Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Life Goes On

Here is a mega-update on our lives, with some instances of parallelism.


My sister and brother-in-law came over for Easter and brought our nephew and niece over.  We planned and executed an Easter Egg hunt, and the little guy may have over indulged before supper.  It became a battle of epic proportions to keep him seated at the table, and like a chump I didn't have a camera on hand for any of it.  Yuliya got a hair cut from my sister, who was a trained hair professional in another life.  

Short story even shorter, we had a great time with family.  



At some point I'm going to create a page to show everything we have done/are doing to our house.  That day is not today.

Renovations continue at breakneck pace on Yuliya's mom's room.  April 12th was the big day, and so far we  have the room drywalled, and still need to do painting, moldings, baseboards, and flooring.  One major frustration was doing some wiring, for which we needed to drill through an exterior brick wall that was drywalled on both sides with framing.  We didn't have a masonry bit long enough for the task, so I used a half-inch channeling bit, which worked just fine until it hit a steel plate in a brick, which makes no sense at all to me.  We had to pause the project until stores opened a day later, go out and get the correct metal bit, which went through in exactly one second, then complete with the channeling bit.  Things like this is what gives me grey hair.

A major success was rebuilding the window frame and installing a window ourselves and DIYing up a decent brickmold.  The great thing about renovations and DIY is the tangible money saved.  For instance, we built our own deck last year.  The price tag was $3000 for materials, but labour would have been another $5000 on top of that.  The window was $200, and installation would have been another $350.  A penny saved and all that.  What this has taught us is that a lot of carpentry is not very difficult, and if you take the time to plan the project and do your homework, it will not be drastically different from a pro doing it.  I suppose like so many things in our society, people pay for the convenience.  We would rather invest some blood, sweat, and occasionally tears and reap the full returns.  In this case, the lumber yard where we got the materials acknowledged our efforts in a contest for DIYers, to the tune of a $500 gift card.

It helps that I have a summer of experience in framing, and another summer in concrete.  I did a third summer building swimming pools, but I'm not sure we're up for that yet - or that our yard is big enough for one worth building.  The deck is about half the size of our first apartment, so maybe we'll put a hot tub on it.  Yuliya is handy as well - she replaced cabinets in her mother's apartment, did plumbing as well, and is meticulous in her measurements and cutting.  I'm less of a finishing carpenter, so it's a good match.

Me lift heavy things, she cut good. *grunt*

Sorry, couldn't help myself.

Since initially penning this entry, work has paused.  Yuliya's mother arrived, and until she is fully switched over to our schedule, we won't be working on the room.  Something about drilling and hammering not being conducive to sleep.

Which brings me to...

Yuliya's Mom

Yuliya's mother is here!  As of April 12th, actually.  After an eleven hour train ride from Kharkiv to Kyiv, then a three hour flight to Warsaw, followed by a nine hour flight to Toronto, and another two hour flight to Winnipeg, she is here, for real.  Also, forever.

This has been several years in the making just on paperwork alone, and we've seen major changes to the Canadian immigration process for parents (in another brilliant move by the gov't, which costs us a totally unnecessary $1500 a year on emergency-only health insurance), an airline bankruptcy that left us with worthless tickets, and the fact that Yuliya's mother has never travelled anywhere but on train, and never outside Ukraine.  It was an adventure for her - now that she's here, it will be an adventure for us.

She's only been with us for a couple of days, this is her first week in Canada.  Her first impression was of stepping out of the terminal into a characteristic MB evening of -10 in April with 50km/h winds.  When she left Kharkiv it was 18c and sunny.  So she hasn't been outside much, but all the good fishing starts end of May, and we're hoping it warms up by then.

As a tangent, the Red River at Lockport is a world-class channel cat fishery, and is about a 25min drive north.  From a boat you can pull in monster catfish all day, and late May through early June you can get them from the river banks as well.  Just make sure you get some heavy line, and fat nightcrawlers.  There's another half dozen species in large number as well, and it makes a nice early Sunday morning.  But I digress.

The whole experience thus far has been an absolute best case scenario, and this is of course the honeymoon period.  She loves everything we cook, finds her bed comfy, loves the cats, and cleans the house like she's being paid for it.  The kitchen was so clean yesterday that I felt a twinge of guilt making a salad for supper.  When it's clean, I feel like I should avoid it and leave it in it's undisturbed, pristine state.

It's not easy, but it is rewarding.  Yuliya had not seen her in six years, and commented that it's like a stranger has moved in with us - but in a matter of days they are becoming chatty and familiar again.  I tell you now, I am going to have to learn me some Russian, because English is now the second language of the household.


