First and foremost, I’ll say that I’ve already learned something important about myself on this trip…
I sweat more than EVERY OTHER PERSON ON EARTH.
It’s absolutely disgusting how much I sweat. I’m shocked that a person can lose that much water and not pass out. I’m embarrassed everywhere I go. People stare and point.
Okay, that last part was a bit of an exaggeration, but I can see it in their eyes- they would like to stare and point.
That’s pretty much it. That’s the valuable life lesson. I’m a sweaty hog. Big, ole, fat, sweaty, sweaty Kansas hog right here.
Have I mentioned it is honestly hotter than Hell here? I’m pretty sure someone checked and it is a documented fact. Hotter than Hell. Yet, I’m the only one with sweat dripping off my face. Go figure. As always, I know how to make a lasting impression, even though it is rarely the impression I had hoped to make.
Anyhoo… That’s not what you came here to hear, I’m guessing. We’re all fine. The adoption is finalized and now we just play the waiting game. I’ve got a day-by-day report below, for those interested in how the whole process played out, but the short version is that the baby has been with us and officially ours since Monday (Sunday to you in the US), his immigration documents have been sent, and now we can all just breathe easy, relax, and enjoy the culture while we wait for his documents to be processed.
Evan and Sam both got pretty sick and yesterday was really, really rough for all of us, but they’re better today- More about that below.
Darrell will be with us for about one more week, and then the three of us will be on our own, waiting for the immigration packet to get back.
The scenery here is beautiful, but lots and lots of poverty. This is definitely not a resort town, or vacation-y, touristy type of destination, but of course we knew that going in. There are some people who come here for the fishing, so it’s a vacation spot to some. We met a really colorful Australian man here to fish.
The food’s good (you know it always comes back to the food with me). Lots of Chinese, and it’s easy to find Western food, too. Our room is comfortable. We have A/C and a balcony, and it’s a short walk down to the water.
Here’s the run-down of what’s been going on here each day:
Thurs. April 23
2:00 a.m.- Got up and left for Kansas City to be there by 5:00 for 7:00 am flight. Arrive in Minneapolis at 8:30. Leave Minn. at 11:30 am for Los Angeles- Two hour layover there.
3:00 pm- Fly from L.A. to Honolulu. Arrive there around 5:30 pm (Obviously, there is a time difference. It is not a two hour flight). Check into hotel and spend the night. Get up early again on Friday the 24th, to be at the airport for 7:00 am flight to Majuro. Arrive in Majuro a little after 10:00 am on Saturday, April 25.
Total flying time: 17:45, split over two days and four flights.
Our facilitator, Maddy (who is WONDERFUL!) met us at the airport with her two little girls who had a lei for each of us, made by the birth mom of our traveling companion’s baby. We got checked into our hotel, and had an hour or two before meeting our babies. We meet the two other adopting families here… Matt, we’re missing you, already! We got to spend several hours with Sam before he went back to his foster parents (who are equally WONDERFUL!). During our time with the baby, Maddy took us to get his passport photos taken.
We request another visit with Sam, and find out he’s been taken to the hospital for fever and vomiting before being brought to see us. We met Sam’s birth mom for the first time later that day. Later that night, we meet with our attorney, Gordon (the man is a SAINT), to start prepping for court.
We go to Gordon’s office to finish going over what will happen later that day in court, then we take our babies to the doctor for their physicals. Sam weighed 12 pounds, 13 ounces (he’s a tiny squirt. All the clothes I brought are too big). I didn’t get his length. I tell the doctor I’m concerned about the white gunk coming out of Sam’s eyes. He does nothing. We find out that Sam previously had pneumonia, which concerns us because he still has a cough and fever. The doctor says his lungs are fine. He then says something I’ve never, ever heard a doctor say before…
He asked, “Does he have one ball or two ball?” I said he has two. He gives me a skeptical look and wants to know if I’m sure. I suggest he check himself, since he clearly thinks I am not qualified to count two ball.
Am I sure? WTH? Buddy, I’ve had 6 sons go through my household. You can literally follow the bouncing balls down the hallway (much to my disgust… Oh. Hope you weren’t eating, or anything. Sorry about that). If I don’t know a two ball when I see one by now, I’ve learned nothing about motherhood and have no business having another boy.
So, doctors say “balls.” I was not aware. You learn something new every day.
Court is at 2:00 pm. We were told that court is the only thing that starts on time here in the islands. Everything else is on “Island Time,” meaning us Type A people will just have to adapt our impatient, anal ways.
Right before court, our birth mom and I change Sam into the outfit I brought for him, which he quickly poops all over, and spends the rest of court in a diaper, and wrapped in a blanket.
It is a real, formal hearing, not a formality, or ceremonial thing. Everyone is sworn in, like regular court. The judge comes in, we all rise, and the birth mother is called to the stand first. Most of the questions she is asked are to make sure she completely understands what she is doing and that she was not coerced in any way. I was sitting on pins and needles at this point, because she can still change her mind right up until the last minute. She didn’t. Obviously. (A little interesting tidbit about the Marshallese- Raising your eyebrows means “yes.” Our birth mother does this all the time. Gordon was telling us that he often has to remind the girls before court to SAY the word “YES,” instead of just raising their eyebrows.)
