Friday, December 11, 2009

And here he is


First family photo.


Sammy loved sitting in the little green cart and squealed delightedly as he sat there


Happy, cheeky grin


These two get on like a house on fire. So long as Maya can have whatever Sammy is playing with, peace reigns.


This same cushion was slobbered all over by Maya last year in exactly the same fashion, as it's in my favourite cafe in Tijuana. Sammy's just checking it out to see if it's any good.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Whirlwind week

Last week has been a whirl. Here's a quick breakdown (in case you wanna know!)

Thur midnight - Abu Dhabi airport, flights to San Diego via Dublin and Chicago. Maya rocked, charmed her way through the plane, slept, smiled, played, watched Barney. That's definitely a treat for her, coz there's no other place she'll ever see him, that purple monster is horrrrrrible!

Fri evening - arrived in San Diego and stayed two nights. Just had to get our heads around everything, catch up on sleep, get over colds, gather our thoughts, have yummy breakfasts at Whole Foods, celebrate Ahmed's birthday.

Sun morning - drove south to Tijuana and met Mr Sammy, gorgeous little man, giant cheeks, giant gummy grin, chubby hands, blue eyes, long curly eyelashes, he's just divine. And he thinks Maya is just the bees knees, and can't keep his eyes off her, when he's not charming me with his super grin. Maya has taken it all in her stride, seeing Mirna and family again, having a baby brother, being back in TJ.

Last two days we've been out with Maya and Sammy, seeing old friends, getting police clearances (while a big shootout was going on outside the police station, so we were locked in along with a bunch of other people for half an hour. Very dramatic TJ style), and today having the first of three interviews at DIF, the family services department. It was with the same Social Worker from Maya's adoption, and she's lovely. She still has the photo we took of her with Maya a year ago, and showed it to us.

Haven't had a chance to put photos onto computer yet, but we have tonnes, plus videos. Might not get done till we're back in AD.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Abu Dhabi - Dublin - Chicago - San Diego - Tijuana

This week has been one of those completely frenetic up and down experiences. Last weekend, when we were despairing at the possibility of ever hearing from DIF about when we could go for our home study interviews (with psychologist and social worker), suddenly an email arrived saying, you can have your interviews on...the following day. In Tijuana. A 30-hour flight away. Not even remotely possible that one without a teleporting machine.

We requested interviews between 28th Nov and 3rd Dec about two months ago, knowing that we would have a week holiday then, and suddenly they decide to issue us with appointment dates on the 21st November. It just seemed a bit ridiculous. Anyway, we asked Aida to beg the DIF folk to postpone for one week, which she said she'd try to do. By Friday evening in Tijuana we'd been told that we'd have to wait until Monday, as the coordinator couldn't get hold of the psychologist or social worker to arrange dates.

What followed were three very stressful days wondering if we'd be flying out a week later, unable to book tickets just in case we couldn't, worrying as there's the biggest public holiday this weekend and half of Abu Dhabi are flying out at the same time, and to top it all off, our internet disconnected itself and would not reconnect.

For three days, we sat and waiting, Maya and I nursing stinking colds, doing all our interneting at work and kind neighbours' houses, waiting, waiting, waiting, and checking online tickets to make sure the prices weren't skyrocketing while we had to wait.

Tuesday morning at 6am (TJ Monday 6pm) we got the news that yes, we could have our court hearing and DIF interviews all next week! Some miracle in Mexican bureacracy terms.

Since that moment we've been doing everything in super-speedy fast-forward mode, rushing to book flights, pack, sort out cat feeder, find cold weather clothes (which tend to get stashed into dark crevisses in wardrobes in this country and forgotten about until a flight to a cold place springs up), buy some gifts, clothes for our new baby(!), arrange car rental, accommodation, get over our colds, call up Etisalat for the tenth time to yell at them for being so slack about fixing the internet, keep making appearances at work, try not to let the stress completely take over and just collapse in a pile on the floor, etc, etc. And we managed it, plus managed to get our front door handle fixed (no more entering the house through the study window, yes, really!), get the printer fixed. The only down note amongst all this was Ahmed catching our cold, which Maya and I have now managed to shake.

Now we're off in two hours and the reality of actually going to meet Sammy is starting to hit. Little man. Who got his first tooth a day or two ago. Wow. A boy. Our lives are so 'pink' right now, but that is set to change. Camera is at the ready to take masses of photos of this baby who is about to have his world changed radically! Bossy big sister Maya is on her way to show him what's what.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Here's Samuel

Samuel - aka 'Baby Baby', our code word for him when we were still in shock about him and simultaneously trying to deal with the traumas of Maya's adoption - was born on 13th June this year.


Here he is in Maya's former bath...


...wearing Maya's former jumpsuit...


...staying with Maya's former foster family

I solemnly swear to you kiddo: when you are finally home, I promise to get you your own things so you're not relying on your big sister's hand-me-downs!

