attempting to adopt children from Ethiopia received the shattering news that the adoption agency they were working through was declaring sudden bankruptcy. Most of us recall the pain reflected in the faces and comments of the prospective parents and our hearts went out them. Their hopes were finished.

Except they weren’t. From the ashes of deep despair emerged a collective effort that turned tragedy on its head and produced hope when people believed there was none. What is remarkable about the collective effort of these parents-to-be was that they kept themselves together when anger and frustration could have split them in numerous pieces.

Imagine Adoption, and the moving story surrounding the parents, has been alluded to a number of times in this blog. I’ve written of the first meeting my wife and I had with them and how they constructed a plan in those earliest moments that hatched a truly remarkable story of how citizens who organize, share the burden, skillfully express their honest emotions, and arouse their talents can in the end even make government move with alacrity and compassion.
Under the adroit influence of a steering committee, the hopeful parents engaged media, community partners and politicians from various domains and successfully gained support for their efforts. And then just today, the news: “An international adoption agency that collapsed this summer, stunning hundreds of would-be adoptive parents … was moved out of bankruptcy yesterday” (London Free Press).

I’m not sure any of us can really understand the sheer heights these parents climbed, not so much to overcome obstacles, but to get to their children. They turned their collective grief, not to anger, but to faith and endurance. When it seemed all was lost, they could never accept that news because that meant the children in Ethiopia had lost as well. It just wasn’t good enough … and so they organized and prevailed.

Working with government, creditors and a bankruptcy firm, they succeeded in forming a new board of directors, along with an advisory board. Moreover, each family had to pay another $4,000 each to make it work. And it did. Starting at this moment, the board will hire two full-time workers and a part-time worker. At this rate, most of the adoptions will be completed.
I concluded an earlier blog on these inspirational parents by saying, “If only Ottawa worked like this.” That was just speaking of the spirit of cooperation shown by this hardy group. But now that cooperation has reaped its reward, showing us all once again that if citizens can overcome such obstacles with such cooperation and dedication, our own politicians could surely learn some lessons. I can honestly say they have taught me much, but more importantly have given me hope for what is possible.

We live in a strange world where a sports figure, who can masterfully move a small round ball into a cup on the green can be asked to dine with presidents and prime ministers. Self-serving and self-absorbed entertainers gain immediate access to the halls of power. What are we thinking? The kind of people who should be extended the red carpet into Parliament are people like these parents. They are neither masters of the inconsequential nor purveyors of their own self-image. Instead, they are what we should all emulate. Their secret of power and success was their humility and belief – the very things in such short supply in our nation’s capital these days. Well done.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Day in the Life of...

not me. But only because of the husband reference. Thanks Porter for the laugh.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Just Call Me Dora...

OK, ever since yesterday's vote, I can't get that stupid Dora Explorer song out of my head. Don't play dumb - you all know it. We DID it! Yah! We DID it! We took those stupid naysayers and kicked them in the balls, we DID it! Yah! We DID it! We stuck together, all for one and one for all. We DID it! Yah! We DID it!

Well, maybe Dora doesn't say balls but you get the point. Anyway, 248 yes votes and 20 no votes so, an overwhelming desire to get things back up and running. There has been a small but vocal group of IA parents who seemed to want the effort to fail, and I think parents were uncertain how big this group actually was. Judging by the small handful of no votes that came from parents who had files already in Ethiopia (3), it seems the vast majority of us are willing to make a go of this. Next steps are to get new retainer agreements signed and get everyone's $2,000 in. The money will be critical, as the $200,000 that BDO Dunwoody is releasing to us immediately will be enough to keep operations going for awhile, but won't be enough to cover the outstanding orphanage fees, which have to caught up asap, or the whole thing will fail. So, the next few weeks will be a bit tough I think, waiting to make sure that those who voted to continue are willing to back up their vote with their money. Roughly speaking we probably need at least 200 of those 248 yes votes to send their cheques in, in order to have a reasonable chance of success, but I think most of us are hopeful that the vast majority of these 248 families will take that next step.

