Sunday, March 30, 2008

Flea Market

Sunday is flea market day, and Pepi offered to take Maya and me. The first Sunday we went was Maya's first trip out, first time in a car, first time beyond the ten-minute walk to the supermarket in Playas. She was asleep in the car seat on the way there, asleep for the transfer to the sling, asleep for two hours of jostling, bells, cries from vendors, children poking their heads into the sling to see what's in there, dogs barking, babies crying and hot sun beating down on us, asleep for the transfer back to the car seat, asleep for another transfer into the sling and then for an hour of lunch! Phew. After four and a half hours of sleep, she finally woke up. I hope this doesn't mean she thinks day is night and night is day and will be awake all hours later on.

At the flea market you can buy (that I saw):
buckets, tubs, kitchen items, swing seats, new and second hand clothing, fruit on a stick, fruit with chili, pizzas, baby gear, turtles, fish, fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, shoes, car parts, toys, canaries, etc, etc.

My little three week old baby was totally uninterested. Wonder if she'll be much of a shopper later? Ha ha, funny how we wonder these things based on the slightest thing a newborn baby does. Ooh, he lifted his arm, he's going to be a weightlifter. Ooh, he's kicking, a footballer. She's squealing, a rock star.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dossier arrived! But...

Aida the lawyer called this afternoon to say that our dossier has arrived finally. Our whole dossier has been legalized, certified and notarized to within an inch of its life. The actual documents are scarcely legible under all those legal stamps.

But...turns out apostilling is another thing altogether.

Our google search for what the heck an apostille was turned up definitions such as:
  • Is a method of certifying a document for use in another country pursuant to the 1961 Hague Convention.
  • Process of legalizing adoption documents for the foreign country
Not much help really, as we assumed with all that stamping going on, that's what was being done. Never assume.

So now Aida sends me a link to the apostilling website, which gives specific contact details for where to get documents from NZ and South Africa apostilled. Ah, this would have helped three months ago!
So I call up the NZ office, and they can issue me a new birth certificate and marriage certificate, and send it the correct government department for apostilling, and wait for my friend to go in to the office with her reference for us, to get that apostilled as well, and then courier them all to Mexico. Ahmed has to organize the South Africa one, which is trickier, as it involves extracting his handwritten birth certificate from our legally-bound dossier somehow, couriering it to South Africa and then back. It's another day before I can get in to Aida's office, with Maya in tow, to send his birth certificate on its merry journey back around the world, and it turns out I can't arrange and pay for the return trip at this end, so we'll have to call in a favour from one of Ahmed's relatives in living near Pretoria to arrange and pay for that for us.

Time is ticking on, and we are still not even at the offical starting point.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Paperchase #1

Maya is still alive! We did it, 24 hours together and she doesn't seem unduly concerned for her welfare. Those 24 hours were probably my steepest learning curve ever. This tiny 3-week old baby seems mainly interested in sleeping (luckily for me, as I need to get over this jetlag fast, so I'm snoozing whenever she is) and eating.
So, with Maya on the right track (?), I called Aida to find out if our dossier has arrived from the Mexican Embassy in Lebanon yet (no, it hasn't), and when I can apply for my FM-3 visa, which is one of the requirements to process an adoption in Mexico (not until both the dossier and Ahmed arrive).
Our dossier includes the following documents:
1. Homestudy, conducted by a social worker/psychologist in Dubai, to assess our suitability to be parents. A 57-page document, that's been condensed into about 10 pages (to cut down on translation costs, I believe).
2. Legalised copies of our passports
3. Our birth certificates
4. Our marriage certificate
5. Our salary certificates
6. Medical certificates stating our physical and mental fitness
7. Three references from friends and family addressing our suitability to be parents
8. Police clearances from UAE and NZ
9. Letter of no objection from the Canadian Embassy
The list seems short, but this dossier is the culmination of 6 months of hard work, sitting through countless hours and many dollars worth of education sessions with the social worker, getting documents couriered around the world, stamped, legalised by foreign ministries, notarised by our lawyer, and finally certified by the Mexican Embassy in Lebanon. Or the other way round. My head's a-spinning with legal jargon. And along the way, our lawyer's questioning whether we've had documents that originated in Hague-signatory countries (NZ & South Africa) apostilled. We take it that's what all those stamps are. Ha ha, little did we know...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Meeting Maya

