Saturday, October 31, 2009

Metamorphosis of a Carseat

Britax. Supposedly a top-notch carseat,
according to all my experienced parent friends.

I have to admit, I am thrown for a second, every time I approach MY car and see--what? A carseat?--inside of it.
Wow, could it be that I've finally arrived?
Joined the club in which membership is defined by the possession of a Britax (or some other variety) and crumbs in the backseat that never quite get cleaned up? That, in fact, seem to multiply?
Where a seasoned member is defined by his or her expert ability to operate the 5-point harness system in the space of mere seconds?

I'm still getting used to its presence,
as evidenced by the fifteen times I've bumped my right elbow on it in the past week,
as I throw the car into reverse and back out of my crooked driveway (which resembles a very poor version of the letter C).

So now, there it sits, in the middle of the backseat
of the Outback, ready to support and protect the most precious of packages.
We don't have the package it's meant for just yet.

But for now, it's coming in handy as a sturdy container of packages of another type:
(ahem) Here's the part where I extol the virtues of a carseat for parents whose kid isn't with them yet:

It's great for holding grocery bags that otherwise would flop over on the backseat and cause apples and soup cans to engage in a little game of bumper cars.

It makes the perfect little niche in which to rest my purse, when I have a passenger and can't put my purse on the passenger seat.

Oh, it's also great for cradling breakables such as tabletop lamps, light bulbs, and newly purchased picture frames (a lot of them these days).

And a regular-sized bag of dogfood fits right in the carseat's little scoop.

Someday soon, our Britax will experience a complete transformation--
a metamorphosis from grocery-bag container to Matthew-cradler.

I can't wait for the day. I'll take pictures, I promise.

Friday, October 30, 2009

What ARE We Waiting For?

OK, a great many of you have been asking us why, if Matthew's visa is at the embassy in Seoul, are we still waiting? What is this latest holdup all about?

And you know what? It was the one time I couldn't answer your question.

Which got me wondering myself: What are we waiting for, anyway? He is cleared for travel by the U.S. His visa is in Seoul. From our perspective, he can hop on a plane today (escorted, of course). So, what's the deal?

I asked our caseworker for an explanation that I can give to people. Here it is...excerpted from her email to me:

"That's a hard question to answer. We know that the passport process in Korea is considerably more complicated than it is here, so takes longer. He needs to have his visa physical [ah! hadn't thought of that], get an exit permit [that one never entered my mind, either], etc. So, yes, we're ready on our end but not on his end! And then Holt [our int'l adoption agency based in Seoul] needs to get and "train" the escort [Ohhh! I had thought this would have been already done and they just pluck the next person off their list; guess I thought wrong], make flight arrangements, etc. This end-wait requires a lot of patience. Just know that Catholic Charities [our domestic agency, which works closely with Holt] has been doing this for 30 years and it works!!!"

So, the lesson here is yet another yoga practice that can be taken off the mat and applied to real life: Let go, and let it happen. Let it unfold at its own pace. Accept that this is the way things were meant to go. You cannot and will not control the process; so don't try to. Think positive thoughts and all will be well. It truly is a journey...and I am learning an incredible amount along the way. In that way, I could never look back with regret on this long wait we've had, or wish I could go back and undo it and make Matthew come to us quicker than he did. I've learned way too much, along our particular path to parenthood, for such thoughts.

We are going to a Halloween party tonight. I won't tell you our costumes just yet because some of the partygoers are readers of this blog! Let the festivities begin. And next year, we'll be able to include Matthew in on all of this Halloween fun!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Haven't Met You Yet

Thanks to my friend Angela for noticing these oh-so-appropriate lyrics from a Michael Buble song. I've excerpted some here.

For a full version, check out Angela's blog at Here's hoping that she and her husband bring their child home into their hearts VERY SOON!

...and I promise you kid
that I'll give so much more than I get
I just haven't met you yet.

I might have to wait, I'll never give up
I guess it's half timing, and the other half's luck.

Wherever you are, whenever it's right
You come out of nowhere and into my life.
And I know that we can be so amazing,
and baby, your love is gonna change me,
and now I can see every possibility.

And somehow I know that it will all turn out
And you'll make me work, so we can work
to work it out.
And I promise you kid, I'll give so much more than I get;
I just haven't met you yet.

Here's lookin' at you, kid.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Friendship: The "Good Fat"

"He's THAT FAT? Lord!"

So texts my oldest friend--
one of the dearest,
not known for her couth,
and oft-appreciated for her candor.

Pulled over in parking lot of Lord & Taylor
on a stormy Saturday,
I smile at the screen of my cell phone
and am not surprised.
Nor am I offended--
no, she lives too deeply in my soul for that.
I stopped being offended probably in 1983.

