Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Well okay, maybe it's more like the vegetables of our labour and one dud carrot.
Yeah, yeah go ahead and enjoy a good laugh at our expense.
All but the carrot were enjoyed. It's still sitting there. Looking sad and lonely...and slightly pathetic.
And to completely flip the topic, this time tomorrow Imagine staff will have completed their first full day, in several months, at the newly opened office. I can't wait. There is still so much unknown but with the team(s) behind this baby, I just can't see it going awry. There's too much heart, soul, passion, time, energy, talent and expertise, education, and pure drive to see it flop.
Yes, there is much that is unknown. But reflecting upon what we did know (all of us), we are now more well versed. We are more aware and perhaps this is the cause for all the freak-out panic. We know more and are therefore more aware of how much can go wrong. We've invested so much and still nothing (ever) is concrete. Yes, we're all much further into a wait with much more to come. Yet, with this new emergence comes a breath of fresh air.
Right now I'm taking one deep breath at a time. Because maybe it took pulling up one dud, in order to learn how to better grow it the second time around.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
I love the fresh-start feel it promises each and every year.
I love the crisp mornings and the dark starlit nights.
I love the dew not-yet-turned frost in the mornings.
I love the birds still chirping.
I love the abundance of apples.
I love the plethora of pears.
I love applesauce and the smell filling the house as the near-home-grown apples simmer on the stovetop, promising to spill over at any moment.
All this stuff - the smells, the activity of "making our own", the gratification of teaching the kids - it's all so earthy, isn't it? It just feels real. It feels right and the way we should live. It's a small taste of what it would really be like to live more simply. It's lovely.
This year with the strain and drain of the impending proposal I didn't have it in me to can the apple and pear sauces which fill(ed) dozens of jars. I thought freezing would just be simpler. A few less steps. A little less counter mess and more space to make meals. (Plus, clutter puts me in a foul mood and I figured already being on edge about the restructuring proposal, this was no time to tempt with the inevitable.)
So away I went, filling jar upon 1 Litre jar. Until they filled the part of the deep freeze remaining, after good friends ever-so-kindly donated all their deep freeze contents to us prior to their move.
The next step was imminent...move on to the fridge freezer.
(The pies are yet to be made...I'm gonna need to get creative...and there are bags of the stuff raw, chopped and waiting to be devoured as middle-of-the-winter-cereal topping, also shoved into every nook and cranny...among the summer plums and blackberries of course.)
So, what's a girl to do when she's filled nearly every square inch of freezable space with apple and pear products?
She makes apple and pear fruit leather of course. Pure fruit. Oven dried. It's delicious. And it rolls nicely to fit into those tiny spaces waiting to be filled.
And the muffins. You can last through dozens of snack (and meal!) times with muffins...you know, the applesauce-raisin-walnut ones. The ones with minimal sugar and maximum nutritional goodness. Yes, the kind on which you can slap some almond butter and feel good about passing it over to a whiney kid at lunch time, knowing he's about to get a well-rounded meal all in one fist. (Veggies on the side, of course.)
And then, just when I thought I was done...well, except for the pies of course...a neighbor puts out boxes of Hazelnuts picked fresh from their yard. Still in husks, needing to be peeled and then of course cracked, it seemed the perfect rainy day activity. And how perfect for little minds to understand fully, that fruits and nuts really do grow on trees. They don't just appear in package form, ready to pop into one's mouth. There's work behind the goodness. The work is what makes the goodness even better.
So down the hill we walked. Tait and I. Tucker, too. Sure it was raining but that adds to the adventure, does it not? Bags filled, we headed back up the hill (after a play at the slide park of course) to husk away.
Still slightly moist, they may need a couple days out in the open to dry out. But the sweet nuttiness. Oh, there are no words to describe home-grown, hand-selected, personally husked and cracked hazelnuts.
(Oh - and next year I'm going back to canning.)
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
- 1 year
- 12 months
- 365 days
After the scare and journey this has turned into, however, I have to say I'll wait patiently...ish. Grasping the reality of the alternative waiting seems easy enough - or do-able at least.
Waiting will result in wonderous results of the human kind.
Waiting builds character.
Waiting isn't an event, it's an experience well worthwhile.