Give me the DRC or give me...another option

We got word yesterday from Adoption Options that CFS had just advised that a DRC moratorium was imminent.  Obviously, this is disappointing for us, and we self medicated that evening with a nice bottle of port.

Having put a week between the announcement and now, I can say that we are extremely grateful for the timing as it worked out.  Yuliya found another Canadian DRC blog which stated that travel to the DRC is becoming difficult, as the DRC embassy is flexing its muscles and conducting its own investigation of the legitimacy of the adoption before issuing entry visas.

So we're looking at another option, and are very hopeful after some intensive research.  Not gonna say more yet about where or through who, because I don't want to jinx it.  Magical thinking, yes - and extremely useful in creating a false sense of control over these events.  Just gonna plow on ahead with the homestudy come what may.


Distraught wives say the cutest things...

Here is an email which I received at work from Yuliya, the day after we got the news.

At lunch, I went to Superstore, and Lindt Easter eggs were on sale. So I bought a box for $4 instead of $8. There are Hazelnut, Milk chocolate, and dark chocolate eggs. I ate two, but (DON”T PANICK!) each only has 110 calories, so, I did not eat too much (yet).
Just if you are wondering, I am trying to eat away my sorrow (of not being able to adopt from DRC). Also, I am seriously considering adopting a chocolate egg (diaper changes could be problematic). It’s cheaper, plus I can have it now, and pour all my love into it, instead of collecting excess love into storage bins, piling them up in the basement, and waiting for four years for governments to decide that a starving orphaned child deserves a loving, safe, forever home.

Seriously though, is there not a person/agency in Canada who would know anything about this???

I might consider posting the above on our blog. That’ll show them character.
 She's got character in spades alright.

I'm feeling like something nice and fluffy for the next entry, so stay tuned for a blog about our cats with pictures.  Be warned now, there will be cuteness surpassing all understanding.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Timing Is Everything

I promise that I'm still blogging. Blog blog blog.  See, it's true.

Before getting down to the nuts 'n bolts of this adoption blog, I just wanted to say that our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by today's attack in Boston.  I think that the people who commit these types of cowardly acts are fundamentally misunderstanding the nature of Americans, and will probably learn the error of their ways in the coming days.  It's a thought I relish - to be clear I'm not bloodthirsty, but I am not above gloating when suffering by innocents is repaid in kind upon the guilty.  One of my many flaws.

I digress though, it has been a hectic time, and we've been running in a few directions at once - further entries in the next week will shed some light on them.  In terms of our potential adoption of a sibling group from the DRC, things are not looking so good.  

There have been rumors floating around that Canada will impose a moratorium on adoptions from the DRC, which we have been duly investigating.  Several Canadian blogs in Alberta, BC, and Saskatchewan have all indicated that their adoption agency was advising not to start the process for a DRC adoption due to an ongoing gov't inquiry.  After contacting CHOICES in BC, we were informed that UNICEF and International Social Services were the best places to get information on this situation.  A nice chat with UNICEF followed, where I was told in absolute terms that they had nothing to do with any ongoing inquiry, are not involved in writing policy, and have never been asked to study the possibility of a moratorium on international adoptions.  ISS never got back to me, which makes sense in retrospect, because if they did know it was coming, they could not tell me before the official press release.

Speaking of which, there hasn't been one.  This in and of itself is not surprising, because our current wonderful gov't is well known for rolling back access to information and being the least transparent or accountable group of nitwits to darken parliament.  So I may not be voting Conservative in the next election, which cannot come soon enough.  What is disturbing about this is that literally no one in any level of gov't we spoke to had any idea a moratorium was coming down, until it did, and there was still no real announcement, it just happened.  Continuing this rare (I promise) political rant, this bloody gov't is just about the worst fiscal managers we've seen, and are busy cutting services on a misguided and misconceived attempt to make 'small government'.  I can't really give a good analogy for our American readers, but the current gov't falls to the left of Obama (he's not really a leftist, except in the USA),  with touches of Ron Paul libertarian leanings, and a solid Romney level love affair with the national corporate elite.  Deep breaths...  

That leaves us high and dry, so it may have been just a little providential that we made the switch from CFS to AO, and thereby delayed our adoption plans a couple of months.  Without those months, we would likely have passed on a $12,000 cheque to LBB, without being able to continue with the adoption itself.  However painful, it's a bullet dodged - though no matter where we go from here it will add two more years to our timeline.

In the words of Yuliya: 
"That really sucks."