Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lesson learned.

There's something to be said for fresh air. I just went on a little jaunt on the bike through the neighborhood to clear my head from the last two days and from that most unpleasant (for me) of chores: a visit to the mall. Ick. I hate most everything about the place: the parking, the chintzy chain-store clothes, the obnoxious teeny-boppers spending their summer break there in noisy large masses, the cart vendors who try to engage me in their sales pitches, and the layout of the place that forces you to walk by as many advertisements as possible. Why some women love spending hours on end here is beyond my realm of understanding. Retail therapy?? Could I please borrow your Abercrombie bag to vomit in?

I had to go today to hunt down a dress for a wedding I'm in this weekend. The bride doesn't care what we all wear. She just said to get something comfy that we'd wear again. Rock on, Missie. I can live with that.

So I walked into Macy's on a mission to get the heck out of there as soon as possible. I found a sale rack, grabbed a couple of dresses, tried them on, looked in the mirror at one and said, "That'll do, pig," (a line in Babe that always makes me cry) and headed to the register. Turns out the dress was only $19. Rock on, Me.

On my way out, my father-in-law called me from the mall bookstore, so I had a surprise cup of tea with my favorite old man. He was there to get framed his album cover from the soundtrack to Once, a movie he's a big fan of.

Look at me going on about the mall.

I did walk out of there with the requisite headache though, just like always. Goodwill and other thrift stores don't give me the same sensory overload as the mall, yet another reason to do my shopping there.

So when I got home, I had for dinner a piece of marionberry pie we made yesterday and breathed deep some clear, after-the-rain, cool air. It's been an emotional last day or so.

Here's why:

Everyone who knows anything about adoption will tell you to keep your expectations low, expect delays, and be able to roll with the punches. Alright, I get that in theory, and I've even had to put that into practice here and there. But we made our fatal flaw a few weeks ago when we sat down with a timeline and calendar and tried to figure out when exactly we could be traveling over to Ethiopia. From our calculations, it would be fall.

Wrong-o, Mr. and Mrs. Rooney. (Feel free to skip the next part--it can be dry for anyone not in the adoption process). So most adoption agencies advice you to submit to CIS straight away in the whole process your I-600A form, which is the request to adopt an orphan. You are to do this first because some CIS offices will process your request right away and pretty quickly mail you your appointment date to get fingerprinted. From that point, it's typically a 6-8 week process, which is pretty long. During this wait-time, you can get all your other paperwork together, including your homestudy, and by the time this is done, your CIS approval usually shows up, and you can start working on your foreign dossier.

If you live in a state that works this way, your adoption timeline is most likely shorter than those like us who live in states like Oregon. The difference, for anyone who has read this far, is that Oregon CIS office will not process any I-600A request form until the homestudy has been submitted to their offices. Only then will you be called in for fingerprinting and begin the 6-8 week wait time for approval.

We did not know this. We knew there would be some wait, but we didn't expect it to be a potential of two months. We feel like we've already been in this process for so dadgum long, and now we've got another two months ahead of us, despite our paperwork being virtually finished (Kate only has another two weeks before she's done with our foreign dossier).

We got our letter in the mail this week telling us our appointment date for fingerprinting, but we're out of town during that time. So we prayerfully went to that office today to ask if we could do it this week. This felt like a huge request to us, since normally if you can't make the appointment they assign to you, you have to submit a request for a new appointment. How long that takes, we don't know and didn't want to find out.

Thank you God, despite this being a governmental bureaucratic office, everyone we encountered was super nice. We told the lady in charge our plea, and she is fitting us in tomorrow. We walked out of there truly amazed that our request to circumvent the normal red tape was granted.

So that's the good news: we're getting fingerprinted two weeks early. Ask and ye shall receive, I suppose.

Then this afternoon I had an encouraging talk with Mary, the person at Gladney in charge of the whole international aspect of the process, from dossier approval on to travel plans. She told me that we are right on schedule, that 6-9 months is the usual time for the whole process from start to finish, and that we are right in that. She said that many states work the way Oregon does, with CIS not starting your process until the submission of a completed home study. Feel blessed if you live in one of the states that doesn't work this way.

So we started working with Gladney at the end of March, which means we've only been in the process four months now. I guess it just feels like a heck of a lot longer, and being hit with this unexpected two months wait for CIS approval really dealt us a blow yesterday.

So my encouragement for other parents in the process now is to keep your expectations low, expect delays, and be able to roll with the punches. Yep, it's a cliche and you may hate hearing it just as much as I did, but it really is only a set-up for disappointment when you start getting excited about seeing the end, about getting on the waiting list, about being done with paperwork.

Maybe along the way you'll be surprised by things working as they should or better, like how we got this early appointment for fingerprinting. Just don't expect these things to happen because usually they don't.

And one thing that has been interesting to me in the process is how encouragement seems to come at just the right time. It happened for me early in the process when I was feeling low about the mounds of paperwork and happened for the first time upon this blog, when they had just gotten their referral. Then yesterday after the harsh realization of the potential of another two-months wait, I got a sweet email from Jason, an old friend from high school whom I am rarely in touch with, encouraging us in the process. It made me cry, so thanks Jason.

Finally today, I discovered that my fellow blogger Rachel is now in Addis Ababa with her daughter Piper. I've been following her journey for a while now, and it's always so amazing to get to see these blogging friends actually hold and bond with their children after such long waits.

So we asked ourselves today what we're going to do with those extra two months, which turned into a fun game. We're pretty aware of how different life will be once we've got a child in tow, so we plan on taking as much advantage as possible to the pluses of not having kids.

One of these days, all this won't matter--the paperwork, the wait, the red tape, etc. We'll just have Baby Rooney and get to kiss chubby cheeks til the cows come home. Until then, thank you for reading and thank you for all the encouragement from online buds and friends in the real world.


Anonymous said...

Hey Lori, sorry about the delay. That is so frustrating when you feel like all you do is wait and wait some more. Soon this will all be a distant memory. Someday soon. : )

Tara said...

Oklahoma is apparently one of "those" states that likes to torture adopting parents as well. so i feel your pain, dear blogging friend!

Anonymous said...

Ted & Lori - Don't be discouraged. We waited for what felt like forever to submit our homestudy to CIS. When I got what I thought was the approval letter in the mail, it was a request for more paperwork from us (don't worry - it was for something very specific that we knew would potentially be needed). Unfortunately, we were then expecting another 4-6 week wait, but then, literally the DAY that they received the final item the woman emmailed me that we got approved and we received the letter the next day. So my point is that you NEVER know. We'll keep our fingers crossed for you that it won't take that long and that the revised fingerprint appt is a sign of good things to come from Oregon CIS! Hang in there.

Jason B. Bell said...

Aw, you're welcome. I'm glad my words could help in some tiny way. You guys are gonna give a lucky kid a great home and family to be a part of, so I'm sure all the work and waiting will more than pay off in the end.

Amy said...

I am thinking that we had to wait until CIS received our homestudy too....I didn't know there were states that it was any different! The waiting is definitely excruciating I know...Maybe look at it like this: The sweet, beautiful baby that is to be a Rooney is not going to be ready to be yours until all the dossier, CIS, paper junk is completed...it will happen at exactly the right moment for you guys to get exactly the right referral....Yah!