My mind is whirling. The past week has been so intense, and so full of anticipation for yesterday's court date, and in the end, that anticipation was simply dashed with our court failure. I have cycled through disbelief, sadness, anger, and grief...over and over again. I'm sure the other three affected families from yesterday are going through something similar.
Yesterday I felt like packing my bags and paying whatever it cost to get the heck out of Dodge, to remove myself from the place that caused the pain. But today I want to use the next couple of days judiciously and spend a bit more time exploring and maybe even doing a little more shopping (which I still don't care for, even in another country!). Unfortunately, we'll be stuck mostly in the hotel for today because Geoff got stomach-sick during the night and he's been going through his own cycle between bed and toilet since late evening yesterday. It's 2:00pm as I begin to write this and I've barely said a word to him since getting up this morning, simply because whenever he gets up, it's just to head to the bathroom and back to bed again. He's sleeping again now. I'm still in my pajamas, and feeling like perhaps a day of simple rest might be exactly what the doctor ordered...for both of us. It's been such a crazy week of activity and emotional intensity. Despite the slight pull I feel to go outside, I think I'll just stay in my jammies for now. I've been doing a bunch of writing since getting up, a little bit of reading, some emailing, and quite a lot of just sitting in my comfie arm chair, looking out the window and thinking. Now I find myself here, blogging.
Last night, Geoff and I decided not to join a number of other families who were heading out for Ethiopian for dinner, or another couple from our lodge who invited us to join them for pizza. I just couldn't. In a way it would have been nice to be together with other families who would understand exactly what we experienced yesterday and earlier in the week, but I just felt empty. I wanted to cry in private. So we brought a pizza in, and ate it together here. I could have used a bit of alcohol to dull the pain, but the pizza place had only beer...and I hate beer. And who am I kidding anyway? I almost never touch alcohol...it just makes me want to sleep. Well, actually that would have been helpful last night.
Geoff and I found last night that we were starting to snip and snap at each other. I'd say something a bit biting, he'd respond with anger or sarcasm, and things quickly seemed to tense up between us. It didn't take long before we realized that we just weren't in a good place with so much raw emotion yet to be processed, so we backed off a bit and, though together in the same room, did things independently for the rest of the evening. He worked. I got out my computer and head phones, and watched a movie that I'd brought from home. For me, that worked, just to be able to be entertained for a couple of hours, to be distracted from my own misery. I needed to get out of my own head for a while...while not doing damage to my relationship with Geoff.
I actually had my best night of sleep yet, last night, though by comparison to the last week's worth of horrible nights, this was probably still on the light side of the amount of sleep I need. I have bags and wrinkles under my eyes from exhaustion, and probably from a bit of dehydration, too. I've been very careful to limit my water intake before we head out from the hotel for any number of hours, simply because I do not want to use some of the toilets you'll find all over the place around here. The nicer restaurants that we go to at dinner time tend to have western/modern toilets, but some of the others, well, better leave that topic here. I've gotten quite good at holding it in for a while!
The being sad thing is way more than selfishly about me. I mean, it is about Geoff and me, too, and feeling robbed of the opportunity to travel to the kids' birth region, and feeling frustrated about yet another delay in our process, and feeling sad that it just means a longer time till we're with the kids again. But mostly, I've come to think in the past twenty-four hours, that my sadness is not primarily about me. I've waited so many years to bring these kids home that, really, another six weeks is not going to make a huge difference from a big picture perspective. When the kids are finally home and I eventually look back at the whole adoption story of our lives, this six weeks until court date #2 will not be my predominant memory relative to the pain of the other almost nine years. Truly. My sadness, my annoyance, my anger - most of that stuff - is about knowing that this delay means that our kids will have to spend six more weeks (hopefully not longer) in an orphanage because of a last minute rule change.
I was very, very impressed by the orphanage where our kids are living. It is immaculate: extremely tidy, and extremely clean. Inside and outside. In the kids' bedrooms and in the larger spaces. In addition, the caregivers clearly have a good relationship with our kids - it was evident from the way they interacted, from the ease and familiarity with which they looked at each other and communicated. I feel very pleased with the level of care (physical and emotional) they are receiving. But it's still an orphanage and it's not the home for which they are intended. And for every week that they spend in institutional care, additional time will be required for them to adjust when they finally arrive in Canada. That's just pure and simple truth. The longer they're here, the longer the adjustment process will take later. I have five- and three-year old children for whom every week, every day, counts right now. That's where my real anxiety and sadness lie. If the focus were really on what's best for the child in these circumstances, the piece of paper in question would not be the thing to delay the process.
Have I said too much? Maybe. I'm not sure. I have been surprisingly supportive of many of the changes MOWA has made in the past year, and have been quite public about saying so. To this very moment, I believe that their job in protecting the integrity of the adoption process is crucial. I have supported their additional documentation requirements as they have accumulated over the past two years (particularly in the past year), even knowing with certainty that it caused delays in our receiving a referral (and then another referral). I was understanding of the court trip requirement that was introduced last June, despite the fact that this trip will cost us a lot of extra money...that we certainly could have used elsewhere.
I even understand what I hypothosize the reason to be for the new rule that was instituted yesterday. As I mentioned yesterday, the document in question has to do with an undertaking that families commit to making, to provide annual updates as to the well-being of the children they adopt. These updates are sent to Ethiopia and to the orphanage where the children are relinquished, so that birth families (and the government ministry) can access information as to how the children are doing. Frankly, I think that's a great part of the process, and that wherever possible, birth parents should/could benefit from knowing how their children are doing; it's respectful of both the birth parents and the children who have been displaced. I fully anticipate being joyful about preparing these annual updates, not simply because they'll be a great way to capture the highlights of the past year, but because I want the birth parent of our children to be able to access these reports and to know as much as possible about how the children are doing. Wouldn't you want that, too, if you were in their shoes?
Sadly, there are many parents (including some families associated with our agency) who do not comply with this requirement...who simply refuse to prepare them, or think that they shouldn't be required. I don't know how large a group of adoptive families this represents, but I do know that they exist. I believe that each time an adoptive family refuses to comply with this requirement, they not only harm their Ethiopian-born children and the birth parents of those children, they put into jeopardy the integrity of the system.
Hence the reason for the new rule, I believe (I could be wrong). From the perspective of the Ethiopian government, I can appreciate why they would want to make the adoption agency responsible for ensuring that families fulfill this requirement for annual updates. Of course, there are some inherent problems requiring an agency to commit to fulfilling a family's private obligation, so I imagine that we will have to make some sort of undertaking to Imagine. But the point is, I get it. I don't even disagree with it.
The only thing I disagree with is how it was introduced - without notice and with immediate effect. I suspect (though again, I could be wrong) that this is why our court time was delayed from morning til afternoon yesterday. It is very, very frustrating. But again, mostly because of our kids. Geoff and I will be fine, despite our own hurt and disappointment, and despite our longing for our children to be home. But for our kids' sake (all three of them) I so desperately want them all together at long last. My hope and prayer is that our second court date is also our last.
At any rate, it's now mid afternoon and my stomach is starting to growl. Geoff is still sleeping, and I'm still in my pjs, so I think I'd better pull out our emergency stash of crackers and peanut butter...maybe to be capped off with a handful of those easter chocolate mini eggs that I packed in case of dire emergency. I think sadness and grief constitute valid reason for consumption of at least one handful of those little eggs, don't you?