Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bienvenidos a jugar...

Today Maya started her formal education. At the age of exactly two months (and one day). We went for our free class at Gymboree, and have now signed up for the 0 - 6 month classes. For 45 minutes a week, mums and babies come and sing songs, play games, learn how to do baby massage, and discuss various things about babies' development.

Best bit was seeing all these other mothers of young babies come out of their hiding places. Some frenzied information exchanging going on: how old is s/he? what's his/her name? how much does s/he sleep? Maya slept well afterwards, and I know have about three Spanish baby songs up my sleeve. Estrellita donde estas?...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The starting post

In the past week the following has happened:

Maya has started smiling like a crazy devil at us. At first it was a kind of grimace that flicked across her face, which we latched onto and responded with huge grins and cooing. She - clever girl - has responded in kind with true, ear-to-ear grins and twinkling eyes. Ahhh, she's just a doll.

Also, Ahmed's birth certificate got back from its round-the-world journey on April 17th, and we have got tourist visas and applied for our FM-3 visas. The latter involved fingerprints and very particular photos, black and white, front and profile, hair tied back, ears visible.

So, we've now applied for our visas, and have a two week (or so) wait until they are ready, and we can do the official stuff - court appearance, DIF interviews. It might be a bit tight if mum is to appear as one of our two witnesses at the court.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Nana Prue

My mum arrived in San Diego airport from NZ this evening. With Ahmed here to look after Maya, I could make the trip to the US to go and pick her up. This was my first experience (of many, many) with the San Ysidro border crossing. With approximately 14 million people crossing this border every year, it's the world's busiest. There are at least three major roads feeding into the 24 lanes of border control, and each one is bumper to bumper with about 4 lanes of traffic.

There's obviously an art to inching forward in this line of cars, and most of the other people in the cars seem like old hands. Some are reading newspapers at the wheel, applying make up, eating, drinking, buying things from the dozens of vendors along the way, while maintaining their places in the queue.

I quickly learnt that you stick like glue to the car in front of you and don't muck about or your spot will be taken. Anyway, finally at the front after about an hour, a few questions about why I'm in Mexico - don't suppose they have many New Zealanders resident in Abu Dhabi living in Mexico adopting babies - and I was on my way. To Hillcrest. My new favourite suburb. That's where I found Whole Foods and wandered around in foodie heaven and spent about $150 on 4 small shopping bags, but oh, they're full of such good food!

San Diego is everything Tijuana isn't. Obviously wealthy. Clean and pretty. Full of boutique-y shops and giant shopping malls. Leafy and green. I picked up my mum and we headed back to Tijuana, and I actually felt at home when we crossed the border back into TJ. I like the gritty back streets, and funny little taco stands, and canyons with houses perched on every patch of dirt. And what Tijuana is trying to become: a cultural and economic force. This is evident by the signs advertising wine and food festival, jazz festival, environmental initiatives, an Indian festival, Cow Parade (hundreds of painted cows planted around the city). It feels like a truly lived in, well-used city, and I'm glad to be here.

Nana Prue arrived, tired and happy to finally get to her destination, albiet minus her luggage, and met her brand new, first ever, grandchild. Who couldn't fall in love with this irresistible little baby at first sight? Certainly Nana Prue had no trouble...

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Why Mexico?

So many people have asked: Why are you adopting in Mexico? I'm not sure if this is a polite way of asking why are you adopting or why Mexico?

Once we had made the decision to adopt, we needed to figure out where a Canadian/New Zealand family living in Abu Dhabi could adopt from. As far as we could find out, there were no precedents. We knew of one Dubai-based British/New Zealand couple who'd adopted from Guatemala, but following the British laws. They were now having huge difficulties convincing the NZ authorities to recognize their adoption, and were hence uncertain of being able to get NZ citizenship for their children. There were a sprinkling of Canadian families in Abu Dhabi and Dubai who'd adopted, e.g. from Vietnam and Ethiopia. However, after contacting an extremely rude and unhelpful woman at the NZ citizenship office, we discovered that Vietnamese adoptions were not recognized by the NZ government. So my question to extremely-rude-woman was: Which countries can we adopt from? No definitive answer, and as far as she was concerned, we were better off not pursuing adoption. A most disheartening phone call, and when I pressed her, she admitted that perhaps China, perhaps India, and perhaps Chile were possibilities, but couldn't be guaranteed. Why do they have to make a it so difficult?

In the meantime, a Belgian family living in Dubai posted information about their adoption in Mexico from earlier in the year (2007). Despite the 2-4 month wait from the time the child was born to the time we could come home, and the need to make two trips to Mexico (or stay and live there during the process), it seemed like a possibility. I was drawn to Spanish-speaking countries, as I speak Spanish, and I felt that this would help with later keeping our child's culture alive.

So I called grumpy-lady again, and asked about Mexico. Turns out Mexico is not a non-possibility. I won't call it a possibility, as that would be admitting too much!

Canada turns out to be much more open to intercountry adoptions, and the Canadian Embassy in Abu Dhabi has no objection to writing a no-objection letter. Ha ha.

So, Mexico it is, and I start to read everything I can get my hands on about adopting in Mexico. Which is... nothing really. There's hardly any information on the internet. It seems like there really aren't many adoptions going on there. Well, we'll be trailblazers! Turns out to be quite true.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The agenda

On Ahmed's second day he asked me: "So what is the agenda for today?" Ha ha, there's no agenda. We get up when we feel like it, or when Maya feels like it. Wash bottles. Have a shower. Eat breakfast. Feed the bubby. Choose which one of her 38 outfits (I counted them!) to put on her. Go out for a walk, coffee, supermarket. Come back. Do a load of washing. Write emails. Go to bed.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Papa's in the house!

Pepi picked Ahmed up from San Diego airport this evening, and brought him back to Playas. Maya was still (just) awake when Ahmed came in and fell truly, madly, deeply in love with her. It was as instant as that. He picked her up and was instantly smitten. And she just stared up at him with wide eyes, as if to say: yes, you're my daddy. Their connection was so strong it filled the room. A little voice in my head questioned if I'd see Maya at all for the next ten weeks.
It's wonderful to have Ahmed here, and ten weeks is such a luxury. We've never had ten weeks to ourselves, with no work, no plans, and now, this wonderful new baby to look after and get to know.

Maya went back to sleep with her new gadget: a dummy, which she took a hold of instantly and hasn't given up since. She's our super sucky baby. That's what I call her, vaguely recalling a vacuum cleaner ad for a 'super sucky motor'...

Ahmed emptied his suitcases, with all these wonderful gifts and bits and pieces for Maya. She now has a baby gym (thanks Tracy), some beautiful outfits (thanks Celia), another baby book (thanks Amanda), more onesies and outfits (thanks Sue), a microwave sterilizer (thanks Ahmed - no more boiling up 'bottle soup' every morning), a fluffy penguin, the nappy-changing supervisor (thank Shawn and Dawn), some more cute outfits (thanks Ahmed's colleagues), a treasure chest (truly!) full of onesies, bath products, toys and nappies individually tied with ribbons (thanks Ahmed's students). We now also have a video camera, so Ahmed's in his element, combining his love for technology with the new love in his life. I can see Maya's every waking moment (and a few of her sleeping ones) are about to be captured on film.

So nice to be a family. A true family: mum, dad and ... the kid!