Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pity, party of one

Two things.

First of all, I think the saga of the ducks has come to an abrupt end. This morning the mama duck took her kids on a walk and never came back. That's what happened last year, and I expected her to eventually leave with her babies, but last year she stuck around for a few weeks before she left with them. This time it was barely 24 hours.

I'm kind of baffled by how things turned out this year. It was nothing like last year. Last year it was obvious when the eggs were about to hatch because the mama duck got off of them when they started to crack. This time I still can't figure out when they hatched because she NEVER got off of them. Tuesday morning there were babies under her! Last year she stuck around with the babies for a few weeks and she was really laid back. She let them play on the grass near her and she didn't mind it when we sat near them and quietly watched them play. This year she didn't want anyone near her babies and took off with them as soon as she could.

I don't know what the difference is, but I'm really sad that they're gone. I've been really looking forward to their arrival all month and then we never really even got to enjoy them before they were gone.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted if they should happen to return, but it's been hours since they left and I have a feeling that they're not coming back.

Second, I called our agency today because the wait is REALLY getting to me this week and I had to have some sort of update before I went insane.

What I found out is that we're still number two and there has been a referral for someone behind us in line. *sigh* I knew that this was possible but I'm still kind of bummed to hear it. We've gotten to the point where our place in line doesn't really matter anymore, because they don't always take the first person on the list. When a baby comes along they pull the first few files and choose the best match. Sometimes it's the family's gender preference, sometimes it's a medical need that only one family was open to and sometimes it's just because whoever is matching felt like a certain family was the best match for the baby. I like that they put a lot of thought into who gets each baby, they don't just randomly pair people up, but it's hard at the same time because it's a bummer when you start getting skipped.

So I've been thinking about it and I don't think that I'm going to do the Friday updates on my blog anymore. At this point it doesn't really matter if there are referrals because they could be referrals for people in line behind us, and even if it is for the person in front of us and we go to the front of the line it doesn't mean that we'll be next. I'll still give updates if there's anything exciting to report, of course, but I'm not obsessing over each referal anymore.

Our contact at the agency couldn't really tell me much more except that we're really close and it could happen at any time. The not knowing is frustrating to me. What does any time MEAN?? Tomorrow? Next week? Next month?? I hate it when I don't have control over when things happen. If it were up to me I would be on a plane right this minute on my way to Seoul to track down my baby! The agency is taking too long, I'll just go find her myself, lol. That's totally my personality in a nutshell, patience has never been a skill that I've possessed.

So I didn't find out anything that I didn't already know, and I guess I really didn't expect to. I really don't know why I even called, it's not like calling is going to speed things along. I just needed to do something and that's the only thing I could think of to do. I love our agency, she didn't make me feel like I was silly for calling, even if she thought I was. She's always happy to talk.

So anyway, there you have it. I'm kind of bummed today. I'm feeling let down by the abrupt birth and exit of the ducks and I'm bummed to hear that people behind us are getting referrals, even though I've been telling myself for weeks to be prepared for that. In the grand scheme of life those are both really stupid things to be bummed about, but I'm going to have my pity party anyway, lol. I'm giving myself the afternoon to pout and then I'm going to pull myself together and get over it.

We all deserve a little pity party every now and then, right?!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The ducks hatched last night!

And I missed it!! :(
I checked on the mama duck yesterday afternoon and nothing was out of the ordinary. She was still sitting on the eggs like nothing was new. I wasn't actually expecting them to hatch for a few more days.
Then this morning I went to check and there are baby ducks under her! I can't believe I missed the whole thing! They must have hatched during the night!
Last year she got off the eggs a lot in the afternoons and she got off of them completely when they were ready to hatch. But this year I almost never see her off of them. I haven't been able to get a good look at them in weeks, so I couldn't even check for cracks.
I'm SO bummed that I missed it!!! Watching the babies hatch last year was the best experience ever.
I'll get pictures in a little bit and post them, but there won't be hatching photos this year. :(

Monday, April 27, 2009

A new week

Could this be the week we get our referral?? I feel like we're getting really close. For some reason lately I keep waking up in the morning with butterflies in my stomach.

Remember the other day when I posted about some changes about Shawn's job, and then I UN-posted it? It's reposted now, if you're interested. Check the "Changes Revealed" post if you want to know what's going on with Shawn's job. The short version is that the pharmacy he was managing has been sold to Shopko and as of Saturday it is closed. Today he starts his new job managing a section of a long term care pharmacy. It's going to be a change for him, but in this economy where everyone is losing their jobs, we're not going to complain!

It was really hard for him to say goodbye to all his employees, but I think everything is going to be OK once they get through the transition. Our Korean friend Larry is one of the people Shawn had to lay off, but fortunately Larry already has other job prospects, so I think he'll be OK.

Last week was really busy and hectic around here and I didn't really get a chance to blog about it much. Thursday and Friday I was a temporary employee of the pharmacy, helping them get some paperwork done before they closed. In the midst of that was Josh's first Pinewood Derby at cub scouts! Shawn was really excited to help Josh make his car and we all had a fun time with it.

Saturday morning I took Matthew to a YMCA spring soccer camp that he'll be doing every Saturday morning for the next month. I think Matthew is going to be our athlete! He really loves soccer, it's fun to watch him get so excited about it. Here's a photo:




And here's one of Josh that I took Saturday morning.



My kids are growing up so fast!!

This week my main focus is keeping an eye on the duck eggs in our backyard because I think they're due to hatch really soon. She started sitting on them in the first few days of April and they usually incubate for about 28 days, which means that we're getting really close! The day they hatch I'm planning to sit out there the entire day like I did last year. I sat in my backyard and watched the eggs hatch for about 8 hours last year and I took over 600 photos that day. It was the neatest experience ever and I can't wait to get to see it again!

