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:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Will It Never Stop?

Well, it looks (again) like adoption #2 is on indefinite hold. Ethiopia has implemented (another) rule change which now prohibits adoptions of relinquished children in certain areas of the country. As luck would have it, three out of four of my agency's orphanages are located in these restricted regions, and the vast majority of those children are relinquished by family members, not abandoned. Now that's not to say the new rule won't be reversed. Last year a similar (but opposite) restriction was put in place such that abandoned children were not available for adoption, and that only lasted a couple of months. Last week, a determination was made that parents would have to attend their prospective child's court date, but then that was yanked for further consideration and will likely not be implemented immediately. So there is a track record, so to speak, of rapid policy implementations and reversals.

But this latest is a doozy. Referrals have literally been frozen for the past 6 weeks. If the rule change is not reversed, then of course my agency must either find and fund new orphanages in regions unaffected by the change, shut its doors, or continue to process referrals at a snails pace. The other possibility is that miraculously, a flood of newly abandoned infants will be dropped off at our orphanages. This will benefit no one. Many of us enjoy ongoing relationships with our children's birth families. We send and receive pictures, and updates. This is good for our children and good for birth families who choose to remain in contact with us. Apparently, soon, none of us may have a choice.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Are We Done Yet?

The Olympics have been an absolute blast, but it's time for everyone to go home now. I'm exhausted. And fat. I've never eaten so many street vendor hotdogs in such a short period of time. I was voted "best mixed meat" at one event after an accounting of everything I'd chowed down on over the course of 3 hours.

I saw way more stuff than I had planned to. Unused tickets fell into my lap, which was fabulous for me, and helped make sure there were few empty seats at the arenas. Kudos to everyone who gave away/horsetraded tickets that they couldn't use. Notwithstanding I came into the Olympics with tickets to only the women's gold medal hockey game, I ended up attending two medal ceremonies, including our first gold, Alex Bilodeau, the men's long program ice skating final, the ice dancing finals where Canada won gold, and of course, the women's ice hockey gold medal game. So I came as close to a lot of gold as I'm ever going to. Here we are at the women's gold medal game. It was an amazing game and amazing crowd:

But here's my Olympic highlight (and that includes the men's gold medal hockey, which I will blessedly be viewing from the comfort of my own home tomorrow):

On the right, the man who needs no introduction, and on the left, his brother Yosef. Both lovely lovely men who were gracious enough to extend an invitation to this Ethiopian community event, to the adoption community as well. Makeda, of course, is more interested in the Olympic torch. The icing on the cake was this:

Yes, Robel autographed Makeda's soccer ball. Look, right under "one love". What a great day!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

This is What Makes Me Happy

Head on over here, and have a peek at Happy. Haze and I have journeyed together for quite some time. My file went to Ethiopia in September '07 and hers went in November '07. Makeda came home in May '08, and Haze has been waiting with the patience of a Saint ever since. Different agencies, different journeys, different timelines, but FINALLY, an especially long and agonizing wait is over. Oh baby, Baby's coming home. Can't wait to see the first pics. Woo hoo Haze!!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

I Love This Man!

News Reporter, interviewing Robel Teklemariam: "Tonight, he'll carry the Ethiopian flag as part of the opening ceremonies."

Robel: "I have to, I'm the only one."

Love it. A trailblazer with a sense of humour.

Now, for all you Lower Mainlanders, check this out. There will be a fun-filled family event to recognize the dedication and hard work of Robel Teklemariam in representing his country as a sole competitor. It is also to inspire children and youth of Ethiopian origin that live in Vancouver to pursue their dreams as Robel did. This event will take place on February 27th from 3:30-7:00 p.m. at Collingwood Neighbourhood House located on 5288 Joyce Street, Vancouver, BC V5R 4G8.

I'm also trying to arrange something through his brother that would focus on our local adoption community, but I haven't heard back yet. Stay tuned.

On a slightly different, but still sporty note, VANOC is releasing "surprise" tickets on a haphazard and random basis, so you have to keep checking the website, and one of my friends just scored Row 13 men's figure skating for us this Thursday night. Go Patrick Chan!!! And (although the musical guest at this ceremony cannot begin to compete with Trooper and Lover Boy next week), I have also scored tickets to tonight's medal ceremony where the big prize will be presented to none other than... Alex Bilodeau! For $22! I'm on a role.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Olympic Fever that is!!!

Today, I'm right in the thick of it. Working downtown, I can see helicopters and planes flying overhead all the time. It's quite a racket. The Flame went by out front about an hour ago and the crowds are huge. Last night I grabbed Makeda and we went with B and her sons into Kitsilano to watch it go through that neighborhood. Men in black talking importantly into earpieces as they surround the runner. Makeda waved at everyone in true princess style and swished a Canadian flag back and forth. Here she is with Tessie.

I've now attached my obligatory Canadian flag to my car and am starting to line up tickets to a few events. You may recall this. In order to ensure that my sports and culture exposure remain balanced, I've also acquired tickets to see this quintessential Canadian band which is playing with that other quintessential Canadian band, Loverboy, at one of the medal ceremonies (I know, I know you've never heard of them, but trust me, north of the border these boys were HUGE back in the '80's.)

