Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.

-Ethiopian Proverb-

Thursday, November 18, 2010

9 Days to Go!

Only 9 days left until we take off in what amounts to a large aluminum can flying over oceans, mountains, rivers, deserts, and many other geographical features! I can't believe that we are in the single digits. I have been waiting for this moment for years, and in many ways, I can't believe it's really happening. I'm ready to meet my two youngest daughters. I'm ready to look in their eyes, hold and rock them, play peek-a-boo with them, and kiss the tops of their sweet heads. I am ready to see the part of my family that has always been missing. I'm ready to meet the real babies who are printed on the photographs. I'm excited to begin again the adventure of parenting with my sweet husband who is, in my opinion, the world's best father. I'm ready to take that next step! It's time to go!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

10 Days!

10 days is all we have left until we leave on the trip that will irrevocably change the lives of so many people. T and I will become the parents to two more daughters; L will become a big sister; grandparents will add to their brood of grandchildren to love; aunties, uncles, and cousins will be connected to a country thousands of miles away; friends and colleagues will be on hand to welcome two little ones; and most importantly, two little girls who were brought into the world under circumstances that resulted in becoming orphans will be given a family and be forever united in the bonds of sisterhood, family, and daughterhood. When I reflect on the seemingly random and chaotic events that have transpired over many years to bring T and I to this point in our lives, I am overwhelmed by how "unrandom" and "unchaotic" these events have really been. I truly believe that T and I were called by God to this country and to these two little souls! As the days gradually ebb away towards the start of our trip and our departure, I find that I have become very reflective. When T and I got married and started thinking about having a family, we, like most couples, just assumed that our children would come to us through birth. God, on the other hand, had other things in mind. I have been reflecting that if we had been able to have birth children, we would never have had the honor of adopting L into our family; she has been a complete blessing in every way for each day of the past 8 years. By parenting her, we have been gifted with the awareness of so many things that would have never crossed our minds if we had been able to have birth children such as the management of Type 1 Diabetes, the obscene number of amazing children in the U.S. foster care system who are desperate for a family, and the healing that can take place when a hurting child can grieve, mend, and thrive in the embrace of a loving, committed, and stable family. Once again, T and I, through the miracle of adoption, have been gifted with awareness. We are now confronted first-hand with the suffering, grief, and longing of millions of orphaned children in Ethiopia; we are now aware of the effects of crippling poverty and rampant disease; we have knowledge of human rights violations so horrifying, they can turn your stomach when you think of them. Through adoption, T and I have been able to remove our heads from the sand and wake up to finally realize that suffering is a condition of the human race that affects more people than not. Suffering knows no boundaries; it permeates all cultures and all countries including populations within our own (children in the foster care system for example). God has used adoption to not only bless our marriage with children, He has used it to make T and I become aware of more than ourselves. How fortunate T and I are to be blessed by God with the desire to not only love and parent children together, but also with the desire to actually roll up our sleeves and get to work helping our fellow humans!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

High Ho High Ho! It's Off to Pack I Go!

As we are only 2 weeks and 3 days away from flying to Ethiopia, the frantic packing has commenced! I have encountered people who fit into 1 of 2 different packing styles; the "less is more" packers and the "if I don't pack it, I'll regret it" packers. I fall into the latter category for sure. For those of you who have seen the first Austin Powers movie where he discovers that his girlfriend is a "Fembot" by opening her suitcase and seeing how frighteningly organized all of the contents are with each article of clothing in its own separate Ziploc baggie, you have an understanding as to how I like to organize belongings for a trip. I think my method of organizing, which borders on the obsessive/compulsive side, freaks out my darling husband. For this trip, I have divided all of our contents equally between suitcases with all things, with the exception of clothing, secured in plastic containers and fortified with rubber bands to keep the tops from popping off! My oldest daughter L shoots me incredulous looks whenever she looks through my suitcases! So far, I have packed the following items:

1. travel pillows
2. travel blankets
3. first aid kit
4. books
5. pens and pencils including Sharpies
6. toilet paper
7. paper towels
8. gum
9. over-the-counter meds (15 different kinds)
10. prescription meds (8 different prescriptions)
11. peanut butter
12. jerky
13. Cliff Bars
14. hand sanitizing wipes
15. laundry soap sheets
16. flashlight with extra batteries (the power goes off a lot in Addis Ababa)
17. solar alarm clock (wouldn't want to over-sleep!)
18. travel garment steamer
19. travel hairdryer
20. Wet Ones (individually wrapped and in packs of 25)
21. umbrellas
22. sewing kit
23. electrolyte drink mix (gotta stay healthy and hydrated!)
24. instant coffee (for me the caffeine addict)
25. powdered creamer (coffee is just not coffee without cream)
26. tape
27. scissors (with blunt edges of course)
28. Downey Wrinkle Releaser (double bagged with Ziplocs)
29. puzzle books (it's going to be a long plane ride)
30. clothes pins (you never know!)
31. extra rubber bands
32. Ziploc bags in 2 different sizes
33. individual Kleenex packets (public restrooms are rumored to be short on supplies)

I think that's all for the time being. I'm hoping that the above list can be useful to others who are going to be traveling, and I really welcome any suggestions for items that I may have forgotten. I haven't even begun to tackle packing the clothes, electronics, and paperwork that we need to bring over. Just think, on the next trip, I get to pack all this stuff plus the stuff for the babies as well as orphanage donations! Exciting times folks! Exciting times indeed!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Preliminary Court Date

Well folks! On Tuesday, November 2, 2010, we got a call from Dove Adoptions with news regarding our preliminary court date in Ethiopia. If you recall, we were assigned two court dates once the Ethiopian courts reopened in September; the first hearing took place on Tuesday, and the other will occur on December 2. During Tuesday's hearing, the judge reviewed our family's dossier documents to see if we were fit to parent Laurel and Willow, signed necessary paperwork, and made various "judgely" statements and rulings. This was also the court hearing in which any birth relatives or other appropriate witnesses would need to give their testimony regarding our babies. According to Tami, the program director for Dove Adoptions, WE ARE IN GOOD SHAPE!!!!!! Everything went well, all papers were signed, all "judgely" statements and rulings were made, and we are on course for a very good second court date in which T and I need to appear before a judge and give our testimony. If all continues to go well, and Tami seems mostly confident it will, we should (hopefully) be granted legal custody of the girls on December 2nd!!!!!!! I am very excited about the possibility of being Laurel and Willow's legal mom next month, but I need to also remain cautious. The world of international adoption can change so fast it would make your head spin (eg: the Ethiopian court requiring parents to make 2 trips)! So on a positive note, things are looking good for our family, and we are in the throes of frantic shopping and packing. I kid you not, our bedroom looks like it was hit by a tornado with all of the suit cases, bags, snacks, clothes, toiletries, appliances, and weird random-but-extremely-important things laying all over the place in some semblance of organized chaos. I am trying to figure out how to fit all of those necessary things into two carry-ons and two suitcases without exceeding our 50 pound per suitcase weight limit while simultaneously attempting to keep our cats from destroying our luggage because of them thinking of it as their new scratching post! I got my college degree in education; not engineering or veterinary science! Yikes!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Toukoul Orphanage, Ethiopia (Les Amis Du Toukoul)

