Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I Forgot to Say That This Post Was Brought to You By the Number 0. As in, what's left of our finances after this trip.
This is the pits. It's 4:47 AM the night before we leave, and I'm still up. I feel like a failure. My whole goal this trip was to start early, plan ahead, and NOT be up packing all night the night before.
I have worked pretty much round the clock for a month now getting ready for this. I know it sounds impossible to spend that much time, but consider this: there's getting the house ready for two new kids and a stressful year ahead--buying new beds, bedding, switching kids' stuff from one room to another, cleaning the house, and trying to finish house projects that can't just be left undone for the next few weeks, not to mention finding an Amharic translator. Then there's the 5-week, 2-country trip to prepare for: that's researching and booking several different flight itineraries, multiple hotels (many who can only respond to your emails in cryptic English in 2-day turnaround), car rentals (all on a tight budget), getting us all travel shots, taking everybody to the dentist (you hate to have a tooth break in a third-world country, and I would have had that very nightmare if I hadn't gone in), getting extended meds arranged, packing for 6 people (4 here, and 2 there) in limited luggage, packing orphanage donations, finding and packing all your camera and electronic gear, filling ipods full of audiobooks to keep your kids entertained for at least 5 of the 50 hours of flying ahead, letting your husband work late so he can leave his job in some semblance of order, going to Target over and over for all the things you forgot (like enough protein bars to stave off the whining if your kids hate all the foreign food they taste), and--for the past 7 hours--filling out 2 of every government immigration form and assembling copies of all the supporting documents (why didn't we buy that printer that could send through more than one page at a time?!)
Yes, Dad, I KNOW that is one enormous run-on sentence made worse by too many parenthetical references and my ever-present over-use of dashes. I wrote it that way because that's how my last few weeks have felt! Like a race from one thing to the next, with constant interruptions and tangents to follow.
Then, to my great delight, at about 1:00 AM I discovered in some fine print that . . . OUR FINGERPRINTS EXPIRE OCTOBER 9TH!! That's 10 days before our embassy date, mind you. I knew you had to adopt within 18 months of your USCIS approval. They tell you that all the time. But I have never heard ANYONE mention this fine print--that you only have 15 MONTHS before your fingerprints expire and your adoption can be denied. Sounds like an absurd contradiction, right? Yes! I know. At this point Steve was at the airport mailing our final 7 shipping business boxes before we leave, so I was left alone to fume at our adoption agency--they are supposed to alert you and keep track of these things! ARGH. I started searching online for my local Homeland Security office to head in first thing in the morning, only to find that since I was last there they have instituted an appointment only policy, and their first appointment is not until September 28. They don't even list a phone number because that might actually encourage someone to CALL THEM FOR HELP.
So, when Steve got home at 1:30 we conferred and decided that since it was the middle of the night here, our best option was to spend the next 1/2 hour on the phone with the US Consulate in London (thanks, Elliot), and the US Consulate in Addis Ababa (you, too, Debbie). Boy, they really do sound like they want to HELP Americans--help US. What a pleasant surprise! (Of course, now I'm imagining them all to be like the WWII embassy characters in The Winds of War, or Julia Child's wonderful embassy husband in Julie and Julia.) No resolution to that situation yet, but we've decided to put all our eggs in the Consular basket and fly away tomorrow with faith they will fingerprint us.
We still have a short list of things to do tomorrow, but I think they're manageable enough for us to go to bed now. Ruby woke up crying a bit ago, needing some comfort from her mom. I had a twinge of guilt about bringing another girl into her life, so close to her age. This was worsened by the fact that I had to find our original home study tonight, and re-read where it specifically says we want a boy and a girl. Of course the feeling is much worse because I'm exhausted. I know I've had more than one confirmation about taking these girls, and these girls in particular. But for a moment tonight I remembered how I purposely had my kids far apart so I would have plenty of time for a strong one-on-one relationship with each of them. I didn't want it to be just Mom and the Kids. I feel like I'm undoing that. And what about the fact that I always wanted and thought I'd have a family of boys? I'm definitely undoing that. I feel sad. But I guess that's normal, because I really haven't felt much fear or anxiety up to this point and I was due. It's this kind of thinking that reminds you it's time to go to bed.
I'll sign off with some pics (above) and video of the whole preparatory affair. Wish us luck! (Especially with the fingerprints.) In the lovely photo gallery you'll see, 1) my living room packing station 2) my pile of government documents 3) all the protein bars in Steve's suitcase.
And here's a little video of our lovely Sunday afternoon protein bar taste test. Those things are expensive and my kids are picky. Steps had to be taken to avoid disaster.
And now it's 5:44 Am. What idiot blogs for an hour after a day like this? I guess I'm just trying to get myself committed. Not to an institution. Just to blogging.