The day that they hatch I'm planning to do some sort of hourly update or something on my blog if you want to follow along. I'll have photos and hopefully even video. It should be a fun day and I'm looking forward to it!

So I've been waiting to see who's going to get here first-the baby ducks or Clarissa's referral. Unless something happens in the next few days, I think the baby ducks are going to win. But as exciting as the baby ducks are to me, frankly I'm still rooting for the referral. :)

Friday, April 24, 2009

No update :(

Two weeks in a row with no update. Bleh.

It's Friday!

I'm definitely expecting a Friday update today, so stay tuned for an update this afternoon.

We've reached the point in the wait where it is possible that we're going to be skipped and #3 could get the next referral, so I'm trying to be prepared for that. There could be two, or even three referrals this week that aren't ours, so I'm trying to remind myself of that so I don't get too dissapointed.

In Korea there are generally more boys available for adoption than girls. So it's not uncommon for a few families waiting for girls to pile up at the top of the waiting list and get skipped over because the referrals coming in are for boys. So even though we're #2 now, if #1 is also waiting for a girl and a referral comes in for a boy, we're both going to get skipped for whoever is waiting for a boy in line behind us.

Hopefully that's not going to happen, but I kind of have a feeling that it will, so I'm mentally preparing for it. So today if there are referrals I'm going to check with our contact at the agency before I get too excited about moving up to #1 on the list. It's possible that there will be referrals today and we'll still be number two. I'll keep you posted with whatever info I get as soon as I get it.

Today I'm working on some big projects that needed to be done, so that's keeping me busy while I wait for the update. I'll keep you posted as soon as I know something!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Changes revealed

Well, along with today's blog change we have another change around here. I blogged a couple of weeks ago about a change that would be happening in our family that I couldn't talk about and now I finally can.

Shawn is at work right now letting his employees know that they're closing the pharmacy at the end of the week. :(

Shawn manages a local independent pharmacy, and there are two parts to it. The front half of it is a retail pharmacy, which is what my husband manages, and the back half of it is a long term care pharmacy. They have contracts with a lot of nursing homes and mental health facilities in the area and the long term care pharmacy just takes care of those patients. That part isn't open to the public, they only handle facility contracts.

The people that own the pharmacy took Shawn out to dinner a few weeks ago to let him know that they've sold the retail prescriptions to a chain pharmacy and they're going to close the retail pharmacy and just focus on the long term care pharmacy. It was still a profitable business, it wasn't that they needed to close, the owners (who own other pharmacies) decided that they just want to focus on long term care pharmacies now and they got a good offer from a chain to sell the retail portion.

The good news is that Shawn still has a job. The bad news is it's not the same job he had, which is a job he really really loved. They're moving him to the long term care pharmacy and he's going to be managing a section of that. They're still considering him a manager, with the same salary and benefits and everything, but the type of work he'll be doing is a lot different than what he was doing before.

Before he was managing the entire retail pharmacy. He did the hiring, the scheduling, the ordering and pretty much kept that place running. He really loved that and he's good at it.

Now he'll be managing a few employees in one section of the long term care pharmacy but will be doing a lot less day to day managing and a lot more filling prescriptions. He's OK with it, but he's really going to miss what he was doing before. He likes working in a retail pharmacy. He's great with people, he enjoys working with the customers and he's a great manager. He'll interact with a lot fewer people now, which I think will take some getting used to.

The hardest part for him is that at this very moment he's telling several people who he considers his close friends that they no longer have a job. For a few weeks he's known that he was going to have to lay off people that he really cares about and it's been killing him. He's been so stressed out about it.

The saddest part for me is that he has to lay off our Korean friend Larry. We've gotten to be really good friends with him. He was just here a few days ago making us Korean food and he ran the marathon with Shawn on Saturday. Spending time with him knowing that he was going to be laying him off has been extremely hard for Shawn. He has absolutely no choice in the matter, but he still feels responsible somehow. I feel bad for what Shawn has been going through for the past few weeks and I feel really bad for the employees who are being laid off.

Pharmacist jobs aren't hard to find and I know the the pharmacists he's laying off will find work soon, but Shawn's worried about the techs, like Larry, and other people that he had to lay off in this economy.

So that's been really hard at our house for the past few weeks. It's really been eating at Shawn. He really loves that pharmacy and the people he works with and he's really sad to see it close. Heck, I'm sad to see it close. I didn't work there, but I've gotten to know and love the employees there over the years and we do consider the people that work there friends.

So anyway, there you go. It's been a rough couple of weeks around here and I think it's going to be rough for a while. Shawn is going to be swamped at work for the next few weeks, dismantling the retail pharmacy and getting his new job set up in the long term care pharmacy.

So now would be a really good time for a referral to come and cheer him up!! With all the chaos in his life right now, he needs some good news! We're keeping our fingers crossed that it's soon!

Blog change

I decided to change my blog design, but for some reason this time I had a really hard time with the color. The colors looked completely different online than they did in Photoshop, which normally I know how to fix, but this time it just wouldn't cooperate with me.

So as a result I had to totally oversaturate the colors in Photoshop to make them look normal on the web, but I don't know if it just looks that way on my computer or if it looks that way for everyone. I've got monitor calibration issues at the moment.