And while the wait may be another dozen months, I'll take it. I'll continue living and not missing out; Knowing that anything worth waiting for this long, will be incredible.
She will be incredible.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
You may notice the French's, as almost no meal of ours is complete without it. I pride myself in knowing that my boys don't know the taste of ketchup and have never had jam. But mustard is a condiment that was introduced early on and was embraced with enthusiasm. No sugar - if you're wondering the rationale.
The day was hot.
Barefoot little boys in the sand kind of hot and we loved it.
(I have a rosy face to prove it.)
It was worth the wait.
On both accounts.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Families vote for Imagine Adoption rescueFamilies whose futures were left in limbo following the bankruptcy of an Ontario-based adoption agency have voted in favour of trying to rescue the firm.
Under the terms of the restructuring proposal, families who were waiting to adopt will have to pay any money they owe to Imagine Adoption, plus another $4,000 in two instalments. The agency will also get a new board of directors and be closely monitored by the bankruptcy trustee.
Parents are among the agency's creditors, who met in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., on Monday morning. Bankruptcy trustee Susan Taves of BDO Dunwoody LLP told CBC News the creditors agreed to the proposal by a "landslide."
'This isn't just for us, it's for all of these children. It's for all of these families. For now and for years to come, hopefully.' —Sidney Vlieg
About 350 adoptive families were left in limbo when Imagine Adoption of Cambridge went bankrupt July 13. Many have already paid between $10,000 and $15,000 each in fees to the agency, which helped Canadians adopt children from Ethiopia, Ghana and Ecuador in the past two years.
The re-structuring plan still has to be approved in court...
The hundreds of families stunned by the collapse of an international-adoption agency have renewed hope today, after voting overwhelmingly to re-start the organization.
The Imagine Adoption creditors, which includes the would-be adoptive families, voted 248-20 at a meeting Monday to approve the agency’s proposed restructuring — a plan that will cost each family $4,000 but promises to finish a process some started as long as two years ago.
“We've gone from rock-bottom and feeling hopeless to feeling more hopeful . . . today was just the icing on the cake,” said Shannon Warren of Ingersoll, who along with her husband, Matthew, voted for the proposal.
“We’re very happy.”
Imagine, which was based in Cambridge, facilitated adoptions from Ethiopia.
The agency filed for bankruptcy in July amid questions from its three-member board of directors about unusual expenses, including two luxury-vehicle leases and rental properties.
The Waterloo police fraud squad also launched a criminal investigation.
The restructured agency, which will employ two former Imagine staffers and be overseen by an eight-member board, still needs approval from a bankruptcy court, due to hear the matter Sept. 29, and requires a licence from Ontario’s Ministry of Community and Social Services.
For the full story, read tomorrow’s Free Press on the web or in print.
I apologize for this group email, however, we wanted to update everyone as quickly as possible.
As you know, on July 13 our adoption agency Imagine Adoption went bankrupt. We've been in limbo and not known what the end of our journey would look like. As we started this process in March of 2008 and our file arrived at the orphanage in Ethiopia in Sept 2008, this has been extremely difficult to digest.
On July 30 there was a first meeting of the Creditors which, as far as this kind of thing goes was encouraging. Of all 189 creditors attending the meeting, there was a unanimous vote in favour of restructuring Imagine Adoption. Hope.
BDO Dunwoody Ltd, the trustee handling the bankruptcy has been phenomenal and has bent over backward to seek to restructure our agency thus enabling all 300+ families to complete our adoptions. On September 4 a Restructuring Proposal was presented to all Creditors involved in the losses accompanied with our agency's bankruptcy. Creditors include families, properties leased by Imagine (3), and trade creditors (Lexus, landscapers, etc) We were given two weeks to vote in favour or against the proposal to restructure the "old" Imagine into a "new" Imagine. Should the proposal have been voted in, restructuring would commence immediately. Referral (child matching) timelines would increase considerably due to the nature of this restructuring task. Yet, they would still be realized in the foreseeable future. However, should the proposal have been voted down, Imagine Adoption would cease to exist and any assets would be liquidated and monies remaining disbursed on a pro rata basis. (FYI Creditors would receive approximately 7.3% of funds invested.)
This morning a second meeting of the Creditors was held in Ontario.
We are thrilled beyond measure to share with you the email sent to us moments ago.
