Friday, October 31, 2008

The Court Jester

Maya with the judge - looking scared, with the judge's secretary - looking serious, with her Papa - looking happy and relieved (yay, you got me out of those crazy offices!!)

By the way, this is the finickity judge, who's tardiness has cost us an extra month in Mexico and about $2,500 of extra expenses. Should send her and our friend Solis a bill for financial and emotional distress...

Plan B. If all else fails.

Ahmed flew back to Tijuana (via US secondary inspection, same old questions, but wow, this time he didn't miss any flights!) for exactly 48 hours to make our much-longed-for court appearance. My mum has also just arrived from NZ for almost three weeks to make the stay here in Mexico more fun, be one of our witnesses, and hang out with our wee scallywag.

Ha ha. Our great court day turned out to be a farce, and found us (mum, Ahmed, Maya and me) driving away in various states of shock, disillusionment, anger. Actually Maya was just thinking:"Hmmm, where are these big people taking me now in this stinky hot car?? Get me out of here, let me play!!"

Due to our previous experience at the court hearings with other adopting families here, we believed that we trundled into court, with two witnesses and birth family, went into the judge's secretary's office to testify that we are who we say we are, we love our baby, we're ready to roll, all's well, let's get this show on the road. And an hour or so later, we all leave, and basically wait a week or so, and then get the final decree - the precious document that finalizes the adoption. That's how it's been for everybody else.

Aida had told us that our witnesses couldn't come in on the same day, so we'd have to ask the judge when we saw her. We imagined asking, and her saying, oh yeah, they can come tomorrow? Or something like that. Never assume.

So, we arrived and went into the judge's office, with mum as well. She would be the symbol of our loving extended family. She interviewed us and decided that Ahmed was a fit father as he was able to figure out how to get Maya out of the stroller. Yeah, that's a sure sign of decent parenting... She also commented on how important it was for grandparents and extended family to be part of family life. Yes, we agreed, and mentioned all the other extended family who'd visited already and for whom Maya was already a part of their lives. And then onto the question of witnesses and how much it meant to my mother to be one, and how she had to leave on the 12th November, so of course she would be able to witness for us. Ha ha, sticking point. Turns out court closes from 12th Dec - 5th Jan, and they're full up. Too busy, how about the witnesses and birth mother come in January??? Shocked silence.

We begged, Aida begged, and we now have a tentative date booked for mum to come in on 11th November, along with our friend Anna as the second witness. That will be if the petition is published in time, and if the secretary can squeeze us in among the hundreds of other hearings that day, and if the birth mother can come in then, and if, if, if.... All feels very precarious and iffy. Watch this space.

Friday, October 24, 2008


In 48 hours, I packed all our belongings into six boxes and two suitcases. We overslept our alarm and raced off to the airport for our next adventure. Maya thought flying was a great lark, and proceeded to smile at everybody on the plane, even poking her head between the seats to smile at the people in the seats behind, to make sure they didn't miss out on one of her charming grins. Little coquette!

Maya's first plane trip

Ixtapa: Sticky 35 degrees, lush palm trees, and Club Med. We settled in for a week of blissful laziness and forgetting all our woes. Maya had a ball at the Baby Club, meeting lots of other wee babies and kids, and exhausting herself with all their amazing toys and lovely carers. I had a ball, just sitting by the beach or pool, reading, eating, and feeling human again. Every evening at about 5pm, Maya and I would go for a swim, then she'd settle in on the day bed for a big nap. By 7pm, it would be getting dark, everyone else would have gone for dinner, the beach towel attendants would have packed up their booth and gone, and I would still be sitting by the pool waiting for snoozy baby to wake up!

Maya conked out after a hard day's playing at Baby Club

By about day four, I was able to venture slightly beyond pure, simple relaxing and try a few of the activities. Plans were: yoga, aqua aerobics, volleyball, trapeze, kayaking and perhaps sailing. In fact, I never made it beyond trapeze, which become a new addiction. Sadly cut short by the resulting callouses after about 5 swings, which also got ripped off. And bruises behind my knees. And pulled calf muscle. And sore everything. Very painful! Ahhh, but so much fun.

The trapeze!!!

Typical Club Med conversation
Person: Oh what a beautiful baby. How old is she?
Me: Thank you, she's 8 months old.
Person: Oh, are you from Australia?
Me: No, New Zealand - pretty close!
Person: Wow, you've travelled a long way to come here.
Me: Well, actually, we live in Tijuana, so it's not too far.
Person: Oh...Tijuana? (I can now see person thinking: huh??! Why on earth would a seemingly sane New Zealand woman & baby be living in Tijuana? I can't help it, I have to put them out of their misery)
Me: Well, actually I've been there for nearly 8 months, and my husband and I are adopting Maya, and until the end of the process, she can't leave the country, which is why we've come here, and my husband's on the other side of the world at the moment, unfortunately, in Abu Dhabi, so it's just the two of us.
Person: Wow.