So, keep your fingers crossed and SEND YOUR CHEQUES IN!

And remember... We DID it! Yay! We DID it!

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Plan

As most of you know, the Plan was posted earlier this week. I've had a number of queries asking what I think about it, so here it is. But first, a bit of background - My file went to Ethiopia on June 23, 2009 so, of the 229 families of Imagine Adoption whose files are currently sitting in Ethiopia waiting for referrals, I'm about as far down the list as you can get. The Plan, in a nutshell, is that new management will step in, a new Board will step up, and an Advisory Committee, which includes yours truly, will chip in when requested/required. An additional $4,000 per family will have to be paid - $2,000 now and $2,000 in the New Year once operations have been commenced and stabilized and a determination made that the restructuring plan is, in fact, viable. Referrals are scheduled to start again early in 2010, but reasonable expectations are that this will happen earlier.

As a parent at the bottom of the referral list, I needed to get comfortable that the Plan presented a reasonable opportunity to keep the agency viable for at least 3 years, without the need for my further financial input. By putting in $4,000 now, I need to be reasonably certain that in 2 years, I don't get another cash call. Because by the time that cash call comes, if half the families have brought home their kids, that's not going to be a $4,000 cash call, it's going to $5,000 or $8,000 or $10,000. In other words, if the Plan doesn't keep the organization operating, more fees will have to be paid by the remaining families to wrap up their files. For that reason, the team that created the Plan made sure to include 3 years of cash flow statements. In doing so, the assumptions presented with the Plan are crystal clear that the agency has to be viable as an ongoing business in order for it to be successful.

The Plan is not perfect. It provides no guarantees. It is risky. There will be an operating deficit again after only one year in operation, despite the additional family contributions. The agency will be micromanaging its costs for the next few years. Despite this, the Plan is not destined to fail. Success requires that parents vote yes at the creditors meeting on September 21st and pay their first $2,000. Success also depends upon those parents whose files are not yet in Ethiopia paying their remaining agency fees (if any) in 2011 and upon the agency being able to continue operations by accepting new clients in 2011. If any of these things fail to happen, there is little doubt that the agency will re-enter bankruptcy within the next couple of years. If this happens, depending on at what stage it fails, some parents may well have been able to bring home their children, while others (including me) will be unable to do so. If that doesn't sound bad enough, notwithstanding that our relationship with MOWA is apparently stable, our orphanages have not been paid since bankruptcy was declared. Failure to maintain and mend those relationships quickly could be the end of this agency.

This all sounds very dire, but the reality is, this is a start up business now, with start up risks similar to those of any other new business. The Plan itself clearly states the assumptions (conservative) that are being made so that affected parents can make informed decisions about whether this will be a viable business, warts and all.

The $4,000 being paid by each family will not cover all the operational costs of the agency for three years. This amount was merely arrived at because that was the sum that seemed to reflect what parents could reasonably pay in order to keep as many families in the program as possible and realize their adoption dreams, while recognizing that money would have to come from elsewhere to supplement those funds. That includes fundraising and it includes new clients. There are no guarantees, and there is no question that the plan will have to be modified and updated as time goes by, operations get under way, and circumstances become clearer.

Nonetheless, I support this Plan, and I have voted yes. I will contribute whatever time and expertise I have to get this agency back up and running and turn it into a success we can all be proud of. And I hope that in the next two years I'm able to describe "The Call" that heralds the arrival of Daughter #2. Please wish us luck for September 21st and thereafter.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Earlier today, I got back from my much anticipated long weekend in Vegas. Sans child of course. I love leaving Mak with her Gramma and Grampa as she gets so excited she won't nap, which means when I come back from my long weekend, I have an exhausted sleep deprived child on my hands who sleeps extra long naps for at least the next 3 days, thereby extending said vaykay. I could post photos, but as we all know, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. So, for all of those hard partying gamblers out there, just log off now. For all you single mamas, rejoice and express your envy at the following:

Day 1: sleep in til 8am; 3 hours at the spa; extended lunch; 2 hours beside the pool; extended amazing dinner at Bellagio; Cirque de Soleil

Day 2: sleep in til 10am (practice makes perfect); extended lunch; 5 hours shopping at the premium outlet mall; extended dinner; gambling (win $200 on slots); get on plane; arrive in Vancouver where cute customs guard lets me in without paying duty on over-the-limit purchases.