The meeting is now concluded and the proposal passed.
248 in favour and 20 against.
We want to thank you for your concern, care, prayers, encouragement, and support during the past many weeks. We look forward to sharing more of this journey with you over the next many months and year to come. If you wish to follow us frequently, we will continue with our blog at the address below.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Noah's yelling at the top of his lungs. I'm happy he is at least playing outside...though the third world war may break out any second - I have my bets on Tait for this one.
I can only count down the minutes until Daddy comes home and I have backup. Supper boasts a superb frozen pizza (thanks, Mum!) as it's all I have in me to chop up some extra veggies for the top. The week wasn't all bad as we started to feel our way in to our new normal. This always happens at the end of a summer. Everyone a bit older, realizing the fall as actually a new year to us. What activities will be planned, where will we go and what will we do. Swim lessons, walks (the ones where I don't actually have to push them both in the jogger), and other events presented themselves.
Our day was filled with more puppy dog playtime (by only one this time), a sad goodbye to a good friend, baking 3-step kid-friendly pretzel sticks, creating and sewing a button-laden wallet for the younger one to make up for the one given to the older one. (It's got character, not unlike it's new owner.) It will hold his quarters for "Tuck Time" nicely and the dime he earned for bringing the garbage can in from the end of the driveway will be kept safely there, too. (Does any one want to break it to him that Tuck Time won't be realized until next summer?)
The drain of the impending Restructuring Proposal has me all on edge and any bit of emotion and patience I thought may have been dwelling in my being this morning is gone. Interesting isn't it? The wait has got to be a million times harder than the actual outcome - good or bad.
3 sleeps until this, the second Creditor's Meeting in Ontario. This one, as crucial to me as the first. Monday is the day we find out if the...our adoption will see continuation or completion. If you can say a little prayer this weekend - actually a big one, (or several) would be much appreciated, too. Hopefully I'll sleep better on Monday night than I have in the past many.
And though I, in no way plan to wish it away here's to a speedy, enjoyable weekend...followed by a successful Monday.
Who knows, it could be the best day of next week.
Following the apples will be pears (ever had my pear sauce? - phenominal - toot toot), then more apples (which, don't worry folks), will be folded into pies. Many many many pies. This year the helpers will be even more helpful than last. The mess likely greater, too.
We'll miss you Toban, Bryony, Nova, and Harvey.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
You may recall, I am running to raise money for our local agency who is a registered charity through the RVM for the first time ever. Funds raised will go towards helping kids in our foster system and also with humanitarian aid in a village in Nepal. (There must have been a shorter way to phrase that.)
The running's been enjoyable. The summer was bright, warm, and the roads inviting...with the exception of a few dogs at whom I fearlessly yelled my guts out. (I also carry dog repellent - also known as bear mace - in case you were wondering.)
The fall has brought with it cooler, damp, dark mornings. The end of summer, the lengthy waiting while the restructuring has been planned and the wait for the passing of the proposal has been hard on this girl. (I am eternally grateful for this "second chance" as in-limbo as it may be...so please don't mistake that as complaint.) So while I am still thankful for this time alone to think, pray, and stay fit, I will bid farewell to this 75 km/week regime with a happy hand. Of course continuing to run has always been and will continue to be part of my days, weeks, and life, though the distance will diminish.
As we wait out these last few days to see if the proposal will be actualized, I will decrease the number of paces needed. Giving the body rest is more important right now that seeing how far the legs can go.
Roll on Thanksgiving. I want to get this bad boy behind me.
Monday, September 14, 2009
As I mentioned several days ago, it's big.
It goes a little like this...try and follow along. Feel free to ask questions.
I'll try to answer. Though there are still several unanswerables.
I'm sure I don't have it all straight.
There is still a lot of faith to be put in to this one.
I'm continually learning patience. Taking one day at a time.
I am emotionally drained.
The Restructuring Proposal was presented and posted on Friday, September 4. Ben and I, that very day, voted in favour of the proposal. It's the dream, right? How does one ever contemplate saying no to the dream.
We were given 2 weeks to decide whether or not to vote for or against the possibility of restructuring Imagine Adoption.