So anyway, if you look at my blog today and it's so horribly flourescent green that you have to put sunglasses on to look at it, please let me know! I might scrap this design altogether and start over. I don't think I'm loving it as much as I thought I was going to...

edited to add: Ok, after messing with it all afternoon and trying all sorts of different options, I've decided just to tone down the color and leave the design as is. It's now a lot less bright than it was this morning. So hopefully this still looks good and doesn't blow out anyone's eyeballs when they look at it, lol.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Still waiting...

I feel like I haven't posted much lately. Or if I have it hasn't been anything interesting!

I'm sort of in a low point with the adoption wait right now. I've thought about it so much and I've talked about it so much that at the moment I'm totally burned out. I'm literally tired of listening to myself talk about it. And now I shall proceed to talk about it. Again. :)

On Tuesday we will have officially waited 17 months. That's long enough, don't you think?? The projected wait time right now for our agency is 15-17 months. On Tuesday we start month 18. I'm thinking month 18 is just going to start to get really depressing!! Every time the phone rings I think it's the agency and then everytime I answer it and it's not I resent the person for calling me and making me think it was the agency, lol. I'm just a ball of fun right now, aren't I?!

Knowing that I have a daughter out there somewhere that I haven't met yet is a weird feeling. My daughter is actually a living breathing person, living on the other side of the world somewhere right now. Knowing that she's out there somewhere, being taken care of by strangers and all I can do is hope and pray that she's being loved is hard. What is she doing right now? Is she awake? Asleep? Eating? Laughing? Crying? Whatever she's doing, I wish she were doing it here instead of on the other side of the world. I want to see her face. I want to hear her Korean name. I want to know when her birthday is. I have a child out there somewhere and I don't even know when her birthday is. I sometimes think that I just literally can't stand it for one more day.

But then I do, because I have no choice. Since getting on an airplane, flying across the ocean and frantically searching through Seoul for my baby isn't an option, I just keep on waiting. One of these days the phone is going to ring and it's going to be the agency letting me know that the time is finally here. One of these days its going to be our turn. That's going to be a pretty sweet day.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Yay for Shawn!!

I just have to brag on my sweet husband who completed a half marathon today!

There is an event here every spring called The Race To Robie. It's the toughest half marathon in the west. It's 8 miles up a mountain and then 5 miles back down. Over 2,500 people run it every year.

For months Shawn and two of his coworkers have kind of joked about running it (Shawn is not a runner and neither are his coworkers) but they finally decided that they were serious so they challenged each other to do it and they signed up. They definitely aren't competitve runners but they thought it would be a neat thing to accomplish.

So they spent the day today running up and down a mountain and I'm really proud of him for completing his goal! Way to go Shawn!

Friday, April 17, 2009

No update today

We got an e-mail a few days ago letting us know that the woman that does the updates is out of the office for a few days. I know she's still working because she's the one that sent me the Flat Stanley info yesterday, but I think she's travelling or something. Maybe she's in Korea!

Anyway, so I wasn't really expecting a Friday update today. I've still been checking my e-mail all day just in case, but I've been trying not to obsess over it too much today and I wasn't too surprised when the e-mail never arrived.

At least I can cross off another week! We're one week closer to meeting our sweet Clarissa. Yay! :)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Live from Korea...Flat Stanley!!

Oh my gosh, I have the BEST story to tell today!!!

Josh is in the third grade and this year they're doing the Flat Stanley project. For anyone not familiar with it, it's a project that kids do all over the country where they make a little person out of paper (Flat Stanley) and then they find someone to mail him to in a different state or a different country, and then that person takes Flat Stanley on a little adventure, writes about what he did while he was there and then sends him back.

It's kind of a fun geography lesson for the kids when they all get their Flat Stanleys back and the class gets to look at where they all went.

When I first heard that Josh was doing the project I was determined to Josh's Flat Stanley to Korea. I contacted our social worker at our adoption agency (the woman in charge of the famous Friday e-mails!) and asked her if she had any ideas. Since she's in charge of the Korea program at the agency she talks to social workers in Korea all the time and there is constantly paperwork going back and forth to and from Korea. So she said to just send Flat Stanley to her and she would forward him on to the adoption agency in Korea and hopefully someone there would find him a friend.

That was about a month and a half ago and we haven't heard a word from Flat Stanley. Until today!!! I just got an e-mail from our social worker who just got an e-mail from a social worker in Korea who gave Flat Stanley to her son, who is in fourth grade. He took Flat Stanley around Korea for a few days, took probably a dozen absolutely ADORABLE pictures and wrote Josh a letter!!

I wish so badly that I could post the photos because they're awesome, but I'm not comfortable posting photos of children if I don't have permission from their parents, so I can't do it. But I will post the letter that the little boy sent to Josh. It was so sweet that it made me cry. Plus it was something that actually came from Korea!! You have no idea what something as simple as an e-mail from Korea does to me these days. In a strange way it's a little link to Clarissa and that just makes me happy. :)

Here's the letter!


Dear Friend, Josh White,

Hi, I am Im, Jun-nyeong who is a forth grader at Sihn Heung Elementary school in Seoul, Korea. It was greatly exiting opportunity to stay with your friend, Flat Stanley for a while.

When I met him for the first time, he looked very happy even he had long trip to here. My sister, Ye-in and I greeted him with warm heart. Your kind letter about Stanley was very helpful to understand who is he and why he traveled to Korea such a long trip.

During he was here, Ye-in and I played piano and violin for him and brought him to a Seafood restaurant. My mom loves to go and eat there. She is a good cook but sometimes doesn’t like to cook. And, we ate a lot. Sorry but there was no pizza so Stanly ate only some of grape and pineapple. I didn’t want him to have stomachache with strange food.

