Thursday, July 30, 2009

Back from Italy!

I just got back from a last minute, unplanned trip to Italy! My parents have a gorgeous house in Tuscany, and my mom wrote me an e-mail inviting me to come and spend a week with her. Since I'm not working at the moment, I took the opportunity! It was great. We swam in the pool and read by the pool was 36 degrees and sunny. In the evenings, we would go to a nice restaurant. The food in Italy is so good. They have the best ice cream and pasta...the pizza is great too. I think it's all in the cheese! The tomatoes, olive oil and vinegar are wonderful too. Everything is fresh over there. My mom took me to the Spa for the was wonderful. We got a massage, and swam in the sulphur spring water. We had a beautiful view over Tuscany. My mom took pictures, I'll try to post them! It was a great little vacation. I wish Raph could have come too. He just started his new job position a couple of months ago, and doesn't have vacation till mid August. He's had a big year too, with two promotions, two moves...he travelled a lot as well. Basically, he'd like a quiet vacation at home this year. So, we'll probably stay in the area and go biking, maybe go camping for a few days. At the same time, it was nice to spend some time alone with my's rare that I get that chance. The week went by way too fast :0)

We're slowly getting settled into our new house. The boxes are unpacked now, but there's still some work left to do. The office and the baby room are still unfinished. The painting is done and the curtains are up, but the books need to be organised, and we still need to buy some things for the baby room. We don't have a changing table yet, or any clothing...we don't have any toys either. I'd like to get a play table and chairs as well. All in good time...
The kitchen still needs some work as well. We're renovating the kitchen this weekend. My brother is coming to help us. Raph took out all of the old tiles from the floor, and we bought a new counter top. This weekend, we're going to change the counter-top and put up the chandelier. During the week, two guys are going to come and lay down new tiles on our kitchen floor. It's going to be charcoal grey. I can't wait for our kitchen to be the meantime, we can't use our dishwasher or our stove! In a week from now, our kitchen should be completely finished. Yay!

As far as the adoption process is concerned, I called our agency and changed our address and telephone number. They told me to call immigration as well, to update our information. It took me a couple of hours to make the phone calls, but now it's done, and everything is up to date. I'm sad that the psychologist who did our home study won't be following us anymore...he was great. Quick and efficient. He adopted a child himself, and knows what we're going through. He was always very straight-forward and to-the-point with us. We really appreciated this. He gave us some really great pointers. We'll have to find someone new over here!
On August 22nd, we have a picnic organised by our agency. Raph and I are really looking forward to it. It will be great opportunity to meet other couples going through the same process as us.

I'm actively looking for a job. I've been sending out my CV, and I've had two interviews. I'm on the bank of candidates to teach Civil servants through a government run program. They're willing to offer me training as well. They're looking more for someone for September, depending on enrollment. They want to start me off slowly, giving me some private contracts. So, I'm in their bank of I just keep my fingers crossed that they call me soon with a contract! It could be a nice opportunity. We'll see what happens. In the meantime, I'm going to keep on looking...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Great Weekend!

We had a great weekend, filled with discussions about adoption and the Philippines.
It's really nice to get a chance to talk about the adoption process openly, and to share our experiences. It makes it all feel more real somehow. Up to this point, the whole adoption process has felt a little surreal, and abstract...but, meeting other people going through the same process, and talking to people of Filipino heritage and background makes it feel more real.

The weekend started off on Friday evening. My husband came home from work, and we had a nice quiet evening together, just the two of us. We hadn't had that in a long time! We just did a BBQ outside...the weather was nice, and we were able to sit outside on our deck till the early hours of the morning, talking about a variety of subjects. It was wonderful to get the chance to catch up! It felt like we kind of found each other again, after all the stress of moving.

On Saturday night, we had dinner with Tangie and Michel. They're also adopting from the Philippines, and we've been in touch online for a few months now. It was nice to finally meet in person, and to get to know both of them a little better! I look forward to seeing them again soon. It's fun to think that someday in the near future, our kids might play together :0)