I found this short video about the orphanage where Laurel and Willow are currently living for only a short time longer. For those of you out there in Blog Land who are going through this orphanage, I hope that seeing the pictures of where your children are or will be coming from brings you much peace as you can clearly see how clean and cheerful the environment is.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Personal Leap of Faith

Relying on God's timing has always been one of my downfalls as a human being. As a person who likes to be in the driver's seat literally and figuratively, surrendering to God's plan for my life and for my family has always been difficult, and I am finding myself becoming increasingly tense as we head into the final stages of this adoption. I try to focus on the reality that I'm going to be seeing my daughters' sweet faces in a few short weeks and that currently, they are safe, healthy, and thriving. I also try to remain grateful and happy that my oldest daughter, L, has just started insulin pump therapy for managing her insulin-requiring Type 1 Diabetes. This therapeutic device has, for the most part, been fully covered by our medical insurance complete with a "Pump Trainer" who comes to our house to make sure L is doing well with her $6,000 miracle of modern medicine and technology aka The Minimed Paradigm Revel Insulin Pump! I am constantly reminding myself that "it's all good", but there is this part of me that needs more proof, and there is none! There is just so much going on, and I keep reflecting on my fears of what can go wrong. One scenario is not being granted custody of Laurel and Willow right away even after having traveled halfway around the world to give testimony before a judge all because a small piece of paper is missing from our file or a witness was not able to travel to the preliminary court date on November 2nd to give their statement. Another is that we won't get our re-fingerprinting appointment from the Department of Homeland Security auto- generated before we depart for Ethiopia thus resulting in expired fingerprints on our I-171H immigration form! Another scenario that keeps making my heart palpitate with fear is that if we are not granted custody of the girls during our first trip, we will need to get a homestudy update done for the Department of Homeland Security because our original homestudy expires on March 30, 2011. If we don't get custody right away and a third court date needs to be scheduled, the American Embassy in Ethiopia cannot begin processing the immigration papers for Laurel and Willow, thus resulting in delays in taking that second trip where we get their visas so they can enter the United States as full citizens. A homestudy update in the State of California is no easy endeavour. Not only do we need to get re-fingerprinted for our FBI clearance, our child abuse clearance, and our State of California clearance, we need to get our medical forms redone (an adoption physical is required and not covered by our insurance), have the social worker come out to our home twice for interviews and inspections, and pay $750! Not good! We had not anticipated this extra expense, and paying for the two trips to Ethiopia makes this difficult. Oh yeah, we also need to buy another car; we are currently a one-car-family, and I don't think L would appreciate being crammed in the backseat of our Honda Fit with two carseats! We had to use our down-payment for a car this summer to fully replace our broken air conditioning system because attempting to survive summer in the desert with no A/C is not only impossible, but very dangerous! I'm also really scared of leaving my oldest daughter back in "The States" when T and I travel to Ethiopia. For those of you who don't know us, my daughter L is an insulin-requiring Type 1 Diabetic who is at the mercy of the whims of a fine-tuned balance between short-acting insulin and carbohydrates. As L has grown older (and wiser), she has become mostly independent with her diabetes management, but T and I have always been there as part of her support and feedback team. Granted, L will be under the watchful eyes of my parents when we are gone, but Type 1 Diabetes is a condition where things can go really wrong really fast! I can't be there to support and comfort her if she has a severe low blood sugar attack; those are not fun, and she can become pretty disoriented! On the other end, I can't be there for her if her blood sugar becomes too high which can result in diabetic ketoacidocis; this condition would land her in the hospital! We would take L with us to Ethiopia, but her diabetes doctor cautioned us against it because of poor insulin availability, a lack of appropriate medical facilities, and the high incidence of illness that exists there, and since both T and I are legally required to attend our court date unless one of us is pregnant or about to be deployed to war, we have to go. Crazy stuff I tell you!!!!! I need to keep having faith that this journey is what God has planned for us. I think that at the end of this process, so much personal and spiritual growth will have occurred on so many levels for so many people. I truly believe that God strengthens our faith in Him through the facing of our fears and challenges. This adoption journey is like that part in the third Indiana Jones movie (The Search for the Holy Grail) where he is faced with stepping off the edge of a cliff into seemingly nothing but a deep chasm. His task is a leap of faith, and when he takes that first step, he lands on a rock bridge that blends in with the surrounding cliff walls. Indiana Jones makes it to the other side, finds the Holy Grail, and saves his dying father. I'm not saving a dying family member by completing the process of an Ethiopian adoption, nor will I find the Holy Grail when it's all finished, but I am taking my own leap of faith with the end result being the addition of two beautiful little girls to our family!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ethiopian Sepsis and FedEx

A few days after all of the drama centered around Laurel's diagnosis of sepsis, I had a long talk with the director of Dove Adoptions about the medical status of our baby girl. Apparently, Ethiopian doctors think of sepsis differently than American doctors. In Ethiopia, any infection that a person has warrants a diagnosis of "sepsis"; these infections can range from a simple ear infection to a serious infection of the blood. In the U.S., a sepsis diagnosis would land a person in intensive care in an oxygen tent undergoing crazy medical tests including a spinal tap! We had Dove forward an email requesting more information about Laurel's particular sepsis diagnosis, and today, we found out that she was treated with a broad spectrum antibiotic, she responded positively, and that she is currently healthy. Praise the Lord! We are still waiting for more information such as what her symptoms were and what follow-up tests they are conducting such as blood cultures and chest x-rays, but honestly, I think she's just fine. I hope we hear back from the orphanage soon!

Going off on another tangent, I need to vent about FedEx. After spending over $4,000 on airline tickets and traveler's insurance, our travel agency sent the aforementioned items to us via Federal Express complete with a tracking number. After waiting a couple of days for our tickets to arrive, T checked the tracking number and discovered that they HAD arrived when in fact, they HAD NOT!!!!!! We checked the front porch and also asked L if she had seen them. Lo and behold, they were not on the porch and L had no idea what we were talking about. Well, where could they be? When I called FedEx's customer service number, they couldn't find them too! They were going to run a trace the following day as we were calling on a Sunday, and FedEx only operates Monday through Saturday. Our tickets were floating out there in FedEx land complete with personal and identifying information about me and my husband. Needless to say, we were not pleased. I decided to take matters into my own hands and proceeded to shake down my neighbors. My closest neighbors didn't have them, so I went around to the other side of my neighborhood to the person who lives in a house that shares our address but not our street name. He didn't have them either! I was starting to get that all-to-familiar nasty angry-panic-helpless feeling as I walked home. I looked up to the sky and said, "Lord? I really need those tickets! Would you mind helping out a neurotic woman when you have a chance? Thanks. . . I'd appreciate it." I rounded the corner and was passing by a house that is three doors up from us, and what do you know! Our tickets were sitting on their front porch! The FedEx guy left our very important package sitting on the porch of a foreclosed house with a lock box on the front door! Also, the address was different than ours! I raced home happily all the while thanking God. With much relief, I presented our airline tickets to my very happy husband who promptly called FedEx to lodge a complaint. Shesh! I am really ready to be finished with all of this adoption drama! On the positive side, I AM GOING TO MEET LAUREL AND WILLOW NEXT MONTH!!!!!!!! Hooray!!!! Yippee!!!!!! Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can hardly wait to hold them, rock them, play with them, cuddle them, and tell them how much I love them!!! Life is good!

