Friday, February 22, 2008

Weekend Update

So today I hear my five-year-old tell his brother: "Don't tell me what to do!"

This is definitely a kid who likes to blaze his own trail. Should I be worried?

I think maybe I should be worried.

Adoption News:

We went to the US Embassy Wednesday to file our I-600 form, declaring our adoptive daughter as a dependent. We were hoping they'd accept it for preapproval, even without the Adoption Decree in hand. No luck. The guy gave us a phone number for an immigration specialist at the embassy, told us to make an appointment if we needed more info.

We needed more info. We retrieved our cell phones (they're not allowed inside), went outdoors, and called the number. The woman asked a ton of questions: what documents did we have, what agency did we use, etc. etc. Finally she tells us to come back inside and she'll meet with us. Long story short, she took our fingerprints and documents and told us she'd get the ball rolling while we wait for the Decree. We were petrified that the immigration end of things could potentially take months, but we learned that after we hand in the Decree the approval could be a matter of a few short weeks. So the day was not wasted.

We attended our second court hearing on Thursday. We were last on the docket and had settled in to wait out all the other cases, but the judge sent us straight to the stenographer, who took the statement of the court social worker. We were home by 10 am. The bad news: they set another hearing date for March 27, where the prosecutor would be given a chance to present any appeals before the decision was handed down. After that, it would take 30 to 90 days for the Decree to be issued. Yikes. Our plans to be home by June 1 flew right out the window.

Luckily our attorney is made of awesome. We paid extra for her to rush her pending submission of the final court documents; paid the stenographer extra to rush the transcripts; paid a courier to hand-deliver all pertinent documents to wherever they're supposed to go, and were able to score a revised court date of March 13. Yet another sign that Someone's looking out for us and/or wants us home. Now if we can get the Decree in 30 days instead of 90, we'll be happy campers.

The hard lesson we've learned in all this is not to take no for an answer. Or rather to ask the question, "What else can we try?" I've been amazed that more often than not, when you push just enough without actually being pushy, you quite often get results. This does not come naturally to me, at all. At least it didn't used to. Not sure yet if this is a skill I'm proud of.

We're nearly there. Praise the Lord, we're nearly there.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Staring Contest

Thought this pic from the local outdoor market turned out pretty cool. Wanted to share.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Good for the Soul, Bad for the Diet

We had a great visit with Dad and his wife this week. It was cool to revisit a few of our favorite tourist spots. The kids basked in the extra attention. And I got to reconnect with my dad, to talk about life and politics and other grown-up stuff.

And I have to say, my dad's a pretty hip guy: cargo pants, a Palm Pilot and digital camera--and of course the willingness to fly halfway around the world. Very cool. I'm pretty sure an MP3 player is in the near future. (Let me know when you're ready for iTunes, Dad. It'll knock your socks off.)

Plus we ate out a lot and I didn't exercise. So...bonus! Or not, since now I have to work twice as hard before our trip to China next month. Blah. If I collapse climbing the steps to the Great Wall, at least it'll be kind of a cool place to bite the big one.

A few pics from our visit to Intramuros:

Friday, February 1, 2008

Of Lights and Tunnels

Our day in court was...a miracle.

1) The judge was friendly and in good humor. 2) The prosecutor had some connection to our lawyer's husband through his family in the Province. 3) We were the first case of the day. 4) The judge said something about adoption being a great thing and not wanting to stand in the way of adoptive parents and their child. 5) He allowed us to give testimony and be cross-examined in front of the court stenographer in a separate room. We went in that morning fearing that neither of us would be allowed to testify due to time constraints, that we'd have to wait several weeks for another hearing for Bryce's testimony, and several weeks after that for mine.

The court social worker will give her statement Feb. 21. Then it's a matter of waiting for the court to hand down the adoption decree, probably sometime in April.


Of course we still have to work with immigration and the US Embassy to get all the travel papers in place, but it finally feels like there's an end in sight.

Say it with me: Boo-yah!

If all goes according to plan, we'll be on our way home June 1.

Now that I'm not so preoccupied with all the what ifs, I feel like reading books again, like writing again. I grabbed my tattered copy of One Man's Meat to ease myself back into the reading scene with a few of E.B. White's incredible essays.

Here's my (his) gem of the day:

"The intellectual who simply says 'I am a writer,' and forthwith closets himself with a sharp pencil and a dull Muse, may well turn out to be no artist at all but merely an ambitious and perhaps misguided person. I think the best writing is often done by persons who are snatching the time from something else--from an occupation, or from a profession, or from a jail term--something that is either burning them up, as religion, or love, or politics, or that is boring them to tears, as prison, or a brokerage house, or an advertising firm. A great violinist must begin fairly early in life to play the violin; but I think a literary artist has a better chance of producing something great if he spends the first forty years of his life doing something else--grinding a lens or surveying a wilderness."

Putting mechanics aside, as well as the fact that great writing is often hard-won and develops only after years of mediocre writing (in other words, you have to work at it), I kind of agree with him. And not just because it's likely I won't be published before I turn 40. :) I like the idea of perspective, of bringing decades of life to the table and digging deep to put the relevant pieces of that life down on the stark, empty page.

At 20 I thought I was pretty good at the writing thing. At 30 I thought I had it down cold. Only now, halfway to 40, have I taken to heart that humbling truth that the more I learn, the less I know.

But I also feel a comfort with my own voice, both as a person and as a writer, that I've never known before. Dare I call it maturity? It's a knowlege of what drives me, of what I feel passionate about. It's a deeper understanding of pain and joy. It's a willingness to place less importance on the opinions of others, and an ability to discern--and take to heart--the voices that truly matter.