Monday, August 31, 2009

Matthew's Korean Birth Certificate

Yay! This came in the mail last week! A very official-looking document...every page has two "pieces": the Korean version, and the translated version. Here's what our caseworker wrote (this gives you an idea of what happens next in the process):

Here is a set of your child's legal documents for you to keep. The Family-Relations Certificate is the equivalent of a Korean birth certificate. Another set is going to be sent to Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) with your blue I-600. You should receive your Notice of Approval of Relative Immigrant Visa Petition (I-797C) from CIS within 30-45 days. When you receive it, please send me a photocopy of it; then, I will inform our social worker at Holt Children's Services that your child's visa approval is on its way to the American Embassy in Seoul, Korea. The time frame for arrival is still calculated at about 3-4 months from the acceptance of your assignment. While this filing and approval must occur, it does not alter the time frame of 3-4 months to arrival.

CIS. I-797C. I-600. Notice of Approval of Relative Immigrant Visa's enough to make your head spin!

NOW are you with me, about not sweating the small stuff? This is why we have caseworkers and adoption agencies. I am so thankful for Catholic Charities...they dumb it down for us and cut right to the chase: "Here's what you need to DO." Just give me a concrete, tangible to-do list, and I'll do it.

Ask me to explain it? A whole other story!

Sweating the Small Stuff...Or Not

So, people are asking me, these days, exactly what is the hold-up now? I bet you think I have an answer for you here. Well, I don't, really. But I do have a lot of thoughts on this topic--thoughts that actually create more questions--so read on if you're interested in my ramblings. It contains some nuggets buried somewhere in there, I think!

The short answer to the above question is: It's all bureaucracy and paperwork, folks. These things take time.

And here's the long answer (rambly interpretations begin now):

People laugh when they hear that Kathleen the Anal-Retentive, Detail-Oriented Editor isn't all that detail-oriented in other aspects of her life. Including our adoption. Here's my little secret: I may seem like an adoption expert to some, but the truth is, I don't really know HOW this whole adoption process works, beyond the step that we are involved in at any given time. It's hard enough to focus on the step we're currently involved in, much less worry about the steps beyond that.

I do know that the parties involved include us, Catholic Charities (our local agency), Holt Korea (our international agency), the United States, South Korea, the foster family, Matthew's birth parents, and of course Matthew. We all do a whole bunch of paper-swapping and as soon as all of that gets done, Matthew gets to come home to us. That's a whole lot of parties, so it's no wonder it takes years to move through this adoption journey! It's a series of small steps that has one giant reward waiting at the end.

Bring on the small steps!

I honestly think it would be more painful and frustrating for me to be sweating the small stuff...I'm just not interested in doing that. The wait HAS gotten harder, not easier, which admittedly surprised me. But I continue to live my life: go to work, teach my yoga, take my yoga, go running, go walking with Jeff and Jupiter, read my books (these days, they're all on parenting and Korean culture!), continue to organize/decorate the nursery, go to book club (don't think I'm going to get to this month's book, though), sing in choir, get together with friends for dinner ("do it now!" people tell me), go to the movies (again, "do it now!"), and the list goes on. It keeps me sane, not worrying about too, too many details in this whole adoption process. I have many other friends who are just the opposite, and that's great. It's all perfect just the way it is. This is just my way of dealing with stuff. In yoga, we talk a lot about "letting go"--not just of things we CAN control but things we can't. The way I see it is, if I know too much (e.g., "His file is on so-and-so's desk in Korea! Once that Korean official signs it, Matthew can come home!") then I'm going to worry too much (e.g., "It's been 2 weeks! Did it get buried by other papers? Did that Korean official forget to sign it? What if it got lost? What if? What if? What if?"). So, deep breath...and let it go. Good things will come.

So, instead of dwelling in the land of "what if," I'm choosing to live in the present moment, which is so filled with blessings RIGHT NOW: good friends, Jeff and I laughing at Jupiter's antics, family members who keep calling (upon hearing the latest updates and seeing the latest photos) with such excitement and love in their voices, tons of good friends, a great job with tons of great friends who I love to work with every day, and of course, yoga. Life in its present moment is so juicy and sweet--that's where I choose to reside. I know that God and the Universe will bless us with Matthew soon enough. For now, for whatever reason, this is where we are supposed to this in-between kind of "waiting place." Maybe sometimes it's hard because of its nature as an "in-between" kind of place. Maybe the "waiting" place is some sort of incubator for the love and affection we'll be SO ready to bestow on Matthew by the time he arrives this fall! We're heating it up and making it nice and warm and cozy ("just right") for when he gets here! Maybe, just maybe, for adoptive families, this is part of our rite of passage. So many maybe's, but Matthew himself? Now, he's a definite! Brings to mind that song, "I've got your love to keep me warm." Jeff and I definitely have all of YOU to thank--indeed, your love and support during this whole process is what we've had to keep us warm--and sane!