In the last six months of Maya's adoption, we were dealing with the beginnings of the likelihood that we would adopt her biological brother, who was born just a few weeks after we left Mexico. As it turns out, it's all gone ahead, and this beautiful wee boy, who looks just like a bouncing version of Maya with more hair, is currently staying with Mirna and her family, while we wait for (take a guess right now which government agency, or institution, or person is holding up the process this time? Given our previous track record it could be DIF, could be the court, the judge, the BM, the visa office, or just the man on the street)...ta da...DIF to give the green light and issue us with dates to appear for our interviews for the homestudies.

Amazingly, BM has already been to court and signed off (that one final stage of Maya's adoption that was so agonizingly long last time), we have the other judge this time, who is allowing us to appear in court pretty much any time, we got our FM3 visas from the Mexican Consulate in Dubai in half an hour!!! Sorry, italics and bold just to highlight to enormous difference between this time and last, which took six weeks of hand-wringing misery in Tijuana right at the start of the process. The only sticking point now is #@!%$# Lic. Solis at DIF, who is busy painting her toenails once again and not committing to making decisions. All other DIF officials seem to be pushing to get our case through, but ultimately they have no power. Anyway, we sit and wait, once again.

Major differences this time: Samuel is staying with Mirna, and we are staying in Abu Dhabi, during the process. Initially we wanted to protect ourselves emotionally, since it wasn't a given that this adoption would go ahead. Also, taking another long stretch of extended unpaid leave from my job isn't really an option, financially. Luckily, I should still scrape in with 4-5 months of adoptive leave before my contract finishes in June, so I will get some time off - the adoption had better be well and truly finished by then, though!!!

So yes, Baby Baby turned out to be a beautiful boy, we chose to call him Samuel because... it was about the only boy's name we both liked! Maya sees photos of him and says 'bebe', and we've been telling her she has a little brother and that we'll all be going to Mexico to see him soon & go to court & DIF, and hopefully, a month or two later, go back to Mexico, to bring him home. I never like to mention time estimates on this blog, as they never seem to work. All those attempts at positive visualization in Maya's case went so horribly wrong that I can't bring myself to predict anything much this time. Just hope that Solis will be suddenly transferred to the Ministry of Silly Cows or something and just get her sticky fingers out of our case.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Four months on...

To say that I literally haven't had a spare minute to add another post to this blog is not far from the truth.

We've been back in Abu Dhabi, Ahmed, Maya and I, all in the same country, same city, same house and, as much as possible, in the same room for four months now and it's bliss!



In a nutshell:

We passed through the airport fever checks again, coming into Abu Dhabi, again holding in coughs, which still (four months later) haven't gone away completely. I'm wondering if this is 14 months' worth of stress manifesting itself in a weakened immune system.

We moved into a new house in the outskirts of Abu Dhabi (picture a sandy, dusty wasteland with lots of construction) which is oh, such an improvement on traffic-clogged, accident-heavy, horn-honking, parking-nightmare central Abu Dhabi where we used to live! And we know that one day, the cranes will move on to somewhere even further out and who knows, maybe our dusty wasteland will turn into a pretty town with a park or something... we love our new house, the space, the garden (not yet done), the patio, the balcony, even the mosque right outside the bedroom window that lets us know the call to prayer at 4am...

I went back to work (sigh) and started that juggling act that is mothering full-time, working full-time, studying half-time, eating biscuits to keep going and collapsing in bed every night at 2am for a bit of sleep.



Maya and I had the loveliest baby shower - complete with 14-month old Maya attending - thrown for us by Robyn, Kate and Dawn, and I felt the beginnings of a sense that it's all just going to be OK, after all.



We go to The Club most weekends, and Maya spends the whole time in the pool with any of her friends: Aida, Sam (in boat with her), Josh, James, Masha, Victor, Gabriel, Isabelle, Kai, Pace or Hobie.

Maya's got her Abu Dhabi residence visa, her Canadian citizenship has been applied for (might take 18 months they say), she goes to nursery two mornings a week, is going to start swimming lessons soon, we've joined a mums and toddlers group, and she's growing more and more delightful (and headstrong!) by the day. She delights us with her happy, relaxed nature, her cuddles, her kisses, her funny expressions:
meno (nemo) = fish
pitoo (pickles) = cat
poo poo = nappy
shoes go car = put my shoes on, let's go out in the car now!
where you are? = where are you/where is it?
etc
her dancing:



She adores Pickles the cat, and Pickles finally gets all the attention she craves with her little number one fan, albiet a fairly boisterous one. Maya loves her dolls, and makes sure they get fed, given water, given a bath and put to bed just like her. She also loves her cars (brmm, brmm) and her farm animals, her shoes, her handbags, and basically just finds everything a big adventure.

Our adventure, however, isn't completely over yet. Still more to come, and one day, in the distant future, we'll both sit back and go: ahhhhhhhh, can we rest now?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Toronto, Ont.

Yep, that's right, that's where Maya, her papa and I have now been for more than 24 hours. We're here with Ahmed's parents and Maya's now met tonnes of new cousins, aunts, uncles, great aunts, great uncles, second cousins, third cousins and has enjoyed every minute of it. She's a happy little flea, and has all these wonderful people and toys to play with, so she's loving it. And she's gone straight back to her papa as if he'd hardly been gone.