One day, I went to school with him, some my class mates were very curious on him and wanted to take photos. You can see what he did with me in Korea. I’m attaching some of photos of him. Hope you enjoy them.

Well… It was great fun. It would be very happy to hear from you again.
Thank you for giving me this chance to stay with him for a while.

Love,
Im Jun-nyeong.


Edited to add: I changed my mind, I really want to share some of the photos so I decided just to black out faces. You'll still get the idea!


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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I'm still alive!

After a few days of being stuck in bed with the flu I'm feeling much better now! While I was sick I watched four documentaries.

I Am A Promise, which is about a low income elementary school in Philladelphia. Really good and very eye opening.

My Date with Drew, which is about a guy trying to get a date with Drew Barrymore in 30 days. Cutest documentary EVER. Seriously, I watched it twice.

Thin, which follows several women in an eating disorder clinic. Really good, but also sad.

Last but not least I finally got to watch a documentary that I've been waiting to see for a while called Adopted. It follows two stories. One of them is a 30 year old Korean adoptee who is struggling with her adoption and her identity and the other story is of a family getting ready to start their adoption journey by adopting a baby from China.

I've been really excited to see the documentary because I've been really interested in the experiences of Korean adoptees, but truthfully the documentary left me sad and frustrated more than anything.

I've done a lot of research lately on adult Korean adoptees and it is hard to hear that a lot of times they struggle more than you would expect. It's got to be hard when Caucasians see you as Asian but Asians don't feel that you're Asian enough, being raised in a Caucasian home. From the research I've done there seems to be this sense of never quite fittting in to either group.

That seemed to be something that the woman in the documentary was struggling with. My heart hurt for her, especially because her family wasn't very supportive of her struggles. They sort of had the attittude of "we adopted you as an infant 30 years ago and you've been raised as a member of our family. Why are you still talking about your adoption?" They didn't really want her to keep bringing it up.

I wonder if internationally adopted children now are going to struggle any less than those who were adopted 20-30 years ago, due to the change in attitude about adoption? It seems that 30 years ago adoption was less talked about, and in some cases children were never told they were adopted at all (although that's obviously not possible in an Asian adoption!). I don't think that parents did the kind of research that they're doing now about attachment issues and racial issues and the struggles of adopted children. I would like to think that adoptive parents are better informed and more aware these days than they were 30 years ago.

For instance, the adoptive parents in the documentary didn't travel to Korea, had no desire to, didn't know a single thing about Korea from some of the misinformed comments the mother made and when the daughter asked the mother about her birth mother the mother said she didn't care about the birth mother because she had nothing to do with anything. That was shocking to me. The parents didn't seem to have any interest in talking about adoption and I think that's part of the reason why the woman struggled so much with her identity. She needed answers. She needed someone to understand what she was going through.

I have to hope that life will be a little easier for Clarissa because our attitude about adoption is so different. I care very much about Clarissa's birth mother and I will always be willing to discuss that subject with her if she wants to talk about it. I'm willing to bring as much Korean culture into our family as she wants. If she wants to learn more about where she came from I'll fly her back to Korea and let her see for herself. Adoption will never be a taboo subject in our home. I don't feel jealous of her birth mother or ashamed to be adopting or any of that. Adoption is a beautiful thing that should be celebrated. I'm baffled by people who adopt and don't feel that way. It does such a disservice to their child. The documentary just left me sad and frustrated for the woman who never did get understanding from her parents. I've heard similar stories from other Korean adoptees.

I don't know, I think this is one of those cases where I've over researched. I've taken the struggles of every Korean adoptee that I've read about so personally and I want to somehow fix it all for them. Then I start to worry that Clarissa is going to go through all these things and then I start to worry that we're not doing the right thing. I start to worry that we're going to ruin Clarissa for life because we'll be raising her in a caucasian home.

In the documentary there was one scene that made me really sad. The woman went to a Korean restaraunt with her dad and she pointed out a group of Koreans who were eating at another booth. She said "Look at them. They're real Koreans. I look like them but I have no connection to them." The dad totally didn't get what her issue was. I just wanted to give her a hug.

When I come down from that panic attack I have to remind myself that we're only trying to give Clarissa the best life given her circumstances. Being an adoptee in Korea isn't pleasant. If she found a Korean family to adopt her she would most likely be raised to be ashamed of her adoption. Adoptees have a harder time finding work in Korea, they often have a harder time getting married and they're generally looked at as second class citizens. That's not a good life for anyone. If that's the alternative for Clarissa, I want her here with us where she will be loved and cherished and raised to believe that being adopted isn't something to be ashamed of, it's something that makes her extra special. I don't think that I can make her immune to struggles about her identity, but I hope that I can at least be understanding and help her get through it.

Anyway, I probably shouldn't have watched that documentary when I didn't feel well. My mental state was already kind of low. In my heart I know that we're doing the right thing for Clarissa, given her circumstances, but I think as mothers we always have this guilt or worry that we're somehow not doing every single thing we can for our kids though, you know? I just want my kids to be happy, well adjusted and to know that they're loved. I hope that Clarisssa feels that growing up.

So then last night I had a dream. I dreamed that we got our referral and suddenly they handed Clarissa to us the same day. I kept saying "but I didn't even get to talk to her foster mother!" lol

Then we brought her home and I was walking around with her and we somehow walked into a weird funhouse maze. It was all dark and scary and we got lost and I was trying to hold on to her but I couldn't figure out how to get us out. I guess it doesn't take a genius to figure out that dream, lol.

I guess I kind of am walking into the scary unknown with Clarissa and is going to be hard at times. I worry way too much about what the future holds. I'm the kind of person that likes to think I can plan my entire life out in advance and when I realize that I can't I start to panic. I like to be in control of things and admitting that there are some things in life that I can't control is hard for me.

