Fallacy of fantasy

Let’s take a sharp turn away from muffins and onto another topic I find fascinating. Fantasy. I have touched on this issue previously but now I’m going to get a bit adult about it.

I want to take a moment to talk about bedroom fantasy. Are you with me? Can you handle the truth? If not, look away now.

I am really interested in how people manage to play out their fantasies with other people. I am going to assume most other people have fantasies of a sexual nature; whether it’s your hubby doing the dishes in nothing but a frilly apron or you doing [insert celeb of choice here] in nothing but a pair of cowboy boots. These are fantasies which play out inside your head when you’re doing the old horizontal folk dancing, thinking about doing it or are just on your own enjoying a little DYI.

My problem is with people who are able to transform their fantasy into reality by getting their partner to act things out. It’s just that I find it hard enough to translate my desires to my partner on any given day. Normal household tasks never get done the way I like, so taking that scenario into the bedroom generally results in disappointment… or so I assume.

You see the ideal sexual partner would need to be totally telepathic for me to be truly happy. By the time you manage to say “more, to the left, faster” and they manage to grunt “what?” and you manage to squeak “forget it!” the moment is long gone and you may as well be loading the dishwasher.

If your partner is not telepathic how do people manage to have fulfilling sexual lives where they bring their fantasies to reality? If you like dressing up or enacting different scenarios how do you explain that to your partner and have them act it out in the way you find satisfying? I just can’t imagine it.

In my mind it would play out like the set of a Francis Ford Coppola movie: “stand here, walk to there, say this… no, no, let’s try it again”. That does not scream sexual excitement to me. Either we would be laughing hysterically or it would come to fisticufs.

So I like to let fantasy stay in my head. It’s the best place for it. In my head people do what I say, when I say it. In fact there is no need for nasty old conversation at all… luckily everyone is telepathic in my fantasies and know where to stand and when to put what where. Except sometimes, even in my fantasies, my own brain conspires against me and throws in stupid thoughts mid-good part (that toilet isn’t going to scrub itself, don’t forget the athletics carnival note tomorrow, did you remember to set up the PlayStation to tape The Voice for next Monday)… what a killjoy.

Is it just me? Am I the weird one? Do other people manage to happily enact their lewd fantasy scenarios with their partners without anyone getting hurt? I’m not being all pervy, I’m being genuinely anthropoligcally curious. Help a deepkickgirl out here.

I bake, therefore I am #1: Apple Crumble Muffins


It’s funny that I have become somewhat known for my baking – certainly for the quantity, if not the quality – since I used to be a bake-a-phobic in the not-too-distant past. Looking back I actually wonder if it isn’t this particular recipe (or at least the first incarnation of it I found many years ago) which kick started my baking career. These days there’s not too many days which go by without me bringing a batch of muffins or choc chip cookies or some other baked goodies to the office or sending some to Big Jay’s office after packing some for the kidlets to take to school for recess.

Of course the aforementioned kidlets would much rather take an LCM bar or a packet of broken glass for recess than anything their mother lovingly bakes for them… but that’s another story and best left for the psychiatrist’s office.

Today I am going to share a new variation on my versatile “Anything Goes” Muffin, a muffin I’m calling:

Apple Crumble Muffin (patent pending, all rights reserved)

1 egg
1/2 cup olive oil (or sunflower oil/rice bran oil/any oil you like that’s not very strong in flavour)
1 cup light sour cream (or not light sour cream/Greek youghurt/other youghurt/buttermilk/vanilla custard/something wet and thick)
1/2 cup maple syrup (don’t substitute with maple flavoured syrup because that’s just wrong and possibly against the Geneva Convention)

1 apples (any type), peeled, cored, diced small
1 3/4 cups self raising flour
1/2 cup sugar, white or raw
1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons rolled oats
1-2 Tablespoons pecans, chopped (or walnuts/almonds/macadamias and/or coconut – whatever rocks your boat)

