Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's Over

Congratulations to Felicia H. of St. Paul MN -- the sister of my dear friend Claudia and aunt to the chickens.

As I wrote on Felicia's FB wall, I'm not sure what's funnier....that her sister is a dyed-in-the-wool Red Sox fan (Yankees hater) or that she lives in Minnesota, baseball home to Justin Morneau, who STOLE the American League MVP award from Derek Jeter in 2006.

Either way... congratulations to Felicia, now the proud owner of an autographed Derek Jeter photo. Possession of which comes with strict instructions that it never be left alone with her sister. :)

Put Your Creative Thinking Caps On

I need to come up with a new email address and website -- preferably they will match, because....well, that would make me happy -- for the domestic adoption marketing I will be doing. Ideally the new name will be clear, concise, cute even, but not corny or flowery.

Heather and I have been trying to come up with something and keep coming back to Baby Steps. I would like to keep this blog, as it's very cathartic, but would like to keep it separate from the other so I can continue to be open and honest. I have the option, of course, of just making this site private, and my attorney may recommend that. But until that time comes...put on your thinking caps.

What should I name my new website, that will be all about me and what an awesome mom I'll be?

The winning idea will get some sort of fabulous prize.

And remember the rules of brainstorming:

1. No judgment
2. Wild and exaggerated ideas are encouraged
3. Quantity, not quality, of ideas are needed at this point
4. Build on the ideas put forth by others

So have it. Help me name my new site.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Happy birthday, Derek Jeter!

In honor of my "future husband's" birthday, please buy a raffle ticket. Only a few days left.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ethiopia Update

A few people have asked me if Ethiopia is completely off. The best answer I can give is "I don't know."

I am still on the wait list with my placement agency. My documents are currently all up-to-date. We have recently received news that WHFC is in the process of working with more orphanages in the northern regions of Ethiopia. That should be good news.

However, since the MOWA news in March, the following things have happened, causing me to lose a little faith:

1. The placement agency has increased fees again. Last year it was $500; this year $2500.
2. A day or two after news of the increase, I received an email stating that my case manager was leaving WHFC. Her last day was the next day! I understand there is turnover -- this is actually my second case manager to leave -- what disturbed me was not only the timing related to the fee increase but also that there was such short notice in the announcement related to her last day.
3. And perhaps the most discouraging news, is that in the month of May there were only 4 referrals. In June, there have been none. Compare that to last year when there were 11 and 10, respectively in the months of May and June.

I'm honestly not sure what it all means or what I'm supposed to feel. Since this process started 13 months ago, I have always felt very connected to Ethiopia. And I can sometimes picture what my child would look like. Now, I think I just feel completely neutral. I have no feelings about Ethiopia right now.

With new paths ahead, I need to refocus my mind and re-visualize (lessons from the Fertility Guru) what my child will look like.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Home from NJ

The meeting with the attorney (DS) went really well. She was as fabulous and warm and nurturing in person as she had been on the phone. We talked about everything we had talked about last week, but more in-depth. She gave me lots of paperwork to look over, which will be how I'll spend part of my Saturday.

We talked more specifically about how the networking will go -- that meaning, how she will "promote" me (my word, not hers) to potential birth mothers, to other adoption attorneys; and how I can promote myself and help my own cause.

There were times when she needed to excuse herself to deal with a minor situation with a birth mother. You could tell from the way she spoke to her, that she's good people, even to those who are not her clients. And that she had established a trusting bond with this birth mother in just a few months.

I told her my absolute ceiling price, including her fees, birth mother fees, expenses related to interstate compact, and any hidden, additional fees. She feels it is absolutely doable.

I also found out last week that I was awarded a grant and that I have until July 1, 2012, to be matched with a birth mother (or get an international referral) in order to receive the grant. I told DS that's her deadline.

"I'm an attorney, I can't tell you 100% guarantee, but I don't see this being a problem."

First/next steps

In New York State, to do a private, domestic adoption, I have to be pre-certified by the Family Court as an adoptive parent. Regardless of whether I find my own local pregnant teenager or DS finds me a potential birth mother, this step is a must so next week, I will have her begin the paperwork for the pre-certification.

That can take up to six weeks to be finalized, so in that time, I will start all the "marketing" stuff I need -- creating my own website (separate from this one), setting up a second cell phone line and another email address to use in advertising materials, and most importantly, writing and designing my birth mother brochure.

These initial steps will not be a huge amount of money. So I'll move forward, give it everything I've got and reevaluate in a few months. It's nice to know that I still have Haiti in my back pocket, should I need it.

The forecast for today is cautiously optimistic with a speck of hope.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How do you prepare for the most important meeting of your life?