Day 3: sleep in til 10am. Get latte. Walk dogs. Daughter hand delivered with love at noon. Afternoon at the beach with lovely daughter followed by dinner with friends at a pub. Yes, I take my daughter to the local pub. It's a single mother prerogative.

And now, I shall peruse the half-dozen trashy mags left on my doorstop by Auntie Judy while I was away and try and drag myself to the gym tomorrow morning as not everything was left behind in Vegas - my ass followed me home.

'Night all.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Progress, on More Than One Level

Language is not exactly flowing from Miss M's mouth. Lots of words, yes, but none of them strung together.

This is a typical conversation:

Me: Say, Hi Mama!
M: Hi
Me: Mama
M: mama
Me: no, say Hi Mama!
M: Hi
Me: Mama
M: mama mama mama

You get the drift.

Since we haven't progressed as far as Hi Mama, I've not really tried anything else. This was, perhaps, a mistake. Apparently, it was just the subject matter she was not keen on.

This past weekend we were out walking in the stroller and a man got out of his parked car. She leaned out of the stroller and said "Hi Baby!".

He was kind of old and not my type, but with a little training...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


The time has come to bid adieu to the great italian love of my life. That's right. Black Death, aka my 2005 Ducati multistrada, is sporting a for sale sign. Sort of. It's breaking my heart. So I placed an unreasonably high sticker price on it and crossed my fingers that no one would go that high. And I do mean unreasonable. I've had this bike for 3 years and I'm almost making money off of this. And so far it's worked!!! Not one phonecall. Nada. Until yesterday. He checked it out. He fell in love. He asked me if my price was firm. I said it was. And... crap. I think he's gonna take it. I'll know this weekend.

But the deal's not done til the paperwork's signed....

I love you italian studmuffin!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Adoption Playgroup Posse

I have been very blessed to meet a number of families who live very near me in Vancouver and who have also adopted from Ethiopia. We all went down around the same time, and the kids are all fairly close in age. They form my local adoption posse and we try to get together for playgroups as often as possible. This was easier before we went back to work, but those lucky few who aren't back yet, or don't engage in the 9 to 5 grind, enthusiasticly lead the charge to keep it going. These pics were taken this summer on a weekend brunch playdate at Rochelle and Ayana's. There's about 8 kids all together, but here's just a couple of shots.

Abdisa and Makeda

Binyam and Ayana


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We have a diagnosis!!

The cause of the crappy croup has been determined. In fact, there are two separate problems: (1) Myer-Cotton Grade I subglottic stenosis and (2) Laryngcomalacia (a.k.a. floppy voice box). Subglottic stenosis is a narrowing of the airway. Floppy voice box is caused by the cartilage in the larynx being soft. It causes the inlet to narrow, especially if breathing is hard. Either one of these conditions is a factor in recurring croup and my little darling has been blessed with both. For now, we're not doing anything, the hope being that she will grow out of both conditions. But, as of early Fall, she'll be back on a puffer for the duration of cold and flu season, just to try and create a base so that we can hopefully avoid the great 2010 emergency room camp-outs. She put on quite a performance in post-op yesterday. For a mild-mannered little girl she was bringing the house down. At least we know her lungs are clear. While I empathized with her unhappiness, I have to confess to a certain satisfaction over her tantrums. They couldn't wait to get her out of there, and as a result, we got out a couple of hours earlier than if she'd been her typical well-behaved self.