Woke up early, tidied up (what do you do when today's 'visitor' is your new baby?), and went out. I bought a cellphone and called Aida, the lawyer. See you at 11am, she said, we'll drive out to Playas and bring Maya.
Wow, as simple as that.
I took the black sling and went to meet Aida, BM (the biological mother), her two-year old daughter and Maya. No idea what to expect or how I would feel. We met at the park around the corner from Pepi's place. Shook hands with Aida and BM. Aida took Maya out of her carseat and put her into my arms, along with a half-full bottle. Lesley pranced about. I just stood there, with this baby in my arms, not even sure if I should be looking at her, at BM, at the lawyer, at the trees, walk away, cry, laugh, make small talk? What the hell do you do in this situation? Even an hour later, I couldn't recall much about that event, as the shock was too great. My body was moving, and I was talking and walking, but nothing was registering. Maya went into the black sling. I had to hide her away from everybody, this little doll. Lesley poked her hands into the sling and pinched Maya on her cheek, making her cry, which at least elicited the appropriate response from me: comfort the baby. So I started to soothe her and realised that this is it. She's mine. I'm hers. We're in this together.
Aida drove me about 25 metres down the road, handed me some custody papers and I walked back to Pepi's. I closed the door behind me, and took Maya out to look at her. Tiny, scrunched up, floppy little baby. Perfect round face. Tiny little lips, and delicious little button nose. Fists clenched tight. Toes as small as raindrops. My goodness.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I'm now in Tijuana. Our wee baby is sleeping? eating? crying? somewhere in the same city.
I arrived in San Diego and was picked up by Pepi, who true to his word, was waiting in a red cap at the airport. He's tall and skinny with scruffy blond hair and piercing blue eyes, probably in his late 40s. Not quite the mental picture of a Mexican guy. We will be renting one of Pepi's wacky houses in Playas de Tijuana, a suburb near the beach and US border. Check out his wacky website:
He chatted and chatted all the way back to Tijuana (only about 20 minutes drive!), and I have vague recollections of the following topics: reincarnation, vegetarianism, karma, US politics, baby formula, price of a sandwich in France, Greek fiance, fish, turtles and who knows what else? I was nodding and agreeing and all the while thinking, our baby is close by, our baby is close by.
When we arrived, I went to meet Pamela in the house next door, who is in the final stages of adopting her now six-month old baby girl. She had bought essential food items for me at the suggestion of the lovely Heike in Switzerland, knowing I wouldn't really have time to do that before bed. That was a lovely welcome, as I was too tired and disoriented to know what I was doing. Pamela and her daughter (now officially hers!) are off to Mexico City early in the morning to organise the passport. The last step. Oh I can't wait to be doing the same!!
But first, I need to get some sleep and then actually meet Maya.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hana or Maya?

She needs a name. Aida and the biological mother are going to register her for a birth certificate this week, and she needs a name.
On our trips back and forth to Dubai for our homestudy meetings in August, September & October, I would bug Ahmed with ideas for names, lists of boys' names, girls' names, names which work both as Muslim and English names, etc, etc.
Ahmed's least favourite topics of conversation are probably: clothes shopping, sport, politics and names. One of our car trips produced the following list:
Me: Hana, Helena, Isabella, Sophia, Thea, Emilia, Leah, Samuel, Gabriel, Luca, Isaac, Joel, Daniel
Ahmed: Wolverine, Aldar (a construction company in Dubai), Copernicus, Stoppit (saves having to give the instruction), Ning Nong, Buttmunch, Persephone, Bobba, Hyundai, Camry, Fortuna (the last three inspired by passing cars - surprisingly for the UAE, not Porsche, Lexus and Landcruiser)
So, even at this crunch time, Ahmed's still telling me to go ahead and choose a name. Nope, this has to be something that comes from both of us.
We both like Maya. We both truly like Maya, in the sense that it's not just me liking it and Ahmed not actively disliking it. Maya works in all our cultures - NZ, Canada, Muslim, UAE, Spanish-speaking. Before we confirm, I just want to ask my Mexican student at the British Council what she thinks. I'd like the Mexican seal of approval. My worry is that with the Maya culture in Mexico, it might be a bit weird. A bit like naming a baby Maori in NZ.
Carmen doesn't seem to like the name Maya, and says, yes, it might be weird in Mexico. So, just like that, Maya is no longer an option in my mind. I'm mourning the loss of that name, and last night at 3am, I woke Ahmed up. Tijuana is exactly 12 hours behind Abu Dhabi, and our lawyer is awake and emailing while we're asleep. So I'm not sleeping these days, as I have to get up and check every hour or so, just to make sure she hasn't sent the email I keep expecting: Whoops, sorry, there's no baby, it's a practical joke.
We pick Hana. It's the second favourite name on our list. It's a name we both like. Well, I chose it, and Ahmed doesn't dislike it. It's a Muslim name, and works in English, Japanese, pretty much any language I can think of.
We email Aida with her name: Hana Bulbulia Smart. Poor child with such a mouthful! I also mention that we wanted to call her Maya, but felt it might be a strange name in Mexico.
We also email all our family to tell them about baby Hana.
Aida emails back saying that Maya is a beautiful name, she knows other Mexicans called Maya. I look at the photos she sent us, and say to the baby: Hello Hana. Hello Maya. Maya feels right.

So just like that, we're back with Maya and that's her name!

Saturday, March 8, 2008


We arrived home from a weekend camping trip in the desert with a whole pile of Ahmed's colleagues late on Saturday afternoon. I was in the kitchen dealing with endless containers of wet soggy food when Ahmed called out from the study to come and see an email. What a life-changing email.

Dear Emma and Ahmed,
I had an interview with a biological mother, she has a baby girl born on February 29, she could not support this new child, she has 4 more children so she needs to give this baby for adoption, please let me know if you have all the paper and if you are interested to adopt this baby girl. Tomorrow I will have the HIV test of the baby and in one week all the other lab/test.
I will waiting for you response,
Best regards,

What followed was 24 hours of shock and disbelief. "...if you are interested to adopt this baby girl..." Those words have not stopped ringing in my head. I think I've been waiting 34 years and 4 months to adopt this baby girl and interested is the tip of the iceberg of emotions that convey how much I want to adopt her. Yes we are interested, we email back. We needed a few more emails back and forth with our lawyer in Tijuana before this could possibly be reality. Better yet, I needed our lawyer to email us every half hour just to say it's not a practical joke, and there is in fact, a baby girl, sleeping somewhere in Tijuana, waiting for us to come and love her and be her parents. But of course, she's not going to do that, and I just need to believe that this baby is real, and really can be ours. Wow. Slept about 3 hours last night. Kept waking up making lists of what to do now, and names?? and flight details and work and those crazy details that keep one up at night filling up my head.