"Every child deserves a home." --Harry Holt

Monday, February 28, 2011

Starting Early

We are going to start a little early on gathering donations for the care center that our little girl is living in (as well as the other care centers our agency partners with). We plan to take the bulk of donations with us on our first trip (court trip) as we will not need too many things for baby girl (since we can't take custody of her on this trip...sniffle). So, we will do the next best thing and bring supplies for all of the children and nannies! I thought that if I started early enough, this invitation to donate wouldn't just be limited to those of "you" that live near me, as I will hopefully see some of my family and friends that are spread throughout in the next couple of months (still really hoping we head to court in May...please, God...if you are listening...May would be wonderful, or you know, April...but, I'm not trying to 'push' it). Am I asking you to run out and buy things off of this list? Nope...not unless you feel moved or compelled to. Chances are, you have 1 or 2 of these items that you aren't using, and in that case...you are WELCOME. I'm glad to help you clean out your drawers and closets! :)

  • Please note that medications should not be brought to as a donation. Topical ointments are okay
  • Baby Packs/Slings (for the nannies to carry the babies)
  • Clothes and shoes for children aged 5-10. Please note the clothing for infants is not needed at this time.
  • Sippy Cups with lids
  • Bottles and nipples
  • Sheets for cribs & toddler beds
  • Lotion(non floral)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toys for toddlers, preschoolers
  • Blocks for stacking
  • Stacking cups
  • Wooden Puzzles
  • Baby dolls
  • Activity quilts (with buttons/ zippers etc)
  • Plastic Feeding Spoons for toddlers
  • Fly Paper
  • Baby Powder
  • Cloth diapers
  • Plastic pants or cloth diaper covers
  • Clotrimazole ointment
  • Diaper Rash Cream (over the counter)
  • Disposable Masks
  • Flashlights with batteries
  • Baby blankets
  • Bottle/Nipple brushes
  • Thermometers
  • Mosquito nets
  • Travel Packs of baby wipes (for the nannies to take with them when they travel with the babies)
  • Anti fungal creams (over the counter)
  • Vitamins for infants/toddlers/older children
  • Educational and Instructional Items – the staff is setting up a classroom to teach children in at each care center. Education instructional items, such as the Alphabet to hang on the walls, numbers, etc…would be greatly appreciated. 

**We made $680 in T-shirt sales, btw. We still have just a couple left if you want one. Those profits will go toward making a contribution to the care centers as well! Thank you , thank you, thank you to everyone that bought and wears their shirt proudly! 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Happy 5 Month Birthday Sweet Girl!!!!

I had a pretty loooooooong day today. Started with an early meeting, and ended with parent/teacher conferences. Last night, I had made a comment to K that it was already the 22nd in Ethiopia which means our darling girl is now 5 months old. *sigh* We said a prayer that she would know she is loved and someone would hopefully give her an extra snuggle. I was busy today, which made it a little 'easier' to not focus too much on how badly I just wanted to hold her. I got a text message from another adopting momma that their little M turned 6 months old today. That made me all teary. I had no idea she was feeling the same way that I was today. I am feeling very fortunate and confident that our girls are just a crib away from each other, and take comfort that when we bring them to America, they will have each other, and know that they truly "grew up" together. They are going to be joined by a cute little guy (he will probably come home first), to this family. So cool that they will all be just a little ways away from each other, and they are all possibly sharing a room! God is good!

So, I finally made it home, and K met me at the door and asked me to join him in the kitchen. He had bought a piece of cake, put 5 PINK candles in it, bought a birthday card, wrote the SWEETEST message, and set our little girls picture by it... we lit the candles and sang happy birthday...well, maybe I choked it out because I was crying at K's thoughtfulness, and missing our baby. 
At the risk of getting into trouble, here is what he wrote (it is too good to not share): 

"Dear Sweet Baby Girl XXXXXXX,
I'm sorry we are not with you on your 5 month birthday. I hope you had a good day. I am looking forward to sharing lots of moments with you. As soon as I saw your beautiful face I loved you. I am so looking forward to meeting you and bringing you home. You are such a perfect angel and I cant wait to have you light up our home. When we get you home we will share many birthday celebrations together. We love you so very much. I pray every day that we get to bring you home soon. Keep growing sweet baby XXXXXXX. We'll see you soon.

--A quick aside, we know that Ethiopia is and always will be her home country, and so when we say 'home' we mean our home. We think of it in the way that "Home is where the heart is," and currently she is our heart living outside of our bodies in a care center in Ethiopia. This little girl already owns us and our hearts. 