I could just not say anything and have people constantly wander around wondering what on earth we're doing in Tijuana. Especially since it's in the news a lot at the moment with dead drug-lord bodies and shoot outs.

Or just say: Yeah, it is a long way to travel to come here from NZ!

We had a wonderful week. Club Med is definitely a kid-friendly place, Maya made a tonne of wee baby friends, I did a back flip into a net, we swam in the sea, saw iguanas, ate new food (peaches for Maya and lots of variations on chocolate cake for me), Maya learned to crawl forwards, and we came back to Tijuana ready for the final stages of the adoption. Bring it on!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

We're off a-courting...

Exactly 8 months and 12 hours after Maya was born, at 1.30pm on Wed 29th October, Ahmed and I will finally present ourselves before our judge (or more likely, her secretary) at Tijuana Family Court #1 for our ratification.

This crazy, longed-for court appearance is all of a sudden happening. About six and a half months after we thought it would, but, phew, here we are at last.

Basically it will involve us signing our names on our adoption petition to say we are who we say we are. It's about that simple. Ahmed's flying back to Tijuana for 48 hours to do that, sign another document to say that he gives permission for me to apply for Maya's passport on my own, kiss Maya and see her crawl forwards - new development, as of today - and then jump back on a plane for the 30-hour trip home, for the last time!! Then it's just a case of about 25 more official bits and pieces (un tartuffe!!) before Maya and I jump on a plane ourselves and come home too.

I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it's like a giant weight slowly lifting. I almost feel like taking stabs at when we might jump on our homeward-bound plane. Right now, I'll say: 25th November. Wild guess, but who knows?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Whirlwind day

Cute wee girl!

Cute wee, semi-mobile girl! She's crawling backwards now.

24 hours ago, I was sitting here at the computer, still in a quandary over what to do. The rent at Pepi's is due on Sunday 19th, as well as another month's rent for the car. We're at that stage now where we might be here another month, maybe more, maybe less. The yucky beasties have been getting to me, and Pepi's been a bit strange lately. He doesn't seem as happy to have us here as he was before, and I think he'd like to be able to rent out his houses at a higher nightly, or weekly rate, rather than the long term rate we've been paying.

As I was pondering these issues, I was chatting online to Ahmed:
ahmed: then 100 minutes of supervised grammar practice
then the WEEKEND!!!!!!!!
11:25 PM me: yay!!!! bet you're so looking forward to it. aaaaaaah, a mouse just ran past!!!!!!
can't wait to leave!!!!!!
aaargh, it's in the kitchen
under where the water cooler is, and i've put a towel under the door
it's now under the fridge!!! far out!!!!
11:26 PM ahmed: stop typing, get it out, then come back
me: aaaaaahhh!@!!!
i can't move!!!!
i'm too scared!!!!!!
and laughing hysterically
oh my god
it's under the stove now
11:27 PM ahmed: mouses are better than ratses
me: thank god it's not a rat
great minds
i want to get the towel away from the door to the garage, but can't, am too scared to move
ahmed: my girls are finishing up
have to go
me: heh heh, this is so funny! i can't stop laughing, i have tears pouring down my face!!!!
ok, bye love
Ahmed was teaching his class (naughty thing chatting...!) so had to go, and just at that moment, mousie ran up from behind the stove onto the bench, and straight towards me and I really screamed. (Wuss...!) This woke up Maya, who started her own screaming, albiet the: my-dummy-fell-out-come-and-feed-me-and-what's-all-that-racket-out-in-the-kitchen? kind. So I took refuge in the bedroom with her, shut the door with a towel under the crack and went to bed.

Anyway, mousie was my tipping point. Two rats (oh, found another dead one outside my door) and a mouse, still no respite from the fleas, and a grumpy landlord. On top of the adoption stresses, I can't be bothered with these things anymore.

So, I jumped online and booked:
1) a holiday for a week in Ixtapa for Maya and me from Saturday 18th
2) flights to Ixtapa
3) a month rental in another furnished house in Brisas del Mar from Saturday 25th

So, that's it. We're off the day after tomorrow. I'm packing up suitcases to take on holiday with us and boxes to store until we move into Brisas del Mar. The rats & fleas win. I will miss our beautiful courtyard. And this crazy, wacky house, with its weird furniture and ornaments (the ceramic life-size dalmation under the TV, for example). But I also won't miss it, and it's time for us to move away from some of the stresses we've had living here. And a holiday, bliss....the decision is definitely the right one, as I'm suddenly feeling alive again.

