Monday, May 9, 2011

Last Days in San Jose

Day 4 in San Jose
We went to the Multi Plaza mall in San Jose.  It’s big.  Inside, they have a children’s playground (The Playground by YuKids Island) where you can let the kids run, jump and use up all of their energy.   On weekends, it’s $8 per child for 90 minutes of playtime.  On weekdays, it’s just $8 for the entire day.  Parents can either go into the playground with their kids or sit right outside at the attached cafĂ©.  Of course, there is also a movie theater at the Multiplaza and I took my goddaughters to see Rio while my cousins went shopping.  Then we went for ice-cream.  So, I spent the afternoon being a “parent” in a foreign city.  A little scary at first, but then it was fine.  A good practice session for the future!
Today, Day 5, I’m just hanging with my family. No big activities. Tomorrow, I fly back home and then we wait for a match. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Day 3 in San Jose

Yesterday, we went back to Hotel Cristina for a tour and to talk to the staff.  This hotel is far better for families than the one where we are currently staying.  The location is much, much better.  It’s an easy walk to the park, a better residential area and closer to restaurants and other activities.   And the staff – incredible! 
We were told that they host many families who were adopting from PANI, mostly from Italy and Spain.  And, in fact, they tend to get attached to the families and are very sad to see them go.    That alone makes this place the choice for us. To have supportive and understanding staff during those initial months of becoming a family closed the deal for me.
Also, the rooms and space are much better than where we are currently staying.  The suite we saw had a living area with sofa, TV and chairs; a separate kitchen space with a real stove, refrigerator and table.  And of course, there were two comfortable bedrooms and a bathroom.  The rooms have internet access.   The entire space itself felt more comfortable, residential and private, not like a group of adjoining hotel rooms.  And the rates are less expensive for families adopting than the ones posted online. 
If you want a place a bit more upscale, we found another apartment hotel, Apartotel Sabana, in the same neighborhood, Sabana Norte. They will also give you a deal for a longer stay, but it will still be more expensive than Apart-Hotel Cristina.   Sometimes families who adopt stay there too.  The staff seemed nice enough.
We then walked over to the park and my darling goddaughter, Celeste, tested a playground in the park and gave it big thumbs up!   Lots of families, children, picnic areas, ice-cream carts, bike and hiking paths.  We even saw clowns and horses in the park.   Imagine that.
Not bad for Day 3.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Day 2 in San Jose

Yesterday, I met with the social worker responsible for the international adoptions.  My cousin Heidi came with me and of course, my attorney was there too.    It turns out that there was a problem with the translation of our last document – the one where we had to answer questions about characteristics of the children.  Translated, it said that we would accept children with special needs but not with any physical or emotional problems.    Of course that doesn’t make sense.  And the truth of the matter is that all of the children in the system have some problems, but most are correctable.    So we spent time clarifying with the social worker what we could handle and that was very important for us to fix. 
 For those of you who are waiting now to adopt from Costa Rica now, here’s what else we learned:
There are now 16 international families approved and waiting for children.  Ten have requested two or more children.  The rest only requested one child.  Most families requested girls.  And of course, because of the age requirements, most have requested children between the ages of 6 and 8.  
There are 72 Costa Rican families approved and waiting for children.  Most of them have requested babies or toddlers (0-3 or 0-4).   If there are children ready for adoption who are older (age 5 for example), they will turn to the international list if no Costa Rican families will take them. 
Right now, there are not many children ready yet (legally approved to be adopted). I was told that this is normal.  Children are placed as soon as they are ready.   The social worker did not know how many children are close to being ready yet, but said that PANI is working on improving their efficiencies on a state-wide level to get the children approved faster.  She said that there have already been improvements over the past year.  This is good news.  

Day 1 in San Jose

 Day 1, was a bit of a problem.    The apartment-hotel where I had planned to stay had a big problem.  As the lovely woman at the front desk told me, the floor "broke"  and they had no rooms or suites available.  They were completely booked.    Apparently the ceramic tiles on the floors popped up and it would have been a liability for them to let us stay there. 
But she was very, very sweet and tried to find us a similar hotel and we ended up on the other side of the park at Colaye Hotel, KC Hotels and Resorts.  
I would not recommend this hotel for families adopting for numerous reasons.   To begin with, to actually get to the park you have to cross a major four-lane highway.   Then, the suites are not really apartment-like.  There is no living room area and not much of a kitchen (sink, microwave, small refrigerator and a double hotplate that substitutes for a stove).  Amenities are poor; the front desk staffers are not very friendly or helpful; and the internet connection is extremely poor.
So, my cousin and I are going to go back to the Hotel Cristina to get a tour and talk to the staff before I leave.   
But enough about the hotels.   Day 2 was a better day.   See next entry.