Monday, March 31, 2014

Disturbing Trends - Kenya adoption update

I really don't even know how to begin. Quite frankly, I am feeling like this program, that is obviously so near and dear to my heart, is on an inevitable track to derailment.

Please know that everything I am going to speaking about below is here-say, and my thoughts and opinions. It has not been formally or officially communicated or published by the NAC.

I have always refrained from posting 'here-say' here, and much of my information comes days, and sometimes weeks from me hearing it because I want to validate it before posting. I know how emotional this journey is, and I really don't want to add unnecessary concern or stress. However, it is also a juggling act for me as I know most of the information in adoption is not published or official, but rather information gained in our adoption networks, and important to our journeys.

As you all know, we are seeing some very disturbing trends since the new NAC committee has been formed.

We have heard about 3 rejections this year alone, and I believe there is more. My heart goes out to these families. This is a new trend. I myself, have not heard of families being rejected prior to this.

If we look at the reasons that were given for the rejections, in addition to comments that were made by the CD representatives at the US adoption meeting I referred to in my last post, in addition to the experience of others in country, and of our local agencies, there is too much evidence to support the following synopsis.

  • Childless couples with infertility have priority
  • Couples with NO fertility issues are not a priority and may be rejected
  • Adopting a third child is not favorable and also may be rejected
  • Having previously adopted from another country is not favorable
There have been some very random statement and actions that simply indicate the NAC is unpredictable and may be acting out against international adoption in general, as many have indicated for months now. 

Please visit JoEllen's blog, where she posted a recent memo from her local agency, that also indicates the above.

Key points copied below:

- NAC meets once a month, as previously

- Max 10 applications for inter-country adoption is approved per meeting
- Childless couples have priority
- NO to adopt a third child
- Infertility certificates shall be included in the dossier . The reason for adoption must be clear. NAC wants to understand why you want to adopt a child from Kenya, and if one can smoothly get biological children, they are not a priority.
- An update to the consent investigation (home study) is required if the investigation is over a year old when the file is sent to Kenya
Waiting times at the NAC
With the current situation it is very difficult to know how long our applicants must wait before NAC can get an answer. NAC has many applications waiting for answers and they have not yet had time to go through all the applications received from October 2013 onwards.

Onwards and upwards. If you already have a dossier submitted and fall into one of these unfavorable categories, keep your chin up and stay positive. Some families in these situations are still being approved, whereas others are not. 

If you have not submitted your dossier and fall into one of these categories, I suggest you consider the risk upon entering this program. Much of it simply feels like a crap shoot...

Personally, I would be investigating Zambia adoption. I think this it is a program worth keeping tabs on.

At the end of the day, I am very sad. I'm sad for all of you. I am sad for the orphaned children of Kenya who are being raised in orphanages instead of families. Selfishly, I am sad for my daughter knowing the impact this will have on the growth of our Canadian Kenyan adoption community.

My heart sinks knowing, had we waiting one more year, we may not have been approved, as we fall under both unfavorable categories of having no fertility issues, and having 2 children. I assure you that we did our best to defend our position while in country in a way that would hopefully bring forth an understanding of how our culture differs in our acceptance of adoption. In the end however, the program is being governed by new people now. Perhaps they are simply exercising their power, and hopefully they will soften and come to a greater understanding of international adoption within time.

I think it's important to stress to all those in process to please proceed with care and respect. You are representing every international adopter that comes behind you. You have an obligation to conduct yourselves in manner that leaves the officials with a good impression. Wear your suit and tie, skirts/dresses, over-dress your children on court day, be sure to care for their hair (no natural fros or dreads), be polite and respectful and try to convey as best possible, your desire and ability to love a child who not only adopted, but also from a different race/culture. 

2 of our 4 adopted Kenyan Canadians. So thankful for them in our lives.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Kenya Adoption Update - Backlog

Unfortunately, many times in the course of our adoption journeys we are told many things that simply don't happen. Policies change, programs change and people simply change their minds. We have to remember that we cannot project our home country service standards (which are not without their own share of problems) to the bureaucracy of the countries we adopt from. Hence, some of the highs and lows that make up some of the bumps in this roller coaster ride.

The NAC did not meet in the beginning of March as was slated. They have decided to resume their regular 'monthly' meetings and not hold an extra meeting per month. March's meeting was scheduled for today, the 25th. We have not yet had confirmation that it did indeed take place. (*EDIT - The meeting took place March 18th.)

Last week, on the 20th, there was a US embassy meeting on adoption with two members from the Children's Department in attendance. They said the NAC IS still seeing US applications and there is a backlog of  approximately 40 total applications (from all countries). They confirmed they are seeing 10 cases each month.

This leads me to believe that there is at least a 6 month backlog for those who submit their dossiers from this point forward.

There are quite a few families with dossiers submitted between Sept/Nov 13 that have still not been seen.

My thoughts are with those of you who are still in waiting... Maybe this will provide you some comfort, and I'm sure a tear or two. Hang in there you all - it will happen!!

Post Placement Report #3

43 months

Celebrating 9 months in Canada!

The largest change we saw this term, was her growth. Literally flying out of size 4, into a 5. I am pretty certain the absence of parasites is the cause of this growth spurt.

She is now rocking the scales out 38.6 lbs and 40.5 inches, reaching a percentile of 86% in both height and weight! Did I mention her shoe size is 11!?

Her punctuating is improving and her vocabulary growing every day. The word of the week is 'Delicious!'

She has also found her independence, wanting to do almost everything by herself. Butter her toast, walk downstairs, up a hill etc. without a hand, getting dressed...  "I do it Mommy!'