Getting Maya's passport was a doddle (after a minor drama of going to the wrong passport office, despite numerous checks on the matter) after all these crazy months.

24 hours after the application was made on Monday morning, it was ready to be picked up. I have to admit I wasn't really ready for something to be done so quickly, so we waited until Wednesday to pick it up. Actually, I wandered back to the passport office on Tuesday, only to discover the office closed at 3.00pm and we were there at 3.10pm. Ah well, we weren't leaving till Thursday anyway, so what's the rush?

Maya and I had four days in Mexico City, checking out the sights, eating in cool cafes, going to the zoo - biggest hits for Maya: the porcupines, lemurs and prairie dogs, of all the strange things. Hippo - yeah, whatever. Elephant - yeah, seen them in books. Lions - nah. Rhino - nup. Funny what things interest a 14-month old.

Ahmed left Abu Dhabi on Thursday morning, 14 hours later, arrived in Toronto airport, and nearly gave his mother, father and sister heart attacks by surprising them by being there. Then a couple of hours later, we popped out of the plane, had the easiest customs walk-through ever. I admit, I was worried. Baby on Mexican passport, mother on NZ passport, both of us with coughs (yes, that's right, arriving from Mexico...) But, it was also a doddle. What's going on? The stars are truly lining up and shining an easy path for us. It's nice for a change.

Back to AD on Thursday, if Maya's visa is ready, which it should be, then back to our 'real life', whatever that may be...!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mexico, D.F.

It seems that only the tourists call it Mexico City. The cool people say: D.F. (Districto Federal). And yeah, Mexico City is coooool. Cool people around. Cool looking places. Tijuana is light years away. Maybe that's just my rosy-tinted first impression, and tomorrow I'll find all the broken footpaths (sidewalks, pavements for all you non-NZ folk), homeless people, grime and dust.

I had about 44 kg of luggage, in two suitcases, including Maya's travel cot, and allsorts of accumulated schtuff. I'd say about 5 kg of that was the gigantic dossier that Aida handed me on Friday night. Probably more stuff than we'll need to apply for Maya's passport, but we're dotting all the i's and crossing all the t's, just to be on the safe side. I feel rather tentative carrying around these 14 months' worth of blood, sweat and tears (predominantly tears). Sat up late on Friday night reading some of these documents, our DIF reports, BM's DIF reports, final decree, etc etc. Everything has been stamped and signed to within an inch of its life.

Tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn, we'll be up and off to passport office, and should soon have an idea of how long it'll take before we're off and outta here.

Maya seems to take all this moving, flying, sleeping in strange places, in her stride. She is such a 'coqueta' - little flirt - and bats her eyelids at everyone, flashes cheeky grins, and does little dances, and offers people her half-chewed pieces of cheese.

Not long now...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Photos from Adoption Day


Here's Maya & her verrrrrrry happy mum on adoption day


Playas de Tijuana, Friday 8th May


Fiona, Clifford, Margot, Maya, Emma, Aisha and Elsa at Playas de Tijuana


Fiona, Margot, Clifford, Aisha, Elsa, Maya & Emma off to the beach for a swim...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Adoption Day! 414 days later...

Friday 8th May, 2009. Official adoption day! 414 days after first meeting Maya.

We had a lovely day yesterday. Got up early and drove to the court to see our judge and plead our case to issue the final decree asap. I was shaking in my boots, Maya was charming everybody left, right and centre with smiles, waves, toddles, dah dah dah, etc.

Saw the judge, in her office, with her assistant, one of her secretaries and another random lawyer, and she was lovely. Came and gave us a big hug, big kiss to Maya, said, right, where's their case? to her assistant, let's get this finished, these people have suffered enough, what a beautiful girl, blah, blah, blah. And as we were standing there, me agog, too nervous to get any words out, the assistant pulled out our case, and they got working on it right there on the spot. Wow.

The final decree was issued today, and now, Ahmed and I are Maya's parents, totally, officially, completely, irrevocably, forever. What an amazing relief!

Next steps (just so you know):

Monday 11th: Adoption order is published on court's public announcements website, and our lawyer submits some papers we signed

Wednesday 13th: Adoption papers are ready to be picked up from court

Wed or Thur: Apply for Maya's birth certificate with her new name and us as her parents. She has been Maya Iliana Noriega Medina until now and will become Maya Bulbulia Smart

Same day (hopefully): pick up the translations of adoption decree, birth certificate, and get them notarized

Same day (possibly): leave to Mexico City

Next day: Apply for Maya's passport

??? days later: Get passport/birth cert/adoption decree notarized at three different ministries in Mexico City. Scan copies and send to ??? to apply for visit visa to UAE

Same day: leave Mexico to Toronto, avoiding the USA, as Maya won't be able to land there as a Mexican citizen without a visa (takes months to apply for apparently).

So, potentially, we're looking at being out of here in 2 weeks' time...! I thought we'd be at this stage when I arrived in Tijuana, hence the rather frustrated feeling when I first got here, and had the swine flu scare, but now it's full steam ahead!