We'll get through it though. I guess I can look at that documentary as a "what not to do" manual and learn an important lesson from it. But I also think that I'm going to take a break from the research for a while and put some happier thoughts in my head. Like that fact that we're NUMBER TWO and probably within a matter of weeks I'm going to be looking at a photo of our sweet Clarissa. I absolutely can not wait.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Miserable Monday

We got home yesterday from a really fun weekend with family and about an hour after we got home I started to feel kind of yucky and now I've got the flu. :( Blech, I haven't been this sick in a long time. My whole body hurts.

So today I'm going to do nothing but lay here and try not to move. Fun stuff.

As soon as I'm feeling better I'll blog about my weekend. We had a really fun time.

And we're number two! Yay! :)

Friday, April 10, 2009

we're number two!!!!!

I'm replacing the very brief update I made here earlier with a better one now that I'm in front of a computer again.

Today we travelled to my moms house for my grandpa's 91st birthday party. We were in the car at the time I was expecting the update e-mail, but it kept getting later and later and the update never came. I spent the first half of the car ride staring at my Blackberry waiting for it to chime to let me know I had e-mail.

Finally when I had pretty much given up hope and decided that there was going to be no update today it arrived with good news! There was a referral!! YAY!!

Ive noticed that we always seem to have good referral news on days that we're traveling! I think I'm going to have to start taking a vacation every Friday. :)

I spent the second half of the car ride smiling over the comments I got to my blog post once I found out. It's fun to have people get excited for us. I read your comments as we were driving and my husband and I enjoyed every one.

So anyway, we're getting SO CLOSE!!! I know that Clarissa is out there waiting to join our family. Every day is one day closer and every day I'm more excited to meet her!

It's Friday again!

I'm not going to be home this afternoon so I won't be able to give the Friday update news as quickly as I normally do. I'll have my Blackberry with me all day, so I'll get the e-mail, but I probably won't be able to sit down and blog about it until this evening.

I got an e-mail from someone yesterday asking me to to blog about what happens after we get our referral. I get that question a lot, so I thought answering it in a blog post would be a good idea, but honestly, it's so complicated that I don't even understand it well enough to explain it in detail. I'll try my best.

Once we get our referral there is a whole bunch of complicated government paperwork that goes on. It's discussed often on the Korean adoption message board I visit, but it's always discussed in abbreviations that I don't completely understand. There are people waiting for their P3 and their VI and their TC (I know that one, it's travel call!) and it's like a foreign language to me at this point.

That part of the process is something that I figure I'll learn as I go once we get to that point. I basically understand it, sort of, but it's something my agency is going to have to walk us through when the time comes.

But basically what happens is that as soon as we get our referral we start a paperchase with the government. There are a whole bunch of forms that have to be approved to bring Clarissa into the country and each one has to be approved before we can move on to the next step. There are about seven steps I think. The government has to approve us to bring a child into the country and Clarissa has to have a passport and a visa and all of that before she can leave Korea.

One of the first things we have to submit is a form to USCIS that basically asks for approval to adopt a foreign orphan. The Department of Homeland Security looks at our background check and our homestudy to make sure we're not child molesters or terrorists or whatever and they look at the info on the baby we're trying to bring into the country and then once decide we're OK they approve the form and we can move on to the next step, which I think the adoption message board calls the NVC, and I think it might have something to do with getting Clarissa's visa, but I'm not sure. That's when I start getting confused. :)

The problem with all of these steps is that the government moves at their own pace and you never know how long they're going to take. From what I've seen on the adoption board, it's completely random. Some people have gotten certain forms approved in days and for other people it's weeks or months. It just depends on how fast that particular government office is moving at the time. The average wait between the time of referal and the time you travel to Korea is about 3-6 months. Our agency has told us to prepare for six months, but most of the people I see on the adoption board seem to be getting it done in 3-4 months. Best case scenerio I hope that we're traveling to Korea by August.

During that 3-6 month wait we're able to send Clarissa a care package to her foster home. In the past couple of weeks I've been gathering a few things that I'm planning to put in that package. Most people send photo albums of family photos and things like that so that the baby can get used to seeing their new family. The foster parents are usually really great and showing the baby the photos every day. Whether it helps or not, I'm not sure, but it can't hurt! Being the photographer that I am, I have several ideas for photo related things to send to her. I'm sure I'll be blogging more about those things soon.

While we're waiting we will hopefully also get updated photos and info about our baby. They're given regular doctor checkups in Korea and often they'll send updated info about height and weight and things like that during the wait.

Everyone says that the 3-6 month wait between the referral and bringing the baby home is the hardest part. It's hard enough waiting for a baby you haven't seen yet, but once you get that photo and it's a real baby, waiting to get them into your arms is hard and you're pretty much at the mercy of whoever approves government paperwork.

Once all the paperwork is complete and Clarissa is cleared to leave Korea and enter the US, they'll call us and tell us to come get her! At that point we're going to make travel plans as fast as we possibly can and then go to Korea ASAP!

We only have to go to Korea for three days. That's pretty unusual for foreign adoption. In a lot of countries you have to stay for weeks and go before a judge to have the adoption finalized before you can bring the baby home. Korea is different. We won't have her adoption finalized in the Korean courts, we'll have it done at a later time in the US. As a result there's not a whole lot that has to be done while we're in Korea before we can bring her home. By the time we get there to pick her up, she's already pretty much ready to go.