On Monday, September 21 there will be a second Creditor's Meeting in Kitchener at which point we will see if the majority of creditors voted yes/no. If the majority votes in favour of the restructuring proposal then restructuring will begin immediately. The meeting will still take place. This is by law.
The proposed Board for the new Imagine Adoption plans to begin operations as of the beginning of October.
So, what does all this mean and how would it actually happen? It means that if the plan/proposal is voted in by the majority (this is 50% + 1 representing 2/3 of the monies outstanding) then the 350 families will be given a certain time frame during which they will need to send in their next set of fees as well as a new signed Retainer Agreement. The first set of fees is $2000. The retainer is a legally binding document between the agency and client.
Here is where things get tricky. If the proposal is voted in but not enough families send in their $2000, there will not be enough money to restructure and run Imagine. You can vote yes but still decide to go elsewhere. (I will withhold my opinion but suffice to say that would be cruel and unusual punishment for those of us getting our hopes up.) So in the end the proposal is worthless.
If, however, sufficient number of families send in their money (this number needed is currently unknown) then restructuring will begin to take place. A significantly smaller staff is in place (the Exec Dir is still to be confirmed - there are several candidates), a board is in place (they will meet every 3 weeks and minutes will be posted publicly - you can read bios on BDO's site...this is one bright, talented group), and other checks will happen often.
The restructuring phase will take 90 days. (If you're following this means early January 2010.) After the 90 day restructuring period, there will be another 90 probation period during which it will be ensured that all those new policies, procedures, etc are being followed, adhered to, maintaining standards, etc. Another $2000 is due in March 2010. (If you're still following this means we are now at April 1, 2010.)
It has been stated that the first referrals will be realized April 2010. During the first 6 month period there will be 5 referrals each month. (This takes us to Oct 2010.) During the second 6 month period there will be 10 referrals each month. After this there will be approximately 15 referrals each month. In 2011 the newly restructured Imagine plans and hopes to take on new clients who have been waitlisted. (None of these are families currently in process with Imagine.)
The reason this will all take so much time is that there are so many dozens of checks to be done. Not only in Canada but also overseas in Ethiopia, there is government, MOWA/Ministry of Children, orphanages, etc.
There are 6 orphanages from which Imagine makes referrals. They have not been paid since the bankruptcy which means there is no money to support the orphans in them. Currently, it is estimated that $40,000 is owed to them. That's a big wad in any country, let alone a developing country. After this amount is paid, the cost is somewhere in the neighborhood of $20,000 needed for the orphanages to continue working with them and maintain the well-being of the children. It is still unknown whether or not the Transition Home will continue to operate. While it is a phenomenal place for the children to transition to their new homes and wait for their forever families to pick them up and bring them back to Canada, it is also very costly. BDO and the lawyer working with them has done an outstanding job at cutting costs, (from $50,000 at time of bankruptcy down to a current $17,000 and it is forecast that the cost will be slashed again down to $10,000 if the restructuring is passed).
So, where does this leave us? Well, if Imagine was working on the very early June 2008 files at the time of bankruptcy and we were mid-September 2008 then we are about 3 1/2 months away in "old referral" time. We've done the calculations and we guesstimate (this is seriously general) to be around the 60s. If all goes according to the schedule above we would be looking at a November 2010 referral or so.
However, all the above information is extremely conservative. When drawing up the new plan and timelines, the groups involved deemed it better to err on the side of longer timelines and be able to "surprise" everyone with shortened timelines, rather than have what happened last time and continually disappoint clients by having to make them wait longer than anticipated. (You'll recall when our dossier arrived in Ethiopia we were quoted a 6 month wait. This was lengthened at Christmas when we were told 8, 9 months. Then in the Spring we were quoted 12 months and the story continues.)
I've had several people ask me why we continue. Why not just stop and alleviate the heartache, the emtional rollercoaster, and the never ending waiting followed by more unknown.
Here's the thing though, how do you turn your back on a dream? If the whole thing tanks and the proposal is voted out, or if it is voted in but then enough people don't resign with the new agency and it does down the drain anyway then at least we'll know that we did all we could do.
Can you imagine getting this far, deciding we couldn't continue on only to find out soon thereafter that the restructured agency was up and running and referrals were being realized? Talk about heartache. Always wondering who "she" was, where "she" was now, and how "she" was doing...that would be true emotional rollercoaster land.
