Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.

-Ethiopian Proverb-

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.