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Adoption in 5 stages

Are you familiar with the Kübler-Ross model of the stages of grief?  I’m sure you’ve heard of them, they’re the stereotypical 5-stages that are outlined to include:

1) Denial

2) Anger

3) Bargaining

4) Depression

5) Acceptance

While these stages are usually used to describe the way people deal with serious life events like death and dying, I see myself in these bullet-points as we’ve waded throughout this long and tiresome adoption process.

When we first started the adoption I was thick in Denial.  When we first saw King’s face on the agency waitlist I was struck with him and for weeks I couldn’t get him out of my head.  I had half a dozen photos and in each one his mischievous little smirk told me that he would fit well in among our wild brood.  I told our agency’s coordinator that we felt he was meant to be ours.  She tried to entourage us to took at a few of the other boys because she knew that King’s file could possibly be difficult to gather and it would be a long wait for us – possibly up to 12 months before we could travel (keep in mind our dossier was already totally completed at this point and all of the necessary approvals on our end had already been received.)  I shrugged off the idea of a 12 month wait listing off in my mind all the things I had on my to-do list anyway…..besides, I figured, she says 12 months but I bet we’ll be ready to travel by summer time (9 months later) and she’ll remark and how surprised she is that things moved so quickly.

11 months later I started to get mad.  (Stage 2 – Anger)  Our dossier was set to expire soon (they’re only good for about 15 months) and not only were we not traveling at 12 months time, but we hadn’t even been officially given King’s referral (the result of a completed child history, which we were also still waiting on.)  I knew that historically after referrals are received it’s about 4-6 months until travel is expected so at this rate, it would be a minimum of 17+ months total time – longer than the 9-12 months I had been expecting thanks to Stage #1. I didn’t want to talk about the adoption with anyone.  When people would ask me, “So when exactly are you guys going to Thailand?”  I’d reply with an angry grunt and snort out a pained, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Month 14 arrived and I had a new project – the approvals contained within our dossier were going to expire and I needed to get all of our stuff together to apply for renewals.  I had renewed vigor.  Finally this was something I could do and I was sure that it was the thing our whole process was resting on.  Dee couldn’t be born until we had a name picked out for him and King’s paperwork couldn’t be finished until we were totally ready to go.  This was my way of working through #3 – Bargaining – but it was short lived.

Of course once our paperwork was complete and fully updated (somewhere around month 15) and once again I didn’t have any thing to actively contribute to the process any longer, there was still no movement.  This is where #4 crept in – Depression.  A short burst of happiness broke through early on when we heard that his child history document had been completed but it dissipated as the weeks and weeks went on with the expectation that everyday could be “the day” only to be disappointing when 11am rolled around and we hadn’t heard from our agency.  I’d come to dread weekends.  Not because I hate having free time, or hate not being at work, but because it was 2 days straight that there was no hope of hearing any good news.  I was sad.  Just plain sad.

Then came last week.  I felt like finally I had some sense of normalcy.  I was happily in stage #5 – Acceptance.  I felt like I could take a back seat and just let the sea of things to come take me along for the ride.  Boy was that short lived.   Word started coming in from other waiting families that we knew – families that had previously had similiar timelines to ours – families had received child histories and official referrals and were now also hearing that they were traveling in the next couple of months.  I was torn between feeling so excited for the families and feeling as though we are being left behind.  Everyday we don’t receive his accepted child history the gap gets wider and I find myself teetering between stages #4 and #5.  Sometimes more than once in a single day!  This adoption is making me bi-polar!  Our poor agency coordinator has to listen to me rant about it this week.  Thankfully she took it in stride and told me that she understood and that she would do her best to save my sanity.  Oh boy will that be a feat and a half.

Here is where the delicate nature of blogging comes in – do I blog about all my whiny feelings in an effort to be authentic (after all, this is my blog and I am here to blog about the adoption process), or do I spare you guys from my every annoying mood swing and just blog about the happy things, the progress made, and the end result?  That’s a rhetorical question, of course, because this is where I tell you that there is no news.  The rumor I eluded to true several months ago is still perceived to be true but it is stalled there.  I’ve tried not to blog much about the process in some strange hope that staying silent will make things happen sooner (there I am back to stage #3 again!)  But we can all see how that’s going.  I will tell you, dear readers, the same thing I told our adoption coordinator – I apologize now and in advance for my crazy rantings.

I’ve reached Zen

From the very first day of this year, I’ve felt like I was on overdrive.  Suddenly the zen wave I had been riding crashed – hard.  Other families’ cases started moving and I felt like we were being left behind.  I started to become anxious about how things were progressing. I think that our agency worker has heard from me more in the last 8 weeks than she had in the last 18 months.  Last week I took a stand with myself.  The conversation went a little like this:

Me:  OMG this is taking for-ever!

Myself:  It’s totally out of your hands so why are you stressing?

Me:  I heard a rumor his paperwork was done – maybe the referral will come today!

Myself:  And if it doesn’t, maybe it will be next week, or the week after.  You can be sure it will be some week – and when he’s 18, those few weeks will be a drop in the bucket.  Just relax.

Me:  What if his referral is just sitting at the agency and no one is seeing it??

Myself:  It’s not.  When it gets there, or they hear something about it, they’ll let you know.

Me:  How do you know that for sure?!

I:  What if it never happens?!?!  Like never?!

Myself:  I, you need to relax!

I:  But what if they finish his study and find him unadoptable and we lose him?!  Or what if they think our family is too big and don’t approve our files to be matched?!?

Myself:  That’s not going to happen and you know that.  I can’t even talk to you two any more.