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Today started out as an ordinary Thursday. We woke up, had a nice breakfast together as a family, got dressed, I had a very nice phone conversation with the director of Dove adoptions, and we started down our separate paths. T went to work, L started on her school work, and I set out to confirm our lodging at the YGF Guesthouse in Addis Ababa for our upcoming trip. Since most of my tasks were centered around the use of the internet, I was constantly checking our email because we were expecting the September update of pictures and medical reports for Laurel and Willow. Much to my happiness, when I logged into our email account, I found the update waiting in the inbox. I called T at work, and we proceeded to look at the pictures and medical files for our babies. We were ooooing and aaahhhing until T saw the word "sepsis" on Laurel's recent medical treatment section! The doctor stated that she was diagnosed with sepsis, treated with antibiotics, and was currently healthy. Well, our mommy and daddy hearts lurched to hear that our baby girl had been sick, but we had no idea what sepsis was until T and I did an internet search for sepsis in infants. Come to find out, sepsis is a dangerous bacterial infection of the blood that would, in the United States, warrant a medical emergency! According to the website called, sepsis " is a serious infection that is usually caused by bacteria which can originate in many body parts such as the lungs, intestines, urinary tract, or skin that causes the immune system to make toxins that attack the body's own tissues and organs"! OH MY GOSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Needless to say, we freaked out! I immediately hung up with T and called our adoption agency. All they had to tell us was that the agency director had already sent out an email request to the orphanage doctors for more information (this request was made yesterday, and we received the medical reports today. Hummmmm. Strange.) and that sepsis is very common in Ethiopia. After I got off the phone, the first thing I did was fall to my knees and begin fervently praying to God to protect my baby girl. I then proceeded to call my mom to see if she had any idea of the repercussions of sepsis in infants due to her work as a birthing and support doula. She had never heard of sepsis. I then proceeded to, in my deranged state of utter helplessness, call one friend who has a girlfriend who is a critical care nurse as well as another friend who is married to a doctor. I left messages, and two minutes later, my phone rang. Praise God, it was my friend's husband (who I believe is an angel) calling me from work. He proceeded to tell me how a person gets sepsis, how it is treated, and best of all, if a person fully recovers from the infection, there is no "lingering weirdness" aka long term complications for the infected person. He also proceeded to tell me that Laurel has youth on her side, and that if the doctors said that she is well, she is cured. He did want more information, but unfortunately I was unable to provide him with any. He also told me that sepsis can stem from a urinary tract infection, pneumonia, bacterial diarrhea, or a topical skin infection. This is what I would really like information on from the orphanage doctors. How in God's name did she get something like this?!? Dealing with this has really made me understand our babies' precarious situation; their health is so precious and fragile. I am frightened for my daughters. I keep praying for their protection and health, but this overwhelming and horrible helplessness keeps creeping in. Can you do me a favor? Can you please pray for my little girls? Thank you.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Court Date!

I am so pleased to share with everyone that we were assigned a court date for the 2nd of December of 2010! We got the email from our adoption agency yesterday. I must admit that August and September were difficult months because of the court closures. It is so very hard to receive beautiful pictures of your children growing and changing in a country halfway around the world and all that is halting the process that would allow them to be home with us is torrential rains! Anyway, we are so very excited to be heading to Ethiopia on November 27th; I have booked our plane tickets using a travel agency that specializes in international adoption trips, and we actually ended up saving money using these people. When Tony entered our trip information into Travelocity, we were quoted a price of $2000 per person, but our travel agency managed to get the exact same flights for $1600 per person! Wow!!! With all of the expenses involved with this adoption, saving money in any form is deeply appreciated!!!! I am ready to meet my babies next month; I want to hold them and let them know how loved and wanted they are. I just hope that they will receive our hugs and kisses. I've heard many stories of couples who are faced with screaming, crying infants when they first meet their new son or daughter! What will be will be; we are prepared for a variety of scenarios upon our first meeting. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a warm reception! We'll see!! :0)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Our Referral Meeting

Today we officially accepted our referral during our phone meeting with Tammy, the director of Dove Adoptions! We are so excited to have finally moved out of the waiting phase of our adoption and into the next phase which is waiting to be assigned a court date in Ethiopia. Since our referral came just before the rainy season begins (August to October), it appears that we will be required to appear before a judge sometime in October, November, or God-forbidding, December! God-willing we pass court the first time, we will return to the United States WITHOUT our babies for a period of 6 to 8 weeks while we wait to be assigned an American Embassy date in which we will be issued full physical custody of the girls as well as their visas! After we appear for our embassy appointment, we can go home to become a happy family of 5.

I have been asked to post pictures of our beautiful new daughters, but I am in the unfortunate position in which I can't! The Ethiopian government has mandated that adoptive parents who have been issued referrals cannot post pictures, names, or ANY identifying information over the Internet! This is because they highly value the privacy of their children, which is highly ethical in my opinion. One family who did not know about the mandate posted pictures of their referred child on the web and when the Ethiopian government found out about this, they subsequently revoked the family's referral, shredded their dossier documents, and barred them from ever adopting within Ethiopia! WOW!!!!! Is that hardcore or what?!? Needless to say, with those severe consequences, we will not be posting pictures or any identifying information. What I can say is that they are so very beautiful. They have the most amazing brown eyes that are full of life and energy. They are very healthy and are eating and sleeping well. Developmentally speaking, they are right on target. They like to giggle and smile at the orphanage nannies as well as sit up and push up on their hands and wrists. They are happy, lively, and thriving. I couldn't ask for more! We will be receiving more pictures at the end of the month, and Tony and I are so excited to see how our babies have grown and changed. As we progress through this new phase on our journey of international adoption, I will keep everyone posted.


We got our referral for two baby girls at 1:07 pm Pacific Standard Time on July 15. Our new daughters are 4 months old, and are absolutely beautiful! We are so very happy needless to say. We will keep everyone posted about what is happening next. More to come later; I promise!!!