On Sunday, my friend M and her step-mother L organized a lunch, so that we could meet L's brother. He is married to a Filipino lady, C, and they have a son named P together. P is a very handsome, intelligent, calm, laid-back six year old. He and his mom were both a little shy, but they are very nice, and very warm people. C and P spoke in Tagalog to each other, which was nice to hear. I had brought my book, Filipino Friends, with me. C even sang a song from the book for us, a lullaby in Tagalog! It was really wonderful to hear what it's supposed to sound like. It was very touching. Watching P and the other children playing, I couldn't help but look into the future and think to myself that someday, that would be our child we're proudly watching play :0) The lunch was really great. We talked a lot about Filipino culture and habits, and learned a lot of things! Interestingly enough, P has had trouble with his teeth too...he's not adopted, but did grow up in the Philippines the first years of his life. Apparently, it might have to do with the high amount of sugar in the milk in the Philippines. Anyway, that's what C believes. We also learned that kidnapping of foreign children is a big problem over there. A woman should not be walking on the streets by herself...especially if she's with a child, and if she's obviously a foreigner. Also, rice is the main food staple...they eat rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Filipinos love music. Clothing in the Philippines is very cheap, and good quality. They really recommended that we buy lots of children clothing over there. C is a great bargain hunter, and she says that you can find high quality copies of designer labels at a very good price in the Philippines. They will spend the summer at their house in the Philippines next year. They invited us to come and visit them, if we ever travel that way. It would be great if we get our referral and travel to the Philippines next summer, while they are there!! We will definitely try to go and see them, if the timing works out :0)
Of course, I realize that I have no control over this, but I sure can wish and hope and pray for those dates!

So, that was our weekend! We got to talk a lot about the Philippines, and about the adoption process. One thing I'm going to have to get used to is people asking me the money question..."so, how much did it cost you?" It makes me feel like a rotten person, like I'm buying my child. It makes it sound like the child is merchandise. I read about this question in a book on adoption, and I didn't think people would actually ask us that...but, sure of the first questions people are asking me when I tell them we're adopting is: "so, how much was it?" Maybe I am being naive, but I like to think that my husband and I are providing a good life, as well as many opportunities and advantages they may otherwise not have had. Everything is very above board with our agency. That's why the whole adoption process takes so long, to make sure the child is indeed available for international adoption. Yes, we're adopting for partly selfish reasons as well; we would very much like to become parents, and have been wanting a baby for many the same time, I like to think that we're helping a child have a better chance in life. This is why many Filipino women put their children up for adoption in the first give them a better chance to flourish and succeed. We have the means to take care of a child; financially, emotionally, psychologically and physically we are well placed to provide for a child! Our child need never feel guilty, or like he owes us something...on the other hand, I don't want to feel like a bad person either for having paid money to adopt a child. Children are not a merchandise, and should not be sold like objects. It's a very touchy subject. I am still looking for a good way to answer that famous money question...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Five months since ICAB approval!

Today is our five month anniversary since ICAB approval. So much has happened in the past five months! Our lives have changed so much in the last few months. I remember calculating when we would get to six months, and how far away the summer seemed at the time. Yet, here we are...almost at the six month mark. I never would have thought that we would be moving again so soon back in February! I'm very glad we did though. It's a great opportunity for us. I'm feeling a little stressed and nervous about finding a job for myself, but I've sent off my CV to different schools and I have to trust that things will work out the way they're supposed to. The whole adoption process has taught me patience, but also to have faith! Faith in God, and especially faith in life in general.

I love our new house, and our new neighbourhood. We still have some work to do on the house, like painting the walls in the basement, changing the kitchen counter and floor, finding a new dining room table and chairs...
Anyway, there's no rush and it doesn't all have to be done at once. We're taking it one step at a time. My goal is to have it all done by October, when the cold weather begins, and the school session is well under way. I will post pictures as soon as I get the chance.
Our new house is well-situated. There are grocery stores, banks, clinics, pharmacies, schools, parks...all less than ten minutes from our new house. There's a nice park just a two minute walk from our house. I'm looking forward to taking our child there to play!

I'm already taking our dog there for walks :0) It's her birthday tomorrow! She's going to be three years old. Yep, she's an adult dog now...puppyhood is over.
I still remember the day we brought her home. She was so scared! She didn't move at all for about an hour, the wood floors were too slippery for her, and she couldn't walk on them at first. Finally, we threw an empty toilet paper roll on the floor...and she couldn't resist running after it. She slid every which way at first, but quickly learned how to grip and walk on our wood floors. It was a real skating rink for her, the first couple of days. She still has trouble when the floors are freshly mopped!

This weekend, my husband and I are meeting some friends for lunch. I've mentioned my friend M in the past, and her step-mother's brother, who lives in the Philippines with his family. He married a Filipino lady, and they had a son together. They're in town, visiting their family in Canada. M and her step-mother organised a lunch so that we could meet them, and ask questions about the Philippines. My husband and I are very excited at this opportunity to make contact with the Filipino culture. I want to learn as much as possible about the people, the language and the culture as I can before our child arrives. I know that it's important for us to take and to be open to the opportunities that present themselves to be involved in Filipino culture. This is a part of our child's identity; it's where our child is from and will always be a part of who our child is. We cannot deny or overlook this, if we want our child to be well-balanced and to have a strong sense of identity. It is inevitable that our child will question one day where he or she came from, how come he or she looks or acts a certain's only normal. Especially with cross-cultural adoption, where the differences are obvious even to a seven year old child! Since I can't pass on this part of our child's heritage and culture myself, I feel it is my responsibility to make contact with people who can! The various contacts we build now, with other Filipino families and with future adoptive families, will all serve to help our child find a place in this world, and to feel accepted. I am so grateful to be meeting other families in the process of adoption from the Philippines...not only for myself, but also for our child! Even if the kids don't become close friends, at least our child will have the chance to meet other children like him, and see that he's not alone...that he's not that different from everyone else! I think this is very important. So, thank you to my new bloggy friends! I look forward to seeing you guys at the FUF picnic :0)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

We've moved into our new house!

