October 2009 Archives

A strange pregnancy



As the poplars turn golden and and persimmons fall from the trees in Provence, somewhere in Mali a woman is either going to carry, is carrying, or will carry our child. Her pregnancy and birth will most likely be one of sadness, possibly even violence. It may be that a girl walking the streets of Bamako does not yet know that she is to be raped. Meanwhile a thread weaves itself tenderly, delicately across continents, towards a woman whom I will never know but will always love.

A friend sent me this beautiful song by Francis Cabrel. The sixth verse says: 'This little white soul, will be born two times. One between your hips, and the next in our arms.'

Mademoiselle l'Aventure

Mademoiselle l'aventure
Vous avez posé sans bruit
Roulé dans sa couverture
Un petit ange endormi

On arrivait de nulle part
On l'a serré contre nous
Ce qui ressemble au hasard
Souvent est un rendez-vous

Mademoiselle le mystère
Evanouie pour toujours
Vous serez toujours la mère
Nous serons toujours l'amour

C'est le livre qu'on partage
Et nous voilà réunis
Au matin de chaque page
On vous remercie

Vous avez l'âge où on s'amuse de tout de rien de son corps
Pas de témoin je présume juste la lune et encore
Et ce trésor cette colombe qui vous avait ralentie
Vous l'avez posée dans l'ombre et l'ombre vous a reprise

Cette petite âme blanche
Elle sera née deux fois
La première entre vos hanches
La seconde entre nos bras

La force que ça lui donne
C'est de l'éclat de diamant
On veut le dire à personne
A vous seulement

Vous qui avez l'âge où on s'amuse de tout de rien de son corps
Pas de témoin je présume juste la lune et encore
Et ce trésor cette colombe qui vous avait ralentie
Vous l'avez posée dans l'ombre et l'ombre vous a reprise

Vous êtes sûrement très belle
Comme ce petit miroir de vous
Qui s'endort contre mon aile
C'est tout ce que je sais de vous
Mademoiselle. ..

Francis Cabrel


Fresh off the press.



Fresh of the 'espace personnelle' of the French Adoption Agency:

We are now officially in the third trimester of our eternal pregnancy! It turns out after all that we HAVE been selected from over a thousand waiting dossiers
in the 2009 commission in Mali!

We are now on a list of 125 future parents who will receive the next
125 abandoned babies that are brought by the extraordinary people who work there to one of the two orphanages in Bamako. One day in the next 3-18 months we will get a call that says our infant is waiting to be picked up and we will get on the next flight to Bamako. We will hold our child in our arms for the first time, and finally we will bring him, or her, home.

It has been a long wait. It may be a long wait still, but at least we
know now we will have our family, and meanwhile there are many silent
creative days to appreciate and projects to fulfill before our lives
change for ever!

Tonight, meanwhile, we will crack open the champagne at last! Or should it be the
Côte Rotie???? hmmm....

Contiuning saga



And suddenly it is winter and they are cutting the vines before they even have a chance to blush with our good news...If indeed there is ever any.

.....So next, I phone Agence Française de l'Adoption and they say 'No you are NOT on the list. Not under Phillips, Poskie, Merrow-Manon. Not no nothing no-name nobody.

So then I phone the lawyer in Mali again and he says. No you ARE on the list. Just wait. The AFA will contact you in a few days. This turns, at the end of a few days, into 'next week'.....

Haven't I had these phonecalls before?

Well, apparently what was 'next week' has now come and gone, it being Friday as far as I can see. Without word. So I call our lawyer in Mali and demand that he explain exactly what is going on. This is what he says.

Our lawyer gave the Direction des Enfants et de la Famille a list with the name Ruth Phillips on it. The Direction couldn't find a Ruth Phillips (of course, because our dossier is under Merrow-Smith) so the Direction ignored that poor crazy woman on the other side of the world waiting for her little Malian poppet, and sent the list off to Paris without her. And of course her dear patient philosophical husband. When our lawyer got my email asking what had happened and why we weren't we on the list, he went to the Direction and sorted out the mistake. They said that's all well and dandy because several people who were selected have refused their place (found a kid somewhere else, died, agreement no longer valid, decided they couldn't be bothered, whatever) and we are now sending out a second list (the B list we all dread being on) to which we will add your client. So I (and of course dear patient philosophical Julian) should have been on the A list but this is my life and I always somehow end up being on the B list, don't I? Even when I'm on the bloody A list.