Friday, May 14, 2010


I know that I haven't blogged in a while, but I have been frantically busy which is good! I finally completed my Master's degree last Tuesday while simultaneously working as the back stage mom overseeing the girl's dressing room for our local college's production of "The Music Man". I was in charge of 6 girls (my daughter included). Not only did I do 6 heads of hair in authentic 1912 curls, I managed their numerous period costumes, got them to the stage on cue, averted major costume disasters resulting from spills of food and drink, nurtured and boosted the moral of 6 very tired and sometimes very cranky children, and generally kept them from killing each other which was no easy task! I really enjoyed spending time with these girls; 3 of them are homeschooled, which I think is extremely cool! This frantic state of busyness has helped to calm the anxiety of waiting for our referral. Since I have now added the title of Adoption Blog Stalker to my credentials, I have continued to witness a stagnant referral front. One family who is going through Dove Adoptions did get their referral for a baby boy after waiting 8 days shy of 6 months. There is another family who has been waiting 7 months for a baby girl. They just want 1 girl; we want 2! I am starting to suspect that we will be in it for the long haul. Lately, I have been experiencing a small amount of calm around waiting which is very new to me. Maybe I've just become what Pink Floyd would call "comfortably numb", but there is part of me that suspects there is a bit more to my state of calm other than just disassociation. I have found myself praying more often, and I think that God has heard me. I think that I have been relying on myself far too much for strength when I should have been relying on something bigger than myself. I know that it is true that God helps those who help themselves, but I think that you can only help yourself to a point. Sometimes, circumstances are way too big for people to handle on their own, and that is when God steps in to assist. I know that many of you readers out there have many diverse beliefs about God. Some of you assign a Christian perspective to your spirituality where as others may be Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, agnostic, or a unique combination of some, all,or none of these beliefs. What ever you believe or hope to believe, I sincerely think that God (however perceived) is at work in our lives. I have found that this process of waiting has profoundly affected my relationship to God in that I have someone to rely on who has the eternal perspective as His view of the big picture. I think that most of my frustration with the waiting process has stemmed from seeing this adoption from my own selfish, small, and narrow human perspective. I am hoping that my calm isn't fleeting! However, if the anxiety begins to creep back in, at least I have experienced a small reprieve!

Monday, May 3, 2010

I'm Starting to Detect a Trend!

Now that we have been officially waiting for a referral for over 5 months, I have become an avid adoption blog stalker! If you haven't noticed, I have linked a list of Ethiopian adoption blogs to my own blog, and this is where the blog stalking has commenced. I have perused most of the over 1,000 blogs and have found that the people who are waiting for their referrals for about as much time as we have, have not gotten them! One family adopting through the same agency we are using has been waiting for over 6 months, and they are quickly approaching their 7 month mark. So much for our agency's quoted "average wait time" of 4 to 6 months! It appears that all is quiet on the referral front. It makes me wonder what is going on over there in Ethiopia! Will the referrals be released all at once? Is there an unofficial wait list? I think the most frustrating thing about this phase of the adoption is that I don't know what's happening! There is no way to get any information! Our agency doesn't know anything because the orphanage board who matches children to parents does not share any information with them for some reason. I'm hoping that the trend of a referral drought will end shortly. It's time to move forward here people! Let's get those children matched so they can come home to their forever families! Moving forward with the business of making referrals is better for the children because they deserve a family of their own, is better for the families because they can be united with their children, and is better for the orphanage because they can house and care for more children in need once the referred children are adopted and brought home. It's an "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" situation; mutually beneficial for everyone!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Our 5 Month "Waitiversary"!

Well, it's official folks! As of today, April 26th, we have been waiting to be matched with our little girls for 5 months! I have spent many moments reflecting on what our life was like 5 months ago when "The Wait" officially began. Let's see, 5 months ago would take us back to Thanksgiving day of 2009. We spent a wonderful afternoon/evening at my sister and her husband's house having a gourmet meal and anxiously awaiting the confirmation text message from DHL stating that our dossier had been hand delivered to officials at the Toukoul Orphanage. When we got the message that our paperwork had made it safely there with stops in Oregon, Washington DC, Leipzig Germany, and finally to Addis Ababa Ethiopia, Tony and I experienced feelings of joy and anticipation mixed with relief. It was wonderful to be amongst family when this important compilation of documents that took 4 months to gather, safely reached its intended destination. I have heard horror stories of dossiers being lost during transit, and it was wonderful to not be among those unfortunate few! 5 months ago, you would have found me bubbling over with excitement and optimism. I sincerely believed that I would be one of those people who was relieved to have reached the waiting phase of the adoption process. The paperwork phase was a nightmare, but, I'm starting to realize, I had some semblance of control over our adoption during this time. Compiling the paperwork was daunting at best, but nothing could proceed unless I got off my rear and made things happen. For those of you who know me, I am a person who is a "mover and a shaker", and gathering documents for a dossier was a great opportunity to make things happen. It was a relief to get that last elusive piece of paper into my hands and crossed off my crazy dossier checklist! I thought I had it easy from then on out because my part was done, with the exception of writing checks for outrageous sums of money! This has not been the case in the slightest. I have found waiting to be the most difficult thing of all. I have no control over anything; I live in a state of constant stress,frustration, and fear, and there is nothing for me to do except to wait some more!!!! Distraction has not helped, praying has not helped,talking with my husband has not helped, keeping busy has not helped, and counting my blessings has not helped (although I still count my blessings). I have run out of coping mechanisms! On the occasion of my high school graduation, my lovely sister gave me a Dr. Seuss book called "Oh, the Places You'll Go" as a gift. It's a story about a boy navigating through life with all of its ups and downs, joys, and challenges. I read the book through, and when I was a mere 18 years of age, the part of the story that smacked me upside the head was the part about waiting. Dr. Seuss refers to "The Waiting Place" where everyone is just waiting; waiting for the mail to come, or the rain to go, or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow, etc. Back then, before my life really began, I somehow saw that "The Waiting Place" would be in integral part of my adult life, and it has on so many levels. The nice thing about "Oh, the Places You'll Go" is that on the page following the description of "The Waiting Place", Dr. Seuss goes on to say that "Somehow you'll escape all that waiting and staying. You'll find the bright places where the Boom Bands are playing." I'm REALLY ready to go to where the "Boom Bands" are playing (whatever those are)!!!!! I think Dr. Seuss has a point here! Some time, somehow, it will end; there is an escape from waiting! I just hope it comes sooner rather than later! If I have to wait much longer, I will find myself transformed into a woman with no fingernails left from constant nail biting, nubbins for teeth from constant teeth grinding and jaw clenching, and a completely gray head of hair! I'm just kidding! For the most part...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tribes of Ethiopia

