Part II: Approved!

September 20, 2013 § 3 Comments

Break out the bubbly! This is the day we have all been waiting for…

we received the email from High Commission of Canada this sublime morning:

“Case processing for this file has been completed and a Facilitation Visa issued.”

Our celebratory procession after getting the good news was not as animated as I thought it would be with cartwheels, backflips and a Rocky Balboa victory dance for Jamie–but we are making melody in our hearts. The largest emotion right now is R.E.L.I.E.F.

 

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Etsy.com (UrbanBirdandCo)

 

The finish line is finally in sight—and we will get to it—even if we have to do so crawling on our hands and knees! Maybe we won’t look as enthused as this little guy but he only ran 10K, we ran like a gabillion K.

 

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Hey, did I mention yet that all our ducks are in order and our daughter is ever ready for us to pick her up?!

Now all we need is a Letter of Invitation from our adoption agency’s in-country lawyer (that is correct, you cannot just travel to the DRC—you must have a formal invite to be allowed in the country) and Jamie & my travel visas (don’t hold your breath, this is another whole process of a process).

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“Don’t be impatient for the Lord to act! Keep traveling steadily along his pathway and in due season he will honor you with every blessing”  (Ps 37:34 ).

I like the commentary for this verse:

… Rejoice; God is getting you ready…Furthermore, when He speaks a word over your life it’s like a seed: it needs time to take root and sprout. If God has planned it for you, don’t get into a hurry. “Wait for it; because it will SURELY come”. Patience develops in us the ability to stand up to the pressure thats that accompany blessing. 

“Surely”. I sure like that word…

High Five,

Liz

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The Hallway

August 19, 2013 § 1 Comment

“ In life when one door closes another always opens, but the hallways are a bitch.”(Ronnie Kaye, author of Spinning Straw into Gold)

You feel as if your life is in an incessant state of limbo. You RSVP “Regrets” to wedding invitations, you don’t take holidays and make no commitments. All you do is wait. This is the life of The Hallway dweller.

Your friends and family’s lives zoom on by—yet you stand still, time but a blur. Looking out from within The Hallway. You rejoice with those hoo rejoice, yet are always secretly saddened by the life-sized lacuna you hold in your heart.
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You have no choice but to go through The Hallway to get to the door that will uncertainly eventually open. You see the light streaming through from under the door like the morning sun gently searing through the darkness of night. Most of the time it feels like a mirage, but it draws you in…too beautiful to ignore.

You may move the hands of a clock to suit you, but you do not change the time; so you may hurry the unfolding of God’s will, but you harm and do not help the work. You can open a rosebud but you spoil the flower. Leave all to Him. Hands down. Thy will, not mine. ─Stephen Merritt

Several times during this adoption process we’ve thought that the door was about to fling wide open. It doesn’t. We don’t know why our case has to take so long when many others with whom we started out with have been home with their kids for well over a year. We don’t understand why we have to be the first Canadians with our agency to go through the “new (immigration) process.” Or why things like travel visas are taking up to 5 months now, instead of 5 days like they were before. The only thing we know for sure in this nettlesome conundrum is that she is wholly & completely worth the wait.

xoxo_liz

Alberta Adoption Leave

August 12, 2013 § 2 Comments

Hello Monday!

Today I start my “parental leave.” Although the benefits do not start until our little one is actually home, I am relishing in my new unpaid freedoms: Jammies till 10 am, a full-blown breakfast of Eggs Benedict, homegrown strawberries, french pressed coffee out on the deck and—well—a foot-long laundry list of to-do’s before we “get the call.”

Eddie basking in the morning sun with me

Eddie basking in the morning sun

Best case scenario: we travel in about a month. Worst case scenario: unknown. Either way, I’ve got a head start to plan and pack and play!

Mud Pie. This is what I actually ate this morning. It is not as glamorous as the above mentioned brunch--but quite delightful! (Mix an egg, mashed banana, cinnamon and cocoa powder in a bowl and microwave for 2 minutes. Top with peanut butter.)

Mud Pie. This is what I actually ate this morning. It is not as glamorous as the above mentioned brunch–but quite delightful! (Mix an egg, mashed banana, cinnamon and    cocoa powder in a bowl and microwave for 2 minutes. Top with peanut butter.)