That B list left Bamako yesterday. It has to go to the consulate first in Paris and then to the AFA. Then apparently, some time next week? the AFA will contact us.

So as Julian says, a painting is not sold till the money is in the bank, and we are not on that list till we are holding the official letter from the AFA in our hands.

So I'm afraid we have to stay zen and you have to keep everything crossed still. Sorry about the cramps, but you should try adopting a child!

Meanwhile, because I do not stay in depression long, I finished the third draft of my book, and my Indesign course and we have started designing Julian's book in his new skylit office, and here's another big question: What painting do YOU want to see on the cover?


Commission in Mali 2009



Having realized the possibilities of her adopting a child in Nepal were slim, M put a dossier in Mali straight away. It had been there only a month but she was off to Bamako to give a helping hand in the orphanage in the hope that it would advance her case. She was not expecting to be selected in the next commission, she said as we sat in the Grand Café discussing our chances, although miracles could happen..... Meanwhile I was fairly confident. Our Malian lawyer had, in January, given me reason to be. ‘You were this close in the last commission’ he said, joining his his elegant index finger with his thumb over his breakfast in Terminus Nord. ‘You will Certainly be selected in the next.’ I had abandoned the dossier in Haiti and decided to wait. Now, sitting in the ancient stone vaults of the restaurant in the Papal city, Marie and I raised our glasses in the hope we would both get through this hurdle, and that we would be Mums together.

I handed M two letters to take to Bamako, one for the head of the orphanage and one for the head of the adoption committee. In these letters I told our news and wrote about what a wonderful person my M was. I hugged my new friend and wished her a Bon Voyage.

Insha'Allah, we agreed.

Twice a day I receive and delete emails from the various adoptanafricanchild forums. Last Thursday, for some reason, I opened up the email and there, under new messages, I found dozens of blissed out cries. ‘Its my turn at last!’ ‘The Malian angel has descended upon us!’ ‘Martin will have his little sister at last!’. The yearly commission in Mali had taken place. Wow. In it, the next 125 (out of over a thousand waiting) couples, singles and families had been selected and in the months that followed they would be attributed their baby. On my mobile phone a text message flashed up from Marie. ‘Go to the French Adoption Agency site.’ I quivered as I tapped in my password to access my éspace personelle. It had been two years since our dossier had been in Mali, but three and a half since we had decided to adopt, and eight since we had been trying to have the family we so longed for. Those eight years had been filled with some sadness, of course, but also with wonder. The move to France, the launch of Shifting Light, delicious operas, three cats, the acquisition and slow but sure bio-dynamic renovation of our beautiful house in the vines…I looked at the dates and the information. There was no date after February 2008 when our dossier arrived in Bamako. Was there a mistake, I wondered? I phoned the French Adoption Agency. No, they said, the website was up to date, and if the September date had not appeared on our éspace personelle, we had not been selected.

I checked my email to see if our lawyer had been in touch. In my box there was nothing from him. Instead there was an email from M. In her happiest hour, having been chosen. She was thinking of us, she said, and carrying us in her heart.

For the next two days I became one of those clicking- over- and- over- and- over- check- the- post- perhaps- there -has been- a- mix- up- kind –of- crazy- women. Where was OUR big white envelope? Where was OUR baby? I wailed. I seethed inside. The rejection, for that is what it felt like, was so unjust. Of course it bought up old grief and new despair. I was jealous of M. I was furious with our lawyer. Julian arranged emergency lap visits from our cat Poskie, brought me glasses of rosé and ran me a bath. He cajoled me into a fancy condolence lunch in Avignon. Afterwards I cried some more. And then I did what they did in the song. I picked myself up, brushed myself off, and started all over again. This time in the Côte d’Ivoire.

I found a wonderful lawyer who said our dossier was strong, and moving, and that we would almost certainly pass fairly swiftly through one of the next commissions that were held every three months. She was coming to France and we would meet. I looked up Ivory Coast in my Lonely Planet guide. I learned about the history and the tribes and slowly I began to get excited again.

And then the telephone rang. It was our lawyer in Mali. ‘But you ARE on the list’ he said. 'There has been a mix up with your maiden and your married names. You will hear from the adoption agency. Just wait.’

So that is what we are doing. We cannot celebrate. Nor can we move on with the Côte d’Ivoire dossier or indeed the Côte Rôtie. All we can do is sit in the sickly sweet fermenting air of the end of the grape harvest. And wait.