One thing that I have wanted to know more about are the different tribes of people who are scattered throughout Ethiopia. Our orphanage has a network of 20 different intake centers located in different regions of the country, and my future daughters could likely come from opposite sides of Ethiopia. I came across a blog the other day from a couple who adopted from the same orphanage we are going through, and they made reference to the different tribal features of their children. Their new daughter has the "cinnamon complexion and almond-shaped eyes" that are apparently common with the Amhara people of the north, and their new son has the "dark complexion and tall stature" of the Somali tribe who live in the south. My curiosity was piqued when I looked at the differences between their two children. How will my future daughters look? Will they be from the same region? The same tribe perhaps? Of course it doesn't matter what they look like; they will be loved all the same, but knowing more about the distinctive looks of each tribe may be helpful in establishing pride in their identity. After researching, my husband and I found that my daughter, L, has the facial features and small body stature of the Aztec people, and knowing this information has helped her come to terms with her heritage. Knowing L's genetic composition has also been helpful from a medical standpoint because her doctors have been able to make some generalizations regarding her growth and development rate based on an understanding of people who are of Aztec descent. Knowing as much as possible about the heritage and past of an adopted child is only to their benefit. The more an adoptive parent can answer their child's questions, the better adjusted that child will be. So, I decided to embark on a search to find out as much as possible about the different tribes found throughout Ethiopia. I have discovered that the internet is, needless to say, chock-full of information. Following are some slide shows I thought would be interesting to share with you. Some of these slides contain partial nudity,so this is a heads-up to people who would rather not see pictures of people "in the raw" so to speak. I,however,think the people in the slides are amazing; they just have different social norms and different ideas of what is beautiful. I sincerely hope you enjoy these slides.

Here is a slide show with images of the Afar people.They live in the northeastern part of Ethiopia. They are a nomadic people who live in dry, desert conditions.

These slides feature the Amhara people. They are the largest tribe in Ethiopia, and they live in the north central highlands of Ethiopia. They are primarily farmers.

The Mursi people live near the border of Sudan. These people are famous for their lip plates as you will see in the slides. They are nomads who survive through cattle herding.

Mursi on Fotopedia

The Borana Oromo people are a subgroup of the Oromo tribe which split into two halves. The Borana Oromo can be found in southern Ethiopia, and they are considered pastoralists.

The people of the Hamer tribe are located in the southwestern part of Ethiopia. They live a pastoral lifestyle, so cattle is very important to them.

These slides represent just a small sample of the numerous and diverse tribes found throughout Ethiopia. I am excited to share images such as these with my future daughters. Hopefully they will be proud to call these people their own; they are a part of their amazing heritage!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The 7 Stages of Waiting for an International Adoption Referral

When I was in college, I took several psychology classes, and in one of them, I remember studying about the 7 Stages of Grief. I don't know if you are familiar with them, but it really made sense to me that when a person is confronted with a major life event such as the death of a beloved person, the grieving person will move through a series of steps in order to reconcile and make sense out of something that may be too difficult to deal with all at once. The 7 stages of grief are shock and denial; pain and guilt; anger and bargaining; depression, reflection, and loneliness; the upward turn; reconstruction and working through; and finally acceptance and hope. I think that there is a correlation between grieving and waiting for an adoption referral in that just as there are steps in dealing with grief, there are steps in dealing with the intense feelings of waiting for the referral of your future children. I recall that when we were waiting for L's referral, I went through several distinct stages, and I find that I'm going through the exact same stages while waiting for Laurel and Willow's referral. So, upon deep and personal reflection, I have, for your reading pleasure, constructed the official "7 Stages of Waiting for an International Adoption Referral"!

The 1st stage of waiting is, I believe, very similar to the 1st stage of grieving; shock and denial. You are shocked that all of the insanely complicated and sometimes almost impossibly unattainable paperwork is compiled, completed, notarized, apostilled, and shipped off to some foreign country you've never been to and cannot easily locate on a map. You may be in denial because you cannot believe that you were capable of finding and retrieving documents you didn't even know existed within our sometimes inefficient government bureaucracy.

The 2nd stage of waiting is different than the 2nd stage of grieving in that they are polar opposites; excitement and optimism as opposed to pain and guilt. You are over the moon with knowing that you have reached this important stage of the adoption journey. You are optimistic that the wait will go quickly. You say to yourself, "4 to 6 months is nothing! That's just a blink of an eye, the drop of a hat!" and other corny euphemisms. Excitement is flowing through your veins because you know that soon, very soon, you will see the faces of your new children.

The 3rd stage of waiting is discouragement and distraction. The excitement of stage 2 has worn off, and it seems that time. . . is. . . moving. . .very. . . slow. . .ly. . . !. . . !. . . ! You know that your referral will happen, but the months of waiting that are stretched out in front of you seem insurmountable. You try to keep busy, and there is a flurry of plans being made in order to distract yourself. This is all to no avail because that feeling of discouragement keeps seeping back into your consciousness and even into your subconsciousness because strange dreams begin to make appearances when you sleep.

The 4th stage of waiting is similar to the 4th stage of grieving in that you begin to experience feelings of depression (not clinical mind you) and fear. You start to think that your referral call will never come and that maybe there is something wrong with your dossier paperwork. Intense and irrational fear ensues along with random tears. Thoughts such as these start swirling around in your head: "The orphanage lost my paperwork!", "Maybe my desired criteria regarding age and sex of children are too narrow!", and my personal favorite, "Perhaps they just don't like me!". At this stage, you assign a special ring tone on your cell phone to coincide with your agency's phone number.

The 5th stage of waiting is numbness. You don't feel anything when you think about the referral, adoption, traveling, the whole thing. You just stop feeling anything at all and try to get on with your life. You begin putting up a wall between yourself and the adoption. You don't keep contemplating paint colors for the nursery, and you stop looking at the stuff in the baby section of Target. Guarding your heart is common during this stage.

The 6th stage of waiting is reconciliation. You begin to realize that your referral will come in due time; that there is a divine plan of events already set in motion in order to bring together a bunch of people who are destined to be a part of each others' lives forever. You still are guarding your heart, but there is a faint glimmer of hope and excitement present once again.

The 7th stage of waiting is complete and utter bliss! You finally, FINALLY receive THE CALL from your agency!!!!! You gaze upon pictures of your new children with the realization that you have become a parent once more. The discouragement, fear, and numbness dissolve into the background, and you begin to understand that all of your hard work and waiting has paid off. Now you have something tangible, SOMEONE in fact, to cling to and to persevere for as opposed to some abstract child who is out there somewhere in the great nebulous mass of humanity. This feeling of bliss and parental instinct will keep you going as you move through the 7 Stages of Waiting for Your Adoption to be Finalized! I'm just kidding. . . sort of!

Friday, April 9, 2010

By the Way. . .

When I say that we are adopting from Ethiopia, I am always asked two questions in exactly the same order. The first is "When will the children come home?", and the second one is "How much is the adoption costing you?". Well, the answer to the first question is "Hopefully around October, but we'll see.", and the answer to the second question is the following long and well-itemized answer.

The cost, thus far, to bring home 2 baby girls from Ethiopia is. . .