So, is there any doubt that there are 2 parents really freaking excited to love on this little tyke???!!!! We're coming darling girl!!!!

Nope, we can't share her picture or name online, hence the green stars... I still wanted to share, though. Please ignore the messy counter in the background! The pic and card are propped up on a special delivery. Thanks J! Couldn't have come on a MORE perfect day, and we LOVE IT!!!!! I have amazing friends and family...


Thursday, February 17, 2011

From Ethiopia With Love (The long description of our Referral Day)

February 11, 2011..the day our lives changed forever. It may sound cliche', but it was a day that started out like any other. I hit snooze on my alarm about 6 times before finally groaning and whining my way out of bed. K has been working loooooong hours lately, so he was already out the door by the time I hobbled my way to the shower. I was running late (as usual...so maybe I should just consider that on time?) I made it to school, and the day was semi-calm (not normal). I was actually able to stick to a somewhat normal schedule with my "regular" kiddos. I had finished up with a student, and had about 10 minutes before my next one. I sat down at my desk to check my e-mail, and my cell phone began to ring. 

I had assigned a special ring tone for both our social worker and adoption agency, and it wasn't either of those numbers, so I didn't get particularly excited. I was actually staring at it thinking I would just screen the call because I didn't recognize the number, and if it was important they would leave a message. Well, for some reason (God), I decided to answer anyway. I didn't recognize the caller's voice right away, but as soon as she announced herself as our social worker...my heart definitely started to pound. Things get a little fuzzy from here on out...
I'm fairly certain that my volume rose to an uncomfortably elevated level, and I asked, "Why are you calling me right now?!" She explained that she was currently staring at pictures of the most gorgeous little GIRL and she was meant for us. ( I questioned her a few times about whether she was sure it was a girl, because I was certain there was a boy at the end of this journey...I must be picturing the 2nd journey? :)) I was instantly hysterical with tears, and started to wonder if I was having a heart attack. She shared that the paperwork pointed to her being healthy, and she was 4.5 months old. My ears were buzzing. She said she was going to send me all of the information to my e-mail, and after I reviewed it to give her a call back to talk about it. 

Hmmmmm, I'm at work (and if you work in a school, it just isn't the type of job you buzz out on in the middle of the day). K is at work, and is perpetually in meetings, and is extremely difficult to get a hold of. We had promised each other that we would look at referral pictures together for the first time. I called him as soon as I  hung up with our social worker, and he answered right away (God). He was immediately alarmed, and asked why I was calling him in the middle of the day. I have no idea how I answered, but I think it was something to the effect of, "We are having a GIRL (in a shout-y and crying voice)!"  K was in immediate excited/panic mode. He kept saying, "Oh my, oh my...ummmmm, I have to leave here...I'll meet you at home, wait, I can't meet you at home...I have a huge presentation in an hour. Oh forget it, I'll go see if I can cancel it." I immediately decided it would be easier for me to leave school than for him to leave work, so I told him to stay put and I would call him back. I went running from my office on 3rd floor to the main office on 2nd floor. I was still crying, and when I burst through the door, they thought I was sick. Co-worker said, "Oh dear, don't puke on me!" (When I go back and think about this, does she think I would come to the office to vomit and not the bathroom???? Hmmmm, I still love you, C!) -- So, I explained to the ladies in the office that we got THE CALL and it's A GIRL! There were instant hugs and jumping! Our principal wasn't in the office, and I was explaining that I needed to leave so K and I could look at her pictures for the first time, together. B told me to just leave, and S explained that everyone leaves work when they are in the middle of having a baby! Ha! Have I mentioned I love my co-workers? Thankfully, our principal walked in and the second I explained to him what was going on he told me to leave. Yay!!!!

I ran back upstairs to lock my office and get my car keys. I stopped into the classroom next door to my office, because R is a huge cheerleader in this process as she has been through it over 2 decades ago! She always has such a sense of clarity when I seem unable to think a thought. She saw my face and knew immediately what it was. I think the only words amidst a huge hug were, "It's a girl!" Lots of tears, and me then tearing myself away so I could quickly drive the 30 min to K's office. 
On the drive, I argued with myself about calling my mother. I knew she was at school (also a teacher), and probably wouldn't answer, and K has consistently accused me of the possibility that I would call her before him (to be clear, I would never do this, but I think after 10+ years of being together, he has realized that while I live hours and hours from my mother, that hasn't stopped me from talking to her 4+ times a week, and when I don't actually talk to her, I text!) I decided to stick with our original plan, and not call my mom, but called my little sister instead. I asked her if she could do me a favor and go purchase balloons that said, "It's a Girl!" and take them to our parents house. She immediately started screaming, and told me she knew all along it was a girl (why didn't she tell me this before?!). 