That being said, she does not know
how I sometimes worry about his weight...
as I continue to endure a different kind of wait.
Nor does she know about the comments ("overweighted" and "big baby")
that the doctors consistently add into the Notes section of every medical report we've gotten.
She does not know that a few weeks ago, I called my pediatrician friend
in a panic, only to be quickly reassured when he laughed and said, "Kathleen, he's FINE. No, you do not need to worry about diabetes, for God's sake!"
I have since stopped being so ridiculous.
What else is there to do while we wait for him to come home?
Trying not to let worry top the list.
But it's tough.

Meanwhile, back at Lord & Taylor...after a tangent that I could not possibly have predicted...

Raindrops pick up their dance on the windshield
as I text her back, reminding her
not to bother with size 3-6M, or 6-9M, or even 12M.
Heck, just go for the 18M or 2T.
And I think how wonderful it is that our friendship is so solid that
I can essentially ask her to buy my son clothing,
even to the point of suggesting sizes.
She is kind of like a second sister.
All these years of supplementing and complementing
(and separating, when necessary, back in the catfight days of high school) Ann Marie and me like a necessary third arm or an extra dose of Vitamin C.

Oh, she is so good for me.
Kind of like avocadoes, or almonds.
High in fat, but the good, healthy kind of fat.
The kind that sustains you, strengthens you, helps you to be whole.

And when I do worry about his weight (as opposed to the "other" wait) more than I should,
I just think to myself,
"All the more Matthew to love."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Letter From State Department

Letter received yesterday, 10/22:

"The State Department's National Visa Center has recently received your approval form I600. This letter is to inform you that your petition has been forwarded to the approropriate visa-issuing post where the adoption interview will take place....This case has been forwarded to the Embassy of the United States, Visa Unit, Seoul, South Korea. Sincerely, Bureau of Consular Affairs."

I believe this means that his visa is now in Seoul. Not sure who they're interviewing...maybe I should call them and tell them that Matthew doesn't talk yet...but he'd be happy to babble some answers in baby-speak.

Tomorrow we will celebrate 11 years of marriage! Can't believe it was 11 years ago tomorrow that we tied the knot. It was the most gorgeous of October days in PA...unseasonably warm, sunny, with the colors of autumn abounding. Ah, many good times to remember, and so many more to look forward to with Matthew!

I imagine postings will continue to be more frequent than they have been. So stay tuned! Love and peace to all.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Car Seat Installation/Medical Update on Matthew/Still Waiting

Last night, our awesome neighbors Gil and Karen helped us install Car Seat #1. Gil is a manager at a local car dealership and is certified in car seat installation. Do you know he had to attend five days (8 hours a day) of training to get certified? And then another week of in-the-field training? So, yeah, he knows his stuff. Matthew's seat is in the Outback; we just need to get #2 into the Honda.

Before this happened, our caseworker called last night and scared the crap out of us. We thought for sure it was "the call" when she asked Jeff to have me pick up the other phone.

But it was another medical update (which is a good thing--as much as I want the call to come, I also want to hear how he's doing).

He is starting to babble single words and repeats words you say to him. He has started playing peek-a-boo. He weighs 24 pounds (gained 1 or 2 pounds since his last checkup two months ago).

Jeff asked if she thinks mid-November is a realistic expectation. She replied "I'm not even going to attempt a guess."


And so we wait...


Monday, October 19, 2009

Beautiful Poem About Waiting

My friend Catherine, who is author of the blog, Mama C and the Boys, saw our recent good-news post. In honor of us and Matthew, she posted a poem (called "This Is Where You'll Find Me") she had written a few years ago, while she was waiting for her son Sam. Click to read her blog: It is a fabulous blog that I have begun following (and our blogging/adoption connection has led us to become friends as a result!).

She captured exactly what it feels like during these last weeks of our wait, and she moved me to she frequently does on this beautiful blog of hers.

Happy Monday, everyone! It is crisp and cool here in MD, complete with the plumage of fall colors and a sunny blue sky (after our very wet and rainy weekend). I walked outside for a bit at lunch, and it felt so refreshing!

Inhale, exhale. (repeat)
He's almost here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

What Happens Next... downright surreal. Because there is only one more thing that has to happen! All that is next is an email from Holt with his travel/arrival info (dates, flight numbers, times, etc.). Our caseworker is faxing it to Holt so they know to expect it at the consulate. She says "That means everything is done here. Now we just wait for the email from Holt about arrival. I can't wait to call you with that news!"

Oh, Margie, I can't wait for you to call us with that news, either!

This is REALLY HAPPENING! WOW! We're going to have him in our arms in a matter of weeks. My heart is beating faster and faster...

As my brother-in-law put so well, and so succinctly, in his response to our latest good news:

Tick-tock, Momma

I love his brevity!

I-797C (Notice of Action)

What a beautiful letter to behold. We got it yesterday.

Now, you may be thinking, "What the heck is this?" But to Jeff and me, this is what we've been waiting about 2 years for! It's our "Notice of Approval of Relative Immigrant Visa Petition." In short, it's authorizing Matthew to travel to us on an immigrant visa! Whoo-hoo! What a great gift! Margie has told us that when we get this letter, it's generally 3-4 weeks after that Matthew comes home.