1. Homestudy fingerprint fee for Tony and I: $212.00

2. Application fee for Dove Adoptions: $100.00

3. First installment of homestudy fee: $1000.00

4. Second installment of homestudy fee: $1,048.00

5. First installment to Dove Adoptions: $3,000.00

6. Second installment to Dove Adoptions: $6,000.00

7. Third installment to Dove Adoptions: $9,100.00

8. I-600A petition to classify foreign orphan as an immediate family member: $650.00

9. Department of Homeland Security fingerprint fee for Tony and I: $160.00

10. State of Colorado background checks for Tony and I: $60.00

11. City of LQ background checks for Tony and I: $68.00

12. Certified copies of birth certificates for all family members: $219.00

13. Passports: $300.00

14. Passport photos: $10.85

15. Adoption physicals (not covered by our medical insurance!): $246.00

16. Adoption education classes as required by our agencies: $400.00

17. Notary fees: $366.00

18. Apostille fees: $40.00

19. Dossier photos: $24.16

20. Photocopies: $5.77

21. Postage: 21.90

And the grand total so far is. . .!!!!!!!!!!!!!!: $23,031.68

All in all, the Ethiopian adoption costs are far below the fees for other countries who have international adoption programs. In Russia, for example, the cost is over $50,000 when you factor in travel and lodging fees. We are anticipating spending around $12,000 for air fare and lodging fees which is not bad in the grand scheme of things, especially now that we need to take two trips to Ethiopia! We will also need to get travel vaccinations for Yellow Fever, Typhoid, and Hepatitis A and B (we are still considering getting the Rabies vaccinations as recommended by our adoption agency and the Center for Disease Control) as well as medications for Malaria and Cipro tablets for extreme traveler's diarrhea which should cost us $2,500 because our insurance will not cover these things. We also need to purchase medical evacuation insurance which should be a few hundred dollars as well as rent an international cell phone. I did not count the $12.00 we paid for the yummy cookies we bought at Panera to feed to our social worker during our home visits, but I will factor in around $1000.00 for spending money when we travel because we want to purchase Ethiopian items to give to our daughters on their birthdays and other special occasions. I find that when I see money flying out of our bank account at an alarmingly fast rate, I shrug my shoulders and say "It's only money!". Really, it is only money! We have good food to eat, a comfortable home, adequate clothing, and a machine that makes great coffee. What more do we really need? Yes it's a bit tight right now financially speaking, but I know deep down that we are doing what we were always meant to do which is open our home and family to two little souls who need us (we need them too, by the way). People are what matter, not new cars, fancy appliances, huge houses, and other material trappings. Tony and I willingly and gladly shell out obscene amounts of money for a cause that is priceless; building our family and welcoming more children into our home!

And Yet Another "Adoption Alert"!

Yesterday afternoon we received yet another "adoption alert" from our agency. While I am extremely glad that our agency works hard to keep their adoptive parents in the loop regarding the new court procedures being implemented in Ethiopia, I still find myself needing to take a couple of deep breaths in order to calm my nerves! According to Dove adoptions, the implementation of the new court procedures regarding adopting parents needing to take two trips is being extended to April 30, 2010. This extension was granted because, and I quote our agency, "the extension is to allow the Federal First Instance Court and the Ministry of Women's Affairs additional time to develop guidelines and procedures for implementing this process. Both organizations are working to have all documentation in place when the court appointment is scheduled to decrease the possibility of additional postponements after prospective adoptive parents make their appearance at court." I think, if I read this correctly, this is a good thing! Ethiopian court proceedings are notorious for delay after delay after delay in granting an adoption decree and legal custody for a variety of reasons; one being rolling power outages in the capital city of Addis Ababa, and the other being that in order for a child to be elegible for adoption, he or she needs to be classified as a "true orphan". In Ethiopia, with its tribal and extended family based society, if a child's parents die, then any, and I mean ANY family member is traditionally expected to step up and care for the child. During the court proceedings, the child's next of kin is expected to make an appearance to state to the judge that they cannot care for the child in question thus classifying the child as a "true orphan", and the next of kin can range from an 18-year-old sibling to an 80-year-old grandmother! Court proceedings can only take place in Addis Ababa, and the feasibility of traveling to the capital city is difficult at best and nearly impossible for most Ethiopian people hence creating many court delays! If I read the above quote correctly, then I can safely guess that the new court procedures are hopefully going to eliminate the multiple court postponements by making sure that the proper "true orphan" status can be applied to our future children! Dove has also stated that in the past six months, 42 children have been abandoned in Ethiopia by their American adoptive parents! How insane is that? In court, Tony and I will be required by Ethiopian law to swear that we will not, under any circumstances, abandon our children after being granted legal custody. This is a statement that I will be more than happy to swear to! I still, to this day, do not understand what can possess some people to abandon a child who is legally theirs thus further victimizing an already victimized child. Your guess is as good as mine!!!!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Just the Facts Part Two!

The other day I wrote about some of the more sobering facts regarding the hardships the people of Ethiopia face on a daily basis. What I want to present to you today is the other side of Ethiopia, a country that is diverse, beautiful, interesting, and dynamic. So here goes nothing!

Did you know that Ethiopia. . .

Follows the Julian calendar, which comprises twelve months of thirty days each and a thirteenth month of five days (or six days in a leap year). The calendar is seven years and eight months behind the Western (Gregorian) calendar with Christmas being celebrated on January 7 and New Year on September 11?

Does not adjust for Daylight Savings?

Has an official language called Amharic?

Is the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant?

Was the birth place of the Queen of Sheba?

Was never colonized or conquered except once by the Italians?

Is the source of the Nile River?

Is home to "Lucy" the skeleton of the oldest human being?

Is home to the Mursi tribe, one of the fiercest in Africa, famous for the women wearing lip-plates? They used the lip-plates to protect themselves from slave-traders and began the practice in order to appear less attractive to those who might capture and sell them.

Is a land of lush green pastures and meadows, thick forests, and plentiful lakes?

As you can see, Ethiopia is a fascinating country full if interesting places, people, and traditions. One good thing that I can see coming out of us taking two trips there is that Tony and I will get to spend more time exploring this unique country!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Waiting, Waiting, and More Waiting!

All I have to say about waiting for our referral is "GRRRRRRRRRRR!" with a lot of hair-pulling thrown in for good measure!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Just the Facts!

No news on the referral front as of today, but I thought I'd take a few moments to relate some facts about Ethiopia. Sometimes I get stuck in the typical westernized, spoiled, materialistic, and consumerist mode of thinking, so I use the following facts to give myself a reality slap!

Did you know that in Ethiopia. . .

5 million children are orphaned, and over 1 million children are orphaned by AIDS?

1 out of every 7.7 children dies before the age of 1?

There are 3 doctors for every 100,000 people?

Fewer than 1 out of 4 Ethiopians have access to clean drinking water?

The average life expectancy is around 49 years of age?

Over 78% of the population lives on under $2.00 per day?

1 out of every 6 children dies before their 5th birthday?