The drive to K didn't take as long as I thought it would (I was possibly speeding, and on the phone which made it faster...my apologies to everyone I passed on the interstate on 2/11/11). What did take FOREVER, was finding a parking spot! I could only park in the white spaces (even though I came very close to giving up and taking one of the coveted green spaces really, really close to the door, but I thought having my car booted might put a damper on my great mood...) I finally found a white space (REALLY FAR AWAY), and I sprinted through the parking lot (yes, sometimes I sprint...) K met me at the door so he could sign me in at security. We hugged and kissed and probably annoyed the security guard who seemed to move in SLOW motion. 

We finally got to K's office, and he had my e-mail account already loaded. We opened it up, and the second he scrolled down and her face came into view, I began sobbing uncontrollably. For 6 months, I wondered what the moment would feel like when we laid eyes on the child meant for our family for the first time. Part of me worried that I would feel fear. I have heard/read so many families say, "We knew he/she was meant to be part of our family the moment we laid eyes on him/her." I kind of always questioned that. Like, really? You've never met this child, and have only seen pictures...and you just automatically knew, without any question???? A huge part of me has had faith that every bump in the process, as well as every piece that has done smooth because we and the child meant for our family has needed to come together at the EXACT right time, but honestly, there has been a little piece of niggling fear that I wouldn't have that immediate connection to the face of our child. Well, if I could tell myself 6 months ago what I know now, I would tell myself to, "have no fear." It really was that magical moment. It was LOVE at first sight. I would take a bullet for this little girl. There were 6 pictures and she is SMILING to some degree in all of the pictures. She has beautiful eyes that look like hershey kisses. She has smooch-i-licious lips, and WAY more hair than I thought possible. Her curls almost look heavy and kind of wild. (Note to self...when I was certain that we would have a boy, I thought that hair care would be relatively simple to learn...it is a GIRL and she has lots of fun hair...must buy hair books and read hair blogs IMMEDIATELY).
In the midst of my hysterical crying, I noticed K. He was silently staring at the computer screen. I quickly worried that he was the one living out my fear of not being, "sure" this was absolutely right. I asked him what he was thinking, and he said he was in shock that this was, "really happening." Fair enough... it was incredibly surreal. (Any doubts I would have about his feelings have quickly dissolved as I have "caught" him standing in the hallway where I hung one of the many collages of her pictures, just staring with a grin on his face. He was also the paperwork nazi when it came to pouring over all of her reports, and filling out our referral acceptance paperwork. 

We called our social worker back after looking things over and falling in love with her via her photos. We verbally accepted at that time, and commenced printing out her pictures. K still had to go to his presentation, and practically everyone I knew was still at work and unreachable by phone. He went to his meeting, and I drove back to school so I could show off the pictures of our DAUGHTER (man, it is fun to say that). I commenced calling all of our family and friends to share the good news that eveing. 

In the week since our referral day, we have enjoyed gazing at her pictures and memorizing every inch of her... I really wish one of the pictures had her feet in them! They are the only part of her that I haven't been able to obsess about...

We have prayed for her, the continued loving care by the nannies at the care center, and for our next (hopefully swift) steps of this process. We are waiting to hear that our paperwork has been submitted for a court date assignment. We are hoping to hear of the submission by the middle of March. We thank you for praying for us and our daughter in this journey. We also ask for prayers for her birth family. It is difficult to think about our extreme elation and joy, while there are birth family members going through the loss process. We don't know how to find the words to adequately express our sincere gratitude. We know that all of our family and friends are loving and curious about how our little girl came into care, but we think it is important to let you know that we will be keeping her history as her history. We will share with her everything we know, and leave the decision to her about who and how she wants to share those details. We appreciate your respecting and loving her enough to allow us this. We are extremely open and transparent about this process, and we love sharing the many facets, but this piece of privacy is for her benefit. 

1 week down waiting for a court date! We have been gliding around, and hope that feeling continues as long as possible! There is a definite sense of urgency to get through the next part of this journey as we have now fallen in love with a little girl on the other side of the world.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Reason for Change

We have been fielding many questions about how the adoption process can change for us at what seems, "the drop of a hat," and why aren't we 'grandfathered' in since we started the process nearly a year ago. Well, for one, there are no guarantees in the International Adoption process, and so change is 'the name of the game.' We knew that going in, and we were quickly clued in to the changes as the process went from adoptive families making 1 trip to 2 trips within a few short months of officially beginning the process.