Don't mind me. This is turning into kind of a stream-of-consciousness piece. My mind is going in all these wacky random directions, as I sit here munching my turkey sandwich and writing away.

What I'm trying to say is, I honestly can't tell ya WHAT, exactly, is happening in Korea and with USCIS; all that I know is I do what I'm told, fill out the required forms, go to get the required re-fingerprinting, etc.

And by the way, I've given up trying to make rote government officials laugh. It just doesn't work.

And in my next blog (which will immediately follow this one, for I've lingered too long in this space), I'll provide an answer that may clear up some of the fog you are feeling surrounding "what is going on" and "why can't he come home yet?"

Stay tuned...and keep reading about our journey to bring our little buddha home!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Received an Update on Matthew (With Photos!)

Hello, everyone. Happy Random Tuesday. We have some good news: Although I can't post the photos here, we got an update on Matthew today. The update was as of a few weeks ago. Overall, he's doing GREAT, developmentally and medically. He is huge...22 pounds (at 5 months old). Yikes, I need to hit that gym hard! Need to stay on top of my yoga and weight lifting if I'm going to be carting him around!

A medical/developmental update is being mailed to us (haven't gotten that yet). And they emailed us three new photos. The first one is of him sitting in the corner of the crib, behind this giant stuffed bear that is kind of propping him up. He's got the chunkiest little legs and arms...and this adorable double-chin! Double chins are so cute on babies! His hair is as spikey as ever, and he's sporting this white tank top and dark blue little jean shorts. Looks like my perfect little Buddha! The second photo is a close-up of him's can see all the way inside his toothless little mouth! And the last one is him on his belly, zoomed close in to his face and his little lips are pursed. He is SO ADORABLE! We're thrilled to have gotten another's exactly what we were hoping for.

I'm busy preparing a package to send to him. I put together a small photo book of us, our house, and all of our extended family members (siblings, spouses, cousins, and grandparents). I think it does a good job of showing him, and his foster family, just what a happy life he will have with us and just how fiercely we love him already! And how much fun he'll have with his cousins, who absolutely can't wait to meet him! I'm also sending him a blanket, and I'll probably write a small note to the foster family. That's it. Keeping it simple.

I already have my order in for prints (in various formats/sizes) of these latest three photos. Went today at lunch. I can finally vary the framed photos in our house (which are currently all of the same two photos).

I am over the moon. Up, up, and over the moon.

We were at Babies R Us last night, selecting a rocker and ottoman combo to register for. Check that off the list!

That's all for now. If anyone wants to see the new photos (who hasn't seen them yet), drop me a line at and I'll email them to you. I am allowed to email them; just can't post them on public or even quasi-public sites like Facebook or blogs. (And with many of you, that's our primary form of communication these days!) I haven't gotten around to a large group email, but I'll be working on it soon!

Lots of love,
(MATTHEW'S MOM!!!!!!!!!!!! I love saying that)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Re-Fingerprinting, Love at Face Value, and Hip Clothes

I realized that I forgot to tell you why we were there (see last post): We were getting re-fingerprinted at CIS, as our last set of fingerprints (taken in early 2008) had expired. I didn't realize that fingerprints "expire." What's up with that? Once a whorl, always a whorl, right? Maybe not. Hey, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, we're only pawns in the game. If little moments like these are what it takes to bring Matthew home, bring it on.

As we sat there in the empty row of plastic chairs in Wheaton and waited to get called, I was bummed b/c I didn't bring a book and Jeff did: He was reading about climate change; it looked to be a dissertation-like nonfiction book. Gee, what a surprise. (NOT!) I, on the other hand, if I had my druthers, would have been absorbed in the David Sedaris book I'm currently reading, which is called When You Are Engulfed in Flames and is HILARIOUS. I was so bummed I forgot my book. My ADD kicks way in, and I just go crazy sitting there.