In the meantime, Ahmed's found a villa to move into in Abu Dhabi, just off the island, so since our lives are obviously very boring and we need more excitement, he's going to move, possibly in the next two weeks. Madness!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Here we are!!


This is a common pose at the moment, arms outstretched, imploring: pick me up, you naughty mummy!!! I love the fact Anna and Yara are doing their own callisthenics as well. Looks like aerobics in the park...


Cuddly little bubby


Maya and Yara up to mischief with their new-found toddling. Yara goes flat out - she's super fast and confident - while Maya takes her time, holds her arms up and is quite careful.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Tijuana Time Black Hole


This is how Maya walks: hands up, ready for the inevitable tip-over. Very cute and girly.

Maya and I have been back together again for exactly one week. Which feels like about one hour on one hand, and about 10 years on the other. Time is so fluid here, and minutes, hours, days, weeks and months have a habit of mixing it all up. Symptomatic of the mañana phenomenon, perhaps?

During this week (or hour or decade):
- swine flu panic took over the country (and then quickly disappeared from the front page)
- people walked around in face masks
- shops ran out of hand sanitizer
- lots of shops and offices closed
- courts had a five day holiday
- Maya and I moved into house one
- I finished an assignment for my Masters
- Maya grazed her nose (not a good look for her passport photos, will wait till it heals)
- I discovered that our judge's promise of finalizing all documents in a week was another casualty of mañana disease (one bonus - ONLY bonus - is we'll have time for Maya's graze to clear up before she needs her passport photos)
- I got millions of delicious, snuggly cuddles from a very clingy baby, who will not let me out of her sight

Luckily for Maya, I also desperately needed those cuddles, as those two and a half months without her were just horrible, horrible, horrible. She used to be little-miss-independence, happily heading off in any old direction, looking for action and trouble. Now she's very snuggly, very keen to stay close by, and as a result, quite easy to look after. She enjoys playing within about two metres of where I'm sitting, and doesn't venture off much. I imagine this is a temporary phase until she realizes I'm not going anywhere without her, but I'll enjoy it while it lasts. Though I'm not finding it very easy to cook with a toddler on my hip! The alternative is a cling-on toddler hanging onto my leg, grizzling and imploring me with a ferocious look to pick her up.

I can see our wee girl being quite into dolls. Yesterday she went and got a nappy (diaper for you NA folk) from the shelf, picked up her nut brown hare, opened up the nappy and put hare on the nappy. (The right way up, BTW) Then was trying to figure out how to close the nappy. I wish I had our camera back, to video such moments!! It's still with Myrna and co, being fixed. She's also very interested in shelves and putting things on them, moving them from one to another. Including my pencil case, which I presently can't find, as it's been moved to some shelf somewhere in our house. There's hope for a tidy, organized future in our house. Or alternatively, lots of missing objects.

Can't wait till Ahmed can catch up on his many months of missing cuddles too.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Benvenidos en Tijuana

Two crazy days of packing, running around like a grinning headless chicken, in Abu Dhabi, 29 hours of squishing up with folks on three planes, 11 different time zones, countless bad airline meals, and here I am, back in Tijuana, arriving in Mexico just as a flu epidemic is taking over the news, and the government is shutting down all schools and nurseries in the country. Next to be shut down if it keeps going are all the ministries. Ha ha. Guess where we have to go to get Maya's passport legalized? Ministry of Internal Affairs and Minstry of External Affairs.

Yes, our lives were clearly too boring, and we need more drama.

Little punky baby came back yesterday, and my goodness, I don't think I'm lying when I say that we have the most beautiful baby in the world. Maya toddled up the street towards me, holding Myrna's hand, and when she saw me, stuck out her arms and gave me a big grin. I picked her up, and she promptly turned around and put her arms back out to Myrna! Little scallywag... I'm so glad that she's been so well looked after for the past two and a half months, and she was clearly very happy with them. She's now being weaned back off TV and late nights, and back onto boring mummy schedule.

She's a real little toddler. She toddles! It's so strange, I keep putting her down and expecting her to get down and crawl, but she just toddles. She's still her happy, exploring little self, loves eating pretty much anything, hasn't shown any interest in her bottle any more though, not sure if that's a phase or the status quo from now on. Had to make a mad dash to buy a new cot, as the old one had totally died. I might see if I can send this one back to Abu Dhabi, as it's a good travel cot.

We're staying with Fiona and the twins, who have also grown so much in two and half months. They are also vying for the position of most beautiful babies in the world, gorgeous little darlings. Last night, we had the three of them in two little tubs in the bathroom, lots of splashing, rubber duckies, and happy naked babies. And two wet mothers trying to keep it all under control. Madness. Haven't got my camera back from Myrna and co yet, so couldn't video it, but I will soon!

Right, it's now 4am, been up for an hour, ahhh, the joys of jetlag. Time to go and toss and turn and see if there's some sleep in it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's Official!!!

Yep, that's right, that one tiny, crucial detail that we've been waiting for ohhhhh, sooooo impatiently since October LAST YEAR, is now a done deal.

Approximately one hour ago, Aida, our indefatigable lawyer, called on Skype to say: She signed (line cut off) Call again: She signed (line cut off) Call again: She signed (line cut off) etc about six times.

