In one week, Bee and I and two of our best friends are heading into DC to take part in the annual Kaypi Peru Festival at the National Museum of the American Indian.  Conveniently, all four of us have the same weekday off next week, so I’m considering it meant-to-be.

From what we’ve read, we can expect to enjoy dancing, music, crafts, food and drink, lectures, films, and photo exhibits that all celebrate the many different indigenous peoples of Peru.  I’m so excited to be able to explore more about our children’s homeland, and so lucky to live close enough to a city that gives us access to resources like this.  So excited!

At long last, the USCIS has approved our I800-A application, so we can now move forward in the adoption process.  When I checked the mail on Saturday, my neighbors were all treated to the dazzling sight of a short bespectacled lady in a taekwondo uniform jumping up and down and shrieking in her driveway.  You’re welcome, neighbors.

Next up?  We take all of our dossier documents to the apostille in Annapolis to be certified and we then send them all off to our placement agency, Villa Hope, to be translated and forwarded on to the Peruvian government.  Once the dossier has landed in Peru, the government officials down there will review our case and decide whether to approve us as adoptive parents, and they will then help to match us with our children.

We’re just one step closer, but it’s a REALLY big step.

Through the combined efforts of t-shirt and coffee sales, direct donations, online and in-person yard sales, and our recent Pampered Chef show, Bee and I thrilled to announce that we have PASSED our fundraising goal.

We were hoping that we might be able to raise $5000, and we just clocked in at $5071 in just one year of efforts.  We’re blown away by everyone’s help and generosity, and we are happy to take a break from fundraising now.  The yardsaling, especially, was a lot of work!

Now, besides my obsessive mailbox stalking (come on, USCIS!), I’m switching my efforts into applying for adoption grants, which has been quite a process so far.  I began my part-time hours this week, so I have some more time to work on putting my applications together.  Hopefully something will come from it!

Asker fernclouds Asks:
I don't know how much Spanish you already know, but Duolingo could potentially be useful! It's not really the best for my personal learning techniques, but it does teach you a lot of vocab and grammar for free. I've been using it for Portuguese, but I use it to brush up on Spanish sometimes.
bringinghomebebe bringinghomebebe Said:

Thanks for the tip!  I haven’t heard of Duolingo before, but I’ll definitely take a look.  So far, I have been using a combination of Pimsleur CDs and my library’s Mango Languages database.  (This mostly seems to result in me chattering to myself in Spanish while I’m driving and running errands!)

Nobody is expecting you to be the perfect transracially adoptive parent, and you absolutely cannot do it alone. It truly takes a village to raise a child who has been adopted transracially. It is important to accept the things you do not know about my race and culture of origin. Rather than seeing that lack of knowledge as a shortcoming or failure, try to view it as an opportunity to learn with me.

My latest talisman, love and Peru worn close to my heart.

Purchased from Change Makes Cents.

Wo Ai Ni Mommy is a documentary that aired on PBS a few years ago, and I was recently able to track down a copy through interlibrary loan.  Overall, Bee and I agree that we are glad that we saw it even though we didn’t especially like it.

The film follows the white American Sadowsky family as they adopt and raise an 8 year old girl, Fang Sui Yong (whom they rename Faith) from the Guangzhou province of China.  It covers the adoption from the moment that Donna Sadowsky is first introduced to Sui Yong and continues on through the first year of their lives together.

The whole process of Sui Yong being handed over to her new mother just made us cringe (and sometimes yell at the TV)—she was pretty much just pushed into the arms of a total stranger and told by officials that she had a new name now and shouldn’t call her foster family.  Worse still, Donna didn’t seem to have as much patience and empathy for her new daughter as she should have during what was pretty obviously a confusing and emotional time for the girl. There are literally scenes in the hotel in China where Donna is drilling Faith with English flash cards and snapping at her when she gets frustrated.  It made me wince when she snapped at Faith when we didn’t see her making any efforts to speak Cantonese to communicate with her child.