“Parental leave can begin at any time after the birth or adoption of the child but it must be completed within 52 weeks of the date a baby is born or an adopted child is placed with the parent.” (Alberta Federation of Labour)

With the Alberta government, you must have worked 52 consecutive weeks at your place of employment before you are eligible to apply for the employment benefits of parental leave. With adoptions, you are entitled to 37 weeks of benefit pay starting when you get home and have notified Service Alberta of the child’s date of placement. If you have worked a mixture of full and part-time hours over the previous year, or have taken leave early like I did, the government of Alberta will calculate your 22 highest paid weeks from the previous year and base your benefits off of that.

Hope

So if you are thinking of giving your “2 Weeks Notice”, here are the steps you need to take:

1. Give your employer 6 weeks notice

According to the Employment Standards Code employees must give their employers at least six weeks written notice to start parental leave.

“Parents will still be eligible for the parental leave if medical reasons, or circumstances related to the adoption, prevent the employee from giving this notice. When this happens, written notice must be given to the employer as soon as possible.”

Keep a copy of this letter or email.

2. Obtain your ROE or have your Employer send it to CRA directly

3. Wait for The Call

The Service Canada site says that “you should apply as soon as you stop working,” but I’ve confirmed over the phone with a representative that for adoptive parents, you do not apply until you have returned home with the child. You will need a “date of placement” in order to fill out the application form.

4. File for Employment Insurance Maternity and Parental Benefits

File the forms online and soon start to receive up to 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings.

For more information about Employment Insurance call Service Canada at 1-800-206-7218. (Good luck getting through!)

Waiting & Hopeful,

Liz

Edmonton Heritage Festival: Congo-Kinshasa

August 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

Often known as Heritage Days or “nom weekend,” Edmonton celebrates multiculturalism on a wide scale every summer at this long weekender. Festivalgoers can travel around the world in 3 days; sampling a mosaic of ethnic food, entertainment and shops from 85 different countries.

Congo-Kinshasa Pavillion

Along with over 350,000 other Edmontonian festers this holiday weekend, Jamie and I met with some friends at the park and made a bee-line for the Congo-Kinshasa booth.

Congo Pavillion Clothing

The store at the Congo pavilion was minimal and a lot of the stuff sold at it did not appear to be specifically Congolese. We were hoping to see some art and hand made artifacts from the DRC. Disappointing!

Congolese Delecacies

We tried the grilled beef and fried plantains (they were like chewy fries.) Although over-priced, they were quite good. Did anyone try anything else on the menu?

Congo-Kinshasa Heritage Festival 2013

DRC Dancers Heritage Festival

Although seemingly slightly unorganized, the young girls show cased some African style dancing to enjoyable and lively Congo beats.

Finger Puppets.
I picked up these handmade finger puppets and adorable doll at the Peruvian pavilion. I thought the finger puppets would be great for the plane ride home from Africa with lil Z — light weight to pack and (hopefully) provide hours of fun.

I gotta say…I love my multicultural city, and can’t wait to bring Z to the Heritage Fest next year!

XO~

Liz

 

 

 

Adoption Paperwork Organization 101

July 22, 2013 § 6 Comments

Post-it tabs - Anthropology

Post-it tabs – Anthropology

 

Scooping up some gorgeous office supplies recently has given me enough motivation to tackle organizing the seemingly insatiable mound of adoption paperwork that has been bellowing at me since, well, the last (nearly) few years.

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Giant paperclips & leopard print labels – Staples

SAM_2475

Bic markers – Staples

If you are in the beginnings or deep in the throes of an adoption process, here are some simple samples of how you can whittle a disorganized mess right down to delicious!

- Before -

– Before –

Initially I thought I was being organized by keeping everything in the same place in this basket. Well as you can see, my method became maddening. So, if you have gotten too busy or complacent or overwhelmed, you can leave it for one of the long “wait periods” like I did…but obviously the best case scenario for sanity is to get yourself a 3″ ringed binder (no smaller) right off the bat and put it to use. A categorized file system is much more fun flipping through than rummaging through “the basket.”

Here is what you will need:

– pretty file folders, pens, markers, labels (motivation remember!)

– 3″ ring binder

– plastic paper insert sheets (get the biggest pack, you’ll need at least 50 by the time the adoption is complete)

– 8-tab insertable binder dividers, preferably the ones with the pockets

– sticky labels (the leopard print ones are fantabulous but plain white ones will do!) 

