Sunday, June 01, 2008

Campaign Fatigue Already?

Great TV choices today... the sitcom re-runs and political pundits rehashing campaign soundbites.

Switch the channel and we must listen to all the well-scripted political sound bites intended to distract the "average American" from the real issues of today: jobs at living wages, health care, adequate housing, violence against women and children, and economic development. It seems like the extreme conservatives are chasing the lowest common denominator for votes -- what is lacking in thoughtful public policy is made up with emotional appeals, moral imposition, and demonizing all objectors.

The Greeks taught us much about debates, philosophy, drama and mathematics. Rather than building on that tradition, today's political environment is comprised of name calling, corporate interests reign supreme, scandal, and more voo doo economics.

Perhaps if more people gave up their political apathy just once and went to the polls, real debate of the issues would emerge. My grandma was very clear about voting: "When I was born, I did not have the right to vote. Women worked very hard and endured a lot of abuse to gain the right to vote for all women. You better appreciate it and vote every chance you can." I've been an active voter now for a quarter of a century (did I sneak votes at age 10?) and I take my children to the polls, too. They are excited about the right to do this.

Sadly, people in some countries (and Florida) are denied the right to vote or do not have free and fair elections. I know I sound cynical. But I am also incredibly optimistic about this country. We have a resilient system of government that endures changing political tides, economic cycles, and yes, even scandal and corruption. The voter turnout across this country is pathetic. I urge those who do not believe their vote will make a difference to just try it once. Go to the polls, dangle a chad or press the electronic ticket and see how you feel -- it is an enormous gift. And if you don't make your opinion known at the polls, don't worry, others who do not have your best interests in mind will be happy to let their vote count twice!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

May flowers bring more than Pilgrims...

The kids are not allowed to post a countdown to the last day of school, but many parents are doing the counting for them (yes, that would be me!). Year end projects and final exams coupled with Spring Fever make an exhausting combination. Then toss in the end of baseball season, ballet/jazz rehearsals and performances, award ceremonies... it all adds up to schedule conflicts and the "Who's on First" game.

And pollen season is also gearing up... with itchy eyes that test waterproof makeup and noses that run faster than an Olympian... Why are my eyes so red -- have I been crying? drinking too much? nope, it's allergy season!

We went to school to see our children receive awards for their academic success. This has become an annual ritual that we all enjoy and appreciate. The kids work very hard throughout the year and forgo some "fun stuff" because "school comes first."

This year's awards, however, were particulary special to us as parents. Our daughter earned the "Citizenship Award" for her leadership, kindness, and looking out for others. Lots of kids earn strong grades (something we value and expect), and I'll continue to honor and recognize them.

But this Citizenship Award is particularly special -- it recognizes the traits that are so important to our civil society. As a society we don't really recognize positive character and integrity. We hold it as a standard, yet we've become cynical and come to expect self-centered, greedy behavior as the norm. White collar scandals, marital scandals, and street crime are covered in every media form. People who go above and beyond don't receive the same type of recognition -- it isn't considered "newsworthy." The truth is, it doesn't sell ads.

I am so pleased that our children's school decides to hold up Citizenship as an attribute worthy of recognition. I know that my son is motivated to follow in his sister's footsteps and win the award next year -- how's that for healthy competition?



Sunday, May 18, 2008

Countdown to the end of school year

It's the Sunday night before the last three days of 6th and 7th grade. Sixth grade is a breeze, according to my son. Seventh grade will never end, according to my daughter. How much homework can a student actually have before the last few days of school? Do the teachers really want to stay up late every night the last week of school grading mindless projects? I think not! My daughter, however, believes they do.

So goes our last Sunday night of homework angst. With an uncanny ability to procrastinate, I have found that the only way to force focus on absolute homework is to take away the cell phone.

The "cell phone" to a middle schooler is their primary, and most critical, form of communication with the outside world. They send text messages, e-mails, and leave voicemails for each other on an annoyingly frequent basis.

"Did you just get married and didn't tell me?" I ask. The frequency of the chimes and annoying ring tones can lead an old fart to believe that they are horny newly-weds who can't be alone for more than 45 seconds. If the kids set it on "vibrate" it might become a mother's helper!

