Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Day. Snow. In Tasmania, Australia.


There is a tradition that Scott and I have started for our soon-to-be family. For the past couple of years, we have been having Christmas lunch at a stone picnic hut in the Hartz Mountains, about 30 minutes south of where we live.

Today was no exception. And to add to the festivities, it SNOWED!

I kid you not. In the land of bushfires one day and freezing temps the next, it honest-to-goodness snowed.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Dedicated with Love to the child of our heart ...

For you, we would walk a million miles,

yet we do not know your name.

Your life may not have even begun

but we love you, already, just the same.

Your heart may not have beat

in time with ours from birth,

yet never would be more perfect a child

In all the children on this earth.

You ask of us … “How long will you love me?

Will your love ever cease?”

Sweet child of ours, we will dedicate our life

to ensure yours will be Happiness and Peace.

Your Parents xxoo

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Ho HO HO! Merry Christmas Everyone.


Once again it's Christmas so let me wish you all the Merriest of times with your family and friends!

Scott and I don't formally celebrate Christmas, as a rule. In the 5 or so years that we've been together, it's only something we celebrate when Scott's daughter, Brit, is with us as Christmas is mostly for kids.

I imagine that the way we celebrate Christmas will change rapidly for us when we have our child home from Thailand. Will this be Christmas 2007?? We certainly hope so but think it will be more like Christmas 2008!

I remember the first Christmas in Tasmania as this was the first Christmas that I got to spend with Brit. We had such a GREAT TIME!! What a perfect excuse to act like a kid ourselves!!! And we DID :)

Brit got so many presents from us, from family, from friends, that at one stage we were sitting in Scott's Mum's loungeroom surrounded on all sides by Brit's presents alone! She was the only kid there for this particular Christmas so we spoilt her rotten. What FUN!

It's things like this that I look forward to as we inch closer and closer to becoming full time parents of our own child. Between our child together and the beautiful Brit we are going to do some SERIOUS!! spoiling. At the end of the day, any sane parent knows that Xmas isn't about presents. But the kids will tell you differently and just you try to have a Xmas with kids and without presents. Your life wouldn't be worth living!

On December 25, have a great time with those that you love. One lifetime is such a short span of time in terms of the many, many lifetimes that make up the universe as we know it.

Cherish. Laugh a Lot. Make Everyone Else Merry too.

This blog needs redecoration.

Now that we're not adopting from China, I think our blog needs a new background. No more ladybugs.

Stay tuned.
(try to contain your excitement while you wait ...)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

1st Homestudy Meeting!

We now have a date for our first homestudy meeting with our caseworker, *J*! We feel very fortunate as *J* has been immensely helpful (and patient) in answering all of our questions thus far and to have her as our Caseworker is brilliant!

We've filled out all of the documents sent to us to give the DHHS and the Thai Adoption Service a good picture of who we are - it's been pretty interesting actually.

You don't really look at your life "en masse" in one A4, 11 page document, very often and I've got to say that I really enjoyed the discussions that Scott and I had as a result of doing it.

Sooo excited now! This just feels so right.

Next step: Meet with Caseworker 4th January 2007 (still working on Country project)

Monday, December 18, 2006

A family sooner than we expected?

My heart skipped a beat today. Reading bits and pieces from different sources I have realised that I made a mistake in the timeframe between our dossier going to Thailand and the referral of a child.

We assumed, incorrectly it seems, that it was about 2 to 2.5 years ...

It is 1 to 1.5 years and only sometimes 2 to 2.5 years .. gasp ...

WOW! Now all we need to do is get through our Homestudy with the Caseworker and be approved as prospective adoptive parents. There are many factors involved here in deciding our fate, the specifics of which, in our case, only the Dept. of Health and Human Services, Hobart, are fully aware.

I haven't been nervous so far but today I am. We could (all things being equal) be parents within about 18 months or less!!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Delving deep into our psyche. Oops! No-one home.

Wow, there is so much paperwork on my desk right now that needs attending to for the caseworker. We received everything in the mail just the other day.

From our family history, our perspective on our upbringing, financial status, relationship status, proposed childrearing tactics, how we handle anger, decision-making, crisis, social and political issues, whether or not we are tidy, tolerance to other culture, ethnicity, beliefs (well ok, that one is obvious), our jobs, our attitude to our jobs ... the list goes on.