I’m called up there next. I’m horribly nervous, but trying to act like I’m not- because Gordon warned us that if the judge can see that you’re uncomfortable, he may be likely to ask you more questions. Yikes. No, thank you. Gordon questioned me. He touched on everything- the home study, finances, previous health and medical issues, my adoption, our family life, etc… EV-ER-Y-THING. After he was finished with me, the judge had only a couple questions for me, but they weren’t too bad. He was a really nice guy- originally from Minnesota, I believe.
Darrell is called up there last. He sounds nervous, and almost like he may start crying at any moment. Poor guy. His nerves were shot. We’re all on emotional overload.
When it was the judge’s turn to question Darrell, he zeroed in on some specific financial questions, regarding exact balances on certain accounts… Oh, crap. I handle all of that. Darrell answered wrong, looking at me the whole time, so I just spoke up and gave the information the judge needed. The judge goes, “Clearly, I’m asking the wrong person! You’re (meaning ME) still under oath!!” So, at least he had a sense of humor. He even asked Evan if he’d like to come up to the stand, just as a joke. So, it was all good.
Monday night, we rode out to the airport to see one of the dads off. We had barely met him, but he and his wife are just great people. You know how sometimes you can meet someone and you just know. That’s how we feel about these two. Anyway, it was sad to see him go, but happy that their adoption journey is that much closer to being finished and soon their family will be together back at home. We were approached there by a woman who turned out to be the sister of our birth mom, so we got pictures of Sam with one of his aunts. She seemed really nice and wanted our address, so that was neat.
(Speaking of riding to the airport… which I just was there a second ago… Were you paying attention? ...Just checking. We either walk or take cabs when we need to go somewhere. We are basically living on one long, skinny strip of land. In many places, you can easily see the water on each side of you. Very, very thin - is what I’m saying. I’m a pathetic ball-player, but I could easily throw a ball from one side of the island to the other in many areas. So, the traveling is mostly along the length of the island, not the width. Make sense? Cabs are everywhere and rides are $1.00 per person. Going all the way to the other end (like to the airport) is $5.00 per person, so it’s very reasonable and easy to get around. )
We go to get the baby’s birth certificate and passport in the morning (the passport was expedited, to be ready that same day), then we spend the rest of the day with our birth mom until it’s time for our immigration appointment at 3:00. That process was very different than it is for Vietnam adoptions. Since everything is dissected so carefully in court, there isn’t much left to go over in the “interview.” Again, the birth mom was asked if she understood everything, and that she made that choice freely and with full understanding. We really weren’t asked anything. We just made sure our documents were in order, and paid our fees. The immigration lady was very easy-going, and the whole thing felt really casual.
Tuesday night we had a really rough night with the boys. I’d been noticing Sam wasn’t feeling well, and he felt feverish here and there- but the scary thing was the goopy, white junk leaking out of his eyes. He would wake up with his poor little eyes matted shut. While trying to keep him happy late Tuesday night, Evan got up and started puking. That boy literally threw up more times than I can count. I’ve never seen someone keep heaving like that in my life, and y’all know how many babies I’ve raised. I’ve seen vomit. I know the flu. This was scary.
Darrell took the baby back to Dr. Two Ball, while I stayed in our room with Evan. Evan is adamant that he does NOT want to go to the Dr. and asks us to please give it a little more time because “he thinks he’s feeling better.” Have you seen that Monty Python movie where the old, half-dead guy is about to be thrown on a wagon of dead bodies, and he goes, “I’m feeling much better. I’d like to go for a walk”? That was Evan. Maybe he was worried (and rightfully so) the doctor would be more concerned with counting his gonads than treating his illness.
Darrell comes back with drops for the baby’s eyes, but that’s it. Nothing for the cough, congestion or fever, even though the Dr. said he may have an upper resp. infection. Crap.
Evan is NOT getting better (at least not to my satisfaction). He looked like a cadaver. He now says death would have been a welcome improvement.
Later that night, we have both boys looked at by a different doctor (from the hospital). She’s a sweetheart and does not ask me about anybody’s balls. I immediately like her for this alone, if for nothing else. She thinks it’s crazy that the baby hasn’t been given antibiotics, so she gives him Amox. and starts treating Evan for parasites, just in case it’s more than a viral thing. She acts like she gives a crap about the boys. Thank God. Now, I really, really like her.
Darrell also went out during the day to make copies of all our immigration docs and get them up to DHL.
Both boys seem to be feeling a little better. We’ve just been kind of hanging out and relaxing today and haven’t really even been out yet. It’s been nice. Our documents are on their way to Honolulu, then the Philippines to be processed and it will take several weeks to get them back. The last two families have been here closer to six weeks. We’re praying for shorter processing time, but preparing to be here a while.
Tomorrow is a big holiday here- Constitution Day. We should be able to get out and get lots of good pics. More later.
Here’s the short clip of Sam I promised:
I’m so in love with this boy. He’s such a happy, smiley little dude. He acts as if he’s known us forever. What a blessing!