Friday, August 29, 2008

The six month dilemma

With Maya hitting the age of six months, I find we're facing a bunch of issues that hadn't been anticipated.

She's just now started eating solids, and while it's sweet for her to be sitting on my knee, it's not practical, and we both end up with orange sweet potato (or whatever) everywhere. Buying a high chair for two (three? four?) months is just silly.

Maya helping herself to rice cereal

She's almost too big for the little crib that we have for her, and so I have started putting her on the other side of my bed, surrounded by pillows. But, she's now discovered she can move the pillows, and likes to roll, very quickly, in any direction. I have managed to catch her before she gets dangerously close to the edge so far. But this has also brought another problem with it. She used to put herself to sleep quite well, but I can't let her anymore, in case in my absence from the room she shifts a pillow, wriggles away and plops over the edge of a very high bed for a tiny baby. So I now have to lie beside her, holding her hand or patting her till she drops off. Which is exactly what we shouldn't be doing at this age if we ever want to her be an independent sleeper... Again, buying a cot for two (three? four?) months is just silly. She's back in the crib in the meantime, though she's looking very big in there.

Little punky baby now eyes up other parts of the room, and I'm sure she's thinking: hmmm, if I could only lift my bum up a bit, move these little legs a bit, and coordinate my hands, I'd be able to get there. Hmmm, that plug socket looks tasty. Hmm, that life size ceramic Dalmation under the TV looks like a good bongo drum. Ooh, dead fly on the ground, yum yum. I'm praying she doesn't figure out how to crawl till we're back in Abu Dhabi, and living in a more manageable environment.

Maya trying her hardest to get from her spot to all the tasty goodies around the room.

If I am out of the UAE for more than six months, my residence visa will expire. So I'm now facing the prospect of leaving Maya behind with the babysitter, who'll live in our place while I'm gone, and flying back there to say: hi, I'm here, don't cancel my visa, then flying back. It's almost become our commute: Abu Dhabi - Mexico. 28 hours or so, at $2,000 a pop. Madness.

I have six months' leave at work, and that's due to end soon. I will still have a job to go back to, but the end of the salaried months is going to be tough. And not having any idea when I might possibly be back doesn't help anyone at the Council.

Our adoption permit - that hard won document that came with our FM3 visas - also has a six month expiry date on it. That's not going to expire until December, but if it does, I hate to think what hoops we'll have to jump through to get another one. (Ha ha, little note added on 28th Sept: turns out it was only valid for 3 months, so actually expired in early September. Another flipping hoop to jump through to get that one renewed...)

The general weariness of being in a place you don't want to be for too long
That one was just added, because sometimes I feel like this.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This won't be our week

We have both been extremely nervous in the past two days, wondering if, by some miracle, we will get a phone call to drop everything and come into DIF to do our interviews.

A meeting with the state director for adoptions was called for Wednesday afternoon at 5.30pm, and with that, we realized that there was no way we would be able to do our interviews before Ahmed leaves, as his flight is from San Diego on Thursday morning. No chance of squeezing in a four hour interview and a two hour wait at the border beforehand.

Licenciada Rosa Maria Solis had come from Mexicali, the Baja California state capital, to talk to us about the hold ups. Unlike the Tijuana coordinator, Solis didn't comment on how beautiful the babies are, or even really seem that interested. She explained that because the UAE and Mexico don't have any official contracts regarding international adoptions, they need to ensure that the clinics where we did our homestudies in Dubai meet the Mexican requirements. It seems like such a simple thing. She explained that they would contact the relevant Mexican authority (the embassy) and ask them to investigate and write a report, in order to proceed to the next step - these precious interviews.

So, there you have it. Three months of wondering why on earth they couldn't do our interviews, and now we know. How simple a thing. Ahmed has had a lot of contact with the consul from the consulate, who is really sympathetic to our predicament, and has already asked what she can do to help. And we know the clinic where we did our homestudies will do everything to help us out.

While we feel relieved that there is finally something tangible to work with, it's bittersweet to be getting this information 12 hours before Ahmed leaves. Ah well, we've had a wonderful three weeks, and Ahmed's witnessed Maya truly sitting on her own, eating her first solid food, graduating from Level One at Gymboree and starting to say all kinds of interesting things: dja dja, ga ga, wah wah, yah yah, ba ba, ma ma, da da, ta ta!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Las Cañadas! In Ensenada! Manu Chao! In Playas!

For one whole day, we were able to forget about all the adoption frustrations & hold-ups and just really enjoy ourselves.

