I had some dreams ... they were klowns in my koffee.

(With apologies to Carly Simon)

This is my journey through job transition from a toxic environment to a better life. Join me for a few thoughts and a few laughs along the way.
What are "klowns in my koffee"? They are the factors large and small that make you less than you are. A "klown" can be a grossly incompetent boss,
a short-sighted policy or a moronic coworker. They won't kill you, at least not immediately, but they abrade the soul
as you scrape past them to get through the day. Sometimes it's best to dump them out of the cup.


Day 59 - Kazakhstan Part 2

Every Sunday, this blog will describe our life-changing trip to Kazakhstan in 2005 to adopt our two youngest children. While some of our friends and family have seen a few of the pictures, we've never put it all together in an organized format. One of the reasons is that I hesitate to subject others to a 21st century version of the endless slideshow of vacation photos harking to some relative's visit and a lost evening of my childhood. Still, the story must be told before details are lost since this is my children's unique birthright. When we get to the end of the story, I'll edit the posts together into an extended and separate blog page and then have it printed by one of the blog-to-book(let) services for my kids. For people with less interest, these posts will be easy to identify and avoid.


Adoption can be an arduous process, both emotionally and physically. If the adoption decision has been made to create a family as a result of infertility, there are multiple emotional issues to work through. It is necessary to let go of one mental image, complete with all the steps of mourning, before you can productively move on to create a new mental image and direction. Close door, open window. In our case, we had started down the path of infertility treatments to counter physical problems that we both had and then simply stopped one day and wondered what the hell we were doing. Examinations, pills, shots, samples -- none of it really felt right or like it was going on the correct path.

As Americans, we have this "Rocky" complex that says that the winner is the one who wants it the most, who has put the most time in; we resent a winner who doesn't try very hard but has a natural talent. It seems unamerican somehow. Being infertile is a challenge that can't be overcome by trying harder. That's not even a joke statement or double entendre. Some infertile people mention feeling that their bodies have betrayed them. It's a good preparation for middle age -- and that IS a joke statement.

Adoption was an option that gradually made more and more sense to us. It was empowering to go from a situation where one has minimal control to one where it seemed at the time that there was quite a lot of choice.

A few years ago, it was common for international adoption agencies to post pictures and information about available children. Due to egregious abuses by middlepersons of all stripe, a number of countries negotiated the Hague Convention, more explicitly the "Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption", which viewed this practice as a form of commoditization and human trafficking. As countries ratified the Convention one by one, the photolistings disappeared and are now a rarity. At the time, however, we spent evenings looking at the listings which showed available children both within the United States and throughout the world.

We had an acquaintance who was pursuing domestic adoption. He and his wife had to put together an ad with pictures of themselves and answers to a series of interview questions as required by their agency. This information was filed into a book to be reviewed by pregnant women. Month after month, the couple was not selected, beaten out by younger, more photogenic, higher profile couples. We didn't think that we would do any better than they did and somehow international adoption seemed to move to the forefront of the strategy.

Some countries do not permit international adoptions and those that do establish controls of all types. These controls may include restrictions on age, income, marital status, sexual orientation, length of marriage, physical health, mental health, weight, criminal background, whether a trip to the country is required and, if so, for how long. We went through the list of countries and crossed out those where we did not meet the criteria. The rules change constantly so this becomes a moving target.

We went to seminars given by local adoptions agencies. We had lunch with coworkers who had adopted internationally and were blown away with the generosity of time and candid information that these people chose to share with us. The process was overwhelming, we were swimming in information, and didn't know where to start.

Of all the countries in the world, Kazakhstan was at the time the one that was most expensive from which to adopt and which imposed the longest in-country stay requirement. We kidded that, though we met all the requirements that the country imposed, we should stay away from those adoption agencies since the logistics of the finances and travel would be nearly impossible.

Fate is a fan of irony.

My daughter was fifteen at the time and was active in and supportive of this project. We were looking at photolistings one night. There was a particular one that caught my eye and that I returned to it time after time. The photo showed a serious toddler boy with chubby cheeks. The written description started, "This chunky little fellow ..." There was an accompanying photo that showed the child wearing a little vest playing with brightly colored toys, the same direct expression as he faced the camera with unsmiling determination. My daughter commented that she had seen a photo of a child that we should look at. In true melodramatic fashion, it was the identical child. I showed the web page with its pictures of different children to my husband. He often agonizes and dithers over choices. He perused the page quickly and then pointed. "What about that little boy?" And, just like that, we were decided.

The next day, I contacted the agency that had posted the listing and was told that he was in Kazakhstan. Cue Fate laughing.

While in theory, a child who is available for adoption should be a kind of free agent and one ought to be able to work with any adoption agency who is licensed in both countries. In real life, the path to the child is through the agency who is representing the child in the listing and the road is cluttered with the politics, contacts and payments of all kinds. It may not coordinate with our American sense of how things should be done, but other countries do not understand and do not give a damn about our opinion of their internal processes. In the US, a practice would be bribery that is considered the normal way of getting things done elsewhere. It feels wrong but that's absolutely the way it works.

We wanted a nice local adoption agency who would hold our hands through all the endless paperwork and multiple process steps. We got Tree of Life Adoption Center in Portland, Oregon. Fate giggled.

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