But nothing else to do, so I just sat there.

Cell phones are not allowed to be on, so not even texting can happen. I eventually pulled out my photos of Matthew to remind myself of why we were there, and it made the wait go by faster. Just looking at his sweet little lips and closed eyes and spikey black hair. I am so in love with him already! How can that be? I don't know, but it just is. I'm just going to take this love at face value and not try to figure out why I love him like crazy even though he's essentially a stranger half a world away who I have yet to meet and hold and snuggle. And I don't just love the "idea" of him: I love HIM! The universe works in wild and wonderful ways, and I still feel like the luckiest lady on earth. Our blessings are so abundant, and I am so thankful.

On an entirely different note, we went to our friend Kellie and Reed's house on Sunday and inherited a wonderful pile of little boy clothes. Matthew's closet is just about bursting at the seams, and we are loving it! Who needs new when you have gently used/fiercely loved clothes? Kellie and Reed's boys, Calvin and Nolan, are two hip little dudes, and it just thrills me to no end that Matthew will be following in their footsteps. He will perhaps be the most well-dressed little boy in Olney! I think I have to start coming up with Creative Closet solutions (right now, it's just one big rack, straight across, and it's jam-packed from L to R with clothes). His dresser is almost entirely full.

I know, I know...welcome to parenthood, where your kids become the well-dressed ones and Mom and Dad just make do with those jeans from 1992. Right? (Now, if only I can get those 1992 jeans to FIT me...)

I'll blog again soon! Peace out, my friends!

"Thornberry Land"

Nothing like an exciting Thursday morning at the Customs and Immigration Service (CIS) to remind me how thankful I am to have the job that I do. I do not envy those people working there. They needed an injection of humor, and try as I may, I could NOT get that fingerprint man to laugh, make eye contact, or talk "unofficially." I did appreciate his efficiency, though! I want to give him this compliment up front, as a kind of caveat for what comes next...

One kind of funny, classic "bureaucratic" moment did happen: Apparently, according to CIS, my address is Thornberry LAND, not Thornberry LANE. News to me! What a glorious place Thornberry Land sounds like! A land of castles and knights and rolling green valleys. A land of milk and honey. Why, in Thornberry Land, we wouldn't just have "a house." We'd have multiple: In fact, we'd have castles and kingdoms and serfs and stuff! Live entertainment at the castle on Friday (or "mead") on the house. This "Land" language is definitely not reflective of good old Thornberry Lane in Olney, MD!

Anyway, continuing on(I am having such fun with this; can ya tell?)...

After he had finished "rolling my pads" (that's, ya know, "fingerprint speak"), he asked me to verify what was on his screen (first name, last name, address, SSN, etc.). I politely corrected the address, indicating that "Land" needed to be changed to "Lane."

WELL, with the knowing glint of a bureaucrat in his eye, he picked up my letter (we received this a few days ago and couldn't come to CIS without this authorization letter) and pointed knowingly to the top left corner, where it indeed said "Land." He said to me, tapping it with his finger and a knowing smirk, eyebrows raised, "But the letter says it's 'Land'!" And he kind of crossed his arms, nodded, stood back, and "harrumphed." As if to say, "So, that's it. We're done with this!"

I smiled my most polite, courteous, innocent smile and leaned in toward him (probably scared the poor guy half to death, proferring such intimacy in an otherwise stark and barren office), saying "But sir, I think I know my own mailing address, and this is incorrect. Look at what it says on my driver's license." [insert innocent smile] He studied it and replied, his voice going up a notch, "You didn't catch this earlier, when you got the letter?" [insert stern face, like a father scolding a child] "Um, no," I said. (But even so, what would I have done with such info? Not come?) I replied, "But considering that the letter made it to my house, that's probably why I didn't think to check whether the address was right."

He kind of sighed, mumbled to himself, and then took the necessary action to switch his database to "edit" mode or whatever, which would enable him to correct the address. You could tell this was a step not normally taken. He corrected it, clicked "save," and asked me to once again verify.

Score one for the people!

Then I was done, and the next person to be called was Jeff. Jeff also apparently lived in Thornberry Land. "Here we go again," I thought. This guy is gonna LOVE us! Jeff's application, too, had to be corrected.

We got it all straighted out, and CIS has officially reinstated our residing on Thornberry Lane.

That Thornberry Land place, though: Gosh, it sure sounded like a nice kingdom to visit.