1) Pre-heat oven to 190C. If your oven runs hot you may need to reduce to 180C.
2) Prepare crumble mixture: in a small bowl mix brown sugar, oats and nuts.
3) Place paper muffin cases in a regular sized muffin tin (12 muffins). I like to spray lightly with spray oil to ensure no nasty sticking occurs.
4) Whisk first FOUR ingredients in a large bowl with a fork until well combined and smooth.
5) Add chopped apple and stir through.
6) Sift flour, sugar and cinnamon onto the wet mixture and stir through until just combined.
7) Divide mixture into the muffin cases (I like to use an old fashioned ice cream scoop to ensure even distribution).
8) Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly all over the top of each muffin and gently press into the batter with the spoon or fingers – gently, don’t sink the mixture into the batter.
9) Bake for 20 minutes. Check the muffins. They need to have risen and be firm on top. You want the crumble topping to be a little caramalised and the brown sugar to be melting. If that’s not happening you want to leave in the oven for another five minutes or turn on your grill and carefully grill the top of the muffins for a couple of minutes to achieve a nice result. I’m a little anal about the crumble looking nice on top (note to self: probably shouldn’t be using the word anal in a recipe).

If you love the Apple-y, Cinnamon-y, Nutty, Oat-y goodness of an Apple Crumble you will love these. And by using oats you can kid yourself, like I do, that you are doing something good for your heart health and cholesterol levels. No, don’t thank me.


[Instant Rewind #2] New York countdown is on

Today marks three months until I head off for the much anticipated Middle-Aged Women Gone (Not So) Wild in NYC trip. New York City with my sister and some of my very best besties. Heaven? Very close to it.

Yesterday I finally purchased tickets to The Book of Mormon on Broadway which was a very exciting moment. I’ve been looking forward to seeing this production since our last visit to NYC in 2011. We are also hoping to see Once while we’re there because I’m owed an extra Broadway show after seeing a grand total of none last time we were there.

This trip has been in the planning/dreaming stage for a very long time and it’s hard to believe it will be upon us so soon. In the meantime Big Jay leaves for his Middle-Aged Men Gone Batshit Crazy trip to Las Vegas next week, so I do have 10 days of solo parenting to get through (an experience which I find is getting easier and easier as the kidlets get older and more self-sufficient).

Here is a little rewind to May 2011 when we set off on our first trip to NYC. Enjoy.

[Instant Rewind #1]

I’ve just transferred the previous incarnation of DeepKickGirl – The Adventures of Deep Kick Girl Down Under – onto WordPress and to celebrate I will be revisiting some of my old posts for those who didn’t suffer through them the first time around. There are 877 posts to sift through if you have a really large cup of coffee to get through.

No, don’t thank me.

Hard to believe our last visit to New York was almost two years ago. This was 26 May 2011.


No I’m not going to spout lyrical about best forgotten cover versions of inspid songs by ex-Neighbours’ stars. I am going to spout lyrical about Tasmania’s greatest un-natural treasure: MONA. The Museum of Old and New Art.

Researching my post I came across this* article about its founder David Walsh and now I have nothing left to write. This article captures so well many of my own thoughts I find it pointless to say much more.

Except to say this place had a profound effect on me. I am the first to shout “the Emperor is naked” when it comes to modern art. I know what I like and I don’t like much. But I fell into this place, like Alice into the rabbit hole and it wove a spell on me.

This quote from the article sums up so much:

“At this point, MONA begins to feel like a mashup of the lost city of Petra and a late night out in Berlin. Everything about it is disorienting and yet somehow familiar, from the high-tech tropes to the low-culture babble, the black humour about so much that is so serious, the attention to aesthetics in a museum unsure if beauty exists or, if it does, if it matters.”

I wouldn’t claim to like or enjoy everything in this place but I can say that most things here were thought provoking and/or emotionally challenging and/or striking in a way which makes them intensely memorable.