I really don’t want to vilify Donna, especially since I realize that watching a 76 minute peek into someone’s life is not the same thing as knowing the whole story, but I don’t think the adoption agency, the Chinese government officials, or even the filmmaker did her any favors here.  Donna came across as being unprepared and uneducated in the complexities of older child and transracial adoption, and there were a lot of things that probably could have been done to help her and the family learn to ease Faith’s transition.  Faith is a little girl who has been through a lot, and her many losses are written all over her solemn face.  It was so hard for us to look at this beautiful girl, who has been orphaned and moved around and uprooted and whose worldly possessions fill just a tiny pink bag, and hear her being reprimanded for not speaking English right away.  The English will come later, I wanted to yell through the television screen.  Let her grieve for now.  Let her get to know you on her own terms.  Let her keep her name.  Let her be.  

All that said, I do have to give the Sadowsky family some credit where it is due.  I appreciate, for instance, that Donna made an effort to meet Faith’s foster family and keep her in touch with them via phone calls and Skype sessions.  The Guangzhou family is important to Faith, and I am glad that they are still a part of her life in America.  I want to be able to have options like that for our children to stay connected to their Peruvian caretakers and friends too, and it was great to see that it might be a possibility.  I also liked seeing that Faith would be attending a Chinese school and that the family incorporated some Chinese traditions into their household.  The Sadowksys certainly could have used some help learning about Chinese culture and language before they brought Faith home, but they do appear to be making some effort.

In the end, as frustrated as we felt with the Sadowskys, Wo Ai Ni Mommy was a fantastic conversation starter between me and Bee.  We talked long into the night about what we had watched and reaffirmed the ways that we want to get to know our children and to raise them once we are lucky enough to become their family.  It also made it pretty clear to us that we need to do our homework.  Adoption agencies can be great resources, but we need to look beyond them as well and find out as much as we can about adoption and about Peru from every angle that we can.  

Because of that, I would recommend that anyone involved in the international adoption process give this a watch, but go in knowing that this is not really a feel-good story.  Hopefully, wherever she is now, Faith feels accepted and loved and happy in her new American life.

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Asker Anonymous Asks:
Just a heads up: in Spanish, not every word of a title is capitalized. Only the first word is capitalized-- everything else, unless a proper noun-- is lowercase. 'En el Restaurante' would actually be 'En el restaurante.' Nevertheless, I love reading about your journey throughout the adoption process. I wish you the best! :)
bringinghomebebe bringinghomebebe Said:

Muchas gracias for the tip!  

My Spanish skills certainly need some work, so I appreciate any help I can get as I learn.  Between writing letters to Ronaldo, my sponsored child in Peru, and listening to my Pimsleur CDs while I drive, I’m slowly but surely improving.  At this point, Bee is more fluent than I am, but I think I’m catching up to him.  He has the advantage of having been immersed in the language while he was in Panama, but I have the advantage of being a very quick learner.  I’m already fluent in French and conversational in Italian, and Spanish is similar enough that I’m able to pick it up without too many troubles. 

I’m definitely not fluent yet, but I’m hoping that I’ll be fluent enough to properly communicate with the kiddos once we meet them (though of course they’ll probably end up learning English faster than I learn Spanish since kids are sponges and all of that.)  Still, I press on.

Does anyone else have tips for a Spanish language learner?

We got our updated homestudy in the mail and got it express-mailed off to USCIS yesterday morning.  Here’s hoping that they accept the new version and approve us within the month!  In the meantime, we got everything else notarized that needed to be, and now we just hurry up and wait for our government to come through for us.

En el Restaurante: Pollo a la Brasa

I’ve been wanting to try pollo a la brasa (otherwise known to the English-speaking world as blackened chicken or charbroiled chicken) for a while now, since it is a staple dish in Peru, and I finally got the chance yesterday.  

While I was scrolling through an email of local deals from Groupon, I stumbled across one from a Latin American restaurant nearby that serves Peruvian rotisserie chicken!  I bought the coupon, and Bee and I headed to check it out yesterday on our day off.  Brasas Grill, as it turned out, was only 30 minutes or so from our house, and we enjoyed our deeply discounted meal.

He got Chilean sea bass, and I got half a pollo a la brasa with sauteed spinach and fried plantains.  Oh my, I can understand why this dish is one of the essentials in Peru.  The chicken was juicy and flavorful, the skin was crispy and charred and well seasoned, and I was a happy camper and got some goof leftovers to take home too.  It’s certainly one of the best chicken dishes I’ve ever had at a restaurant, and I will very happily go back for more in the future.