Sunday, December 31, 2006

Commonwealth Adoption International


This is my attempt to place a picture on this blog. I am having a heck of a time trying to print my adoption photo album. I put it together, but can't find a place to print the pages. You can see it at Flickr (one of my fave links). This is my daughter at the annual Commonwealth Adoption picnic in Tucson. We are doing our homestudy through them. I actually signed with them for an adoption from Guatemala at the beginning of November. I had been debating back and forth between Kyrgyzstan and Guatemala and decided to go with Guatemala because the travel time was so much shorter. After starting the process, they decided that the Guatemalan government might have a problem with all of my student loans (which are deferred), and advised that I stop the process. Adoption Alliance didn't think I would have that problem in Kyrgyzstan. In hindsight, I am so relieved because I know that my daughter is in Kyrgyzstan somewhere, I feel a much stronger draw to Kyrgyzstan than I felt to Guatemala. Literally 20 minutes after I talked to my caseworker about stopping the Guatemala process, the coordinator from Adoption Alliance called me see if I had any other questions about the program - 3 days later I sent them my application. Everyone at Commonwealth is really great though and their picnic was super fun. My daughter rode this little train about 100 times and she jumped on the moonwalk castle for hours!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Battlestar Galactica

Yes, I really like Battlestar Galactica. My daughter and I used to order pizza on Friday nights and watch "scary space shows". We would watch the stargates and then battlestar galactica. If something started to get scary, she would say "momma - cover my eyes" and I would cover up her eyes. I did that a lot - yes, I know a 2 year old shouldn't be watching a lot of the stuff that happens on the scifi channel but more often then not she would fall asleep sitting next to me on the couch. There was one episode where there was a little blond girl named Casey that Starbuck was told was her daughter. For some reason my daughter really grabbed on to that episode and that character. A couple of days later she told me that her little sister's name was Casey. It is not a glamourous or unusual name - but I like it. Whether my new daughter gets a new name or not will completely depend on her age, if she is older than 1 yo, I think she will keep her name. There is so much in a name, so much history and identity. Names and labels can be powerful. I somehow expect her to have a name that can become Casey as a nickname or KC. The universe can work in crazy ways. Randomly the guy that works at the UPS store I send all of my certified adoption mail from is named Kasey.
My next vacation starts on January 15 and there is an all day marathon of BSG from the fall season - I missed everysingle one of those episodes because it is on crazy late here so I am very excited to begin my vacation with a bunch of mindless tv!

The Life of a Surgery Resident

This blog I really started to blab about my experiences on my way to adopt my new daughter - but as you can see by the name of my blog - my job is a really important part of my life. It has taken an enormous amount of time and energy and 6 years ago my desire to get this job usurped my plan to adopt. I am still in training - as a resident I get paid, but not as much as a fully trained doctor. The ladder to real doctor-ness starts with medical school and bunches of student loans to get through it, then an intern year, a subsequent residency (mine will be 3 years) and then a real job! I am doing a preliminary surgery year in Arizona and will go on to train for 3 years in anesthesiology in Alabama. I am in Arizona now for the sole reason that my parents live here and can help out with my daughter.
I was worried when I first started that I might not have enough time for daughter - the hours are long. I started my first month as a surgery intern with Trauma surgery...I averaged 104 hours a week over that month. I was looking forward to only working 80 hours a week - that is sad. My pumpkin had a tough time that month. I had been home with her all day for almost 2 months so it was quite a change. The benefit to starting with the most time consuming rotation was that every other month seemed easy in comparison. General surgery at the VA and at the UMC was a little friendlier - closer to 80 hours a week. I was lucky enough to do a rotation in the ICU - most interns at this program don't get to do a month in the ICU because the institution policy is that interns can not take call alone in the SICU. That is not the case in most facilities, but I think it is a very wise rule. You learn a lot managing complicated patients, but I know that I would not want my mom or dad or daughter to be an educational experience for a surgery intern!
My experience as a surgery intern has been really great so far and at this program - I can't really speak for any other programs. I feel really lucky that I ended up where I am this year. If anyone has any questions about being a mom and a resident - drop me a line. I have had a difficult time finding like minded women. There is a really great message board called MOMMD, but I feel like I am a little less traditional in my momminess than a lot of the women that post there. It is a great resource though. I suppose I approach momminess from more of a tom boy perspective.