There is a lot to be said for benevolent dictatorships and this is why. A place like this is not the work of a committee but of a man who knows what he wants and doesn’t give a crap what others think. A true eccentric who has earnt his money and wants to spend it on the cultural playthings that make him happy.

Reading his story after having visited this amazing place gives me lots of “aha” moments. This man and this place make sense.

It is not just the Museum itself which is impressive; it is the grounds, the positioning, the views. It makes a statement, it’s weird but totally unapologetic. I loved it. I want to go back and visit the Poo Machine. I need another MONA hit.




* This is an awesome article. Read it. Really.

Love/Hate: Kidlet Birthday Parties

I have a on-going, complicated love/hate relationship with the kidlets’ birthday parties. I find them stressful and exhausting; probably because I don’t like children very much… they are unpredictable and overly energetic and have minds of their own from an unreasonably young age. But I have very fond memories of the childhood parties I attended so I have kept up with annual parties for both kids from the beginning.

The parties always end up bigger and more expensive and more stressful than even I can predict and experience would dictate but nevertheless we plug on.

We have only ever attempted one joint party previously. The last one was five years ago and I am still seeking therapy. Let’s not revisit that particular horror story.

Instead let me tell you a happier story. The story of our Luna Park party held last Sunday. I am not exaggerating, but I am possibly being lazily forgetful, when I say it was the best party ever.

Let’s start with the food.

Inspired by my new friend Suze of ChocolateSuze fame I decided to make a Chocolate Box Cake – cake, chocolate, lollies… what’s not to like.






It’s a really easy cake and, apart from the Rainbow Cake from last year, the cake the kids got most excited about. I used Julie Goodwin’s Neverfail Cake recipe with some added lemon zest which results in a really lovely dense, tangy cake. I would suggest even a novice cook can make this cake without too much heartache. The decorating is a no-brainer: cover with buttercream icing (I made my own but store bought would be just fine), make a “fence” with KitKats (I used White Chocolate KitKats because I love them and white chocolate doesn’t make kids go quite so nuts, apparently) and then fill it in with lollies of choice.

In hindsight I would say don’t use jelly type lollies, or at least not the lolly snakes. They are really hard to cut through and cause some grief at cake cutting time. However the kids (big and small do love them) so maybe have a stash nearby for when it’s time to serve.

Another new favourite for kids parties is No-Brainer Sausage Rolls.


These require almost no effort for a great result. You need a packet (1 kg) of baby frankfurts, 4 sheets of puff pastry, 1 beaten egg thinned out with a little milk and a couple of teaspoons of sesame seeds. Pre-heat oven to 200C fan forced and line two or three large trays with baking paper.

I cut the puff pastry into rectangles about 8cm x 9cm which is just big enough to roll a frankfurt in with a little sticking room. I used the pastry offcuts to make more rectangles.

Once you’ve neatly rolled your sausages into your pastry blankets (and made sure the pastry ends are sealed nicely) place them on the baking trays, brush with egg/milk mixture, sprinkle with seeds and bake until golden brown and puffy. Time will depend on the ferocity of your oven I guess.

The good thing with these is they are good hot or cold so ideal for picnics.

Now onto the party. For kids this age (Miss M is turning 8 and Monkey Boy turned 14) Luna Park is a great venue. OK, it is expensive-ish but on the positive side it’s not at home, it doesn’t cost anything for parents who just want to hang out and supervise or enjoy the glorious Sydney Harbour location and there is plenty to keep the kids very happy. Our gang literally ran themselves ragged and had an absolute ball.





Happy birthday to my sweet, exasperating little people.

Book Review: The Wasp Factory

I am a big fan of Neil Cross and his brilliant, dark writing. It was through a comment on his Facebook page about being inspired by the Scottish author Iain Banks, now terminally ill, that I became interested in exploring his books.