I'm a big supporter of this kind of delving, especially when it comes to anything involving kids. It makes a lot of sense.

We have already completed most of the answers to the in-depth questions over a period of 8-9 hours (not all at once) and will soon move onto the country project.

It turns out that we have to create a country project about Thailand to show our understanding of our future child's country of origin. This needs to be in the format of a children's picture storybook and should be a lot of fun to complete together! I'm really looking forward to this one personally and have started compiling the bits and pieces that we will use.

Next step: Create country project and await contact by now allocated Caseworker after Christmas.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Immense Loss of An Adopted Child ... Walk a Mile in Baby’s Booties

This is an excellent story to demonstrate the feelings of an adopted child after their initial loss of their birth parents, then the loss of their foster parents while they await adoption. It reveals the importance of the necessary adjustment period just following the adoptive parents arrival home with their new child.

Imagine for a moment ...

You have met the person you've dreamed about all your life. He has every quality that you desire in a spouse. You plan for the wedding, enjoying every free moment with your fiancée. You love his touch, his smell, the way he looks into your eyes. For the first time in your life, you understand what is meant by "soul mate," for this person understands you in a way that no one else does. Your heart beats in rhythm with his. Your emotions are intimately tied to his every joy, his every sorrow.

The wedding comes. It is a happy celebration, but the best part is that you are finally the wife of this wonderful man. You fall asleep that night, exhausted from the day's events, but relaxed and joyful in the knowledge that you are next to the person who loves you more than anyone in the world…the person who will be with you for the rest of your life.

The next morning you wake up, nestled in your partner's arms. You open your eyes and immediately look for his face.

But IT'S NOT HIM! You are in the arms of another man. You recoil in horror. Who is this man? Where is your beloved?

You ask questions of the new man, but it quickly becomes apparent that he doesn't understand you. You search every room in the house, calling and calling for your husband. The new guy follows you around, trying to hug you, pat you on the back,...even trying to stroke your arm, acting like everything is okay.

But you know that nothing is okay. Your beloved is gone. Where is he? Will he return? When? What has happened to him?

Weeks pass. You cry and cry over the loss of your beloved. Sometimes you ache silently, in shock over what has happened. The new guy tries to comfort you. You appreciate his attempts, but he doesn't speak your language-either verbally or emotionally. He doesn't seem to realize the terrible thing that has happened...that your sweetheart is gone.

You find it difficult to sleep. The new guy tries to comfort you at bedtime with soft words and gentle touches, but you avoid him, preferring to sleep alone, away from him and any intimate words or contact.

Months later, you still ache for your beloved, but gradually you are learning to trust this new guy. He's finally learned that you like your coffee black, not doctored up with cream and sugar. Although you still don't understand his bedtime songs, you like the lilt of his voice and take some comfort in it.

More time passes. One morning, you wake up to find a full suitcase sitting next to the front door. You try to ask him about it, but he just takes you by the hand and leads you to the car. You drive and drive and drive. Nothing is familiar. Where are you? Where is he taking you?

You pull up to a large building. He leads you to an elevator and up to a room filled with people. Many are crying. Some are ecstatic with joy. You are confused. And worried.

The man leads you over to the corner. Another man opens his arms and sweeps you up in an embrace. He rubs your back and kisses your cheeks, obviously thrilled to see you.

You are anything but thrilled to see him. Who in the world is he? Where is your beloved? You reach for the man who brought you, but he just smiles (although he seems to be tearing up, which concerns you), pats you on the back, and puts your hand in the hands of the new guy. The new guy picks up your suitcase and leads you to the door. The familiar face starts openly crying, waving and waving as the elevator doors close on you and the new guy.

The new guy drives you to an airport and you follow him, not knowing what else to do. Sometimes you cry, but then the new guy tries to make you smile, so you grin back, wanting to "get along." You board a plane. The flight is long. You sleep a lot, wanting to mentally escape from the situation.

Hours later, the plane touches down. The new guy is very excited and leads you into the airport where dozens of people are there to greet you. Light bulbs flash as your photo is taken again and again. The new guy takes you to another guy who hugs you. Who is this one? You smile at him. Then you are taken to another man who pats your back and kisses your cheek. Then yet another fellow gives you a big hug and messes your hair.