That was all we needed to hear, and now after an hour of jubilant phone calls and bad line skype chats to Myrna, Aida, Fiona, our parents, we're up in the middle of the night, booking flights, grinning from ear to ear - or from Abu Dhabi to Tijuana - and there is dancing in the street, fireworks and a marching band celebrating outside. Ok, I made that up, but that's what it feels like.

So, we're now online trying to book flights, pack, prepare, think, sleep, dance and sing.

Baby girl, here we come!!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Maya Walking

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Maya hanging in Mexico


Maya in her rapper outfit with a giant flan!


Sergio with his nephew (Maya's new boyfriend??) and Maya


Cute...


Maya's new friend Sergio

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Maya in Mexico, Mama & Papa in Abu Dhabi

Firstly, I've been overwhelmed by all the love out there. So many amazingly supportive messages here, on Facebook & email. It's been waterworks all week! Why is it that messages of support make me cry so much?

Last week, since that stinky Tuesday which had me howling with rage and frustration in Pepi's courtyard, I spent four days manically trying to get everything in place to leave Maya with her new foster family & packing up and leaving Tijuana. On Friday, Fiona, the twins, Maya & I went to Myrna's house. Myrna, her two daughters, & her niece and her husband will be looking after Maya until we can bring her home. They are a wonderful family, full of love, and they looked after the twins before Fiona arrived in Mexico. That's another benefit. Maya will still have contact with Fiona & the twins, as she loves playing with them. Margot & Maya especially enjoy each other's company and sit there giggling at each other, while Margot's brother Clifford sits between them wondering why the girls aren't giggling at him. I have a feeling they'll be firm friends throughout their lives. Fiona's, the twins' mummy, also spent the rest of the week taking care of me, and particularly, ensuring I didn't spend the whole week just eating biscuits. She's not only the best cook I've ever met, but also an amazingly kind & insightful person. All this on top of looking after two active, gorgeous little babies.

Here's Myrna, Maya, the twins, Myrna's niece and husband in their home. They also have a dance studio attached to their house, which is an amazing space for an about-to-walk baby to cruise around. Full of Swiss Balls, mirrors, carpeted and an amazing sound system. Maya will return to us doing the samba.

Now back in Abu Dhabi. Confused by all the new traffic systems. We're waiting to hear how long it's likely to be until BM is out of her gigantic pickle and ready to sign off. The logistic details of our near future are uncertain, but one thing is for sure: soon Maya will be here with us, terrorising Pickles the cat, swimming in the pool at the Club, charming all the neighbours with her gigantic grins, being her unstoppable, inquisitive, adventurous self with her mama & papa in tow.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The post I dreaded writing

BM didn't sign today and I feel like our world has ended. I'm going back to Abu Dhabi as soon as I can. BM says she will sign in about 2 or 3 months, when the major problem in her life will be over, and when she does, one of us will come back and pick up Maya then. I can't bear to look at Maya, as it's breaking my heart to think I'm leaving her. The alternative is more frightening, it's a black, terrifying abyss of going over the edge of sanity. Maya doesn't deserve to be looked after by the person I would be if I stayed here. Ahmed equally doesn't deserve to live with the wrecked shell who's going to arrive back in Abu Dhabi. Why is this so hard? Because there is the terrifying uncertainty of there never being an end to our case. Moving to Mexico may be our only option, and frankly, for our daughter, we would do anything.

Ants & butterflies

I have ants in my pants. I can't sit still and sleeping last night was hardly on the agenda. This afternoon at 2.00pm, Licenciada Carolina, 3rd secretary of Judge Licenciada Dalila from the First Family Court of Tijuana, has an appointment to see Maya's birth mother, for her third attempt (last two were 28th Nov and 9th Dec) to get her ratification of her earlier signature and consent to the adoption and final signature on the adoption documents. This is that one crazy little detail we've been waiting for since October 29th, and given the promises of BM to finally pull through, we desperately, desperately hope that this time it'll happen. If it does, I can picture the jubilation. Am filling in the long minutes until that time as best as possible. Fiona and the twins have been doing a marvellous job of distracting me over the past few days with trips and yummy food.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sixth time lucky

No, I know that's not how the saying goes. Yesterday, I drove Ahmed across the border to San Diego to fly home for the sixth time since we began this odyssey. Guadalupe and kids came to stay the night with Maya, and we went over and stayed the night in San Diego, since Ahmed's flight was fairly early in the morning. Of course we had to go to secondary inspection, but this time, we were both finally feeling so light-hearted and hopeful, that it wasn't stressful and in fact, we had some very nice border guards! It was a positive blast.
Thai meal, Borders bookshop, Lafayette Hotel - aging behemoth of a hotel, grand once upon a time, but not now - airport, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Tijuana. I've done that route so often now, that the car practically drives itself.
Ahmed said goodbye to Playas, to Pepi's place, to Aida, to the fish tacos stand, to Guadalupe and kids, as we know he's not coming back again. Our adoption is so close to finishing. We can feel it in our bones/gut/any other organs that fit this idiom.
Just a few more days now till we know for sure that the BM has signed and ratified. This will be the third time lucky. That's the saying. Am twiddling my thumbs trying to keep busy in the meantime. Maya's busy exploring and getting into stuff. Including falling over and biting her lip, poor bunny, which then bled, and she had a fat lip all day. I'm now trailing her like a bad smell, but she's just so determined to be everywhere, go everywhere, I can't keep her in one place!!!