“The Wasp Factory” was Banks’ breakthrough novel published in 1984. Like Neil Cross’ work this story is deceptively simple and it unfolds steadily, with an underlying feeling of unease.

Frank is a strange young man living in relative isolation on a Scottish island with his reclusive father. His life is filled with bizarre ritualised behaviours and his relationship with his dad is strained.

Slowly Frank’s story is revealed, each revelation more strange and baffling. Overlaid onto this scenario is Frank’s brother Eric who has escaped from a mental hospital and is heading home.

I find stories with a dark bent fascinating and satisfying. There is a darkness in all of us which we ignore or control or embrace or fear or some combination of these. Reading about dark characters or good people being embroiled in dark situations allows me to explore my own dark side safely.

What I particularly loved about “The Wasp Factory” is the ending. Throughout the novel there is a building sense of foreboding, of a threat on the horizon. You crave a climax to explain or at least relieve the build up yet there is none. Or at least a finale which sets up more questions than it answers.

How delicious to end a book with a need to know more. So often I read a book which is the literary equivalent of a slice of white bread; tasty enough but with nothing to remember it by. The test of a truly great book is how it stays with you, how the characters haunt you, how the story rolls about in the recesses of your mind.

This book does just that and I can’t wait to see what other dark offerings Iain Banks has in his extensive bibliography.

Hop hop hopping to Kangaroo Island

Sorry… lame, I know. Sorry. Sometimes it’s hard to resist playing the corny card.

You may remember I recently got the opportunity to explore South Australia’s Kangaroo Island for SheSaid.com.au (see my article here).

It was a wonderful experience, without a doubt. Who could complain about a no-expense weekend away in such a beautiful, unique location?

Going away on my own, sans kidlets and husband, is strange. It highlights the two-sides-of-the-coin way I look at myself as a wife and mother. I am so often overwhelmed, angered, exhausted, exasperated by parenthood and coupledom. The urge to claw my way out into open space and fresh air can be all consuming… but only ever temporarily. Because as soon as an opportunity arrives to be just me for a brief period of time I immediately miss my little tribe of crazies. Patty Hearst Syndrome perhaps.

This time I psyched myself up for this inevitable feeling of loss and dedicated myself to the experience. For the first time I was able to almost wholly put my real life aside and be this other me for 60 hours.

As I drove around KI, in a car with lovely people who were just not as keen on constantly chatting as I tend to be, I was forced inside myself to some degree. Into the terrifying and liberating silence of my own head space. In that silence I was able to really see the scenery and experience Kangaroo Island for what I think it is. An idyllic speck of natural beauty where the noise and distractions of everyday life can be put aside and the mind really cleared.

I didn’t really think of anything profound; I just realised how noisy my brain really is and how much external stimulus is attacking my central nervous system every minute of every day. It is relentless and the quiet is actually painful to start with. It is a readjustment to be within myself, peacefully, without the bombardment of distraction which I am obviously addicted to.

And I had my photo taken with George Calombaris.


Yes, I am that shallow. The end.

Is Fun. Is good. OK?

It is possible that it is illegal for someone my age to like Fun. They are a cool/hot/sick [can someone under 30 please insert appropriate word meaning “good”?] band upon whom I have recently stumbled. I am always late in embracing the latest music sensation.

I’m not a broadstroke new music hater like Big Jay. In his opinion if it was made in the current millennium it is bad, with few exceptions. I like to give new music a try before I poo poo it. Since I no longer listen to young people’s radio stations like Triple J I don’t have regular opportunities to taste new releases.

Via the children I get exposed to their musical obsessions du jour. While Miss M’s love of Taylor Swift and Pink sits nicely with me, Will’s interest in hip hop is leaving me very cold (why so many “bitch” and “ho” references Snoop?).

