Events for Adopting Families

September 22, 2010

We adopted Victoria with the help of the Gladney Center for Adoption. We were quite happy with Gladney and we are obviously very happy with Victoria.

Gladney has all these post adoption events. We get emails from them every month. So families can get together and discuss issues with adoption, meet other families, random parties, etc.

Is it odd that we have no interest in any of these?

First of all, we’re not that social. But mainly I think it’s because adopting Victoria was so easy. Well, not the adoption process itself, that was a pain. But once we got Tori, it’s been totally smooth. No issues, no unusual adjustments, we’re just a family.

Perhaps it’s easier because Victoria looks close enough to Danielle and no one thinks she’s adopted. We don’t hide the fact that she’s adopted, but it’s not like you meet someone and say, "This is Danielle and this is Victoria – she’s adopted". It usually doesn’t come up. We aren’t likely to get the "what’s adopted mean?" question any time soon, since she never hears the word.

I suppose we are going to have to work on our explanation of the whole adoption thing. But we aren’t going to any adopting parents event for advice on that front. We’ll figure it out…

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Close to the finish line

June 29, 2009

We are finally getting close to completing the re-adoption process for Victoria. For those not familiar with this saga, “re-adoption” is a process in your home state where you change your adopted child’s citizenship from legal resident to US citizen (getting a local birth certificate along the way, and in our case a legal name change).

We had our final post placement homestudy visit. The social worker has to write up the report, get two copies to our lawyer who then submits it to the Kings County (that would be Brooklyn – county of Kings) courts.

It’s taken a long time, partly due to the courts being slow and partly due to us being slow (since we already have Victoria, we don’t have the same motivation to deal with courts and paperwork). But we are almost there. Soon Victoria will be a US citizen.

On a side note, Danielle had her last swim lesson with an Olympic champion on Saturday. Anthony Erwin is going to return to California to go back to school. While having an Olympic medalist as an instructor for a 6 year old is pretty meaningless, he’s really just a very nice guy. Danielle will miss him.


Victoria – One Year in the US

July 30, 2008

We recently passed the one year anniversary of our adoption of Victoria. And while we noted it, I think the most interesting thing was how it just wasn’t a big deal at all.

After a year, we simply don’t think of Victoria as “our adopted daughter”. She’s just our daughter. There’s just no difference.

Though there are big differences between Danielle and Victoria. I have no idea if this is genetic or normal first child/second child differences. Victoria is a complete nut.

The therapists with Early Intervention have done their magic and Victoria is completely “age appropriate”, as they say. And in truth, from hanging around the big kids, she is a bit more than age appropriate. If we are at a playground with one set of climbing stuff for the 2-4 year olds and another for the 5 and up crowd, she has no interest in the kiddie stuff, she’s climbing the 8 foot ladder.

I was at the park one time with her and Danielle and this other father was there with his sleeping 16 month old. So he was watching Victoria and finally said to me, “How old is she? She’s fearless”. She’s the most self-reliant 1 1/2 year old I’ve seen. If we leave our door open, she’ll just go. If there’s someone there who looks like they might be going someplace interesting, she’d just leave with them. She gets into everything. But always with that smile. It’s that “I’m about to do something bad but you can’t get too mad at me if I’m smiling like this” look.

She’s boatloads of fun. She loves music (the Elmo “Kids favorite songs #2” has been playing constantly at our place for the past few weeks). She only has a few words and they are amusingly bilingual. She says both gracias and thank you and often the opposite of what you ask. “Tori, say thank you”. “Gracias”. She seems to call anyone that she wants something from Mami. So I spend a lot of time trying to convince her that I’m Papi. She just laughs and smiles a lot.

So here’s a couple of recent pictures of Victoria Dallas Fischer, now 20 months old and doing great.

 Tori on Horse small DSC00815DSC01007DSC00954


Guatemalan Adoption today

June 19, 2008

I can’t read articles like this one without feeling incredibly lucky. Our adoption went through about six months before the change.

It was always clear to me that the old process had so much money flying around in a poor country that the potential for abuse was huge. We went with a large, reputable adoption agency for just that reason. We felt that a large organization working in many countries couldn’t afford the reputation damage of a baby for money scam.

For our process they did take steps to prevent abuse. The birth mother had to be photographed with the baby when she put her up for adoption as proof that she did so voluntarily. They ran a DNA test to verify that it was really her baby.

Not that all of that couldn’t be forged in a third world country. So you really never know.

But as the article states, the one good thing about the old process was that it was quick. As hard as it must be to give up your baby, at least you know he/she will have the opportunity for a good life in America, not in an orphanage. I agree that you need a process to make sure people aren’t buying/selling babies or pressuring birth mothers to give up babies, but you have to balance that against the understanding that a quick adoption helps the baby.


