Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"What a long, strange trip it's been"

In retrospect, we may have tried to do too much in too short a time.
Last Tuesday the van clan woke up at the crack of dawn and headed west to Los Angeles. Paul did exceptionally well on the plane (as compared to last year - yikes!) and was easily bribed to sleep by the lure of Uncle's swimming pool. We spent a fun-filled three days with my brother & his family. They recently welcomed a forth boy to their brood and he is just as cute (if not cuter) than the other three.Paul loved playing with his cousins and meeting the new baby. We swam in the pool, spent a day letting the boys run and jump at an indoor playground, and hung out in Santa Monica. Paul braved several of the rides on the pier and had a blast running in and out of the waves. The visit was over much too quickly. The day we left, one of my nephews sadly asked, "Aunt Sandi, can Paul stay for nine days?"
Friday morning we started on the longest road trip ever (since crossing the country of course) up the coast of California. When I was ten my family traveled along Route 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles and I remember it being breathtakingly beautiful and white knuckle scary. I remember sitting in the back seat between my sister and grandmother while my father took the windy roads at way too fast a speed, spending most of the time plotting how I was going to escape when the car went careening off the hill. I had recounted this story to my lovely husband (probably more times than once) and knowing that I have a flair for the dramatic, he wanted to see just how scary it really was. So we drove. And drove. We stopped along the way for a picnic lunch and enjoyed the cool ocean breeze (it had been 100+ in LA) before heading up the mountain. As we began the scary, windy, cliff-hanging part of the journey, CJ remarked at how beautiful it was and how the decision to come this way was well worth the extra driving time. About an hour later and not even halfway through the mountain he added, "Ok, I've seen it. Is is over yet?" Unfortunately at that point we were completely committed.
Paul did remarkably well. I kept him happy with snacks and random trinkets I had picked up before the trip. That and countless renditions of The Three Billy Goats Gruff. He struggled to fall asleep at first due to the constant back and forth motion of the car, but when he cried we simply took him out into the ocean air and looked for seals, which he was happy to search for with his new binoculars.
As we approached the dinner hour we set out for Santa Cruz, where one of CJ's cousins has a cottage. We were making great time until getting stuck in random traffic on Route 1, when Paul announced, "I have to go pee." Happily there was a fruit stand on the side of the road with a bathroom. I bought some local fruit as a thank you and drooled over the enormous artichokes priced 10 for $1. TEN FOR ONE DOLLAR! They were growing on the side of the road next to the stand. Can't get more local than that. However I passed on the great deal and chose strawberries instead as they were much easier to munch on in the car. Sigh.
In Santa Cruz we visited the famous pier and strolled on the beach. Then it was off to Santa Rosa to visit with our good friends from the Carl Vinson (CJ's ship in Washington). We had a great time catching up and wished that we lived closer and could visit more often. Perhaps someday we will return to the west coast to set up shop once again (preferably in the Northwest of course - I miss all that green!)
On Saturday night we attended the wedding celebration of our friend Shawn. Shawn and CJ went to college together, but they did not become friends until SWOS (Surface Warfare Officer's School) in Rhode Island. It was the first summer of Navy life and the summer we got engaged. We had tons of fun sailing and exploring the area. Shawn was a huge influence on CJ at the time, opening him up to some crazy experiences. When he invited us to celebrate his wedding (he was married right before being deployed and hadn't yet celebrated with family and friends) we knew we couldn't miss it. The wedding was a costume party, and although dressed much too lightly for the cold wine country night, we had a blast. On our last day in California, we traveled down to San Francisco and did the tourist thing -pictures at the Golden Gate Bridge, chocolate at Ghirardelli Square and shopping at Fisherman's Wharf. All in all, it was an exhausting but fun trip. Now it is on to planning next year's journey: to Greece in celebration of our 10 year anniversary.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It is better to not know and hope, than to know and mope

This past weekend we took P to a picnic held by a local adoption support group. We had gone to two other events but still hadn't really made any connections with other families and wanted to keep trying. The day sounded like it would be a blast, it was being held at a local beach and included a cookout and sandcastle building contest. Unfortunately the weather was terrible. The sky opened up as we were driving out there, and it continued to pour most of the afternoon. When the rain finally stopped, the wind picked up and we all sat shivering under the shelter. Eventually we braved the elements long enough to take P down to the beach. He enjoyed digging in the wet sand and building sandcastles. (Hey, at least the rain was good for creating excellent packing sand!) We did manage to meet a few other families and share some nice conversation, but sadly no numbers were exchanged and the next event may be months away. I spoke to a woman whose daughter is a year younger than P and we talked about our experiences and how ridiculous the wait times have become. I did not have any recent information from our agency and told her we were hoping for a referral this summer.
Back at home I emailed our agency and asked for an update. Today I received sad news. Because no children were released for adoption in the early part of '09, there will be no referrals in July or August. (The children are required to wait five months for domestic placement before becoming eligible for international placement). My heart is breaking right now. I had really hoped we would hear in the next few months and could start planning for our son/daughter. I have been upgrading P's room with new furniture (new to him at least - it's all refurbished) in order to shift his toddler things into the baby's room. CJ said it was too early to be getting ready, but I needed to feel like we were moving forward. It feels like we have been waiting forever already and now we are faced with three+ more months, not even counting the wait for him/her to come home. (the social worker said the wait time from referral to homecoming is also increasing, putting us in Spring '10 at the earliest) I know that in the end we will add another child to our family and he/she will be the one who was meant to be with us, but that doesn't make this news any easier to swallow.