So, like in this case, my love of Fun has come from an obtuse angle. I started reading about my girl crush Lena Dunham’s boyfriend, the guitarist from the band Fun. Of course I had never heard of Fun but mentioned my interest to a friend who said “oh yeah, they’re great”. All of a sudden I kept stumbling upon references to them online, in magazines, everywhere. I needed to have Fun. in my life.

Having never heard a single song of theirs I downloaded the album “Some Nights” (which was released like 15 months ago) and now I love it to death. It makes me happy. Possibly it’s hipster music which scares me a little because hipsters are kind of scary, no? But I like it so much.

Thank you Lena for “Girls” and now for Fun. Please don’t dob me into the hipster police.

Hunting Good Will: Revisited

[I wrote Hunting Good Will while waiting to bring our son Will home from Guatemala…. sometime in mid 2000. We finally came home with Will on September 11, 2000, one week before the Sydney Olympics began and one year before 9/11. Today he turns 14 and I thought it was a good time to revisit my thoughts and feelings at the pivotal time in our lives. Will is a handsome young man now, sweet and gentle and liked by those who know him. Enjoy a little traipse down memory lane with me…]

Old Photos April 2013 621

It was a cold and rainy Friday night in 1997. I had scurried into the North Ryde Community Centre which, on this particular, evening was the venue for an infertility support group meeting. A small group of us were circling each other nervously around a cluster of fold out chairs, a card table piled with the standard-issue tea, coffee and biscuit provisions, and a long trestle table piled with books, pamphlets and videos.

So as to escape making small talk I studied the stacks of books and brochures, blindly leafing through tattered volumes covering topics which ranged from pregnancy by astrology to the ethical  implications of IVF. My attention was drawn to a simple black and white brochure featuring a beaming family comprising a Caucasian mum, a Caucasian dad and three impish, dark-skinned boys.

I picked up the brochure and read through it while I waited for the guest speaker to start. It seems too cute to say this now, but even at that moment I knew that somehow the topic of the brochure – Intercountry Adoption – was going to touch my life. At this stage my husband and I had only recently launched our leaky dinghy onto the treacherous waters of the Infertility Ocean.

At this time we were swirling helplessly through the Natural Fertility Straits. Each day we consumed our body weight in vitamins, minerals and stinking concoctions “specially” brewed for us by our natural fertility guru. My husband was undertaking lengthy and expensive treatment to lower his lead levels which were deemed responsible for his low sperm count and therefore our child-less status. We were exhausted, broke and struggling to maintain our optimism. Sex as recreation was starting to become a mythical concept and terms such as ovulation cycle and cervical mucus became part of our everyday parlance.

I took the brochure home for my husband, hoping it would encourage in him the same surge of hope that it had brought about in me. He was not impressed. He was quite sure that given “enough” time all would be well and our biological child would arrive in due course. The problem was not our childless-ness, it was my impatience and my negative attitude. If I could only “believe” that all would be OK in the end, it would somehow be so.

So we kept rowing. The water conditions changed semi-regularly: we had periods of calm and periods of storm. We threw in the towel on the natural fertility guru and tried our luck with the assisted reproduction guru. We were out of the mamby-pamby, warm and cuddly arena and into the realm of laparoscopies, unpronounceable drugs and exploding ovaries.

I smiled bravely as we sat through meetings with important, though kindly, specialists who were our guides into the mysterious world of GIFT, COSI and IVF (we had more acronyms thrown at us than an IBM representative at a NASA conference). Finally, I sat with the nurse whose job it was to instruct me on the battle plan. She went through the details and handed me a handful of paperwork which would allow us to embark on our first “cycle” of COSI (Controlled Ovarian Stimulation with Intercourse/Insemination). As I walked out of the office that afternoon I knew I wouldn’t be back.

It is hard to say now, even with hindsight, what made me so certain that assisted reproduction was not going to be the way for us. But it was very, very clear to me that afternoon that I would not return and that I would not subject myself to the physical and emotional stresses which ART promised. I had very briefly dipped my toe into those murky waters many years ago with my first husband and, despite my honest belief at the on-set that we could at least “give it a try”, I realised at a very deep level that my sanity and our relationship would be unlikely to survive the particular kind of torture which is assisted reproduction.