2 am musings on my girls

I am all alone for 3 weeks. My daughter is with her father in New Orleans until January 15th, and I am not sure where my new daughter is or what she is doing. I have been scouring the internet trying to find out all that I can on how she is living, what she is eating, what she is wearing. It is kind of hard, since I don't even know how old she is or where exactly she is coming from. I am working through the Eyes Wide Open workbook and there are some great exercises where you imagine what your child is and will experience during this huge transition. I became obsessed with the food chapter - what a huge difference it will be - there will be no curdled mares milk at my house! I suppose I may have too much time on my hands. I have actually started studying again.
I have been too overworked at work to make time for studying.
My job can be pretty draining - just by virtue of the sheer number of hours I work. It is also emotionally draining to see some of the things I see everyday. Some days are more draining than others I suppose! I am off this weekend - my last weekend off until my vacation January 15th - really my last day off until January 15th. Back to the grind I suppose. My friends at work think I am completely insane for being a single mom in the first place - much less adopting another little pumpkin. I have not gotten any negative comments though. I have read on some other blogs - people getting rude comments or insensitive questions. I have only gotten an occasional you are insane for taking so much on. Every other comment from coworkers, friends, family is that they think it is great. I wonder if I have Angelina Joli to thank for that!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Overwhelming Backyard

I have to make my backyard look inviting and fun for my dossier pictures and I am at a loss! I am not really an backyard person right now. We currently have 3 dogs and the back yard is all their's! They really don't go out there all that much, but they certainly go out there more than I do. When I move to my new house I won't even have a fenced in back yard at first. Once we get it fenced in I am going to make it "an extension of our indoor living space" - thank you HGTV for the lingo! That doesn't help me much now. I suppose I should just get it over with and take the silly pictures and put it all together. I have to get everything done before I start surgical oncology.
It is exciting thinking about when I will get my referral - how old she will be, what her name is - will it be close to the name that my daughter is using to talk about her new sister? I am asking for a referral of a little girl less than 3 years old. My intention was to adopt a little girl around 2 years old so my daughters would be close to the same age. Flexibility is the mainstay of international adoption - so she could be as young as 6 months. I get the impression that there are more younger girls being referred than older and I am really starting to get used to the idea of a baby. I will be excited and happy either way...I am just anxiously awaiting that email with my referral. I am getting closer - but I need to go take that stupid picture of my backyard. I seriously doubt they will change their mind about my worthiness as a parent based on a toy free backyard so I am just going to go do it!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Le Divorce - DIY style

My exhusband and I were married for about 8 1/2 years. Talking about the crazy downward spiral of our marriage is more for a therapy session - when I can someday afford therapy! This post is about the actual divorce. We did it ourselves, which means I downloaded all of the DIY Pima County paperwork from some forms website and filled it all out to the best of my ability. Then we took it to a lawyer who looked over it for $50 buck and put my mind at ease. We filed the first step at the county courthouse. It is funny (certainly not haha) to see the people filing their own paperwork at the courthouse. There were the happy marriage license people (yes I was one of those once), there were the somber divorce people, the panicky got to get my passport done people, and the people that were fighting with the clerks because they were in the wrong place and had waited for about 20 minutes before their turn at the wrong window....thankfully that was not us! I had to go the courthouse 3 times...the first 2 times were 60 days apart to file paperwork.
The third time, my soon to be exhusband came with me for the actual court date to dissolve our marriage. He was here visiting our daughter, so I made hime come with me in case I had filled something out wrong and I needed his signature.
This trip was totally surreal. You go to a court date that is like 2 hours long, you and the other do it yourself-ers are scheduled for the same time. You sign in and then 1 hour later they come out, call your name and lead you all upstairs to the court room. Then you all sit around and watch the rest of the people talk to the judge about the unsalvageability of their marriages. I, of course, was very upset to have failed at my marriage and to be going through a divorce at all. When it was my turn (at the very end, I might add) I cried and was very sad. I might add I was the only person who cried in the court. The surreal part was that all of the other divorcing people were there with their new boyfriends and girlfriends, laughing and having a good time. I got the distinct impression that for some people, the divorce was so they could marry their new significant other. I tried very hard not to be judgemental at all - I didn't know any of their stories. It just seems wrong somehow to divorce your husband or wife so you can be with someone else. We had been separated almost 10 months and completely unable to find any compromise we could both live with.
I suppose all divorces are because something becomes more important than your marriage - whether it is your sanity or a cute new boyfriend is really up to the person divorcing. I know that I see some crazy stuff at work, but most of it is accidental. I also see some of the ugly side of humanity, but I think it would be more depressing to see the ugly side of humanity in court all day. Did I mention I completed my divorce on Friday the 13th.

A Childless Dr. Mommy

So my little goldilocks pumpkin is visiting her father in New Orleans for 3 entire weeks and I just don't know what to do with myself. They left on Christmas - it has been 3 days and I am getting nothing done. It is very depressing to come home to no little pumpking screaming "mamma what are you doing here?" She always says it in such an overdramatic surprised way - it just cracks me up. I guess I am getting something done because I finally started this blog for my new Kyrgyz pumpkin. I have been spending a lot of time watching the DVD's I got for Christmas - Battlestar Gallactica. I just love that darned show. I loved the old one as a kid, but the new one is just so much more! I need to be studying for my next month at work - surgical oncology. There are lots of cancer staging, margins for resection, and cancer subtypes to memorize. I am hoping to be motivated this weekend to commit a lot of that to my ever shrinking memory! I also need to try to make my backyard look kid friendly. My dossier requires a photo album - I have the pictures all taken except for the backyard. We never go out there to ply - so it is a puppy wasteland full of half chewed up plastic dog toys and dead grass - lets here it for the desert. My goal was to take care of it on Tuesday. Miraculously, it has rained the last 2 days and I am hoping to do it tomorrow morning. It is my last picture - then I have to arrange everything and label it. Hearts wide open blog has her photo album up on flickr - it is a tough act to follow!