And, as a happy postscript, the rumour mill says that our dearest friend Solis is about to release our report to the court. Our lawyer Aida says that her secretary says that (I heard it through the grapevine...) she'll release it this week. Which in Mexico could mean sometime next week. Or whenever. But at least it sounds like it will soon be free from her menacing influence...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Paperchase # 254 (lost count somewhere back in May)

Scungebag (she's lost her licenciada title in my eyes, and will furthermore be known as Scungebag) Solis still has her sticky fingers on our report and is not releasing it to the judge. On Thursday, Lic. Sanchez - the very nice adoption coordinator from Tijuana - had a meeting with her and Lic. Hugo Castillo, the big, big boss, in Mexicali. She was hoping to be able to bring the report back to Tijuana with her, and deliver it to the court. On Friday, Aida heard that no, Solis was holding onto it.

Ahmed has now contacted the extremely helpful Dubai consular chap, Lic. Torres, who is equally unimpressed with Solis' behaviour, and has decided to give her a personal call on Monday morning! Aida is also pulling out all stops to get hold of Lic. Hugo Castillo, who seems to be the only person who can override Solis' wacky decisions. He's very tricky to get hold of. We feel that with this mounting pressure building against Scungebag Solis, something's gotta give.

Ahmed's once again ready to drop everything and fly here at the end of this week, but only if we get news of our report making it to court, and the judge having time to read it.

In the meantime, Maya's very, very close to crawling. She sticks her bum up in the air, lunges forward, then goes splat onto her tummy. Or flops over sideways. Then gets up and tries again. Very funny to watch.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Year of the Rat

Maya was born in the Chinese Year of the Rat - industrious, ambitious, loyal & loving.

We just had our Night of the Rat. I was sitting at my computer in the kitchen (the only place in the house where the wireless reception picks up), pleasantly minding my own business, while Ahmed was catching up on his latest TV series. A big, fat rat casually walked straight past my feet. I screamed. Rat jumped for his life and took off under the kitchen door out into the garage. We think. We hope. He could be still holed up behind the fridge. In the oven. Under the sink.

Mr. Rat is the latest in a string of unwelcome guests here. The minor ones: spiders and flying red ants. The pesky ones: mosquitoes and flies. The downright disgusting and hard-to-get-rid-of ones: fleas. Pepi's dog is covered in fleas and parades around outside, so as soon as I've vacuumed and washed everything, I think they're just jumping off Keefie the dog, back into our house.

Ah, we're looking forward to life in sterile Abu Dhabi and our hermetically sealed apartment. I guess the trade-off is no garden.

Monday, October 6, 2008

No crazy rush this week

Maya's eying up my hair, waiting for a chance to give it a good pull! Scallywag. This photo has no link thematically to this entry, it's just a cute picture. Who can resist putting the cute ones in?

If the DIF report had been ready today to go to court and our judge had given us the thumbs up, Ahmed was going to take this Thursday off work (pre-arranged with his boss, who really is very sympathetic to our crazy case). He would have jumped on a plane in Abu Dhabi at 6pm on Wed night, arrived 24 hours or so later in San Diego at 11am (though with his track record of being 'inspected' through the US, we were allowing for his arrival on the later flight from Washington DC at 2.30pm), made a mad dash to the border, raced to court for our hearing on Thursday afternoon, given Maya and me a quick peck on the cheek, before turning around to fly out of San Diego on Friday midday back to Abu Dhabi, arriving at midnight Saturday there, ready to teach a full day and evening classes on Sunday. Phew. Poor bloke is still battling the jetlag from this previous trip.

Turns out our report is ready (yay!), but... scungebag (I might remove this insult in a day or two when I'm no longer so mad at her) Solis, the yukky lady from Mexicali DIF who's been putting her spanner in our works since June, has requested all the reports go to her before they get released from DIF. She'll probably sit on it, painting her toenails, making us sweat, for a week or two. Better not, or we'll get our hound dogs onto her!! In real life, that means our poor, stressed out lawyer Aida and her human rights lawyer friends calling her up and harrassing her to release it.

Ah well. Our next window of opportunity is the last week of October, when Ahmed has a few non-teaching days, which are meant to be spent marking students' essays. Another round of calling on a bunch of favours from his wonderful colleagues. We'll have a lot of making up to do when we're back to normal life to assuage our guilty consciences. Or mine at least. Ahmed is blessed with a much healthier conscience. Enough rambling from me.

Friday, October 3, 2008

El otro lado

San Diego. The other side. It's so completely the other side, like entering a different world. A rich and plentiful world, where shops have aisles and aisles of things you never knew you needed, but they're so nice and bright and pretty and they'd look good in your house/on your body/in your fridge. And you find yourself leaving each shop with several of these items in your possession, wondering how that happened and marvelling at how much lighter your wallet is. I bought four pairs of shoes in less than an hour today, and am still reeling. I think being on a strict budget at the moment made me just go: aaaargh, stuff it, today I'm going to indulge! They were all cheap shoes, sandals and the like. So that's how I'll justify it to myself.