My husband, while initially stubborn (I preferred to call it unreasonable), was surprisingly easily persuaded by my (constant and unrelenting) arguments and “suddenly” we were sending a cheque to the Department of Community Services for the Adoption Information Package. We had anchored our dinghy in the deceptively calm waters of the Intercountry Adoption Inlet.

Sometime later I was on a tram in Melbourne with my mum and my sister. While we rattled our way from the city to the shopping mecca of Chapel Street, I attempted to explain why we (OK, OK – I) turned our backs on assisted reproduction (and the possibility of “our own” biological child) and had instead chosen the tricky, uncomfortable and previously unconsidered (at least by our families) course to not only an adopted baby, but one from a foreign country and an unknown background.

The essence of my answer can be broken down into two parts:

“I know I can battle bureaucracy, but I don’t know if I have the strength to battle my own body”.

“Morally and ethically it just doesn’t sit right with me to spend untold thousands for the privilege of possibly having a biological child when there are already many children in the world who have no-one to care for them”.

OK, that’s pretty damn simplistic – but when it comes down to it most things in life really are! The bottom line was (and is) that I felt, deep down inside, that I just wanted a child in my life. A child to love and care for and, well, parent! I simply knew that I could love the child in my life as much if they were adopted as if they (unluckily for them) shared my questionably competent genes.

Now let me back up a little. Not being able to fall pregnant and produce a child the “natural” way is a peculiar state of affairs. I’m not particularly comfortable with the terms “infertile” and “infertility”. They have negative, medical connotations which imply illness or some sort of “condition”. It is especially difficult when there is no distinct and obvious reason why, as a couple, you can not conceive. This is known as “unexplained infertility” and those who have heard this term directed in their general direction know how mind-bogglingly frustrating the situation it describes is.

You see, when your infertility is “explained” you are faced with two possible scenarios. Scenario One involves an identifiable problem which is curable (or at least the doctors give you hope that it is). This allows the couple to focus on doing whatever is necessary to “fix” the problem – usually this means surgery and/or drugs. Scenario Two provides the couple with the initially heart-stopping news that there is no cure for their type of problem and they have no chance whatsoever of conceiving a biological child together. With this scenario the couple are then faced with an intersection with many potential roads ahead: childlessness, adoption (local or intercountry) and its variants (including donor egg and/or sperm and surrogacy, which is starting to sneak onto the Australian landscape) and fostering.

Without minimising the impact of the two scenarios described above on the couple and families involved I want to talk about what happens when you do not have a clear and distinct label which to hang upon yourself. When your infertility is “unexplained” all and sundry decide that you are simply “doing” something wrong and you are barraged from sunrise till sunset with sage advice guaranteed to result in an offspring. Suddenly friends of friends are suggesting sexual positions which they know worked for their second cousin who tried to get pregnant for 12 years. You get told to not think about “it” (how exactly do you do that?), to relax, to exercise, to go on holidays, to change jobs. Because well meaning people have the need to say something, anything, to fill in gaps in conversation or simply to disguise their discomfort with your misery they tell you to stop worrying, to put the whole thing from your mind, and to just be patient. Everyone knows someone who mysteriously fell pregnant after XX amount of years of trying. (See the later section on adoption where this story morphs into one where the couple get pregnant as soon as they adopt.)

Because there is nothing wrong with you as a couple you are left in limbo. Sure there are avenues you can explore (such as “natural therapies” – been there – and “assisted reproduction” – almost done that). But if the former does not help and the later is unpalatable it is very hard to make a decision to move onto the other options. For a start your family and friends have a hard time supporting a drastic decision such as adoption – after all “there’s nothing wrong with you”.