So we're only required to go for three days, but we're hopefully planning to go for a week. If I'm going to fly halfway across the world I'm going to stick around long enough to be a tourist for a few days!

While we're in Korea we will get to meet Clarissa's foster parents and maybe even go to their house and see where Clarissa has been living all this time. It's a good opportunity for the foster mother to tell us everything we need to know about what Clarissa eats, what her personality is like, how she sleeps and all of that.

We'll get to visit Clarissa often, but they usually won't let the adoptive parents actually leave with their baby until they're ready to go to the airport and leave the country. So if we're there for a week we'll have time to do some siteseeing by ourselves as well as visit Clarissa. Then once we're ready to go home they'll hand her over to us and she's ours!

So there is kind of a brief overview of what will happen. Once we get our referral and start the paperwork process I'll be able to explain things better as we go through each step.

But for now I'm going to get ready for a busy day and start obsessing over the Friday update! Check back this evening for an update!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Ho-Hum

My blog is BORING lately! I haven't written much lately because at the moment I just don't have that much to write about. I've been busy, but I haven't been busy doing anything interesting enough to blog about.

The adoption wait is REALLY starting to get to me lately. I'm tempted daily to blog about how tired I am of waiting, but I think everyone is equally as tired of hearing my whine about it, so I try to keep the whining to a minimum. This might be one of those days where you just have to hear me whine though, so I apologize in advance. :) I promise that this blog is going to be a LOT more fun one of these days soon!

Now that we're getting so close I literally jump everytime the phone rings. We could get a call any day now. We're #3, but they don't always go with #1 first and last month they had three referrals in one week. So really the call could come at any moment.

But I think that's what's starting to get to me. It could come five minutes from now or it could come in May. Heck, it could come in June. When we knew we were still months away it didn't bother me quite as much, but now that we're SO CLOSE, it's driving me crazy. Every single morning I wake up wondering if today is going to be the day. I try to not to think about it too much, but it's hard. It's just constantly on my mind.

I've also reached the point where I'm feeling the way I did when I was nine months pregnant and everyone started asking me when the baby was due. Lately I feel like everyone I see asks me how much longer we have. I really REALLY appreciate that people care and I do like to talk about it, but when I'm trying to keep my mind off of it and it comes up in conversation all the time, it's hard. On one hand adoption is my favorite subject and I could yak about it all day long, but on the other hand it's frustrating at the moment and the more I talk about it the more frustrated I get. It depends on who asks and when they ask. I go back and forth all the time about wanting to talk about it and really not wanting to talk about it.

This weekend we're going to my grandpa's 91st birthday party and a lot of family is going to be there so I know I'm going to have to answer questions. Everyone asks the same questions. How much longer do you have? How long after you get matched do you bring the baby home? Are you going to Korea? Are you taking the boys? How long will you be in Korea? Have you picked out a name? How are the boys feeling about having a sister?

Seriously, every conversation I have pretty much goes the same way. I've answered those questions 800 times. It's OK, I'm actually happy that people are curious and care enough to ask, I just feel like a broken record sometimes answering the same questions over and over. I need to type up a memo and just hand it out to people. :)

Wow, I'm totally the nine month pregnant crabby lady, aren't I? I don't mind when people ask questions, I shouldn't make it sound like I hate it so much. I don't hate it, I just wish I could magically get the referral so I could have more exciting news to share! I would much rather go to my grandpas birthday party with a picture of our new baby and pass it around to everyone than to explain for the hundredth time that the referral could come any day now but we don't know when.

I think my biggest problem right now is that I'm such a control freak and not being able to control when the referral comes is really hard for me. If they told me that my referral was going to come on May 19th, I would totally go on happy with my life until May 19th and when people asked me when my referral was going to come I would happily tell them May 19th. It's the not knowing that is driving me crazy! It's having to tell people over and over that I don't know that is driving me crazy. I just want to KNOW already!!

If I'm this crazy now, imagine how nutty I'm going to be after we get the referral and we're waiting for our paperwork to be approved. Talk about not knowing. There are several different things that have to be approved by the government before we can go to Korea and get Clarissa and at each stage there's absolutely no way to know how long it's going to take. The average time to complete everything is 3-6 months. I see lots and lots of people that get it all done in about 3-4 months, but every now and then someone will get stuck somewhere for no apparent reason. The fastest I ever saw anyone complete the whole process and go get their baby was 2 months and three weeks. That was shockingly fast! The longest I've ever seen it take anyone was TEN MONTHS! That was some sort of special circumstance or something though. I don't know the details. Most of the time it's 3-4 months and I'm hoping and praying that it doesn't take any longer than that for us!

So basically I'm just in limbo right now. I'm having a really hard time just going about my daily life without obsessing over the referral all day. Everytime I have to schedule an appointment for anything or anytime someone mentions something that is coming up I can't help but wonder if we're going to have our referral by then. My life these days revolves around when the referral might come. My It's on my mind 24/7.

I think this whole experience has just been one big lesson in patience for me. I've never been a patient person when it comes to waiting for things. I know that the day is coming soon and I know that when it does it's going to be totally worth all the stress and frustration I had getting there, I just wish the end of the wait was today. :) More than anything I wish that I could pick up a photo right this minute and look into Clarissa's eyes and know that she's ours and that she's coming home to us. She's out there somewhere, I know she is. I'm ready to bring her home.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

History

A few years ago I discovered a hobby. I learned to make little family movies in Windows Movie Maker and for a while I was obsessed with it! I made all sorts of fun little movies about big family events.

I haven't made one in a while. The last one I made was of the ducks last year and that one was pretty basic.