When I used the telephone to talk with my best friend who lived three houses down the street, my mom would suggest we actually go outside and talk to each other. Today, with the kids' texting each other, I find myself saying, "honey, why don't you just talk on the phone, like humans?"

I really hope we don't lose our humanity in all this shorthand, techno discourse.



Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Is It Over Yet?

The school year... It's 10:30 p.m. and I'm making crepes for my daughter's French class. "We can't buy them, mom -- they're SUPPOSED to be homemade!" Well now the pressure is on.
I make great pancakes the old fashioned way -- add some water to a bisquick container, shake, and pour.

Crepes are not as forgiving... they are actually pretty snobby. There is no margin for error in the viscosity (I like that word) of the batter. The heat must be just right. And the ladle must scoop the precise amount of batter for the size of the pan so that it covers the bottom of the pan thinly and evenly. This is a level of precision that tests a mom who had a big day at work followed by a mammogram (have you had yours this year?) and a child's chorus performance.

Did I mention that I don't own a crepe pan? Robert will say this must be the ONE kitchen tool not in my possession :) So 3 pans and half a batch of batter later, I've finally got a crepe groove on. Let's hope the ones we send in are as tasty as the broken crepes I had to eat tonight.

5 more days of school left... but who's counting?

Bon nuit, mes amis!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions...

Our I-797 expires on May 29th. We received notice from our adoption agency, CCAI, that it is time to decide whether we want to do the "free" renewal of our paperwork with Homeland Security or let it expire and start over closer to when we are likely to be matched with our child/ren in China. The "free" renewal means that we only have to pay to be fingerprinted (again) by the FBI, update local criminal background checks, homestudy update, updated physicals, and income and employment verifications.
The renewal is good for another 18 months. Then we will need to renew again, as our match time is looking like another 24 months.

Upon reflecting on this seemingly never-ending wait and anticipation for our family to grow, I've learned something about myself: I'm not as patient as I thought.
We've been actively pursuing adoption for 26 months... had we known then that it would be a 4-5 year process, I don't believe we would have commenced the process.

Lots of factors go into this... long-running dreams, expectations, love of parenting...

But we must also facts as they present themselves and adapt as circumstances change.
With a heavy heart, we've decided to rescind our dossier from the China adoption program. We're not getting any younger and the uncertainty in timing has just pushed us beyond our limits.

Katrina and Alexander are disappointed with this decision; they would really like to have siblings. And they would be great "big sister" and "big brother"!

While the reality of this decision sinks in, we are engrossed in all the end of school year activities and baseball and ballet performances...

So ends our adoption journey... not as we had planned, but perhaps as it was meant to be.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Wait Continues in 2008...

The journey to build our family through international adoption is turning out to be much longer than we anticipated. It is January, 2008 and the CCAA has not made any matches and referrals for families whose dossiers were submitted in 2006 yet!

We started the paperchase in March, 2006 and finally got our dossier sent to China in late December, 2006. They aren't kidding when the paperwork process was dubbed "paperchase!" We could have had our dossier submitted much sooner, but the Atlanta office of the Department of "Homeland Security" sat on our documents for 4 months (but who's counting?). That alone was an interesting experience -- we were encouraged to not make waves because "who knows?" what will happen to our documents if a staffer gets annoyed. Fortunately, the office has made some changes and I hear they are processing documents in the promised timely fashion now.

The CCAA assigned our dossier a "Log In Date" (LID) of 2/1/2007.
It is from that date that the clock starts ticking, so to speak.
When we submitted our dossier, the average wait time was about 14-16 months -- which seemed like an eternity then! Unfortunately, there are fewer matches made with international adoptive families than ever before, so the wait has become much longer.

We are now expecting to wait for 24 months (that would put us at March, 2009) for our referral. I could have given birth to an elephant before this is all over!

I added a tracker at the bottom of this blog so you can follow along with our wait.

We are all eager for our family to expand, yet we trust that when the time is right, we will be matched with the children who are meant to be Peeds!

Sending wishes for peace and love,