Well, we've finally moved! I haven't been online in a while and I haven't written any posts because a)I haven't had internet access for almost two weeks and b)I simply haven't had time to write! The good news is that I haven't had much time to think about the adoption or the wait for the referral either.

We drove from Montreal to sign the papers for the house mid-week. Of course, we went to go take a look at our new house right away, as soon as we got the keys! The pervious owners left the house quite clean, and in good we were very happy. The next day, we opened the door for the painters. We went over the instructions for the wall colors with them one more time, answered last minute questions that they had...and then drove up north, to pack up our house. We took down the curtains, did some laundry and packed a couple of boxes with things that we wanted to bring down ourselves. We made sure the fridge was emptied and cleaned out, and that all the garbage cans were emptied. The rest of our stuff was packed by the movers the next day. It went very quickly and smoothly. They even started loading the moving truck that same day! We slept at a hotel that night, and learned of Michael Jackson's death when we watched the news.

They finished packing up our things the next day. We drove back to our new house, and met up with my mom, my sister, my brother, his wife and their two kids. They drove all the way from Montreal to come and see the house, and to have dinner with us! This was greatly appreciated :0)
As usual, my mom has a great eye for color and for detail, she's an artist and she's wonderful with interior decorating...she gave us some great ideas for our new house.

On Sunday, we spent the day cleaning the house; mopping the floors and cleaning out the kitchen and bathroom cupboards. Of course, it rained on monday morning, and the movers going in and out with their muddy boots dirtied the floors in no time...but, that's normal! It's all a part of the joy of moving. At least it didn't rain while they moved our furniture and boxes into the house. That is, our mattresses and furniture didn't get all wet. I got a call for a job interview as well, so in the middle of all of this...I had to leave for the interview! Unfortunately, the job wasn't quite what I had hoped, I'm overqualified for the, I didn't take it. I'm happy that I'm already getting interviews though! The job hunt continues...

We had a lovely surprise on moving day! Tangie - someone whom I met online a few months ago, and who is also in the process of adopting from the Philippines with her husband Michel - just happens to live in our new neighbourhood! And did I mention that they plan to name their child Rafael(e)? I don't know, I don't usually believe in these things, but it kind of seems like our lives were destined to cross paths... Anyway, Tangie was very sweet and thoughtful (and probably curious to meet us, just like we were to meet her!) and she dropped by with a gift basket filled with fruit, some cookies and a card to welcome us to the neighbourhood. She said she decided to do her "Desperate Housewife" act, which really made me laugh!! Raph and I were very touched by this gesture...we don't have any friends or family in the area, so it was really nice to be welcomed like that! Not to mention that we were really looking forward to meeting her, so it was a very nice surprise :0) She seems like a very kind, generous, warm and genuine sort of person. I am looking forward to getting together with her again and meeting her husband soon!

Raph's parents came with his sister and her boyfriend to give us a hand with the move. They helped unpack boxes, put up curtains and paintings, run errands...
Raph's dad helped him make shelves and clean out the garage. It was great to have some extra helping hands! Things go much faster and get done quicker when there are more people helping out. I have to admit that although we were very happy and grateful for all of the help his family gave us, we were also happy to finally have the house to ourselves. It's nice to be alone just the two of us, in our own things. It's been a few months now that we've been apart, running around to get things done for the move. Of course, moving is pretty stressful...Raph and I are both pretty exhausted. We still have a lot of work to do on the the kitchen, and painting the walls in the basement. Still, most of the work is done...all of the boxes are unpacked, and we're pretty much settled into our new house. I'll post some pictures of our new house soon. We accomplished a lot in two weeks!! Raph still has two weeks of vacation left this summer...I think it's important that he takes a break this time and has a real vacation this summer, rather than spending the two weeks working on the house.

So, it's been a busy two weeks! Keeping busy is good, it keeps me from spending too much time in that dark place, wondering and worrying about the adoption. Soon the move will be behind us, all of the hard work on the house will be done and the fall will begin...that's when the wait will get more difficult! So, I have to find myself a job by the beginning of September. I know now that what everyone has been saying to me all along is very true...keeping busy is really the best thing you can do during the wait!!