I haven't even watched the old videos in a while, but this morning I came across them and I've been sitting here for a while watching and enjoying them. I'm so glad that I made these and I'm kicking myself that I stopped. It's a hobby that I need to revisit.

Anyway, because I was enjoying them so much this morning, I thought I'd share a few on my blog. Maybe in the next few days I'll share more of them.

The first one is the video of Josh's birth (well not the ACTUAL birth!) and the second one is Matthew's birth. I feel bad that I don't have any photos or video of right after Matthew was born. I have video of Josh just seconds after he was born, but due to an emergency c-section I was unconscious for Matthew's birth and neither me or Shawn got to see him until he was almost an hour old.

I love these videos. They bring back such fun memories about really exciting times in our family. I'm excited to be able to add a new video to the collection when Clarissa gets here. Each of my kids arrived in a different way, but each story is special and beautiful to me. I love to remember these special events and I look forward to more exciting events to come!

video


video

Monday, April 6, 2009

Monday meetings

Today has been a day of meetings. I had a training meeting for my new church secretary job this morning, a board meeting this afternoon and then this evening our social worker came by to update our homestudy.

Our social worker is really great, I enjoy having her here, but it was another round of on the spot questions! Remember earlier when I talked about our homestudy and I said that there wasn't a single thing that they don't know about us? Well aparently they found a few things they didn't know because they've added a few new questions to their homestudy report.

Today we each had to say who the biggest influence has been on our lives and why. Shawn said his dad because his dad taught him the value of hard work and the importance of families, and I said my grandparents because they've been married for around 70 years and they have the happiest marriage of anyone I've ever seen.

We also had to say what the biggest problem is in our marriage. That's a hard question to answer on the spot to someone you hardly know. We kind of umm'd and ahh'd and came up with something that probably didn't even make sense, but she wrote it down and seemed satisfied!

Then we had to list the names and ages of all of our nieces and nephews and what our siblings do for a living. In the origional homestudy we just had to give our siblings names and where they live, so this was extra info. I don't mind answering questions like that, it's not like those things are any big secret, but it just seems so weird for them to ask. The name of my 8 year old niece has a bearing on whether or not we're fit to adopt? I guess if it does I'll answer it with a smile on my face. At this point had she asked me to perform a musical number and recite a poem while standing on my head I would have done that too! :) I really do enjoy our social worker and I'm happy to comply with whatever I need to do, but it is kind of weird experience.

Anyway, my day of meetings is over and they were all sucessful, so tonight I'm resting my brain and doing absolutely nothing.

The weather here today is awesome! We went from 40 and 50 degree weather to 70 degrees overnight! This afternoon I went outside and sat with the mama duck for a while. When I feel stressed out I enjoy going out there and sitting in the sunshine and hanging out with the duck. She'll let me feed her little pieces of bread and she'll eat them right out of my hand, so I sat and fed her and then just laid in the grass and enjoyed the sun for a bit. A little sunshine on my face does me a world of good when I'm stressed out!

Speaking of the duck, there's not much happening at the moment, but she is sitting on the eggs full time now. It's fascinating to me how she knows exactly what to do. She has pulled out some of the small little down feathers off her body and put a layer of them around the eggs to insulate them. Then every few hours she gets up, sticks her beak down into the eggs and rotates them. The underside of a ducks beak curved just right so that they can use it to flip over the eggs. It really is fascinating to watch. Nature is amazing.

So now that I've blogged I'm going to turn on the TV and turn off my brain for a few hours. Sounds like the perfect end to my day!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Happy Birthday to me!

Today I turn 34. Right now I'm laying in bed while Shawn and the boys are downstairs having a pow-wow about presents. When that's done Shawn is going to get Ihop take out and I'm having breakfast in bed. It's been a great morning so far!

This afternoon I hope that we can finish Summer Scent and then tonight we'll have a special dinner and birthday cake. That sounds great to me!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Friday update

The Friday e-mail has finally arrived! Unfortunately there were no referrals this week. Darn. We'll hope for better news next week!

It's Friday again!

YAY! We didn't get a Friday update last week because the woman who sends them was out on a medical leave. But as far as I'm aware she's back now and I'm definitely expecting an update today. It's only 9:15 here at the moment and the updates don't come until the afternoon though, so I've got a while to wait. I'll keep you posted!

So what I have to talk about today is change. I feel like there are big changes brewing in our family right now. For my LDS friends, last week I was called to be the Relief Society Secretary. Translated for my non-LDS friends, I've been asked to volunteer as the Secretary for a church womens organization. I'm excited to do it and I think it's going to be fun, but at the moment it's a little overwhelming. The woman that I'm replacing came over a few days ago with a big cardboard box full of things to hand over to me. When someone comes to your house and hands you a cardboard box full of binders and paper and information, you know you're going to be busy for a while. :)

It will be good and once I get the hang of it I'm actually really going to enjoy it. But the next month is going to be a little stressful I think, trying to get it all figured out. I've got a lot to learn.

The other change is something I can't really discuss at the moment, and I hate not being able to discuss something! I'm an open book and I don't hold things back very well. There's something brewing at the moment around here. It doesn't involve the adoption and it's not a bad thing, it's just a change.

But knowing that I've got the secretary job to figure out this month, we've got another change going on and this may be our referral month, it's a busy time around here and my brain is working on overtime to process it! I tend not to handle change very well, so I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. Not necesarily in a bad way because none of it is bad change, I just see our lives charging forward so fast right now and sometimes I just want to put the brakes on and tell it to slow down while I process it.

Life is all about change though, I guess. I tend to resist change at first, even if it's a good change, but I eventally adapt. I like my comfort zone. Stepping out of that always throws me for a loop a little.