Finally, someone (which guy is this?) pulls you into his arms with the biggest hug you've ever had. He kisses you all over your cheeks and croons to you in some language you've never heard before.

He leads you to a car and drives you to another location. Everything here looks different. The climate is not what you're used to. The smells are strange. Nothing tastes familiar, except for the black coffee. You wonder if someone told him that you like your coffee black.

You find it nearly impossible to sleep. Sometimes you lie in bed for hours, staring into the blackness, furious with your husband for leaving you, yet aching from the loss. The new guy checks on you. He seems concerned and tries to comfort you with soft words and a mug of warm milk. You turn away, pretending to go to asleep.

People come to the house. You can feel the anxiety start to bubble over as you look into the faces of all the new people. You tightly grasp the new guy's hand. He pulls you closer. People smile and nudge one other, marveling at how quickly you've fallen in love. Strangers reach for you, wanting to be a part of the happiness.

Each time a man hugs you, you wonder if he will be the one to take you away. Just in case, you keep your suitcase packed and ready. Although the man at this house is nice and you're hanging on for dear life, you've learned from experience that men come and go, so you just wait in expectation for the next one to come along.

Each morning, the new guy hands you a cup of coffee and looks at you expectantly. A couple of times the pain and anger for your husband is so great that you lash out, sending hot coffee across the room, causing the new guy to yelp in pain. He just looks at you, bewildered. But most of the time you calmly take the cup. You give him a smile. And wait. And wait. And wait.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I got pod-ed.

Wheeeeeee!!! This is fun. Scott bought me an iPod today, the one that plays music and movies. Sooooo much fun that I've been spending all of my time loading this thing up full of tunes and short films. Ah, technology is GRAND! If I had've realized how much fun it was, I would've hinted for one *much* sooner than this ..


Now, can anyone tell me how to create a video podcast of my very own? I really have no idea.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Proof positive - we are not unsavoury.

Hooray! So far we are not unsavoury. We have been accepted onto the Inter-country Adoption Register and we can continue on through the process of adoption.

There are many baby steps before we get to the actual 'baby' (or child) and the ladies of the DHHS are pictures of kindness and patience as I ask a zillion questions by phone/email.

As much as the upcoming caseworker meetings (about 5 of them I think) are somewhat daunting in nature, I still find myself looking forward to them. After following along with other people's adoptions, their emotions, thoughts and reactions to various milestones, there is obviously a lot to learn between now and, what I will hereby refer to as, "THE DAY".

THE DAY will be the surprise phone call we will eventually receive (all things being equal) from one of the DHHS staff members to give us the fantastic news about a referral of a child.

As Thai adoptions don't come with an expected arrival date, this call will more than likely take us by complete surprise. The wait times can vary quite wildly from what I gather of previous adoptions and can stretch right out to about 2 and a half years. We have been warned in an earlier conversation to be ready for a referral at any time. I'm getting butterflies just thinking about it ...

Next step: To be allocated a Caseworker to undertake the Homestudy. In short, this is for the DHHS to work out whether we are going to be suitable parents in many different ways. Emotionally, practically, financially, realistically!

Never has there ever been a job interview quite like this one.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

End of Rain Retreat Ceremony

I was reading a little back over our yahoo group's discussion of a month or so ago and I remembered that this was talked about. October was the end of the Buddhist Rains Retreat and it sparked a bit of info sharing from group members, as below ...

October marks the end of the Buddhist Rains Retreat
It began in July.
The annual retreat is an essential part of Theravada Buddhism
(95% of Thais are Theravada Buddhists)
The three-month retreat is a traditional time for men and boys to
enter the monastery and it is also the time for all monks to remain
in their temples (Wat) to study the teachings of Buddha.

Various terms are used to describe this three -month period including
Buddhist Lent and Annual Retreat but more commonly, it is known as
the Buddhist Rains Retreat, this classical term being used because it
more accurately describes its origin.