My friend Anna and her husband invited us to go to Ensenada for the day, specifically to visit Las Cañadas and go swimming with the babies. Their daughter is 6 weeks younger than Maya.

Swim nappies on, just need swimsuits and a pool

Las Cañadas ( is a great water park/camping ground/fly-by-wire complex just south of Ensenada. It has a super pool for babies and children, complete with a pirate ship and a tonne of different slides for toddlers and smaller children.

Pirate ship at Las Cañadas. No the babies didn't try out the slides... Next time

Ahmed and I even went on the Canopy Tour, while Anna looked after Maya, and we flew across the whole complex on a series of wires, boardwalks, tightropes, etc. The girls 'swam'. That is, they sat and splashed in the water, rode about in the little blow up boat, and looked bemused by it all. Afterwards, we went off to one of those restaurants that only Mexicans know about and had a lovely seafood meal.

As soon as we got home, we changed, handed Maya to the babysitter (poor wee bunny, a lot of babysitting today!), and walked the 15 minutes to the bull ring in Playas to see one of my favourite singers: Manu Chao!

For about three hours, DIF, interviews, Ahmed leaving, court dates, scary judges, escalating costs, being stuck in Mexico, adoption process and all the other stresses of the past five months disappeared while a crazy Manu Chao leapt around the stage and infected us with his enthusiasm for everything. Welcome to Tijuana!! I still can't believe I heard that song, live, while in Tijuana. We feel positive all of a sudden, and decide this will be our week. Things are going to happen.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

End of another husband visit

Ahmed is going home on Thursday. That horrible date looms and we've been here before. He's preparing to leave, and I'm preparing to rant and cry from the stress and frustration of being no closer to leaving Mexico. The last time Ahmed left Tijuana to go back to work was in June. We could never have imagined in our wildest nightmares that at the end of August, he'd be doing the same thing, and we'd be at exactly the same stage in the process as we were back then: months from the go home date.
Maya didn't seem fazed by having a weeping mama feeding her and putting her to sleep back in June, but I wonder if she really isn't affected by all my crying and anger.

Today is Saturday, and there are exactly 5 days left until he goes. The empty feeling of terror is lurking, and I'm trying to fight it with positive images of my darling girl, my darling husband here right now, the beautiful courtyard outside, Gymboree classes, and the eternal flicker of hope that something might shift - someone with the power might decide that yes, we will interview these tenacious buggers who are determined to adopt Maya, and what the heck, let's do it while Ahmed's still here, since we agree, it really is crazy to make the poor fellow fly half way round the world again, just for a four hour interview.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Paperchase #9

I called DIF Tijuana again and spoke to the assistant again to see if the 'decision' had been made. Nope, it's now going to be Tuesday 26th August.

Here's the issue, I explained to her: In order to do our psychological and socio-economic assessment, which is a four or five hour long series of interviews with DIF, we both need to be here. Ahmed is here right now, and will be going back to Abu Dhabi on Thursday 28th August. A date that we cannot change, as he starts a new semester. And he cannot just hop on a plane and fly back on a whim, as he has to work and has classes. Not things you can just skip out of. Especially if you're the teacher. And especially if you've already taken the maximum amount of leave possible, received favours left, right and centre from people who've covered classes, looked after our cat, our car, our lives back in Abu Dhabi - (N.B. Thank you everyone who's helped us out on that, I feel immense gratitude to everyone who's helped us in the past year). His next possible holiday won't be for another month, at least after he goes back to Abu Dhabi. Another month of us sitting here, separated, papa missing out on baby's development, mama and papa missing each other terribly, etc etc. I started to cry on the phone, and Licenciada Alma Rojas, bless her soul, really sounded like she could understand our situation.

But, being the assistant of the coordinator, who, herself has no power to control these things, all she could do was listen and sympathize.

I asked her if she thought there might be some way, if this supposed decision is actually made on the 26th, we could do the interviews on Wednesday 27th? Not that I held out much hope, since they'd been fobbing us off with: "The decision will be made next Monday/Tuesday/ Wednesday/Thursday/Friday" (Apply to the phrase whichever day falls about three days hence) since June. She said she would do everything she could, admittedly very little, but still, to help us make that happen.

So we are now on tenterhooks, praying for a last minute resolution.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Paperchase #8

Today I called DIF in Mexicali, which is the State capital, to find out if the 'decision' had been made, and was told it would be made on Wednesday 20th August.