These startling statistics are sometimes difficult to wrap my head around, but I believe that it is important to remind myself that I am in the very fortunate minority of the world's population because I have access to unparalleled wealth, opportunity, and standards of living. Sometimes I find myself struggling with feelings of guilt for what was a happy accident of birth, and sometimes I believe that I was born where I was because I am meant to learn to become a more selfless human being. The discrepancy between the "haves" and the "have-nots" is wide in this world, and so often I see people living their lives unaware of this concept. My future daughters are about to be endowed with the same privileges that I enjoy on a daily basis, but I constantly question what will become of the children who are left behind. International adoption only saves a few thousand Ethiopian orphans annually; what about the few MILLION who do not get adopted? Personally, the call to assist the Ethiopian population will not end when we bring Laurel and Willow home; their adoption will mark the beginning of a lifetime of joyful giving to the people of my daughters' country of birth!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

We are in the Window!

On Wednesday, March 24th, we officially entered into the referral window! Yea!!! Hooray!!! On that day four months earlier, we received a text message that our dossier was officially hand delivered to the Toukoul Orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia via DHL. According to our agency, we should receive our referral between March 24th and May 24th! I find myself constantly jumping at the phone on business days wondering if any phone call I receive is "THE call". I have taken to stalking Ethiopian adoption blogs of other families who have adopted or are adopting through our agency because I'm looking for hints as to how long they waited for a referral! For those readers who do not know what parameters we requested regarding our future children, we humbly asked the director of the Toukoul Orphanage to please match us with two infant girls between the ages of 0 to 3 months of age at the time of referral who are either related or unrelated and in as good health as possible. I thought that these parameters were a bit too narrow, but according to Tami, the director of our agency, they are not! It amazes me to think that Laurel and Willow have been born and are out there somewhere. My mother's heart is constantly worried for their health and safety. I find myself wondering if they have enough to eat or if they are scared or sick. According to the Toukoul newsletter, the orphanage is experiencing formula shortages due to the current economic climate, and I sincerely hope that they do not start watering down the formula or adding sugar to it to round it out for the babies. This has been done in other orphanages in other countries when they have experienced baby formula shortages. We have the opportunity to bring over formula as orphanage donations when we travel to Ethiopia which is something we are more than happy to do! Most of the babies who are cared for at Toukoul are in such dire shape when they are admitted into care at the orphanage, most can only tolerate a specific formula that is made especially for sensitive, fragile babies! I wish that I could somehow tell our two youngest daughters that they are going to be okay and that they have a home and family who want them and love them unconditionally! I ask for your continued good thoughts and prayers for our family, our baby girls, and the children of Ethiopia.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wow! A Crib is Sitting in the Nursery!

An angel, who is disguised as our friend Mikael, just stopped by to give us his daughter's old crib complete with mattress, crib pad, and crib sheets. His daughter, Zoe, just got her "big girl" bed today and no longer needs her crib, so he asked us if we wanted it. We, of course, said YES! Now that we are required to take two trips to Ethiopia, plans for the nursery have been placed on the back burner, so the donation of a crib is very welcome indeed. It's one less super expensive thing we need to buy for our babies. Our angel Mikael has also given us Zoe's outgrown car seat as well as her old stroller. We are so very grateful! On the subject of being extremely grateful to people, I would like to extend my warmest and sincerest thanks to my mother for a terrific diaper bag and perfectly delicious baby clothes and toys; my mother-in-law for the generous adoption fund donation; my sister-in-law for all of Angie's precious outgrown clothes; and my dear old friend Barbara for allowing us to borrow her Ergo baby carrier. Most of all, I am eternally grateful to my sweet husband for all of his hard work (including extra work hours) so we can bring Laurel and Willow home. He is shouldering all of the monetary aspects of this adoption, and he does it happily and without complaint. Lucky is the woman who has such an amazing and hardworking life partner!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I Think I Need to Work on My Stress Managment Skills!

I was checking my email today not expecting anything from Dove Adoptions, and lo and behold, another "adoption alert" was sent out this afternoon. As soon as I saw I had received an email from them, my heart started racing wildly, and I felt this hot-cold sensation zing through my body. This was all before I even opened the darned thing! I took a deep breath to calm my heart before I opened it, and when I did, it was just a reiteration about yesterday's "adoption alert" written in simpler terms. I guess Dove is having a lot of panicked adoptive parents calling them because the email opened with "We have had several families request clarification about the Adoption Alert that was sent out on Wednesday, March 17, 2010. To help clarify. . ." and so on, and so on, and so on. I thought I was doing a pretty good job of keeping my cool about all of this upheaval going on in the Ethiopian adoption process, but upon further reflection, I realized that perhaps I've been holding all of this stress inside, and I need to talk to more people about my fears of this adoption falling through or the Ethiopian government closing the program. I am the type of person who, and Tony can vouch for this, likes to have a plan B, C AND D if plan A doesn't work out. I caught myself surfing the internet last night searching out other international adoption programs that would work for our family if, for some God-awful reason, this adoption does not go through. Perhaps I need to see the lesson in all of this. Life is about risk and faith, and I try my very best to insulate myself from the pain of risks that do not work out to my liking by looking for alternatives. I need to keep reminding myself that this adoption, WILL work out somehow, Laurel and Willow WILL come home, and I do not always need to jump to the worst conclusions. Do you remember the cartoon character named "Ferdinand the Bull"? Well, for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, please read on. Ferdinand the Bull is a bull who loves to smell flowers and abhors violent, aggressive behavior. When he is confronted by a bullfighter who tries to rile him up for a fight, Ferdinand just calmly looks at him and keeps sweetly smelling his beloved flowers. I am the complete opposite of Ferdinand! When I am confronted by difficulties (life's bullfighters), I come out fighting (or want to) by finding any and all alternatives! This reaction does nothing to help my blood pressure! In this case, my "bullfighters" are uncertainty, risk, and the fear and pain of not getting what I deeply long for; more children. I need to remember how Ferdinand handles his bullfighter; he confronts him with a calm serenity. Hummmmm. . . calm serenity. . . Maybe I'll look on You Tube for "Ferdinand the Bull" cartoons so I can watch them as a reminder that I don't always need to come out fighting through the seeking out of alternatives! Thanks for reading the rantings of a control freak!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Particularly Poignant

Here is poem I found that really hit home. It applies to all 3 of my daughters!

Legacy of an Adopted Child. . .

Once there were two women who never knew each other.
One you do not remember, the other you call Mother.

Two different lives shaped to make you one.
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun.

The first one gave you life, and the second taught you to live it.
The first one gave you a need for love; the second was there to give it.

One gave you a nationality; the other gave you a name.
One gave you a talent; the other gave you aim.

One gave you emotion; the other calmed your fears.
One saw your first sweet smile; the other dried your tears.

One sought for you a home that she could not provide.
The other prayed for a child, and her hope was not denied.

And now you ask me through your tears
the age-old question unanswered through the years.

Heredity or environment, which are you a product of?
Neither, my darling, neither,
Just two different kinds of love!