Maya getting into stuff...

Hanging with her papa

Funky new hat & scarf knitted by Dadima on her last trip

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Can I please get a refund for this crystal ball? It doesn't appear to be working.

By Monday morning we were no closer to really deciding what to do. We drove to Rosarito to go and have coffee and hunt down the best massage therapist in the Northern Hemisphere, who's gone awol, unfortunately. Every ten minutes or so, we tried calling Aida to find out whether the BM's request to do the ratification had made it in to our court, and what that meant in terms of when it might take place. Our biggest question, these days. When? When? When? This innocent question is always the first thing we get asked by anybody who finds out we're adopting here: so when will it be finished? Ha ha ha. Wait while I consult my crystal ball...um, sometime in mid August last year would be my guess.

When we spoke to Aida, it turns out that yes, the request had been lodged at court first thing in the morning, and would likely be picked up by the judge's secretary for its publication on Tuesday, in which case Carolina, the judge's secretary, could go to get the signature and ratification on Friday, at the earliest. If she has time in her crazy schedule.

Today, Aida managed to speak to our judge, who has agreed to release Carolina to go and get the signature and ratification. Aida spoke to Carolina, who will be able to go on Friday at the earliest, but only if one of her other hearings that day is cancelled, as she's working round the clock at the moment. Otherwise, next week.

So, there's the situation. Not much different on the surface from earlier: we're waiting on tenterhooks for the judge's secretary to go and see the BM to get the signature. Might be on Friday, might be next week some time.

Here are the differences, however:
If, at the last minute, the BM doesn't sign and ratify this time, Maya will go and stay with a foster mother, and I will go back to Abu Dhabi until she signs.
The BM has now realized this and does not want me to go, hopefully enough of a push to get that ratification.
The BM has promised not just Aida, but the slightly more scary male lawyer she took to see her on Saturday as well, that she will ratify.
This time the request to ratify (to the judge of our family court) has come from the BM herself, rather than our lawyer.

Are these differences enough to make it actually happen this time? My crystal ball is blank. Who knows? We can only hope so. We're surrounded by lucky charms, hopes and prayers and good wishes coming from all corners of the globe. Without noticing, I bought some Lucky brand jeans on Saturday, and everytime I see the little tag: Lucky You, I wonder if it is a sign... We'll look anywhere for signs these days! I consult the card game on the computer for answers. Ahmed touches the lucky baby (that's Maya) when the phone rings, hoping for good news. I changed the ring tone on my cellphone, as the sound of the previous one just reminded me too much of all the bad news I'd received on it. Would have changed it again, but realised I might run out of ring tones before finding the one that brought good news. We've turned all superstitious in our desperation. Anyway, now's the time, surely. Scarily, we've said that many times since about April. Maybe this time it's true.

Now, at least, I feel in a way that we are in control of the situation to a small extent. If she signs, adoption is finalized two weeks later, and we go home. If she doesn't sign, I go home, Maya stays here, in a couple of months I come back when adoption is finalized - and it will be, there is a reason why it definitely will be in a couple of months compared to the possibly will be now, but can't disclose that here - and then we go home. So at least we've made that decision.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Impasse

I am going absolutely crazy right now with the 'what ifs' of our situation. We decided a couple of days ago that I would leave Tijuana on the same day that Ahmed goes this time, Friday 30th. Just get out of this madhouse, away from Mexico, and Maya would stay with a wonderful foster mum we know here. Horrible, hard decision, leaving our baby behind, but when we looked at the alternatives: me finally going off the deep end, lack of income, etc etc, we just felt it was time. The interminable waiting, and maybe today, maybe tomorrow here has pushed me to the absolute limit of my patience, and beyond, many times, and I really need to get out.

So, decision was made, I was planning to spend the week with Ahmed and Maya, just enjoying ourselves, feeling sad at leaving, but knowing that I'd be back in probably two months, when the adoption HAS to be finished surely, and bringing Maya home then. We know Maya would be fine with Ana and her family. She's a happy little pickle and would forgive us.

Then we got a phone call from Aida yesterday saying that Maya's BM freaked out when she heard I would leave, and said, yes, yes, I'll ratify. What the hell??? Of course, it will take several days of permissions, trips to and from court (for Aida) to get the judge's secretary to do this again, before it will happen, but now what? Will she do it? Will she lead us on again just to refuse at the last minute like the last two times? There are so many stupid consequences of each decision, staying or going, that my head is once again spinning, and I can't make a decision to save myself. And of course the decision to leave needs to be made before the ratification would happen, as there are all these other factors at stake. Stupid catch 22. I have no clarity. No idea. No gut feelings. Just murky dunnos rolling around in my head. I've identified at least three other stages in our adoption when a different decision would have really benefited the process, but at the time it was too difficult to judge. Now we're here again, having to make a decision, time marching on, and aaaaargh??? Who knows?