Afrikadeys was great fun. We met lots of new Cowtown adoption peeps and Makeda was rocking out to the music with great abandon. I love this girls' confidence. Here she is wearing Biset's pail on her head. I did not put it there. This is her very own fashion statement. Haze got video as well, and if it turns out, I'll post that later. It was quite hilarious to see her running around the field wearing a bucket on top of her sunhat.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hey It's Me Staring Back at Me

So I was doing my nightly scroll through the e-news to see if my interview had been picked up (yet) and hey! there i was! That's a bit startling actually to see your own face staring back at you on a website, especially since the interview was so long ago now, I really thought they'd decided not to publish it. For a second I thought I'd logged onto my own blog by mistake. But finally - the promised Sun article.

A bit of an update on the situation - there does appear to be some light at the end of the tunnel. The Trustee is looking at a "viable" proposal that has been submitted to keep the agency operating until those of us at the pre-referral stage can complete our adoptions. But the devil will be in the details of course. The financial shortfall will be a signifcant stumbling block to overcome. Yours truly is now the BC rep on the Trustee liason committee so hopefully there will be more concrete details soon.

In the meantime, to lighten things up a bit, Mak and I are packing our bags for Cowtown this weekend to go to Afrikadey Festival with some of the Calgary adoption posse. We will be staying with Auntie Haze and Makeda will break in darling Biset's new crib. We hope to meet Dianne and the beauteous Hana and many others that I've only connected with through blogland. AND, Marelise and Mak will FINALLY get to meet in person since I did not bring her as my date to Marelise's recent wedding, much to her chagrin. Marelise, Makeda gets her scope done at Children's on Monday after we leave, so you know I will be pestering you again for info. In fact, if you could just look down her throat while we're there, I'd really rather have you in charge.

See you all soon!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Show Me the Money

I don't really think there's much need to editorialize this so I'll just let you read it yourselves. The only thing I'll add is that it's very kind of the Board members to share all this with us. It's created a nice record of their apparent gross negligence in supervising the management of this agency which they were seemingly unaware it was their obligation to do. I especially liked the part where they were completely unaware of how much the CEO of the organization who reports directly to them, was paid. Bravo, volunteers, bravo. May you be held to the same level of accountability as our erstwhile CEO and her ex-hubby.

Update from BC Government

Not a lot of new info here, but here's what I have, resulting from this morning's follow up conversation with Nina Sihota. She advised that last Friday's meeting ended up being more information sharing, and most of what was shared is stuff that we, as waiting parents, already know. The lawyer sent to Ethiopia by BDO is coming back today. He's been reviewing and assessing all of the files that were in Ethiopia at the time of the bankruptcy. He'll report to BDO shortly and presumably, BDO will announce his conclusions as soon as they can. BDO is driving the boat on Imagine's longer term plan. Presumably, they are working closely with the Ontario government, but it's their plan, which is an interesting twist on the usual role of a Trustee. Nina says they are still information gathering and she cautions that she does not expect them to be in a position to release any firm details on the future of Imagine for some time yet.

I asked specifically whether anyone had received confirmation of MOWA's views on this situation, and whether MOWA is willing or able to continue to facilitate further adoptions through Imagine, in whatever form it continues. Nina said that since MOWA has been shut down for two weeks, they have not been able to get any confirmation at all from them as to how the Ethiopian government wants to proceed. So, basically, after 2 weeks, we really don't know a whole lot more than we did, as the situation pertains to pre-referral parents. Nina seemed to think the likely resolution was that Imagine clients would have to look at other countries, since there is no other agency in Canada which has the capacity to take on further Ethiopian clients. That is not the advice that leads me to believe Imagine is going to be brought back to life...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Proof of Claim Form: Some Help and a Disclaimer

For those of you who need some help filling out the BDO Dunwoody form, feel free to take from this what you wish. This is not intended as legal advice. I am not a bankruptcy practitioner - this is simply how I filled out my own form.

Firstly, the benefit of sending your money "in trust" is that these funds get priority over unsecured claims (employees, telephone bills, etc.). However, not all of your money was sent in trust and secondly, we don't know at this point how Imagine accounted for the trust funds. If they simply deposited the trust funds into their general account, they may no longer be trust funds, regardless of how they were sent in by clients.