The Paper Chase

Yes, Everyone calls it the paper chase. Where you frantically run around and try to put together an amalgam of notarized, certified papers from all over the US. Birth certificates, marriage licenses (from which I was spared), employment verifications, promises to educate, register and provide health care to you kids. It starts with a homestudy. Anyone who is facing the homestudy visit for the first time shakes in terror with the image of white gloves on the tops of refrigerators, and stern grey haired women judging your choice of dishware. Preparing for it was a nightmare. I just made the appointment and gave myself 5 days to get ready for it. Why give myself too long to anticipate and agonize over it? My social worker was so nice, a Kansas girl like myself. After the first (anxiety ridden) meeting I have really looked forward to all of our other meetings. What a great resource. She works with an agency in town (that I am not using for my actual adoption) and has done lots of international adoption homestudies although this is her first Kyrgyzstan adoption. My advice for the homestudy is to trust that your social worker will see you for the wonderfull person you are. Don't stress out and don't try to hide anything. If you feel any kind of antagonism from your social worker - get a new one FAST! I started my homestudy on November 2, but was not able to get my fingerprints done for my background check until November 28th or 29th. So now I am waiting for my stinking background check.
After getting the birth certificate, marriage license, divorce decree, financial statement (notarized), doctor's health form (and no I couldn't just do my own!), and 3 letters of reference, I am waiting for my background check. I signed with my agency on November 9th and filled out the primary application, then the formal application. Although they have cashed my big old ckeck, I am not officially a client until they get my home study. I did get my list of dossier requirements the third week of November, got organized and knocked almost all of them out before Christmas. I am waiting on my 2006 W-2's which I can print from the internet on January 8th. Hopefully my background check will be done by then! My goal is to walk into the AZ Secretary of State's Office on January 15th (the first day of my next vacation), get my dossier certified and mail that baby off. Another Kyrgyzstan blogger called that step the start of the 3rd trimester....I can't wait!
Advice for the Paper chase
1. Check out the assistant stork for a list of phone numbers of vital statistic offices
2. Get organized with lists, postits - I used large manilla envelopes with one for things to be notarized, things to be completed, and completed
3. Find a nice mobile notary with a commision expiration more than 18 months away
4. Remember to get at least 2 original copies of everything
5. It was way easier than I thought it was going to be - so don't stress out - you will get it all done!

Why Kyrgyzstan?

Originally I had decided on Kazakhstan 6 years ago. Since then the rules have changed a little bit - you need to be in country either 40 days or 2 trips. You also have to travel blind for the most part and then find your child while you are there. The idea of walking into an orphanage and picking out a child scares me. I am not exactly sure why it does. That being said - the main reason is really the travel time necessary for completing an adoption there. In the back of my mind I still want to adopt from there and I may just do that in 5 or 6 more years when I am making real doctor money! I digress! As I was re-educating myself on international adoptions and Kazakhstan I came across the information on Kyrgyzstan - I think it might have been on the Frank Foundation website. It caught my interest so I used the almighty power of Google to research all of the agencies active in Kyrgyzstan. I am a one trip kind of girl, so that limited me to Christian World Adoption and Adoption Alliance. I chose Adoption Alliance because they had completed more adoptions in Kyrgyzstan and had experience with referrals whereas CWA had only done waiting child adoptions. I get the feeling that Adoption Options has completed the most Kyrgyzstan adoptions of all the agencies working there, but they are a 2 trip plan.
So a single 10 day - 2 week trip, a relatively short referral time (when I started the process it was 1 week to 2 months), and a super cute ethnic mix of turkish, mongol, Kazakh. Check out the adorable pictures on the golden road samarqand link! Once I decided on Kyrgyzstan, I told a friend at work and he has two good friends that were peace corp volunteers there. There is a lot of peace corp action in Kyrgyzstan! Sometimes it is a small world!

Introduction

6 years ago I made the decision to start an international adoption. I started out with the idea of China - I was too young at the time so I started looking at countries around China and found Kazakhstan. I found a homestudy agency and made an appointment and 2 days before my appointment decided to quit my job and go to medical school. So I canceled my homestudy and off to Arizona I went to become a doctor. I think I could probably yadda yadda yadda my 4 years in medical school. Some important things happened - I truly discovered who I am - I was born to be a doctor, I am so happy doing what I do. Although I wish I was only doing it 50 - 60 hours a week! I gave birth to an awesome little pumpkin, and my marriage of 8 years dissolved. That was really kind of sad and definitely worthy of its own post. Now 7 months into my residency, 4 months into my single motherness I am buying my first house all by myself and finishing up my dossier for my long awaited international adoption! This blog is designed to be a documentation of my journey to my new little pumpkin.

Karyn Purvis Insights and Gifts - sharing power