Victoria’s walking, but not out of the country

February 4, 2008

Victoria has really started walking. She’s come a long way from being really developmentally behind to being pretty much a normal 14 month old. We had a friend over this weekend with her 15 month old twins. They were walking, but other than that all three of them looked about the same. Victoria is walking and climbing and in general getting into everything. Be careful what you wish for.

But we’re not so sure about going on vacation out of the country. We have a trip planned for the Dominican Republic. We are in the process of getting Victoria full citizenship and a U.S. Passport but that takes a while. Right now she has Permanent Residence status.

But they mailed her green card to our old address. That type of mail can’t be forwarded. So we didn’t get it. She came into the country on an IR-4 Visa. That lasts six month which means it expired about a week ago. So while she has legal status, in terms of the actual paperwork we have in our hands, she has a valid Guatemalan passport and an expired Visa.

So we could go to the Dominican Republic, but Victoria couldn’t come back. Not so good.

We talked to Immigration and they’ll resend the green card. In a month or so. Not so good.

Finally, the lawyer we are working with to make her a full citizen (the process is called re-adoption) suggested that we call our congressman. We had to do this once before during the adoption when some paperwork got stuck in the process. I called our congressman’s office and I talked to the same guy and he thinks we can pull this off. If he does, I will owe him big time.

It’s no wonder that everyone hates Congress, but loves their congressman…


Adopt an 8 month old

August 6, 2007

Seriously, this is the perfect age for adopting. You are going through so much craziness, international travel, etc. But 8 months is a relatively easy age.

She’s not mobile yet. She can roll over, but you can pretty much put her in one place and not worry. She’s not overly fragile. She’s sleeping pretty well (last two nights she slept through the night).

Maybe we just got lucky and maybe it’s because she’s our second so we know the drill, but this is a good age to start with.

And she’s a very happy baby…

Laughing


The Adoption Saga

August 1, 2007

OK, here’s the full story of our trip. This will be a long blog.

We start out early on Thursday morning, flying to Guatemala City via Houston. The flights aren’t bad, though we sat for an hour on the runway in Houston waiting out a storm. We arrive in Guatemala around 12:30 local time. We gained two hours because Guatemala doesn’t observe Daylight Savings Time.

The airport was very interesting. They are doing major renovations and it looks like it will ultimately be pretty nice. They are billing it as soon to be the best airport in Central America. Maybe it will be. But for now it means that due to construction there is only one exit. Everyone is herded (the only appropriate verb) through this very narrow gauntlet. It’s literally about six feet wide, with taxi drivers, family, vendors, whatever on the other side of a fence. So if one person stops to tie their shoelace, the whole procession is halted. And this one exit leads to one street where every bus, taxi, shuttle, etc. must drive by. So it’s just total chaos. Welcome to Guatemala.

Eventually the van for our hotel arrives and we get there. The hotel is nice. We call the person from our agency and she says they’ll be over in an hour with the baby. Meanwhile, all Danielle wants to do is go to the pool.

So an hour later, the foster mother and the person from our agency show up with our baby. She looks good. Not as skinny as we thought from the pictures. She goes to my wife with no issues. She sits on my lap and I give her a bottle while Danielle also sits on my lap.

3-Fischer Placement- July 26' 07

My wife spends about 20 minutes talking with the foster mother in Spanish to get all of her likes, dislikes, habits, etc. Then the foster mother gives her a kiss, cries and they leave. The whole thing was less than half an hour. It kind of felt like, “here’s your baby. See ya.”

But Victoria was totally fine. I really thought that she would be freaking out, being held and taken care of by total strangers. But she had zero issues. She’s a happy, sweet baby. Honestly, Danielle will be the one making the bigger adjustment. She’s very happy with Victoria, but going from being an only child to having a baby sister is a big change for her.

We did discover one interesting fact that we didn’t know before. We were under the impression that the birth mother was simply a poor single woman who couldn’t keep her baby. That isn’t the case. The birth mother is married with five children. The problem was that her husband is not Victoria’s father. A Guatemalan soap opera. Apparently she couldn’t keep the baby and keep her marriage going. So sometime down the road Victoria may be very curious about her siblings.

Next we had to wait for our driver/facilitator to come to the hotel to go over the forms we needed for the embassy appointment the next day. At this point we couldn’t keep Danielle from the pool so we went for a swim while we waited for Hugo. He went over our paperwork by the pool.

Hugo was going to pick us up the next day around 7:45 for our 8:00 embassy appointment. So we ordered some room service and tried to get some rest, since we were all exhausted from traveling. There was just one problem. Victoria (Tori, as I shall henceforth be calling her) apparently goes to sleep at 10:00, with the TV on. 10:00 feels like midnight to us given the time change. So this was a challenge. Our first task with Tori will be getting her on a better schedule (and no TV to fall asleep).