Having said that, I have claimed all of my funds as trust funds, notwithstanding that only a portion was specifically sent to Imagine as such. This is because all of the expenses incurred by Imagine on my behalf were to be for the sole purpose of completing the adoption of a child for me. Since my adoption has not been completed, I have argued that entire sum was trust monies and have submitted in my Proof of Claim that my claim takes priority over all unsecured creditors. I've made this statement in two places: (1) on the Schedule A attachment where I outlined the exact amounts I paid and when, and (2) in item 4 of the Proof of Claim. In item 4, I crossed out the wording that said "I do not claim a right to a priority" and changed that to "I do claim a right to a priority".

I have seen some concerns posted on the various chatrooms that by submitting a Proof of Claim you may be giving up your right to continue with your adoption. I'm not going to comment on any of the legalities surrounding the bankruptcy, but do wish to point out that other advice coming from BDO says that that is not the case.

Hope this helps,

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

An Update, Such As It Is

I guess this counts as an update, although I'm not sure how useful the information is. I spoke with Nina Sihota of BC Adoption Services late this afternoon to follow up on a few questions I had regarding the role of the BC government in resolving this fiasco. First and foremost was to find out what they are doing to ensure that all of us "pre-referrals" get our adoptions completed. The answer was no different than anyone else has received to date, namely, it's a possibility, but no decision has been made yet. One will be made (fairly) soon. I got the impression that a decision would be made in the next few weeks, but not necessarily by the creditor's meeting on the 30th.

Of interest - Nina is meeting with her provincial counterparts this Friday to discuss this and other issues relating to Imagine Adoption. The topic of pre-referrals will be covered then, although she says it's not anticipated that a final decision will be forthcoming from that meeting.

Following my questions about the ongoing viability of Imagine Adoption, I asked whether, if the adoptions cannot proceed, those of us who lost money will be indemnified. I suppose we can all, to some extent, claim priority based upon funds in trust, but that only covers about one-third of my fees paid. In addition, I have no comfort that the money was actually properly segregated into a trust account, so I'm not hopeful that even that amount will be returned. I was told by Nina that this too, is a topic being covered at this Friday's meeting. And I have to say - I fully expect that we will be made whole. The public pressure on the Ontario government has been significant and they have clearly played some role by virtue of their regulatory obligations to supervise this agency. So I think we'll get our money back, and then they can do what they have to do to recover those funds from Sue, Andrew and/or the Board of Directors. Small comfort, ultimately, but it's something.

After the meeting on Friday is finished, BC Adoption Services will summarize whatever progress, decisions, etc. were made, and send the information to each of the 6 registered adoption agencies in BC to be forwarded to all Imagine clients. So we should hear something late Friday, or Monday.

In the meantime, I gaze upon this and remain grateful for what I have...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Imagine Adoption Update

I'm not going to reprint all of the great information that's circulating on our group facebook or the yahoo boards, so I'll just give you the lowdown on a couple of things I've been following up on myself, that didn't look like were being covered by others. Apologies if they've already been covered and I missed the post(s).

First - legal action. Too soon, of course, but I wanted to touch base with BDO to make sure that they would actually be doing this for us. I know they have (expensive) counsel working for them, so we don't need to spend our good money duplicating efforts that are being paid for out of Imagine funds that were taken from us in the first place. I did get that comfort. If BDO uncovers any evidence of misappropriation of funds, they will report this to the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy who will liase with the police so the police can assess whether to lay charges. In addition, it is this Office who will make the decisions about going after any personal assets of individuals. So we definitely need to let BDO finish their work and just monitor where things are going.