Coming into Focus

As adoptive parents are still digesting the news about the possibilities of taking two trips to Ethiopia, agencies around the United States are continuing to update their clients as the new court procedures are refined and focused. This morning, Dove Adoptions issued another "adoption alert" to us that has served two purposes; to further clarify and to ease fears. According to Dove, adoptive families who have been matched with children AND have had their papers submitted to the Ethiopian government ON OR BEFORE April 8th will NOT need to appear for court proceedings. Adoptive families who have been matched with children and HAVE NOT had their papers submitted to the Ethiopian government WILL be required to travel to appear for court proceedings. Additionally, Dove has stated that Ethiopian officials are saying that both prospective adoptive parents will need to attend court. I feel better having a definite answer as to whether we will need to come up with the money to fund two trips. We have not been matched with children as of yet (a reminder to myself that patience is in order here), so we will be going to Ethiopia twice! How cool is that?!?! Dove has kindly stated that the new change has not stopped Ethiopian adoptions and that referrals are still being made, documents are still being submitted to the Ethiopian government, and custody is still being granted to adoptive parents!!!!! Thank God!!!!!

One of my biggest fears is that the program will shut down. This has happened with numerous international adoption programs in the past such as with Romania, Vietnam, Russia, China, and Guatemala among others, and the shut down of a program can happen at any time for a number of very small and/or very strange reasons. That is one of the reasons Tony and I chose Ethiopia. It was said to be a stable and growing program. I guess that it is still a growing program with growing pains! Anyway, we are expecting our referral for two baby girls between the ages of 0 to 3 months sometime between the dates of March 24th and May 24th. We are almost there! Laurel and Willow are out there somewhere, and I really miss them and want them in my arms. I sometimes wonder how I can miss someone so much whom I haven't even have yet to meet. I suppose that would be one of the mysteries of being human. I ask you for your continued prayers and positive thoughts for our family and that you include a prayer for clarity and ease for the Ethiopian court officials. There are over 5 million orphans in Ethiopia alone, and a moratorium on Ethiopia's international adoption program would spell doom for thousands of children who could have had a chance to live by being adopted into loving homes.

Monday, March 15, 2010

On a Positive Note. . .

I emailed our adoption agency this morning in order to calm one of my fears about the new court procedures. I asked if they would affect referrals coming out of the Toukoul Orphanage, and Kari, the assistant to the agency director, told me that referral time lines would NOT be affected by all of this craziness. This is a relief! On the other hand, she did say that she didn't know how the new court protocols would affect adopting families. Grrrrrr. At least I know that we are still moving forward with the referral process!!

Shifting the Energy!

Imagine, if you will, a husband and wife sitting on their comfortable sofa feeling completely frustrated, helpless, and restless because of unforeseen circumstances beyond their control. They are worried about money, tired from stress, and feeling horribly sorry for themselves. This husband and wife are the "mover and shaker" types, the people with personalities of the"if-it's-not-happening-make-it-happen" persuasion. What happens when this couple runs up against a brick wall that they cannot move no matter how hard they try? They shift the energy!!!! If you haven't already figured it out, Tony and I are that couple, and we were experiencing that exact scenario last Saturday. This new Ethiopian court procedure coupled with the anxiety of waiting for a referral is that brick wall for us. How did we shift the energy you ask? We moved all of Laurel and Willow's new clothes, blankets, and room decorations into the closet of their new room! By the way, the babies will be named Laurel Kathryn and Willow Louise for anyone who is interested. We don't have the money right now to start on their nursery (we need to possibly pay for two round-trip plane tickets to Ethiopia), but moving what we do have for them into their closet really helped us settle our nerves and shift our thinking and energy. Just walking into their room and looking into their closet is a wonderful affirmation that they WILL come home! I like to think of that closet as a sort of hope chest but instead of a box with a lid, it is a bigger box with doors. We also thoroughly vacuumed their room and took out all unnecessary things. The only objects we have left in there are two beds for our guests. The room has a reassuring echo to it that is full of promise rather than emptiness. It reminds me that sooner rather than later, that echo will be replaced with the sounds of our sweet babies! For anyone who reads this, I ask that you keep the following in your good thoughts and prayers: Please let Laurel and Willow come home as safely, smoothly, and easily as possible!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Well. . .yesterday our agency emailed us a new "adoption alert" about the new court protocols for families adopting from Ethiopia. Apparently, the new court procedures won't be implemented until May 8, 2010, but our agency mentioned that "The Network" (all agencies who assist families in adopting Ethiopian children) is attempting to negotiate a later implementation date to coincide with the annual court closures that take place in August due to the heavy Ethiopian rainy season. We are hoping for the August date because we will have received our referral with a court date scheduled before the court closures. I'm all for the new court protocols in order for the protection of innocent children, but financially speaking, we would be better off taking one trip. We have been typing in hypothetical trips to Addis Ababa with multiple airlines, and it looks as if round trip airfare is around $1,500 if we book several months ahead. The guest house costs $1,000 per couple per week. I don't even want to think about the cost if we have to book a flight quickly! However, if the courts decide to go ahead with the May 8th date, we will do what ever is necessary for us to get our babies home!!!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Purpose of This Blog!

The purpose of this blog is to give me a place to write about our Ethiopian adoption. My husband and I have been involved in adopting two baby girls from the Toukoul orphanage with the help of our adoption agency, Dove Adoptions. We have been waiting for a referral for 3 1/2 months, and, to be honest, the suspense is killing me!!!! Add the news that the Ethiopian government, as of yesterday, now requires adopting families to make two trips to Ethiopia, one to meet the child(ren) and appear at court and one to pick up the child(ren) and be present at the American embassy appointment. Before this new policy, adopting parents were required to make one trip to pick up their children and go to the embassy for visa processing. Power of attorney was given to our lawyer who would go to court on our behalf. This new policy was put into place for a VERY good reason, one that I am in complete agreement with. Apparently, before the new policy, some adopting parents were granted parental custody of the children, and when they went to pick up their child(ren), they, for some reason that is beyond me, would leave the country WITHOUT their new family member(s). A big HUH????? is in order here along with some severe head scratching and incredulous looks!!! For the life of me, I cannot understand why people would go through the grueling process of international adoption only to abandon their child(ren) in their birth country. For those people who have committed such a terrible act, I ask you WHY? In some ways, I am glad about taking two trips. I get to see my beautiful daughters earlier than I anticipated, and I get to spend more time in Ethiopia getting to know the country of my daughters' birth. Also, there may be an opportunity to meet members of their birth families when we go to court which is always a plus. On the down side, we have to leave our precious daughters behind after we love, kiss, hug, hold, cuddle, feed, talk, and diaper them while we wait for their visas to be issued at the American embassy. Yikes!!! I'm sure I'll be in tears and my momma heart will be breaking!!! Also, the added expense of two trips makes my heart palpitate wildly! It is a stretch to pay for one trip let alone two! I keep praying to God that He will see this through for us. I suppose that this new policy is meant to strengthen our faith even more. I ask you to keep our family in your prayers so we can smoothly and easily be united with our two new daughters.