If I stay, BM either signs & ratifies and Maya and I get out of here in about 3 or 4 weeks, hurrah, or she doesn't sign and I need to check into the nearest mental health institution. Could then go back to Abu Dhabi, but would miss the opportunity to do teacher training course, which starts next Sunday. And new term starts next Wednesday.

If I go, I could start back on a teacher training course the day after getting back to AD, but then wouldn't be free to leave again for at least 8 or 10 weeks. If BM signs and ratifies, we'd be kicking ourselves, as Maya would be free to come home, but we couldn't come here and get her birth cert, passport, etc till... April? If BM doesn't sign and ratify, well then, that was the right decision. Or if she says she'll do it, but doesn't sign and ratify before I leave, then finds out I've left, who knows what then? I think she'd totally refuse to do it. Too many variables and key players in this game. Am going round and round in circles.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Visit to judge, part III

Aida went into court again today to see the judge and other lawyer. Judge didn't go in to work again today. Aida then tried to go and see the BM with another lawyer, and discovered she couldn't see her either. Welcome to a typical week in our world. Monday morning sees us all optimistic for action and solutions. Friday evening sees us frustrated beyond belief, and no further ahead. Aida is going mental with the frustrations of our case as well, and has never experienced anything like it in her 24 years as an adoption lawyer.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Visit to judge, part II

Aida went in today, to meet other lawyer and judge, and what ho? The judge didn't come in to work today. So nothing going there. Tomorrow, she's got an appointment to see him instead. We went to see Lic. Sanchez, the lovely adoption coordinator from DIF Tijuana today, just to talk about the frustrations of our case, and see if there have been any similar cases in her memory. Nothing like it, unfortunately, and our only option is to sit it out and wait. Had to ask at least.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Visit to judge

The judge was too busy, and unable to see Aida today, despite her going in and trying her best to get an appointment. We hung around outside the courthouse, in the slight chance that we could also go in and put forth our two cents' worth. Tomorrow, she has an appointment with the judge and another lawyer. Ok, we'll wait till then.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Phone call from BM, part II

Maya's BM didn't call today either. Now Aida has said she'd go in tomorrow to another judge's office, to work something out, regarding the BM. So we'll sit tight till tomorrow.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Phone call from BM

Maya's BM didn't call today at 2pm, as promised. We sat in Aida's office and waited. I was all ready with my most convincing speech, that would definitely get her to agree to ratify now, this week or next, rather than in a couple of months, which is the other option. Tomorrow evening she'll call us, we're told.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Scary news sandwiched in between some cute photos

Let's start out with a lovely picture of our beautiful girl, happy as a flea on her papa's knee in her gorgeous duds, courtesy of Celia:



On Friday Maya's Dadima & Grandpa looked after her for the day, and I went to pick up Ahmed from the San Diego airport. On the way, I stopped at our lawyer Aida's office to wait for a phone call from Maya's birth mother (BM), in an attempt to convince her to ratify her signature (the one tiny, essential, final detail needed to complete our adoption) in the next week or so.

Unsuccessful, as firstly, BM was unable to call me, and Aida had to give the awful news that BM would not be able to ratify her signature for likely another couple of months, due to circumstances in her life that are totally beyond of any of our control.

I flipped out. This has become a scarily frequent occurrence, and I now have unpleasant memories of numerous times when I've sat in cars, offices, rooms sobbing uncontrollably. And swearing. I don't like swearing, but help, the words seem to bubble up on their own! Keep getting these comments from people about how 'strong' I am. Afraid not, am feeling incredibly weak and tired and unable to cope with the indefiniteness of this. Anyhow, apparently BM is going to be able to call Aida's office again on Monday at 2pm, so I'll have a chance to speak to her then, and somehow, who knows how? manage to convince her to ratify her signature in the next week or so. And it's not as simple as just convincing her to do it. So many external factors that are influencing her at the moment, unfortunately. Will have to pick my way very carefully through our conversation. I'm feeling quite scared that I'm not up to the task, and my Spanish isn't strong enough for this kind of pressure!

Picked up Ahmed from San Diego airport again with stinky news. Feels like a pattern, as the same happened in December when he came last time. He's becoming such a pro at the Secondary Inspection he gets every time he enters the USA, that the guy at New York airport 'inspecting' him recognized him from the time he was our 'inspector' in San Diego many months ago.

It is wonderful to have Ahmed back in Tijuana again. Though once again, we have all this uncertainty hanging over us, and BM not being available to ratify her signature for several more months is a very real and scary prospect. We've had to work out a variety of different scenarios for the outcome of tomorrow's phone call.