Second - I travel for business a fair bit. So I knew that one of Sue's biggest "assets" was likely to be her airline points from her numerous first class trips to Ethiopia and her Starwood points from her numerous stays at the Addis Sheraton. Recently I alerted BDO about these points since, although Sue almost certainly kept them personally, they are the property of Imagine. I also inquired whether these points could be redistributed to the parents currently in Addis or on their way, many of whom are anticipating long stays that not all can afford. The Trustee (Susan Taves) told me today that Sue's airline points have now been reclaimed by BDO and her Starwood points are in the process of being reclaimed. She will not be taking advantage of her business perks to remove herself to a more desirable offshore location. (Am I petty and vindictive or what?? Boo hoo Sue!) However, BDO has made no decision about the redistribution of the points. The Trustee has the authority to redistribute them, but is not planning on making these decisions right away. She doesn't think it will be necessary because.... (drum roll please)... the High Commission is meeting on Monday and with all the pressure being put on them by US!!! she expects that parents will not be waiting 3 months for their Visas and this should start moving along pretty quickly.

Hope this cheers some of you up!

Quintessential M

Just a quick health update - I didn't specifiy the problem previously, but M was having some trouble walking and there was considerable scurrying around to try and find out what the problem was. This culminated in a (another) trip to ER last night on instructions from her pediatrician. Long story short - she's doing better and is not in any pain anymore, but no one has any idea what the problem was (is). X-rays and blood tests all looked good. She's happy as a clam and brushing the whole thing off as usual, so I'll chalk this up as a childhood mystery, and the problem, whatever it may have been, solved. So, now I'm 2 down, 1 to go (I'm not counting the car anymore - it's going to be accessorized with blue and white scratches for the forseeable future).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Expensive Souvenirs

You will recall the four steps it takes to have a really bad day. And, all one can really do is chip away at them one at a time. Which isn't to say I'm not working on all of them, but they're only going to improve one at a time (except the car - that's going to wear a blue and white scratch for the forseeable future). But one thing has been accomplished - Dog 2 - aka Widget, came through his surgery with flying colours and his egg sized abscess has been replaced with several stitches and a drainage tube. Yes, I know, ewww gross. But he's my bud and I love him even when he looks like a freak. Here he is:

How could such a thing have happened? I'm glad you asked. Here is the culprit:

Having a little trouble? Let me enlighten you.

Vet: It took us awhile to find it, but we finally did. It's a {mumble mumble}
Me: What?!? He ate a piece of glass?
Vet: No - grass.
Me: Grass? I just spent $1,000 because he ate grass?!?
Vet: Well, grass seed.
Me: I just spent a $1,000 because he ate grass seed?
Vet (now laughing): yes.

Apparently, he ate a piece of grass seed which travelled from his mouth through his esophagus and squatted in a fold of skin (or some similar anatomic approximation) and then grew into an egg.

May I remind you all that $1,000 is a lot of shoes. I told them I wanted to save it, so there it is in the little glass tube.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Stirring the Pot.... and Keep Stirring

Just wanted to reiterate what you're already reading on other blogs. Call/write your MP! I've written mine and am requesting a meeting. If I can get it, I'm happy to have a few tagalongs. The more the better. Let me know. Also, just wanted to re-post the text of an email I sent yesterday to a few people in the same boat I am in. Just some practical legal advice that I may as well share more broadly. Here you go.

"I appreciate that at this moment, money is not our concern. But, I think we can agree that if it turns out that funds were misappropriated, and this conduct caused the loss of our future families, we want to see those responsible held accountable, even if we can never truly be made whole. To me, this means, in addition to whatever court process may evolve over time, ensuring that those responsible do not benefit financially from our loss.

Over the next few days you will be receiving a legal notice to creditors. You will recall that the money we gave to Imagine was marked "in trust". In the form you receive, you need to declare those sums as being a trust claim AND an unsecured creditor claim. Please pass this advice along to anyone else you know who will be receiving such a form.