Speaking of shoes, whose tiny shoes are those on the right???

The other day Ahmed, Maya and I went for a walk down to the sea, and the tide was a long way out, so that the end of the US-Mexico border fence, which is usually quite a way out to sea, was sitting rather dejectedly halfway up the beach, with a good 20 metres of sandy beach below it. Was tempted to just go and stick a foot on 'el otro lado' and poke my tongue out at the beach on the other side, but I'm sure some hidden border control guard wouldn't have found that funny.

Ahmed's flight from San Diego left at 10.50am on Friday morning, so to avoid any complications and delays at the border, we left Maya with Guadalupe on Thursday night and stayed the night in San Diego. Wow, crossing at 5.30pm took us exactly 15 minutes!!! Such a short queue, and no questions from border control. Wow.

We had a lovely evening, mainly spent at Borders and Barnes & Noble, two huge bookstores, and then had one of those rare, uninterrupted sleeps that all new parents dream of.

When I got back to Playas on Friday, Maya was happy as a flea. She's always very relaxed after Guadalupe has been, and always seems to sleep better afterwards. Must find out what Guadalupe's trick is... Ahmed tries to tell me she just wakes up in the night more with me because she wants to chat, but I don't buy that theory! Actually I can't complain. She goes to sleep every night at 7pm and wakes up at 7am, with one or two calls for room service in between.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Our best case scenario week in retrospect

Saturday, 27th Sept:
We did have a super Saturday. Our interviews were great (see Licenciado Bugs Bunny post), and we had a celebratory meal at the 1/2 Naranja Cafe. It was an all-round good day, about the best here so far.

We came out of the interviews feeling that the "slightly possible" chance of getting the court hearing done within the week was becoming a "quite possible".

Sunday, 28th Sept:
We did relax and catch up on sleep in Playas. We were all too tired to meet up with our friends, so stayed around Playas. Very nice lazy day.

Monday, 29th Sept:
We had our final interview with Lic. Sanchez, which was great. She's very sympathetic to our case, and said she and the other two would do everything they could to get the report written in the least possible time. She didn't say the report would be ready on Tuesday, rather Thursday evening or Friday morning. So, we started to think about Ahmed changing his flights to leave on Saturday, instead of Friday morning, from San Diego. And started to pin our hopes on a court appearance on Friday.

At Gobernacion, my FM3 visa was sorted out, with a $100 fine, for entering the country. Tecate Gobernacion decided that yes, we do need to pay for the visas again, but only $100 each, so not the full $350 each like the first time. So that's good (ish), I guess.

Two quick drives back to Playas de Tijuana for forgotten documents during the day, and finally at about 7pm, we got home, exhausted from all the driving around and time spent in government offices to find a beautiful big bunch of flowers on the doorstep. Thanks again Heike!! A really lovely end to a long but fruitful day.

Tuesday, 30th Sept: Aida went to Tecate today to renew Ahmed's FM3 visa today. So that's done, thankfully. We are so grateful that we didn't need to do that long, hot trip again, with a poor sweaty baby in the back seat.

Ahmed called American Airlines to see if he could change his flights. He also emailed his boss to request one day of leave next week. American Airlines was totally full, and there were no flights until the following Monday. So, we were looking at buying another one-way ticket for the Saturday, but decided to wait until we heard from the court.

Wednesday, 1st Oct: Today was unfortunately not quite the crazy, loud, dancing-in-the-streets celebration we had in mind. Ahmed's feeling terribly guilty, as although he's been granted an extra day of leave next week, he's been told it's the last time. He has not felt comfortable constantly asking for all these favours, but we've been at the mercy of all the government officials processing our case. But then, it turned out he didn't need to request the day off, as the judge has said even if the report arrives on Thur or Fri, the earliest she can review the report and see us is Tuesday next week. So, no need to change flights, no need to take a day off work. No need to scrape together our witnesses here.

We did go to Gymboree and had a ball, as always. We had a nice lunch with Anna & Yara afterwards, so that part came true!

Thursday, 2nd Oct: Today. This morning at 9.30am, the social worker from DIF showed up unexpectedly to see where we are living. Luckily we were dressed and despite the suitcases being prepared, the house isn't too much of a tip and looks very baby-friendly. We are off to San Diego tonight, for Ahmed's early morning flight tomorrow. With his border crossing woes, we're not taking any chances, and Guadalupe's coming over tonight.

Ahmed's next possibility of coming over here is for just a day or two around the 29th October, four weeks away. Again, many favours from his work, boss, colleagues. Ah well. At least the end is almost in sight, and having these interviews from DIF completed is a huge relief.

P.S. Thanks for all the best wishes from so many people this week. We really feel so lucky to have such a supportive family and great friends all over the world sending us their love and hopes for a day when we can finally come home. Cheers!