Me is super impatient.  I is annoyingly paranoid.  Myself is in zen-mode.  I’ve been all 3 characters in the last couple of weeks.  Going into this week, I am Myself.  Zen Mode 100%.

.

Last week, when I was at the height of my crazy rantings, I had to break out a little and took almost 2 days off of adoption talk.  I stopped reading blogs, I stopped thinking about posting in my blog, I stopped talking about adoption with any of my friends.  By the morning of the 3rd day, I was able to go the whole day without obsessively checking my email or stalking other bloggers for progress. This week I think I’m going to be able to ride this wave again.

Shame on me.

I long for the day when this blog can be used for family stuff, as I intended, instead of my obsessive adoption ranting.  Sadly for you at this moment, this is all I have to offer – not only in blogger land, but in every day life too.  Today while talking to another AP/PAP we were discussing her hope that they will be presented at committee tomorrow, I actually emailed her the number of hours until the work day started in Thailand.  Seriously.  I’ve now gone so far as to attempt to spread my obsession to other people!  What is wrong with me?!  She wasn’t counting the hours – she was probably just quietly hoping that they would get a call from our agency tomorrow giving them the good news, but instead I had to get precise with them and give them something to think about.  Shame. On. Me.

I’m bound and determined to become the person that other people avoid at parties.  You know the type – the person that has only one topic to talk about and constantly beats that topic into the ground.  That’s me.

(For the record, good luck Chelsea and fam!!  I hope tomorrow is your day.)

All is quiet in the west…..

No news on that previously reported rumor.  It’s been 2 weeks since we heard it could happen “at any time” but we’re far from the only ones in this boat of ambiguity.  If nothing else, this extended timeline has given me some extra time to build some relationships and do some reading/research on older child adoption and attachment.  It’s become my new goal to dive into those topics until the day comes that we will actually be using their theories to help King.

My resolutions have been going well and I’ve been completing my “Daily Joy” exercises every day now for the last 21 days.  To be honest they’ve been very helpful.  It’s been nice to be able to look back at my week when I’m feeling particularly blue and see a list of all the good things that have happened in my week.  In the heat of a “downer” it’s not always easy to see the positives.  One of my best ones from last week was about my kids at work.  Our newest class tested their first 3 official GED tests and out of 39 administered tests, 37 of them were passing!  95% success rate is pretty darn good when some of them walked into my classroom with a 6th grade reading level last fall.  I’m so incredibly proud of them all – I can’t wait to brag them up at our graduation ceremony in June.

I also had a doctor’s appt several weeks ago with my new insurance provider and they really wanted to run the whole gamete of testing on me.  Good news: my thyroid is good, my liver function is strong, and my B12 levels (as well as all the other little things) are right where they should be.  Bad news: my Vit. D levels (which in a healthy adult should be between 50-75) were a whopping 8.  That’s right – EIGHT.  Now I know that we live in a place that not exactly known for it’s abundance of sunshine (in fact is regularly joked that we have liquid sunshine) but 8 is pretty stinkin’ low and qualifies me for the label, “severely deficient”.  I’ve been on supplements for about 10 days now and I’m feeling pretty good.  Fingers crossed that I’ll get some more energy (which has been historically low) and I’ll be feeling a little more perky (which has never been my strong suit) once my body realizes what it’s been missing.  Anyone have any experience with this?

All and all, the little joys have added up and so far things in 2011 have been good.  I’m looking forward to a “girl’s weekend” next week where I’ll be hanging out with Dallas with some girlfriends and having a blast.  It’s a much needed me-cation, BUT, I also hope for it to serve as a celebration.  I won’t be holding my breath – just counting up the daily joy life has to bring.

An emotional 2011

So far this year has been an emotional one.  I’ve suddenly become totally fixated on the adoption.  For almost 2 years now (since we started our homestudy) I’ve been cool and collected.  We had a list of things to get done before we could add another kiddo to the household.  I needed to complete the surrogacy (done 9/09 with the birth of the adorable baby Sera);  I needed to finish graduate school (done 3/10 with the completion of my graduate program); I needed to get my teacher’s license (done 4/10); I needed to find a job (done 7/10 with my awesome job);  The Hubs needed to start school (done 6/10 with his starting one of our state universities).  That’s it.  Those are all the goals I had set out for us to complete before bringing King home.  All of them have been completed and now I have nothing else to focus on.  I mean, sure, I could focus on work, on the other kids, on life in general……but what good would that do?  I’ve tried to join more adoption groups, find more adoption blogs, connect with other waiting parents, etc. in the hopes that I could find some peace.  It hasn’t worked.  I contacted our agency this past week telling our contact just how frustrated and discouraged we were becoming after the last 16 months of virtually no progress.  She replied with the rumor of some good news – well, potentially good news.  News that could means we travel in the next 6’ish months.  I was on cloud nine when I read her email and as it sunk in a little more, I became very anxious.  Suddenly I feel like there’s so much we need to do – so much we need to talk about before we bring him home.  Issues of disclosure (not here obviously, but IRL), issues of culture, issues of language – all the most important aspects that come along with internationally adopting an older child with special needs.  Don’t get me wrong, we’ve touched on these things over the last 2 years and they were the subject of our pre-adoption education hours, but it always seemed as though we’d have more time to make the decisions that would affect our lives, and most importantly his life, forever.

Regardless of whether or not the rumor is true, we have Christmas photos and letters from King to look forward to next week from the orphanage director.  It’s going to be a rough year for my tear ducts either way!

427 days

since we first asked to be King’s adoptive parents.

541 days since we started the process of our second adoption.

We’ve had ZERO progress since my last update.  Can you tell?

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