Whenever there's a bankruptcy, secured creditors get paid first and then unsecured creditors share whatever is left (typically very little). If we can prove there's been a breach of trust then there is a possibility we can sue the person(s) responsible and secure those funds from them. At this time, obviously we have no idea whether or not funds have been misappropriated, but we need to keep all of our options open in case that turns out to have been the case."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Worst Day Ever

This is the summary of my day thus far (not even remotely in order, and no, things do not come in "threes"):

(1) Dog 2 needs emergency surgery tomorrow.
(2) Makeda has a new health issue which her GP can't figure out and we're off to see her pediatrician tomorrow. More details to follow. I'm hopeful it's not serious but it never feels good when one doctor throws up her hands and says (at least she's honest) that she has no clue and she'll get M into a specialist asap.
(3) My adoption agency just declared bankruptcy. I don't know what this means for my file although since I did not yet have my referral, I am not anticipating that it will be finalized. While the money is insignificant next to that loss, since Imagine was kind enough to require all funds up front, I am fairly certain that I will never recover a cent of the $20,000 I've spent to date. I also know that this financial fact will prevent many other prospective parents from being able to pursue their dream of a child. I certainly can't start over.
(4) While considering these things on the way back from M's doctor's appointment, I failed to pay sufficient attention to the post that jumped out at me and now have a pending car repair as well.

I'm (sort of) (trying) to keep a sense of humour - I think I've earned all the bad news possible for what - at least a year??? Here's looking at you 2010.

On a much more serious note, please join me in sending prayers to all those Imagine Adoption clients that were much further along in the process than I was, and hope that they receive all possible assistance to bring their children home. The Imagine website has give no information at all about whether adoptions in progress will be completed and if so, how, and in what timeframe. We will all be waiting day to day for more information. Please share whatever you hear!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Notice Anything New?!?

That's right people... we're riding the rollercoaster. And by "we" I mean that this time I have pending new sister Makeda on my waiting team. C'mom l'il sister! We're excited already!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Crappy Croup Update

Thanks for the emails - here's a brief update before I dash to catch sleep while it's available. I think we're in week 7 now. That must be a new record. Not inspiring are the words of her (more than 1) ENT specialists who have all declared they've never seen anything like this and don't know how to fix it. Basically, the 'roids help, but never completely solve the problem. So, life is comprised of trips to the ER for a quick fix and, more recently, a bigger dose followed by 2 weeks on a puffer. The last big dose does seem to have successfully diminished (but not eliminated) the cough, making longer stretches of sleep possible for both mommy and baby. It's only over the past 3 days or so that her breathing has stabilized at night sufficiently that I'm not waking up every hour or more. Sadly, the additional sleep seems to mean I'm off my adrenaline rush, and so I seem to be more tired now than when I waking up 8 or so times a night! The point of all this is that there is an underlying cause - something is causing the endless croup encores, but no one knows what it is. The only way to find out for sure is to scope her. But she can't be scoped until her breathing is back to normal, since she can't be anesthetized while there's any swelling in her throat. So, we have a catch 22, which is hopefully what 2 weeks of puffer will resolve. We're wrapping up week 1, however, and while she's much improved, it ain't over. Without making myself crazy from a bunch of googling worse case scenarios, the throat xray has confirmed there's no tumour, so we appear to be waiting for confirmation of either a cyst, a natural abnormal narrowness to her throat (which she'll have to grow out of), or something to do with her adenoids. Time will tell. In the meantime, she continues to be my good natured little angel, albeit one that wakes up at 4am from a cough, and then proceeds to sing loudly in her crib for a full hour while I lie awake in bed alternating between thankfulness that if she can sing, she can breathe, and a desire to [fill in the blank - you know you all can - you've been there too], so I can get some sleep.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Makedaversary Part Deux

Well, of the 3 parties planned, eventually one of them came about, mostly to ensure that the party dress actually made an appearance. Here's my little princess in all her pink glory, and another one with the rest of the kids playing on the bed with minimal adult supervision while the rest of us partied...


Just got around to downloading some of our lovely pics from our recent conference and thought I'd share...

Friday, June 5, 2009

IAMASLUT Inaugural Convention

I am a little remiss in my posting but yes, Miss M did recover sufficiently for me to escape to San Fransisco with these lovely ladies...

and we had a BLAST! A number of topics were covered, none of which by any stretch would enable any of us to write off the trip, convention or not. However, since all topics could not be adequately covered to our satisfaction, we have tentatively scheduled IAMASLUT* Part deux in Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics. Any wannabee members out there - get your applications in quickly - the number of available rooms in my home is dwindling quickly and we need to reserve our speedskating tickets. Plus, you have to be screened and approved by our founding member, the lovely Tasha and, as you her followers well know, that likely entails a full rectal examination. Be quick.