– a large workspace

8-Tab binder dividers with pockets - Walmart

8-Tab binder dividers with pockets – Walmart

After you dump the contents of “the basket” on the table or floor or whatever workspace you find, you will need to make the following labels for the binder dividers:

– To Do

– Invoices & Receipts

– Contracts

– Home Study

– Medical

– Immigration

– Dossier

– Legal Documents

You can handwrite them like I did, or if you’re a filing fairy, and have the time to figure out your printing preferences for labels–go ahead and make them glamourous!

Make the dividers first so that you can file them in the binder right-o-way as you get them, or as you retrieve them from “the  basket.” Go ahead and file everything that you still need “To Do.” If you are at the beginning of the adoption process, this section of the binder will be hefty–but you will enjoy being able to move things to the other categories as things get completed.

My “To Do” currently has 3 subsections: travel, Edmonton Adoption Clinic info and Behavioural Therapy info. This is stuff I need to read still, or have handy to reference for when we arrive home. Plus at the front of the “To Do” (in the pocket) are checklists from my adoption agencies.

At the front of the  “Invoices & Receipts” section I put a print out of the itemized quote our agency gave us. As things are paid, I check them off. You’ll want to reference this often throughout the years. Using different plastic sleeves for each vendor and one for “Misc.” will help help you stay streamlined. Keep all adoption related receipts!!!! These prove to be very valuable at tax time.

Make sticky notes as you think of things

Make sticky notes as you think of things

In the “Contracts” section I keep anything that we had to sign for our agencies or immigration consultant. Very important to keep copies of everything you send away! Plus it is good to review your agency contract every once in awhile. What do they require of you for post-placement information? Are you allowed to blog or be on chat platforms?

For the “Homestudy” section, make sure that everything is up to date. When was your last medical? Are your criminal record checks still valid? Are there any significant changes in your financial situation? Are you wanting to change the age or gender specifications of your referral? Check with your agency to see what changes they require you to notify them of.

Some sub-categories of the "Dossier" section

Some sub-categories of the “Dossier” section

The “Immigration” section is self explanatory, the “Medical” section is for your child’s medical documents. Yours will go with your dossier. Your “Dossier” should include certified true copies of every single piece of paper that you sent away.

The “Legal Docs” section is the fun one to see filling up because that means that you are “passing court” and getting your “Act of Adoption” and birth certificates etc. I used the little leopard print tabs to label the plastic insert pages with the date these docs occurred (not as they were received) and filed them chronologically.

- After -

– After –

Lastly, use the pocket in the front of the binder to put manilla folders for extra categories, or for random things such as articles you want to read or contact info of other adoptive parents (AP) you want to stay in touch with. My front pocket is filled with blog ideas…now I have a place to keep them!

“The basket” is now being used to collect our travel meds and other travel supplies that I will be organizing at a later time (hopefully sooner than later!)

Stay tuned *-*

X,

Liz

“There are no short cuts to any place worth going” – Beverly Sills

 

 

 

 

A Prayer a Day

June 25, 2013 § 5 Comments

“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”

– Abraham Lincoln

The most intimate, loving and selfless thing we can do for someone else is to keep them before God in our prayers.

www.madabella.typepad.com

Free printable scripture cards from http://madabella.typepad.com/

Paper pushing is important, and adoption related research is paramount—but praying for our little ones is the most meaningful way we can send them our love from across the Atlantic.

“The greatest gift we can give to others is our prayers.” – Unknown

I’ve got a collection of scripture-turned-prayers that have been percolating in my journal from over the last couple years. Today I turned them into a list of 31 prayers for our daughter: One for each day of the month. (Some of these were derived from Bob Hostetler’s 31 Biblical Virtues to Pray for Your Children.) This list Daily Prayers for Your Children is posted on our fridge so we can focus on one each day. These can be used for anyone, not just your children, just fill that special person’s name in the blanks.

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Quotes on prayer:

“We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.

Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that will get immediate results. We don’t want to wait for God to resolve matters in His good time because His idea of ‘good time’ is seldom in sync with ours.” – Oswald Chambers

“Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.” – Mahatma Ghandi

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.” – Bruce Lee

“The more you pray, the less you’ll panic. The more you worship, the less you worry. You’ll feel more patient and less pressured.” – Rick Warren

Praying like it is my J.O.B.!

xo ~ Liz

Cope or Cop-out

June 8, 2013 § 6 Comments

Cope /kōp/ 1. (of a person) Deal effectively with something difficult. 2. (in building) Cover (a joint or structure) with a coping.

Cop-out \ˈkäp-ˌau̇t\ 1. A failure to fulfill a commitment or responsibility or to face a difficulty squarely 2. An excuse for inaction or evasion.

I’m becoming more withdrawn these days….

Day to day things like grocery shopping, running errands and chores do me in. When it comes to extra-curricular activities with friends and such I’ve been tending to “cop-out.” Part of my coping is keeping a very low profile and a predictable schedule.

printpapercloth.com

Because this isn’t the quintessential me, it got me looking into the psychology behind self-preservation and coping methods. What I found intrigued me:

In psychology, coping is “constantly changing cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage specific external and/or internal demands that are appraised as taxing” or “exceeding the resources of the person”. Coping is thus expending conscious effort to solve personal and interpersonal problems, and seeking to master, minimize or tolerate stress or conflict.
 
There are three broad types of coping strategies:
 
1. Appraisal-focused
Appraisal-focused strategies occur when the person modifies the way they think, for example: employing denial, or distancing oneself from the problem. People may alter the way they think about a problem by altering their goals and values, such as by seeing the humor in a situation…
2. Problem-focused: Any coping behavior that is directed at reducing or eliminating a stressor
People using problem-focused strategies try to deal with the cause of their problem. They do this by finding out information on the problem and learning new skills to manage the problem. Problem-focused coping is aimed at changing or eliminating the source of the stress.
3. Emotion-focused: Directed towards changing one’s own emotional reaction to a stressor
Emotion-focused strategies involve releasing pent-up emotions, distracting oneself, managing hostile feelings, meditating or using systematic relaxation procedures.
(Wikipedia)

I’m quite sure I’m using all of these methods at the moment. When you are going through something as painstaking as an international adoption process with so many pitfalls, some comic relief is crucial. So is endless hours of research on your child’s birth country and other people’s successful adoption stories, etc., etc., etc, …so much research!

Ranting on adoption forums feels like a wonderful way to release pent-up emotions, at the time, but can leave the audience reeling with more food for fret. It’s better to save it for Private Messages with others who inquire specifically. (IMHO)

“The term stress is defined as a condition where an object or individual is under (mental or emotional) pressure. This pressure may be obvious to the individual. In most cases, in fact, individuals are often unaware that they are under stress. Stress usually produces a physical and emotional response in your body, which is how the body deals with the stressful situation. This is actually good for you as it works to stimulate your body into action. However, over time, this may prove to be harmful to the body as it will continuously be exposed to the stressful state this will eventually have an adverse effect on your health…Long term stress is far more dangerous for the body and is known as ‘bad’ stress. This kind of stress occurs when an individual is in a situation that subjects him or her to emotional or mental pressure for a considerable period of time.” (homeremediesforyou.com)

So how do you concurrently cope with the stress of a long drawn out adoption process and all the uncertainties that come along with it?

stay positive!

Count your blessings!

According to Wikipedia, preparation, social support, nutrition, sleep, exercise, relaxation and humour are key to coping in a positive way.

Anxious avoidance (staying away from outings where you know people are going to ask you why you’re child is not home yet), dissociation, sensitization (rehearsing worst case scenarios) and escape (self-medicating) are cop-out mechanisms and are not healthy!

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 43:5

Tracie Miles summed it up in her book Stressed-Less Living: ” the psalmist…chose to change his attitude, to cry out to God for help, to seek guidance, strength, and the will to persevere.”

stay positive!

Stay positive!

I don’t mean to bog anyone down with glum posts, but I’ve noticed this walking-dead-like zombie mode is no stranger to the adoption world. I’ve heard chatter about people not leaving the house except for necessities or to see a doctor because herbal remedies are no longer working, parents stop looking at their child’s photo because it is too painful and people are literally pinned to their smart phone at every moment for months on end as they wait for that little “ping” that could signify an email with some good news.

‘Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.’ ~Mother Teresa
 

So let’s not “grow weary in doing good” my friends, but keep on keeping on!

All the best,

~Liz

 
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