So while this, I would say is the hardest thing I've ever been though, I won't give up. I can't give up. We won't stop until there is no more path to follow.
(And with the two-year-old handful at home, coupled with the four-year-old counterpart, an extra several months gap between number two and three could likely be a blessing...)
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
For the first time in six weeks, there is a sign of hope for the families affected by the July 14th bankruptcy of Imagine Adoption agency.
BDO Dunwoody Ltd, the trustee in bankruptcy, has posted a restructuring plan that proposes to bring the adoption agency out of insolvency.
On July 30 creditors voted unanimously to forgo their financial claims and instead requested that the trustee work on developing a plan to resurrect the agency. For many families this plan offers their only hope of creating or completing their families.
The plan outlines the operating structure, financial terms and monitoring parameters of the proposed new agency. Every family will be required to sign a new retainer agreement, to pay an additional $4,000 dollars in recovery fees, and once a new pay schedule is created, to pay installments of any outstanding agency fees.
The plan anticipates that it will take 36 months to complete all of the approximately 350 adoption files currently in process, whether they are at the very early home study phase or later.
“The plan has just been released and the families are only now having the opportunity to review it,” says Christine Starr; Chair - Families of Imagine Adoption (FIA) Steering Committee. “Clearly there are important issues still left to be addressed and the increased financial commitment demanded by the plan will present a challenge for many families.
Personally however, and in light of the painful reality of this situation and the limited alternatives available to us, I am pleased with the plan and feel strongly that it offers families our best hope of successfully completing our adoptions.”
Despite the difficult circumstances the affected families faced following the bankruptcy, many have much to be thankful for. The $100,000 donation by Yamana Gold made shortly after the bankruptcy was announced ensured the care and wellbeing of the children in the transition home in Ethiopia.
Minister Jason Kenney, of Citizenship and Immigration, also intervened to expedite the visas for these children and now 35 of the 47 children are in Canada with their families. Without this support the families’ hopes of salvaging the agency and completing their adoptions would have been impossible.
If the creditors approve the proposal the goal is for the agency to resume operations by October 2009. “Although there is some degree of relief now that a plan has been presented, we now have to urgently turn our attention to fundraising to help the children in the Ethiopian orphanages who have been left stranded by the suspension of agency funding,” says Starr. “These children and their caregivers are depending on us.”
It looks good.
Now we wait until September 21 which is the next Creditors Meeting.
The day we find out whether or not Imagine will be restructured or not.
Or...perhaps the next step could happen sooner:
Sue Taves has advised that she will expedite the process for the families once she sees that the *majority* has voted in favour of the proposed plan, instead of waiting for 100% of the votes. We’re very happy with her offer to do this because it mean we can quickly move on to the next step.
As a sidenote, I have to say that BDO rocks. They've even posted a video with the "Cliff Notes" of the proposal.
It's far from over.
Continue to pray. Please.
We're still asking for our miracle.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
We're happy to share that we've confirmed with Susan Taves of BDO that
everything is still a go for the plan to be presented on their website tomorrow.
The inspectors are just in the process of one final review and sign off.
FIA Internal Comms committee
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
A summer of new enjoyment over many old things, we pulled out the sprinkler for one last go yesterday. Relishing in the heat that brings out nakedness in little boys, we also anticipated the events of our month to come.
While our summer is definitely not over - we're still housing 409 large campers until Sunday - we can feel fall in the air and see proof, thanks to the maple leaves on the grass.
September holds for our 5th annual trip to the States. The boys are more excited than ever and we will savour every moment, knowing that it will likely be our last, as school will dictate more of a schedule in one year's time.
September is bursting with adoption information. For good (!!) or bad, this month promises to bring conclusion to the pit-of-unease which moved it's way into my stomach many week ago. And of course, there is hope. Always hope. There is a positive "feel" to the words of the FIA and while this in no way promises a sealed deal, it does encourage us to push forth and know that there are hundreds, (thousands even!) are pushing forth and holding out hope with and for us.
We anticipate the restructuring proposal mailed by the end of this week. (Please, please be in the mail at the end of the week!) After that, time will fly and time will tell.
We'll keep you posted.
Enjoy your 1st of September.
May it bring feelings of anticipation of what your new year will bring.