Miss M's recovery continues, slowly and painfully. The cooler air at her grandparents' place last weekend helped speed the recovery, which was promptly set back again by the suffocating air in her own bedroom, once I was back home. Temperatures are supposed to decrease a bit over the next few days, so hopefully that would help.

AND, on a completely different topic, my Baby A file has successfully transferred from Beautiful BC to the bailout capital of Canada, aka Toronto, where it awaits some final stamps and will begin its journey to Addis in approximately 10 days. Stay tuned and watch out for another lilypie baby to make an appearance.

*International Adoption Mothers Association - Single Lovely Unique Talented

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New Party Trick

Well, the croup saga continues, now placing my upcoming San Francisco weekend in jeopardy (more on that later). And, I'm not really complaining - shit happens and frankly, Makeda is the one who's actually suffering here, not me. But anyway, we went for another checkup to the pediatrician yesterday, and he sent us back to the hospital for an impromptu meeting with an ENT specialist. It was a long morning, and Makeda was not inclined to wake from her nap once she'd settled into the car seat. So I slung her over my shoulder like the 26 lb sack of potatoes that she is, and managed to check her in at Admissions, go back to the car for the diaper bag, and then into the ENT waiting room, all without waking her up. I sat next to the fishtank in the hopes that the burbling would keep her asleep. The burbling was very effective, especially to one sad little mom who has not slept more than 2 hours straight in over a week and is now also carrying a 26 lb sack of potatoes. We were wakened by the specialist standing over us asking us if we'd like a few more minutes to nap before we came into his office.

Anyway, the end result is that croup sucks and can last forever and there's nothing he can do and there's no point in drugging Makeda further (her mother - that's another matter). Also known as the diagnosis of "suck it up". But my point to all this was that I have turned into a farm animal. I have successfully napped in the upright position with a baby slung over my shoulder - without dropping her. This continues my successful record of not dropping her, even once, which I think is one of the slamdunk signs of being a good mother. Next month - sleeping while standing up. It can be done, I'm sure...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Makedaversary! Without the Bells and Whistles

Also known as the weekend that wasn't. For the second time in a row actually, since my 5 star weekend at ShuttersontheBeach the previous weekend got truncated so I could jet home to my croupy child (American Airlines generously agreed to fly me out of LA Saturday night at the last minute on their last available seat for only (gasp! what a deal! US$2100)). Common sense prevailed and I flew out on the 7am Sunday morning on Air Canada instead for a $175 change fee. That was just the beginning. Over the last 7 days there's been 3 trips to emergency and 24 hours in residence at Children's hospital. 3 homecoming anniversary parties cancelled. I haven't slept more than 2 hours consecutively in over a week. I don't know which is worse - what I've just described - or the fact that Pierce Brosnan was staying at our hotel and no matter how many hours I spent drinking in the lounge, I couldn't manage to "bump into him". Somebody throw me a bone...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Belated Birthmother's Day Fozia

Thanks to Habeshachild, I have a new occasion to bookmark. Apparently, the day before Mother's Day is Birthmom Day. I love that. Even I cannot forget something that falls the day before the world's biggest hallmark holiday. Not that I need to set a day aside to remember Fozia. She's never far from my thoughts.

I've spoken of Fozia before. I don't have a lot to add. She's smart. She's funny. She's the bravest person I know. There's a picture of us together in Makeda's bedroom. I'm not going to post it on the internet, but if you're at my place, I'd be happy to introduce you. This is her, holding Makeda and saying goodbye. Someday I'll reunite them.

I hope she's safe. I hope she still believes she made the right decision. I hope she's receiving my pictures. And in two years or so, when I travel again to bring home Makeda's little sister, I hope to see her again.

Happy Birthmom's Day Fozia.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

You Know I Don't Like to Brag But...

Is she frickin' cute or what?!?. Enjoy.