Driving in the rain is not recommended, but there was really nothing I could do about that. I kept reminding myself that I didn't have to be anywhere at any specific time, so I took my time, drove slower than normal, relaxed even as the rain beat down on my car.

I arrived at the Yogi Berra Museum just as the rain was letting up. It is adorable. It is everything it should be and nothing it shouldn't. There was story line that carried through the whole museum, lots of great artifacts and photos. Stories were woven to pull in contemporary stars. It wasn't trying to be anything it wasn't. Pure and simple Yogi.

Even the gift shop -- the display case that doubled as the reception desk -- was understated. I got a t-shirt and the poster I had been coveting online.

I made my way -- in what seemed like back asswards logic -- to the hotel. But I made it, so who am I to say that driving on 46 west and then going through a neighborhood only to get back on 46 east doesn't make any sense?

By the time I checked in, I was starving. The Fiber One bar and banana I ate somewhere in Pennsylvania were all I had all day. There is a lovely Italian restaurant in the hotel. Lovely = olive oil & fresh grated Parmesan cheese with hot, fresh bread, Italian music, handsome waiters with accents.

I had a very relaxing lunch. A yummy meatball sandwich on Ciabatta bread -- half of which came back to the room with me. When the waiter asked I saved room for dessert, I gave him the honest answer. "I'm going back to the room to do some work, then I'll work out, then I'll be back for a cannoli."

And that's exactly what I did.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lack of Enthusiasm

I'm not sure what's happening, but the past four days have been pretty emotional. I can't shake this funk. I want to be excited about meeting with the lawyer this week, but I can't help but think about how much disappointment I've been through.

Four years ago this week, I had my first doctor appointment, was told there would be a problem trying to get pregnant but that with medication and fertility cycles, it should all work. The next day, with no one in my family knowing that I was about to embark on this path, let alone the news I had just heard, I drove to Syracuse to meet my great-nephew when he was hours old.

I cried all the way there and all the way home. And faked it really well while I was a the hospital. My friends told me not to go, but I couldn't not experience part of his first day with him. It never occurred to me that that was an option.

I've thought about that a lot the past few days, all the while eating everything in sight. Which really only makes me crankier. Each night, I'm hopeful that the next day will snap me out of things, that I'll be back to my healthy self, that I'll be excited, that I'll be positive.

Last week, I was excited about having two new options -- domestic and Haiti. This week, I'm just tired. Four years tired.

Tomorrow, hopefully, will snap me out of things.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Father's Day

This is my favorite picture of me and my dad. I was about a month old and it has my grandmother's handwriting on the back.

Friday, June 17, 2011


As if it means anything anymore -- and probably the last time I will give this update.

The estimated wait times were updated once more for Ethiopia. For 0-18 months, the expected wait time for referral is now 22 to 28 months.

To put those numbers in context, when I started this process, the wait was 12 to 15 months.

So for laughs, today I am 13 months on the Ethiopia wait list.

I think there are good things ahead. It just doesn't happen through Ethiopia at this point.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Saturday, June 11, 2011

United States

I do what I do best. I made lists. Pros and cons. To do's. Whatever to help me figure out what to do, what's the right decision.

And so after two more phones calls this week -- in addition to the Haiti representative, I spoke with two new attorneys, recommended by the placement agency. (I had asked them for more since the NH attorney has been MIA. And while I wasn't ready to write them off completely, I didn't want to waste any more time.)

An hour with one attorney, with 23 years experience, with sound bites like "stay true to yourself," "stay in tune with your attorney because this should be a partnership," and the winning statement, "I know you're going to be a mom. You may not know it, but I do because it's my job."

The next day, about 30 minutes with another attorney with less than a year's experience and no placements under her belt.

Do I really need to say which direction I'm leaning in?

In the next few weeks, I will be driving to Montclair, NJ, to meet with who I hope with be my new partner in the quest to becoming a mom. The added bonus, of course, is the Yogi Berra Museum is located in Montclair, so I will fit in a museum visit.

I'm trying not to jump ahead, trying not to get my hopes up. But I think meeting with the attorney, setting that up as soon as possible, means that I could possibly, just possibly, have the domestic adoption thing started before the end of summer.

Friday, June 10, 2011


To add to the thought process about domestic adoption, my cyber friend TG forwarded an email from her placement agency saying that there were more children in need of homes in Haiti than families for them. I met TG through the Ethiopia program, but given all the delays she decided to move away from Ethiopia toward Haiti, a difficult decision for her and one she did not make lightly, but one she knew in her heart was the right one as she builds her family.

The Haiti process is very different from most international countries. Once your application and home study are in, you receive a referral for your child. You then have 90 days to complete all the paperwork for the dossier and then the adoption process begins in-country. From that point, you can expect to bring your child home within 11 to 14 months. You get monthly updates and photos of your child, and can send photos and letters for the nurses to share with your child.

