On Thursday afternoon I hopped on a plane and headed to Auckland for my course on adoption. I made sure I had a glass of wine before I left so that I was calm for the journey which was surprisingly without turbulence considering all the cloud around.
I ubered to my airBnB with a lovely man who had lived in Auckland for 20 years but was originally from India. I talked about my journey of adoption and he shared about his dreams for his daughters (one who had recently survived lukemia) and his desire to move to Christchurch.
On arrival to my airBnB I worked out that it was 20 minutes walk to One Tree Hill. I decided to pack my umbrella and jacket just in case and headed off for a wee adventure. Yes, it was 20 minutes walk to One Tree Hill but then you had to climb it! Luckily I bought my umbrella as it started to rain as I ascended. My jacket came in handy when I reached the top as the wind was blowing a gale. I was told the view from the top was amazing, and it was nice, but I was more intrigued with the beautiful rolling green paddocks and the working farm that was onsite amongst a bustling city.
As I descended the hill I started working out what I was going to order from Uber Eats. Unfortunately I was so engrossed in food choices (I hadn’t eaten since breakfast) that I walked past my exit path. Luckily I noticed not too far along and prevented a walk 5km longer than anticipated.
That evening I meet the owners of the airBnB who were also from India. They asked me what my travel purposes were and we ended up standing in the hallway for about 20 minutes talking about adoption and India.
On Friday I walked the 20 minutes to The Parenting Place and found my pre-arranged seat in the circle for those adopting from India with one bag and one seat (rather than one bag and two seats.) I felt a little conspicuous but decided not to let that matter and started getting to know those around me.
There were 24 people at the training day, most of them adopting from Thailand. There were only 4 couples adopting from India and myself. Two of the couples adopting from India were adopting babies as they were of Indian descent. One of the other couples had already been matched with two girls aged 7 and 8.
The course was based a lot around what was involved in the process especially after being matched with a child. We talked about the three stages of parenting an adopted child with the first stage starting from picking the child up from the orphanage to getting home. This was called the survival stage. Basically do anything you can to keep calm and get the child home to NZ safely. We talked about the flight home. This is often labelled ‘the flight from hell’. We were told of an American family who were met by police at the airport on their arrival home due to how they treated their out of control adopted children. The main thing to remember is that it’s not their behaviour that will get you into trouble, it’s yours. The next stage was Adjustment stage parenting. This is for the fist 6-12 months where everyone is adjusting to the new way of life with some very big adjustments for your child. The last stage is ‘normal’ parenting where you are just the normal parent, although being the parent of an adopted child is never normal.
We also talked about how to answer those difficult questions with either humour, deflection or information. For example: how much did you have to pay for her? Not as much as she’s worth. Or is she your real child? No I keep my real children at home. I prefer to take the plastic ones out with me.
Throughout the day there were constant reminders of the waiting, this will take a long time and it will look different for everyone. No journey is the same. A quote that stood out to me was ‘patience is not the ability to wait but how you act while you are waiting.’
We discussed the cultures of India and Thailand. We talked about how we would feel if a child we knew was adopted by a distant family member in Iran. What would we like them to be taught about NZ? So therefore what would India hope my child would remember? So now begins my journey of learning some Hindi, cooking vegetarian Indian food, learning about the history, geography and current happenings in India.
We learned what to consider when naming our child. We also learned that the two main issues for adopted children when they first arrive is sleeping and food. Children in orphanages share their bed with other children and they don’t wear pyjamas and have no or limited bed coverings (it is too hot for this).
We also talked about creating a life book to introduce ourselves to our child when we are matched. This will include photos of me, my house, her room, the cat and people who will have a significant relationship with her.
The highlight of the day was when we were allowed to choose a free story from the ICANZ library to keep. I found this beautiful picture book. It is a child and her mum writing about her adopted mum flying across the world to adopt her. The story says how her mum loved her life but wanted to give a child a family. The page that sealed the deal that this was the book for me was: "I hugged you and kissed you. I called you my snuggle bunny and promised to take care of you forever." I almost cried.
It's about time for an update on what has been happening in the adoption front over the past few months. I know I've been quiet and there's been reasons for that but plenty has happened since November. So, get yourself a sparkling water (or wine!) and a lovely perch in the sun (or a hot chocolate / cup of tea and a place by the fire if you're a Northern Hemisphere reader) because this is going to be a long one.
I've been wondering when I was going to have time to write this post after deciding that spring cleaning every surface of my house these holidays (including curtains) was a good idea... I'm thinking not so much any more! But after trying out some nifty gymnastic moves on Rapaki track (one foot sliding down while the other one stayed grounded) I've been told to ice it and rest. So it's a great time to fill you all in on what has been going on.
In November my adoption journey took a dramatic turn for the good and started a series of events that hav…
A year and a half ago, almost to the day (9th August 2017), I posted my forms to Oranga Tamariki to begin the process of international adoption.
Today my home study report was accepted and handed over to ICANZ (Inter-Country Adoption New Zealand).
This is a huge step and celebration in the journey, in fact one of the biggest, as it means I have been deemed acceptable to adopt from India. I now need to finalise a few documents for my dossier and then the waiting to bring Bunny home will truly begin.
A few weeks ago my exceptional cousin, Christy, took yet another photo shoot for my dossier (this was the third one) as I had learnt that no shoulders were allowed to be shown and it was best if knees weren't either.
Before the photo shoot, I trolled through Facebook trying to find photos that might be suitable to send. I found one that hid the fact that my shoulders were bare and I thought it would be a great, only to realise that the glass of wine I was holding in the centre of the fr…
Today, on this 11th September, I have finished paying off the $10,000 loan that I received late last year. I began paying this off in January and have managed to pay it off in 9 months and 8 days with God's grace, two fundraisers and some pretty epic budgeting skills. It feels good but I know the celebration will be in my next pay when that money will go to increase my savings towards adoption.
How did I celebrate? Well not with anything today but recently I bought a beautiful darker-skinned doll for Bunny and that felt like a way to celebrate. In the next week or so I will take my incredible friend, who lent me the money, out for a meal to celebrate.
And tomorrow I hop on a plane and fly to Auckland to attend the Sistas Conference and hopefully meet Lisa Harper and her daughter Missy. I'm so excited, I don't know how much sleep I will get tonight. I've been beavering away over the past few days sewing a baby blanket as they are collecting these at the conference to be …