Keep those prayers comin' and those fingers crossed!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

One Step Closer!!!!!!!!!!!

A direct quote from my e-mail as of today at 4:45....

Dear Ms. Halverson,

The I-600 was approved today and docs forwarded to the NVC. You should receive your approval soon.

USCIS - Baltimore District Office
International Adoptions Unit

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Loved Despite All Imperfections

12:05 a.m.
Random thoughts are passing through my brain.
How come those sleep chemicals haven't kicked in?
Staring at the ceiling.
Worrying that I won't get up on time for work.
Praying and sending positive thoughts that Matthew's paperwork will come soon.
Jeff is snoring. The dog is passed out in his basket.
And I am lying on my back, contemplating lighthearted things like
what kind of mother will I make and how will I navigate the sleep issues
and when is his damn travel approval paperwork going to come already and whose arms is he in and who is he being comforted by and will he ever learn to find comfort in mine.
Tonight, I sat in the new rocker my mom got us (complete with ottoman)
and reached into the basket of books--some adoption storybooks, others the classics (Good Night Moon, Guess How Much I Love You).
All of them are crackling with newness, still molded into the perfect-square-or-rectangle-book-shape from the manufacturer, aching to be bent this way and that and made more shopworn by a curious little hand and exploring fingers.

(My inner nonconformist winces at what I am about to say, but here goes...)

I can't wait till our books look like those of every other kid I, torn, bent, creased, stained.
despite all their imperfections.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Advice From a Friend

Received via email from my friend Ben, ACE staffer and amazing photographer, with two little ones of his own:

Kathleen: Before Eli arrived, I had a friend I was talking with about being a new parent with an infant. He said something that has stuck with me, and that I can definitely now attest to:

The really hard parts of being a parent are all tangible things. Lack of sleep, crying, fussiness, lack of time for self, and small frustrations here and there. But, the really great parts are all intangible (especially when they are really young). The joy, peace, and perspective having a baby brings ... and the opportunity to love unconditionally, and be loved unconditionally.” So, when the tangible becomes overwhelming, consider the intangible, and let that overwhelm you instead.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Surprise Baby Shower at ASHA

A random Wednesday.
With very heavy winds.
A "last-minute meeting" to discuss the reorg. (sigh...what now?)
An almost deserted 2nd floor as I walk down to the "meeting." (still no clue)
Kinda bummed b/c I didn't have time to make my Progresso Vegetable Soup (read: boring lunch).
Instead, I shovel applesauce into my mouth, figuring it'll fill me until after the meeting.
I open the door, and they are there, sitting in chairs,
in a U-shaped formation.
(Hmmm...this isn't the usual setup for a meeting...)
Still it doesn't register. (!)
Then, a camera flash.
Finally, it clicks.
I look around the room and see the faces
of the people I work with every team, my friends, my yoga students.
All of them there.
A potluck spread of delicious food.
A gorgeous cake complete with stork.
A table filled with gifts.
All of this to celebrate our Matthew,
an adorable little boy half a world away.
Suddenly, she-who-likes-to-speak is speechless.
Word girl HAS no words.
(Jeff would have loved to have been there for THAT!)
I would have cried had I not been so shocked.
Surprised that they actually surprised me.
Grateful for the good that they are.
Blessed with the gifts of their friendship.
Humbled by their generosity
and their wonderful ability to make MY version of motherhood
indistinguishable from everyone else's.
I still have no words.
Tears will come later, but they WILL come.
For now, there is just joy.
Sheer, delicious, grateful, humble joy.
Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.

Measuring the Wait

I don't think I'm the only one
who measures our wait by the number of monthly parent support group meetings we attend.
The one last night was #20.
Stale banana nut-bread from Starbucks,
Jeff's almost-forgotten hot chocolate ("Sorry, I wasn't told about that order" said the barista)
and a handful of goldfish served as dinner.

A small sacrifice for such an experience.
I walked away from that meeting as amazed,
as blown away,
as I always am
by the fellowship of these wonderful people,
by the new friendships we are making,
by the healing power of shared experience, frustration, excitement
that this wait brings to us all.
I am reminded that there is learning to be gained
even from the most frustrating of times.

Last night, we met Lucas from Russia,
another Lucas from Ethiopia,
and Trevor from Korea (presented by proud big sister Emma with her sunny-blonde hair and smile).
Three little boys, some wide-eyed and active, some grumpy and over-tired,
but all adorable.
Several more people got their referrals, and they passed around photos,
beaming with joy and pride,
thankful that yet another milestone has been met,
that they are one step closer to bringing him home.

We passed around Matthew's photos yet again.
The oohs and aahs still thrill me.
Finally, to feel that pride, when the world comments on your kid.
And behind us,
my new friend Leslie cried.