I called DIF Tijuana and spoke to the assistant of the adoption supervisor, who said the same thing.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Paperchase # 7

This morning, Ahmed and I went to court. Specifically, we went to the Family Court, where our case is being dealt with. Tijuana has three family courts, and as (bad) luck would have it, ours has been taken up by the particular court, presided over by the scary judge. We had heard of another family going in to try and see their judge (from another Tijuana Family Court), who was very nice and sweet and sympathetic, and said he would do whatever he could to help their case.

Maya as cute as a button.

So, we trundled along to court, with Maya dressed up as cute as a button, and asked to see the judge. Shocked look on receptionist's face, but she showed us through to a corridor, and said: Last door on the right. Off we went. Outside said door was a nice friendly young woman with a clipboard who listened to our story, in my best possible Spanish, still avoiding past tenses. In the meantime, several people tentatively knocked on the door, went in timidly and came out again. Scary judge had her back to the door and never once turned around. Nice young lady directed us to the judge's third secretary, who is the one dealing with our case. She was nice and friendly, again, and told us to go to DIF. Called up someone at DIF for us, and said, yes, she's waiting to see you, and she will explain everything about the hold up. So, that felt promising, and she seemed to think that it wouldn't take us long at all to get the adoption done. Ha ha, I always come out of these offices feeling positive until a few days later when the reality hits that their words really don't mean much.

Off to DIF and met the adoption supervisor, Licenciada Sanchez, who again, is a lovely woman, and is keen to help us out, but her hands are tied, waiting for the 'decision' by the higher authorities. We have yet to know what they're actually trying to decide, and we're praying it's not something as grim as whether or not we can actually adopt Maya. If that's the case, we have a sketchy worst case scenario lined up, which involves boats in the middle of the night, stuffing Maya down my top and pretending I'm pregnant (might have worked when she was only a month old and wanted to sleep all the time, not the case any more), or moving to a shack somewhere in Mexico and living out the rest of our days there living off homegrown tomatoes and chillies.

She assured us it's nothing like that, just formalities. But goodness me, how many months to work out the formalities? We submitted the request for interviews on 23rd June, it's now the middle of August.

Decision is to finally be made Monday 18th August, we were told.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Poor Sponge Bob

Maya and I were planning to fly back via Toronto, and meet Ahmed's family. That was back in the innocent days when we were imagining a four or five month process, and we were going to make our leisurely way home. Ahmed had suggested that on the way, we celebrate Maya's six month anniversary with a party in Canada, and have a little Mexican theme, piñata, salsa, guacamole. Well, five months have now gone by and we're still at the start of the process, so no leisurely trips home. The minute we get the adoption finalized and Maya's passport in my hot little hand, I'm going to sprint to the airport with her and get the first flight possible back to Abu Dhabi.

The day after the Canada family arrived, it was Zachary's third birthday. We're in Mexico and there are shops bursting with piñatas hanging from the ceiling. So we decided to have that celebration party with them here instead, and Ahmed lugged a gigantic Sponge Bob piñata home under one arm, a sleeping 15 kg Zachary over one shoulder, and several kilos of don't know where, being pulled along behind on a string? Stuffed down his pants? All the while encouraging Dean to 'keep on walking, keep on walking' home. The poor boys were tired and jetlagged, but they made it.

Sponge Bob going up.

Sponge Bob met a sorry end, beaten to a pulp (literally, he's made of paper), crushed and broken on the ground, with his guts spilled everywhere. But you know, there's nothing like thrashing a helpless papier maché object to work out a bit of 'endless bureaucracy frustration'. Felt good, and didn't feel a bit sorry for the poor fella.

Sponge Bob going down...

Friday, August 8, 2008

Full, boisterous house

Ahmed arrived on Tuesday for another precious three weeks. He arrived late in the evening, so Maya was already alseep, and when she woke up for a nighttime feed and saw her papa in the big bed, she did the most genuine, full-bodied double take I've ever seen. There he was, the man of her dreams, suddenly appeared in the middle of the night! Her reaction set me off giggling, and of course woke her up fully, so we didn't have the best sleep that night.

Two days later, Dadima (Ahmed's mum), Auntie Nizzie, and cousins Dean (5 years old) and Zachary (2 years 364 days old) arrived from Toronto. In the space of three days, we went from super quiet and boring (with just me to entertain bubs) to a house full of fun. Maya suddenly has smaller people to play with and the boys are wonderful with her. Super gentle and bringing her all sort of toys to play with.

Dadima likes to sit outside with Maya singing all kinds of songs. Maya always smiles and waves her arms when she sees a photo of Dadima, from the previous visit.

Auntie Nizzie has a special spot for her little princess, and they're instantly firm friends.

Maya's truly in baby heaven!