So, after infinite eons of living with uncontrollable weeping spells in the toilet approximately once a month; of being prodded and poked (my husband is more than happy to relate the cotton bud story); of spending the gross national product of half of Eastern Europe buying one bag of organic vegetables; of grinning inanely at friends and family spouting yet another bizarrely inappropriate suggestion; of stopping mid-step at shopping centres, and starring, heart filled with agonising grief, as yet another pregnant teenager strolls past, pushing a toddler in a stroller, we took a step which felt truly positive.

But if I thought that adopting was the safe or easy or predictable or controllable way of creating the family we so desperately wanted, it wasn’t long before a wave of reality knocked me off my feet and left me gasping for breath, with a mouthful of sand. One thing did immediately improve – I stopped worrying about conception and the relief was pure bliss.

Adopting is kind of like competing in a steeplechase… you run a long and exhausting course with the occasional additional challenge of various hurdles (some of which seem insurmountable). I don’t want to go into the nitty gritty of the actual process… those who’ve been through it are painfully aware of the details and those who haven’t been don’t need to bother about the tedious minutiae. Suffice to say that it is all simultaneously intensely boring, intensely personal, intensely important and overwhelmingly dangerous. Like walking through a minefield we were constantly aware of the potential for a wrong step, of saying or doing the wrong thing and being judged unfit to parent our imaginary child. Logical thought has a very small role to play when anxiety and paranoia take centre stage.

Hindsight allows the luxury of being able to laugh at some of our adventures in Pre-Approval Land. Like the time when my dear husband developed a case of painfully-truthful-itis  and “admitted” to smoking the occasional joint at the occasional party to our not-so-pokerfaced social worker during that first, oh-so-nerve-wrecking interview. Or the time when my dear husband told the social worker that sometimes I got angry or upset (moi?) and he didn’t always know what to do about it. Punishment? March down to the marriage counselor’s office and don’t come back until you know what the hell is wrong with you! Easy to laugh now, but the gut piercing fear, the mind-numbing certainty that we were going to “fail” kept us awake through the night on more than one occasion.

Then there’s just the plain old bureaucratic stupidity of having to wait for weeks, patiently ringing the local police station every evening, to get our fingerprints taken for our criminal record check. The only fingerprint kit is out the back where the prisoners are and they can’t take good, law-abiding citizens like ourselves back there to mix with the riff raff, now can they! And then not only having to do this once but twice and then having them produce the wrong report and having to wait yet another excruciating day. Laugh? Well, no we didn’t really!

Suddenly things moved quickly. One moment we were breathing sighs of relief that we had apparently survived the social worker assessment process and therefore stood a good chance of being approved by DOCS and the next moment we were changing countries (from Bolivia to Guatemala) and arriving at a BBQ for “Guatemalan families”. The speed of events jumped from slo-mo to fast forward in the blink of an eye. We were only just recovering from the phone call letting us know we had achieved the official DOCS’ seal of approval when we got the call saying there was a four and a half month old baby boy waiting for us in an orphanage in Guatemala City.

Now this was an unarguably magical moment for us but to be honest it took me a while to “feel” anything… the term “shell-shocked” comes to mind. Despite the cerebral knowledge that we were finally going to be parents it was very hard to separate the “business” side from the emotional side. Up until that point (and we weren’t finished yet) the adoption process had involved a great deal of photocopying and form filling-in and now there was an actual baby involved, which really threw us for a while. The name Wilfredo Carrera became a magical incantation and the three dog-eared photos of him holding out his arms to the camera became our own personal religious relics, shown reverently to anyone who would stand still long enough.

So now here we are, as I am writing this we are almost at the end of the seventh month of waiting for Will. After the initial rush of preparing yet another round of paperwork to be sent to the Guatemalan Courts everything stopped and the “real” waiting began. For those of you who are parents let me put it this way: your child is taken away to a place half way around the world; you are not able to contact them in any way; you rely on the vaguest of reports, sent at totally random intervals, for snippets of information about their welfare; you can ask questions through a third party but they are rarely answered and never with the sort of detail you need; you know that they will come back to you but you don’t know when and this depends on a whole series of undecipherable steps and mysterious people whose roles are never quite explained to you.