While the Buddha lived and taught in the foothills of the Himalayas
in northern India, there was a three -month rainy season and Buddha
is said to have initiated the retreat at that time.
The end of the retreat is a momentous time and the Thai people will
start celebrating the event at least a week before the big day.
Offerings of practical gifts will be bestowed and a number of parades
and processions held to mark the occasion.
Awg Pahnsa, the name given to this special day is not just a signal
ending the monks retreat but it also signals the end of the rainy
season and a time for the Thai people to start afresh.

This sounds like a story I've heard about the Buddha instituting this
retreat as, due to the rainy season, there are many more insects about
than normal. As Buddhists practice non-harm to all sentient beings, or
they attempt to, as best they can - (humans; animals - whether
large or very, very small; anything with a central nervous system really)
this allowed them to retreat and stop from harming multiple beings.

If you're not familiar with how seriously Buddhists take non-harming,
here's an interesting story. We had a visiting Rinpoche here a couple
of months ago. His name is Lama Zopa Rinpoche. We were travelling home
after a teaching along the highway at night behind Rinpoche, his
attendants and his driver who is a friend of ours. After a while we
passed their car as they were driving very slowly. Tasmania is
reknowned to have a lot of wildlife on/around the highway and as a
result lots of animals are killed accidentally by drivers. Naturally
our friend was trying to prevent this happening with Rinpoche in the
car! There was already quite a few animals that had been hit by drivers
previously and their bodies lay by the side of the road. Rinpoche asked
our friend to stop when he saw a deceased animal and he chanted mantras
and prayers for the animal's rebirth into their next (and better!)
life. This happened, as you can imagine, quite a few times along the
highway before they actually reached home. What was normally a 20
minute drive took well over an hour. Such is the life of a Lama, whose
compassion for humans and animals alike knows no bounds.

This may sound somewhat strange if you are not familiar with this
practice.

The way we think about it, as it was just as strange to us at
first, is that if it were *you* lying beside the road after being hit by
a car, would you not want someone to honor your life and wish you
well. Or would it seem right if they just left you there without thought
or word because you were already deceased.

That's how important all living beings are.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Oh my!! Hahaha.

This is the BEST belly-laugh I've ever heard.

Dinner Laughter

Get ready to wet yourself with laughter ... what a cute pair!

Our Application is IN!

We have formally applied to adopt as of today! There were a lot of docs to submit but we had to wait until we had our wedding certificate to actually give them to the DHHS as they wouldn't allow us to formally apply until we were wed.

Yeeeeah!!

Next step: DHHS (Dept. of Health and Human Services for all you non-Tasmanians) will do a check on us in their government database to make sure we're not unsavoury characters and then we will pay our application fees and be allocated a caseworker for complete our homestudy.

Shortly after that, in early Jan or Feb 2007, there is a mandatory Adoption Workshop that we must attend.

See you on the other side of the paperwork ....

Friday, December 01, 2006

Honeymoon-ers!

I figured that we had a pretty relaxed life already but after spending 3 nights/4 days on the east coast of Tasmania around Swansea and Freycinet National Park we are sooooooo relaxed that we might not make it back to work again.

Figuring how Tassie's weather is largely unpredictable, we went away with reasonable expectations and a few hopes and it turned out that the weather couldn't have been more perfect had it been made to order - how lovely!

The first two nights were spent in a little cottage at The Piermont Retreat, just outside of Swansea (1.5 hours drive north-east of Hobart). Being right on the ocean is such a great treat. It's not exactly swimming weather here right now, despite the warm, clear weather, but all the same it makes for some lovely walks.

The last night was at the Freycinet Lodge, right in the Freycinet National Park. Equally lovely place to honeymoon however our personal favourite was the Piermont. If you hanker after a relaxing place to stay where all you hear are birds, the ocean and pure silence at night, the east coast of Tassie in the off-season is the place to go.

Here are a few pics from that little jaunt.
Piermont Retreat ... 2 nights .. beautiful cottages on the beachfront near Swansea, Tasmania

Inside the cottages and the view from our little outside area

The beach was THIS close!

Cottages from the outside

Scott, Friendly Beaches, outside Freycinet National Park

Me

Here he is again!

The east coast of Tasmania. Somewhere near Bicheno.

Honeymoon Bay, Freycinet National Park (how appropriate!)

Us, Nine Mile Beach (not a soul in sight for the whole nine miles)

Ok, so if that was the honeymoon, how soon can we realistically renew our vows?