Lastly, even though I don't have tickets, I'll be watching this at 3:30 pm (EST) on Monday February 15th - Robel Teklemarian, Ethiopia's sole representative at the Winter Olympics, compete in the Men's 15km cross-country skiing event.

You can read and comment on his blog here. Makeda will be dropping by the office Monday afternoon to share the Ethiopian Olympic spirit and enjoy the race while mama enjoys the view. Is he hot or what?

Go Canada (and Ethiopia) Go!!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Sweetie, learn to hide the evidence.

Actually, to give her credit, the first half of the kleenex box contents were stuffed under the seat cushion of the armchair she's leaning against, so she may have had an inkling that this was a no-no.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Twists and Braids for Idiots

See if you can spot the difference.

Maybe this one is a better illustration.

My point is, Makeda has hair. I do not. I've never had hair. My mum kept a bow stuck to my head until I was two, just to make sure people knew I was a girl. I grew up on bad perms and a curling iron, switching later to a high volumizing blowdryer.

So, I've been putting off the baby haircare. Sure, I've put in a few colourful elastics and I can fluff her hair into a pretty funky afro, but as Makeda's hair has gotten longer, I've put off the inevitable and let Tessie carry the burden. All the good hair you've seen on this blog is courtesy of nanny Tessie. And, to be fair, I don't have much practice time. Makeda is exclusively mine on Saturdays and Sundays. Weeknights aren't really conducive to sitting in front of Dora, practicing on hair. It's our playtime. And weekends, I can pretty easily think up stuff I'd rather have us do.

But, much like dealing with my math phobia, it got to the point where I realized I had to face the fact that I was parenting an African child, and just deal with it. Gramma "helped" by ordering everything under the sun that I could ever need, from Shuruba. Beaders, beads, stoppers, applicable hair goo, you name it, I got it. So, Sundays have become hairday until I get the hang of this.

Shuruba has some great video clips to teach you the basics. I knew instinctively that this would not be enough. Gramma went back to try and order a DVD. No such luck. I was stuck with the clips. Which are good. If you're normal. But, if you're both hair challenged, and you operate in my world (aka, the idiot zone), there's not enough info.

So, I'm here today to give you pasty white girls the tips that no one else would think to give you, because they are not stupid.

Firstly, buy the Curly Frizz Pudding. It really works so any idiot can smooth out a clump of baby hair and start twisting. Unfortunately, more is not better. When you can no longer operate the beader with your hands, and are resorting to your teeth, because you can't get a grip on the slippery hair, you've gone too far.

Secondly, put the beads on the beader before you start twisting. I believe this was recommended in the video, but it needed to be said more than once. Nothing kills your enthusiasm faster than getting to the end of the perfect twist only to have to use your elbow and teeth to string the beader.

Lastly (and I swear you will not find this tip anywhere else, because no one else on the internet lacks enough dignity to 'fess up) - while I strongly recommend using your teeth to close the bead snaps so you don't lose your grip on your twists, make sure you... you guessed it... get your tongue out of the way first. That hurt people. It really hurt. I've not been in that situation since growing up North and sticking my tongue against a playground post, just to see if it was really true. But at least a pole doesn't move. Try being attached to a moving two year old.

This is the result. Not beautiful, I'll admit, but for me, quite the feat, and therefore worth the kodak moment.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Nifty Way to Avoid Jail

Well, well. It appears that Ms. Sue Hayhow has fled Canada to begin a new life in Ethiopia. Since charges had not yet been laid up here, she would have retained her passport and would be free to go. But, it's a small world and I'm sure we'll catch up with her eventually. Here's a photo. If any of you see her while you're travelling, please do say hello to her from all of us, and give her our assurance that we will make sure her actions come back to bite her in the ass eventually. And don't forget to tell anyone you may see her affiliated with, the heady news about her background. She will undoubtedly seek involvement with an orphanage there and there's no sense putting anyone else at risk. Spread the word (and the photo)!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

We're Number...

165!!! Imagine Adoption has now issued all of the "place markers" for those of us who had their files in Ethiopia at the date of the bankruptcy. We (me and big sister M) are lucky #165. So, at the rate of 10 to 15 referrals a month, which looks feasible, it will be 12 to 16 months. It seems a lifetime, since last time I waited a whole FOUR months, but in the face of almost losing it all, I'm very grateful. Hoorah!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Well, Not Right Away

That's right, just to spice up a 2010 that's started out a little slow (all 8 days of it) ... we're moving. Voluntarily. To Toronto. Where there's snow. Often. And humidity. Ick. But the shopping should be an improvement and really, what else matters? But I digress. This is a temporary move. One year, tops. And it won't happen til around May so I still have a lot of time to freak out properly. As if that's not enough, I've decided to drive there. That's right, one pasty white chick, her kid and a nanny, hotfooting it across the prairies in a U-haul. I don't know why. I've just never done it so I thought it was a good idea. Don't worry - this is the internet. You'll never even notice I'm gone.

Someone declared that I must be having a mid-life crisis. I said if I was the type to have a mid-life crisis, it's more likely that happened the year I bought my motorcycle. Or adopted a child. Or took 6 months off. Or started a second adoption. My friends, the year I sit still, I am having a mid-life crisis, and you may intervene.