When I first learned about the Haiti process -- and even subsequent times when it has come up -- I was not keen on this process. You have this child, a photo you can look at, and you can't bring him home for a year. Isn't it better to just have the abstract notion of a child for the long wait? Isn't it torture to have this child matched with you and not be able to do anything?

But as TG shared the photo from her referral of her son, and then another on his first birthday, I started to look at things differently.

Let's say all things moves forward with Ethiopia as I had anticipated, and a year from now, I am matched with a 15-month-old. There's the wait for court, and then I fly over, meet him and fly home. And then six or so weeks later, I go back for Embassy and bring him home. He's probably closing in on 20 months or so by now. And I have this baby, nearly two, and until the moment of referral, I knew nothing about him, only what's in his file.

On the flip side, in the next few months, let's say I am matched with a 9-month-old from Haiti (I would be able to request 0-12 months at referral). And for the next year, I receive monthly updates and photos. I know who is caring for him. I know they are telling him about me and showing my picture. I even get to go visit him as often as I am able to afford. And then a year or so later, I get to bring a 20-month-old home.

And even though I wasn't caring for him, I know his story. I know when he took his first steps, and got his first tooth. I have those things to tell him, to share with him, to document for him.

There is no perfect solution. No perfect answer. There will be heartache in waiting and angst as I move forward. No matter what. Ethiopia. United States. Haiti.

Waiting. Wondering. Hoping for a quicker outcome. Doing all I can, which I will always think is not enough.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Another Good Sweat

I've had very little to update on the adoption front. I've still not had a call rescheduled with the NH attorney. I had such a positive feeling about them -- especially after the reference checks -- that I hesitate in writing them off just yet. But I reached out the my placement agency the other day to let them know about the situation and ask if they had other referrals for a domestic adoption attorney.

They gave me two names of women in NYC and also said they would follow with NH. It's in their best interest, I supposed, since they were the initial referral to me.

After emailing them today, I heard back from both and I now have two calls scheduled within the next week with the NYC attorneys, one of whom is from Rochester and went to Syracuse University. It's sappy and probably silly, but I liked the fact that this New York City-ite will understand that "upstate New York" is not Westchester, that there is a whole big state above Rockland County.

So I will update you on my work-out tonight. And the ever-frustrating plateau between the 25- and 28-pound mark. At least the scale was going in the right direction today, but I'd like that to happen several weeks in a row. This up and down shit is for the birds.

The past few nights have been gorgeous here, so instead of the campus fitness center, I've been going up to the track. Two-and-a-half miles last night, three tonight -- both nights I ran all the stairs on the bleachers, on both sides.

My reward? Besides a really good sweat, and hopefully a really good night's sleep, this amazing view of the baseball field and Cayuga Lake

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Good Sweat

I've been awake sine 3am. Watched "Family Guy" on Cartoon Network once I realized I wasn't falling back to sleep anytime soon. Tossed and turned. Closed my eyes and listened, having seen every episode so many times that I didn't need to pay attention, I could fall asleep.

My mind had other ideas. It rattled around and couldn't be quieted.

At 4am, I put my glasses on and watched an episode of "Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes." At 5am, I turned over to ESPN2 and watched highlights from last night's basketball game. I took a nap about 5:30, only to be woken up at 6am by my alarm.

I was exhausted all day. But I dragged myself to the gym, and am so glad I did. Seventy minutes later, covered in sweat, I had new energy.

I have to remember -- or at least remind myself -- that when I'm feeling over-whelmed, or discouraged, or disconnected, or just plain like giving up, no matter how tired I am, no matter how much I don't want to, there is nothing like a good sweat at the gym.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Derek Jeter -- clap clap, clap clap clap

The last drawing in the year-long raffle -- a signed and framed photo of New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
  • 5 World Championships
  • Rookie of the Year
  • World Series MVP
  • All-Star Game MVP
  • 11 All-Star Game appearances
  • Most hits in (old) Yankee Stadium
  • 5th all-time batting average in Yankees history
  • and about to be the first Yankee with 3,000 hits
And that's even before we talk about how beautiful he is.

What can I say? I love him. And in all my work dealings in Baltimore with professional athletes, I never met him. It was a smart decision.

In 2008, when Bubbles and I went to Yankee Stadium in the final year, we got pretty close to the field and he ran out of the dug-out. She took one look at me and said, "oh yea, good thing you never met him. You'd be all sorts of stupid."

And so, even without ever meeting him, here's to the Captain helping in the last push of the raffle. You know the drill by now....$5/ticket or 5 for $20. Use the donate button.