And to finish on a happy note, here's Maya in her cute hat knitted by her Dadima, busy with her favourite occupation, chewing on stuff:



Ah, this funny year, so desperate, scary, drawn-out, painful, frustrating, financially ruinous, and yet there's this amazingly positive constant throughout: Maya and her fascinating development and hilarious antics. No pleasure without pain.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Playtime at the Snot Farm

Everybody in our little world has been sick for some part of the past month, with a series of rather stinky colds making rounds. Nobody living in our house or next door has been spared, and various names for our situation have been put forth. Snots 'R' Us, the snot factory, the snot farm, our little snot monsters (the babies), snotlets, snotsters. Yes, it's gross, but snot has featured largely in our lives lately, and Maya's blown the most impressive snot bubbles. None captured on film, unfortunately. She's not at all impressed by the snot sucker ('nasal aspirator' in more refined circles, but snot sucker is a more apt description of its function, I feel), though it does help clear her up for a bottle or a feed. I guess all the playtime with her friends Yara, Clifford & Margot has helped to spread the bugs, but it's inevitable that colds will be passed around, and what fun is it to hang out in isolation anyway? Here's some of the fun:


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Beginnings & Endings. Actually Just Endings

I said goodbye to Anna and Yara today. Tomorrow they are flying to Mexico City, then Amsterdam, then Moscow, then Omsk, to visit Anna's family there for the next two and a half months. They're off to the minus 20 degree temperatures! Maya and I will definitely miss them and, given that it would be unimaginable that we are still here when they get back on the 31st March, I don't know when we will next see each other.



Anna has not only been a wonderful friend, but she was also our witness for the court process, so played that important role in Maya's adoption. And without her I'd have been lost when Pepi's car got towed away. In fact without her, I'd have been generally lost and extremely bored. Thank you Anna!!

Another 'ending' this week was volunteering at the Red Cross thrift store. Since June last year, Maya and I have spent our Thursday mornings sorting through donations, putting them out in the shop, tidying up shelves and in Maya's case, chewing on the clothes hangers & charming all the other lovely volunteers there. Not sure if I can say the same for myself, though of course I did my best!! It's so much easier when you weigh 9kg and have the world's cutest grin. Despite weighing about the same as my carry on luggage usually does (!), Maya is getting just a bit too big to lug about in the front pack for two hours straight. Maya's also now in level 3 at Gymboree (who'd ever have thought?), and that's on Thursday at 11am. I will definitely miss the Red Cross as well. Lovely & quirky Oscar, Julia, Dawn, Efren, Lucia, Tom, Frances and Helga.


Here's a sight for Playas that I'm sure caused a few double takes: Three (obviously foreign) women and their four (quite Mexican) babies trundling down the street in their various strollers/buggies/pushchairs. We're having gorgeous weather these days, and it's a crime to stay indoors.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Trifles

Yes, courts opened in Mexico on Monday, 12th January. That 'magic' day came and went, and another day after it. Nothing is happening, yet again.

We are now waiting upon an unknown person, who needs to go and meet two other unknown people, to resolve an unknown case, before Maya's birth mother will be in any state to sign off our adoption. All feels very bitsy and out of our realm of influence.

So once again, we're left here focusing on the minutiae of everyday life: Pink or white tights with the burgandy dress? Does the spoon make a difference with how much dinner Maya eats? Does she really not like broccoli, or is she just tired? Where is the warmest spot in the house to get the bread dough to rise? Where oh where did the Tui Bee Balme disappear to? These and other trifling thoughts occupy my mind all day long, while the REALLY BIG issue just hovers around behind those thoughts. When my mind wanders from the everyday, trifling matters for a moment, and the REALLY BIG issue drifts in, I get too scared, and have to go back to wondering whether I need to buy more cleaning products.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ice, ice, baby

On New Year's Eve, Maya's Dadima and Grandpa arrived in Tijuana for a much-anticipated three week visit. Ironically, they've arrived from sub zero Toronto, with snow up to their knees, into Tijuana, temps in the low teens, and not a snowflake on the horizon, but my, it's so much colder here. Because, of course, those hardy Canadians have it figured out. Their houses are geared up for the cold, and they're all toasty warm during their indoorsy winters. Meanwhile, the cold of Tijuana doesn't really warrant super-insulated, state-of-the-art centrally heated houses, so we shiver our way through the cold months, huddling around feeble gas heaters and wearing far too many pairs of socks.



With all this hard work battling the cold, our bodies have succumbed to bugs, and Dadima, Maya, Clifford, Margot (the twins from next door) and I have all had an array of colds, running noses, sneezing, coughing, sore throats, and eye infections.

Despite all this, Maya is delighting in the company of her grandparents, and keeping us all entertained with her new antics. She's a barrel of new tricks these days, and in the past month or so, she's started clapping, waving hello and goodbye, putting things in boxes or bags and pulling them out again, pushing all the chairs (and anything else she thinks might prove a decent object to hold her up) around the living room, wiggling her bum in time to clapping or music, repeating sounds, and (just) standing up on her own, unsupported, for a few seconds. A definite precursor to walking, but we're trying to put her off that particular 'trick' till papa comes back to Tijuana next week. She's exploring everything she can get her little hands on, and finds the following objects infinitely fun: gas bottles, water bottles, tissue packets, the paper bag full of plastic bags, the kitchen cupboards, the kitchen stools, the dining chairs, her shoes, my shoes, my hairbrush, remote controls, cellphones, keys. She's our wee explorer, and is happiest 'trawling' about looking for action.