She is also breaking free of her shyness. She now greets people with a 'Hello', or 'Bye', and very rarely buries her head into my leg (hip now!) anymore. The restoration crew that has been working on our house, has been getting a kick out of her. They can't believe how talkative and energetic she is. I explained that this is all new, although I don't think they believed it for a second!

Pictures from the last few months. (Some new ones, and some old ones from FB for those of you are not FB members.)

Ladybug painting

Zahra with 'B'.

First time skating!

Crafting machine at Strong Start

Mommy allowing me to jump on the couch.

Fashion/weather conflict - caught in the snow.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Whiskey and Gold

This is a Leprechaun Trap 

I realize not every child is aware that the Leprechaun has a hankering for Irish Whiskey.
But, according to my children, they love it almost as much as they love the gold.
The signs read 'Have some Whisky', and 'Free Gold'.
What Leprechaun could resist?
Any smart Leprechaun would follow the trail of pennies, err.. gold, catch whiff of the whiskey (not yet there, as we don't have any left in the house. Darn Leprechauns!), sight of the gold and would sprint across the top of the box, to where he will meet his demise, fall into a hole and get stuck to the sticky tape at the bottom!
Today is the first day of spring break and as you can see, the kids are enjoying themselves. We are looking forward to 2 weeks of sleeping in, pool time and fun projects.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


This week has been a little chaotic due to a flood we had in our house on Saturday.

Unfortunately, it has resulted in damages to our recently renovated laundry room and kitchen. Why not in the bedrooms, where the carpet desperately needs replacing, or the living room where the flooring is tired? No, we get damage in places that inconvenience us the most and don't need fixing up. (Just to aggravate the situation I'm saying...)

So while we are living in the chaos of a home that is really upside down, it is all too easy to get depressed, annoyed or frustrated by the fallout implications of this, and our daily living situation.

Dining Room
Laundry Room

For the most part, we are just going with the flow, but at the end of many nights, we fall back on a bowl of ice cream or glass of wine, to somehow pacify the situation. Even Dan, who is the forever optimistic, has been caught saying, 'No good deed goes unpunished.'

So while it's a slippery slope down to the pit of despair, we keep reminding ourselves that these are first world problems. Insurance, washing machines, ovens, kitchen sinks, dishwashers etc., all first world luxuries that we take for granted.

We try to take things in our stride, reminding ourselves of the good, trying not to dwell on the bad.

Today, I came across the 100 Happy Day Challenge, which I thought could really help me look at the positives in our lives, the big things I take for granted, and the small things that I often overlook.

The challenge is simple. Sign up, and submit a photo every day of something that makes you happy. Photos are submitted through hashtags via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. At the end of the challenge, you can receive a book of your 100 happy moments.

People successfully completing the challenge claimed to:
 - Start noticing what makes them happy every day;
 - Be in a better mood every day;
 - Start receiving more compliments from other people;
 - Realize how lucky they are to have the life they have;
 - Become more optimistic;
 - Fall in love during the challenge.

I challenge you to join me. 

I will be submitting photos via my personal Facebook page, but I will be making the posts public. Feel free to follow my 100 Happy Days, and if your interested in accepting this challenge, please shoot me a message, or leave a comment so I can follow your Happy Days as well! 

Day #1

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Love of a Child

A heartwarming piece on a Canadian woman who fought the Kenyan legal system to adopt her Kenyan son, 7 years ago.

I really enjoyed this piece, but found it unfortunate that it ended without giving a nod to the current international adoption situation in Kenya. It would have been a great way to raise awareness about this great adoption program available to Canadians, and dispel any presumptions viewers may have after watching this. IE. International adopters cannot pre-identify their child as per Hague rules, and they cannot adopt a child under 12 months as per Kenyan policy. 

Kenyan children are few and far between in the adoption community here in Canada, so we are excited to learn we have one more! 

I have watched this a couple times now, taking in all the sights and sounds, fondly missing our home away from home. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Black Beauty

I'm sure you all know Lupita Nyong'o, a Kenyan actress who just won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in her role of Patsy in 12 Years a Slave?

If not, it's time to put her on your radar. This young woman is not only an amazing inspiration to women around the world, but an incredible role model for our Kenyan daughters and African daughters in general.

Lupita recently gave an acceptance speech on Beauty at the 7th annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon that left the audience speechless. 

A must watch. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Perfected Pout

She has perfected the 'Pout' ladies and gentlemen! 

In all fairness, I don't think she was feeling well. Her entire morning seemed off. 
This is not normal behaviour for her, and she was SO dramatic about it, of course I had to take photos! 
(Secretly though, she thought I was texting.)

What is this all about? 
She didn't want to listen to the playgroup rules and hold Mommy's hand down the stairs to go to the library. 

My reaction?
'That's fine. We will wait here until you decide you want to follow the rules.'

Her Response?
As seen above. Only she kept doing the 'Huff', and dramatically changing positions, and forcefully crossing her arms.

She played this game for a couple of minutes, and then tested me further by attempting to go down the stairs by herself. That resulted in me lifting her up and carrying her back to the playroom, losing her library privilege. Not saying a word, I quietly placed her on my lap and she had a little cry/cuddle until she got distracted and got up to play.

She was sad at the end of the day that she didn't have any books to leave with, and at this point we discussed why, and how we could correct it for next time. 

I love easy, pivotal parenting moments like this. 
No skin off my teeth to miss out on library, but a great opportunity to teach a lesson in listening and consequences in a way that will have great impact on her, as she really enjoys library. 

I don't think it will happen again.