Then you are left to your own devices, surrounded by the same family and friends who were so full of wisdom earlier in your life. Well they are still around and they still have no clue as to how to actually help (here’s a clue: there is no help to be had, nothing you can say will lessen the impact of the situation, just “be there” and keep your damned useless advice to yourself – doh!). Almost everything you heard before is reprised in the key of adoption (OK, except for the sex positions – even the thickest of advice givers realise there is no connection there). “Just relax”, “why don’t you enjoy this time together”, “have some nice weekends away”, “enjoy those sleep-ins, you won’t be doing that much longer” and my all-time favourite “just watch, you’ll get pregnant as soon as you bring this baby home, that’s exactly what happened to my third cousin’s butcher’s next door neighbour”. Aaaaargh! Are these people completely demented? Was their sensitivity nerve surgically removed while they were having their lobotomy? Do they not have the tiniest of inklings about human nature? Of course, these are rhetorical questions!

For me the only “help” is information. While on the surface I manage to maintain a semblance of normality… working, socialising, running a home… the undercurrent of my thoughts is constantly focused on finding out anything and everything I can about our baby, about the orphanage, about Guatemala. I call our case worker at DOCS and the head of our parent group so often I am waiting for the police to turn up to slap an AVO on me, with the condition that I do not call those numbers again. My saviour has been the internet (a bountiful source of every possible type of information) and the Guatemala Adoption Email List which has connected us with over 500 families world-wide who have gone and are going through exactly what we are going through. That connection has not only proved to be invaluable to my mental health but has also had the tangible result of “meeting” a cyber-buddy who, when visiting his own son-to-be in the orphanage where our baby is, was kind enough to take some photos of our darling Will (which he sent to us) and also write us an objective report on his well-being.

By far this has been the hardest stage. Everyday we count ourselves “lucky” to have got to this point so “quickly”, many others are not so lucky. But the wait is painful in a way which I can not describe and it can not be eased. Temporarily some distraction will catch our attention and for a millisecond we will think about something other than our baby sitting alone in an old cot in an orphanage far away. For the most part, however, we think about him from the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep. I guess this is “normal” parent behaviour anyway.

We will call our baby boy Will Carrera. Will is a “shortening” of his birthname Wilfredo. But it also means a lot more than that. When I saw the film Good Will Hunting I was impressed with the story of a young man who was able to grapple with his own demons and to “discover” himself and his own potential through the love of his friends, his “adoptive” family. It may be whimsical but somehow I imagine our own Will finding his place in life surrounded with the love and care and support that we, his family, will shower upon him. The noun “will” means “deliberate intent” and that is exactly how this little boy has come to be part of our family.

There is no real end to this story, but there will be a next step… the day we get the phone call letting us know to book our flights to the tiny, civil war-torn country just south of Mexico… Guatemala… where our son waits for us.

… Hey we are back, have been for 5 months! What was all the fuss about? Our trip to Guatemala was the most exciting, exhausting and eye-opening experience of our lives (but that’s another story). Now we have a beautiful son … the fabled Will is home and it feels like he has always been here (who was that demented woman who wrote all that other stuff?). Yes, the wait was long and painful but it was forgotten the minute Will was in our arms (it’s corny and you won’t believe me until you experience it for yourself, but it’s true!).

Will was 16 months old when he finally came home. He was not a child who took well to orphanage care and he is tiny and quite severely delayed in most of his motor skills. But he is full of life and fun and he’s so very cheeky and loveable just when he’s at his naughtiest. He is literally the light of our lives and charms all those who cross his path. We can not imagine our lives without his joyful presence.