Anyway, life is moving forward here. Hopefully that will include a referral in the very near future. If our lives are all about change right now, we might as well throw the referral into the mix! Bring it on!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Return of the Korean Dramas!

A few months ago I discovered Korean movies and dramas and I went on for days about it on my blog until I decided that my blog was turning into a Korean movie review blog and everyone was probably bored to tears, so then I didn't post about it as much.

But here I am again to rave about Korean dramas again!! I can't help myself, I'm totally obsessed!

In case you missed my last description about Korean dramas, let's recap! :) Korean dramas are sort of like a combination between a soap opera, a weekly American TV drama and a mini series. They're on weekly in Korea, like ER or Grey's Anatomy is here. The difference is that generally they only have one story line and when that story line has been played out, the show is over. The dramas that I've seen had about 20 hour long episodes. So it's actually kind of like a 20 hour movie. There's one plot, each episode picks up exactly where the last one left off, and once they've resolved the plot the show is over. They're seriously AWESOME! You know when you watch a movie and you like it but you wish that there could have been more to it? That's why I love Korean dramas. They have the time to really work on the character development and really draw out the plot. They don't have to hurry and resolve things, they're able to take the time to play it all out.

The first Korean drama I saw was called Winter Sonata and I've been totally obsessed with that show ever since. The theme song to that show is the ringtone on my cellphone. Shawn and I are such nerds about it that we're actually planning to spend one day in Korea visiting the island where it was shot. Best show ever. Seriously.

The one we're watching right now is called Summer Scent. It's actually made by the same guy that did Winter Sonata and has a very similar feel to it, and actually it has a similar plot as well. Sort of.

Summer Scent is a little like the American movie Return to Me. The plot goes in a different direction, but the concept is the same. It's about a guy who was in love with a girl and they were engaged to be married and then she dies and they donate her heart. Three years later he's still grieving over her when he rescues a girl who is lost in the woods. They start talking and spend some time together and they're both really drawn to each other. What he doesn't know is that three years ago she got a heart transplant and what she doesn't know is that her heart belongs to his dead fiance.

The problem is that she's engaged to be married to someone else, but every time she's around the new guy her heart beats faster and she finds herself falling in love with him. The plot gets extremely complicated after that. Her fiance is a really controlling guy who sees what's happening and tries to stop it and it becomes a big mess. The girl and the guy try to stay apart but they just can't and the whole time we keep yelling "just be together!!" at the screen, lol.

The Korean dramas I've seen are extremely emotional and SOOO romantic! Koreans know how to make a compelling and romantic drama way better than us Americans do! Koreans love drama. They like emotional, sad movies. So do I, actually. I can be an intense person and I tend to like emotionally intense movies.

One thing I love about Korean movies is how clean they are. Koreans are not comfortable with public displays of affection at all. You don't kiss in public or anything like that. So the Korean movies I've seen are kind of the same way. No one is hoping into bed together and you rarely even see kissing. But generally they spend the whole movie wanting to kiss and they never do (except sometimes at the end) and I think it's actually way more romantic and sensual than it would be if everyone was just jumping into bed. We're in the middle of Summer Scent right now and we've been on the edge of our seats for three days just waiting for them to kiss already, lol!! They ALMOST do...and then they don't. But in the meantime it's just so SWEET. The Korean men in movies are always incredibly sweet and emotional. Not like American men in movies at all.

One thing I love about Korean culture is their views on fate. I don't necessarily agree with fate, but they do and it makes Korean movies really romantic. There always seems to be a theme of finding that one person that you're meant to be with. They mention fate a lot in the dramas and movies I've seen. Unrequited love is a really common theme in Korean dramas. What do you do when the one person you're fated to be with is with someone else? I've seen that same type of plot several times now in Korean movies and dramas.

Korean movies and dramas also don't always have happy endings the way that American movies do. It seems like with most American movies you can pretty much figure out how it's going to end in the first five minutes. The good guy almost ALWAYS gets the girl in the end. That's not always true in Korean shows. Sometimes it turns out good and sometimes it doesn't. I've seen a few movies and dramas that totally shocked me at the end because they didn't turn out the way I thought they were going to.

Anyway, see, now I've rambled on about Korean movies again!! I've been trying to talk my friends and family into watching Korean movies with me and no one will because they don't like subtitles. I think you just have to watch one though and then you'll be hooked forever! The subtitles bugged me at first but I totally forget I'm even reading them after a while.

If you're interested in trying some Korean movies or dramas (and you totally should because they're awesome!!), my favorite movies so far are The Classic, Ditto and My Sassy Girl, and my favorite Dramas are Winter Sonata and Summer Scent. I could watch any one of those a million times and not get bored. If you're looking for something that is incredibly romantic and beautiful but will make you cry your guts out for half and hour at the end, The Classic is the best movie in the world! I absolutely love that movie. If you want something really funny and sweet that will still probably make you teary at the end, My Sassy Girl is the cutest movie ever. It cracks me up and makes me cry at the same time.

It's my goal to get just ONE person hooked on Korean movies! The Classic is my all time favorite movie in the world and I can't get anyone besides my husband to give it a try. I'll be happy if I can talk just one person into watching it, lol. I've begged my family for months, and no go so far. They don't know what they're missing!!

So if you watch The Classic because I told you what a great movie it was and you can't wait to cry your guts out for half an hour, leave me a comment so I know that I've created a new Korean movie fan, OK? :)

You can even watch it online! http://www.veoh.com/search/videos/q/THe+Classic+k-movie#watch%3Dv844936S9sSCgc9

See how easy I made it?! :)