The next morning we are ready to go. We’ve been warned that you can’t take much into the embassy, so we’re traveling light. We’re waiting for Hugo. And waiting. At this point I started to think that perhaps Guatemala was one of those countries where nothing happens exactly on time. Hugo shows up at 8:05. We’re probably at the embassy and through security by around 8:30. I now see why being exactly on time isn’t that important.

This isn’t an “appointment”, it’s a mob. There are about 80 families in the embassy looking to adopt a baby. I am not exaggerating. It might have been more. There were two jam packed rooms. Hugo took our paperwork (and fees) to one window and told us to wait, then we’d be called to window 10 and then to either window 8 or 9. We’re at window 10 about an hour later. A woman asks us a few questions and tells us to wait. About 45 minutes later we’re called to window 8. A different woman asks us to raise our right hands and swear that we will be telling the truth (she was amused that Danielle did it as well). She asks a few more questions, says we’re approved and we can pick up the Visa on Monday after 3:30. That’s it.

So now it’s about noon on Friday and we have nothing to do until Monday afternoon. Actually Hugo is going to pick up the Visa for us, so all we have to do is be at the hotel. And we’ve basically been told to be very careful walking around because we are obvious targets and to definitely not walk anywhere at night. So what do we do for the next few days?

The pool.

DanPool

Really, that was about it. Danielle loved the pool. My wife would take care of Victoria, bring her down to the pool some, and I would be in the pool with Danielle, trying not to fry my skin. I think an earlier blog posting mentioned the weather forecast calling for rain every day. Thankfully that wasn’t even close. It was 80 and mostly sunny every day. But the funniest part about being at the pool was that it was adoption central. At any given moment there were a half dozen adopting families at the pool. Some families were just there for a visit and some were like us finalizing the adoption. And we stayed at the one of the two recommended hotels that was supposedly “low key” in terms of adoptive families. The other hotel was supposedly even more filled with adopting families.

So you meet people very easily. It’s perfectly obvious that you have something in common. Two American parents with a Guatemalan kid. Hmm, what do you think is going on? And Danielle wanted to meet every baby so we got to meet many families going through the same thing we were going through.

We did do a tour of Antigua one day, which was the Spanish capital way back when. It has since been destroyed by volcanoes and earthquakes so there are only a few really old things to see. Hugo took us and two other adopting families. As tours go it was fairly touristy, but it did get us out of the hotel for a day.

The adoption demographic was interesting to me. I originally thought it would be mainly childless couples, but that isn’t the case. We actually fit the demographic very nicely. We saw mostly older couples, with one or more children. I suppose that makes sense. International adoption isn’t cheap, so an older more financially secure couple makes more sense.

I mentioned in my previous post that I would have an update on Spanish Wiggles (if you are not familiar with the Wiggles, skip this paragraph). The hotel had decent TV channels, but almost all in Spanish. We had Playhouse Disney, Discovery Kids, Nick, etc. For the most part they just dub Spanish voices over the regular show. But not the Wiggles. The Wiggles is apparently an international franchise. They have all the same characters and the four Wiggles have the yellow, blue, red and purple shirts. But they aren’t Greg, Anthony, Murray and Jeff. As my daughter put it, “Jeff is a girl”. No, there’s no cross dressing here, there are just four different people. True Wiggles fans will recall Fernando and little Fernando, who sang Mexican songs. Little Fernando has grown up and is the yellow shirt Wiggle.

So on Monday we get the Visa. Tuesday super early (we wake everyone up at 4:00 am) we leave for home. We are so ready to go at this point. The pool was nice, but taking care of two kids in a hotel room gets old. Going to the airport in the morning is a lot easier than arriving. Much less chaos.

The flights are good. Danielle sleeps on the first one, but not Victoria. In Houston we have to go through immigration. This is the big deal. You go through the regular US citizen line and then they take you to the interview room. There you wait for a while. We hadn’t taken this into account when we planned our itinerary. We had a fairly tight connection. As we waited we started to get the feeling that we were going to miss our flight.

Finally we are called for our interview. It consisted of, “ok, you’re fine. She’s a US citizen at this point, but you have to go to immigration and fill out a form. Good luck.”

So we’re off and running to our flight. We still have to get our bags, clear customs, recheck our bags, go through security and get to the gate. We have 30 minutes. But everything goes fast. We’re flying through security. There’s only one problem. I have a money clip that also holds credit cards. It has metal in it. So I always remove my money and put the clip in a bin to go through security. In my haste I forget to collect it. We make it to the plane, get to our seats and I realize what has happened.

Too late to go get it. Damn, I’m screwed. Driver’s license, credit cards, etc. all gone. What a pain. Then just before they close the airplane door, someone walks on the plane, “Is there a Stephen Fischer here?”. They found it, saw the driver’s license, checked what flight I was on and got it to me in time. Totally incredible.

So that was the final story in our grand saga. Tori is doing well. Her sleeping at night is a bit erratic, but otherwise she is a sweet, happy baby. Life is good.

Here’s a link to more pictures