Ethiopia has come under scrutiny for ensuring that the adoptions completed are done with the utmost ethical steps taken in ALL cases. This is a good thing for the birth families, children and adoptive families, even if it means the process lengthens. 

We took about 6+months to do our research on all of our options related to adoption, including domestic vs. international, countries and especially agencies. We are certain that we picked an agency that works extremely hard to uphold ethical practices. Praise the Lord! However, some families were not so lucky, and sadly, yesterday, it was announced that a specific agency was closed down from conducting adoptions in Ethiopia as there are serious accusations (and quite possibly proof that I'm certainly not privy to) of child trafficking. Dear families and friends, take heed that while this is an adoption horror story for many children and families, it is best not to speak of this story as 'gospel' to any family that you know in the adoption process (that last comment may seem harsh, but really, many adoptive families have done their due diligence and it gets tiring to field comments and stories about everyone's brothers, friends, uncle that had a bad adoption experience, just trust me on this... *smile*).

This situation is complex and nuanced as is everything in the adoption process. We are saddened for the families still in process with this agency, because yesterday they were informed that everything was coming to a screeching halt, and that is a gut-wrenching thing. We are also especially saddened for any birth families that may have been coerced or lied to in relinquishing their children. Heart aches too, for the children both wrongly caught up in the web of lies, as well as those children that were rightfully relinquished as they will sit longer in orphanage care waiting for a family to love on them. However, as adoptive parents in process, we are relieved to see concrete action being taken against unethical agencies that perpetrate these crimes against humanity, especially when it appears they so callously have no regard for the rights or feelings of all those involved. Ugh...what a nasty situation.

HERE is a more direct explanation of what is going on, minus my emotional ramblings.  

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Current $64,000 Question

"What is going on with your adoption?"

Well, you might be as tired of this response as I am, but we are still just waiting! We haven't asked for an official, updated wait list # (and it sounds like our agency has shifted how they handle the # situation anyway), but by our estimate, we are hovering somewhere around #6. By all accounts, we could get our referral tomorrow, or it could be MONTHS from now . We have THROWN ourselves into work (especially my spouse), and are trying to enjoy life together. We are in the process of dreaming about a getaway so that we have something finite to look forward to. Other than that, we are just waiting!!!!

The "process" continues to shift and change, and we ask you to join us in praying for the families ahead of us that are navigating these tricky times for court dates and embassy appointments. The adoption process is an anxiety producing journey, and we pray for peace and strength for all of the families as well as the hearts of all of the waiting children. Thanks for praying us through this journey! 

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
--Romans 12:12

"Advice From An Adoptee to Mom"

This blog posting by a 'transracial adoptee' (which is a term I am desperately trying to wrap my mind around), is such a beautiful message. Do yourself a favor and have a look (or read!)


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Welcome Home (with permission)!!!!!!!!!!!!

For many of us in Ethiopia Adoption Land, things have been a bit of a downer lately, and we fear we have spread that negativity to those of you in our lives. Please accept this formal apology. Me thinks I need to dig out my fat pants. Clearly, eating my emotions isn't having a positive impact :o (to my many friends and family members that *enjoy* fitness...wipe that judgmental look off of your face, as soon as I kick this AWFUL head cold, I'll be back on the work-out train). 

All of the rambles about my expanding waist-line aside... Here is an amazing, beautiful video of a blog/e-mail/adoption buddy's adoption journey. If you don't get a tear or a warm fuzzy from this little boy, and his sweet giggle, you may have a heart of stone. No judgmental looks from me, though!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Change is the Only Constant

This is true of life and especially true of International Adoption. Tomorrow is February 3rd. This will mark 6 official months of being on the wait list for a referral. Funny, that when we started, 6 months was the "long" end of the wait, and we thought there would be no way we would still be on the wait list. Whoops! There I go counting my chickens before they hatch, again.

So, how should we celebrate 6 months on the wait list? Well, we are also approaching a full year since we began all of the paperwork for the adoption. So, we were sent some paperwork that we must update. While none of it will be" fun", at least it gives us something to do! 

In the last year, the Ethiopian Adoption program has undergone many changes. Families who previously completed adoptions remark that the program is completely different from what they went through. ALL of the changes are meant to ensure the ethical nature of the adoptions from Ethiopia. It is just difficult to think we know something and then find out differently. We have weathered all of these changes, and we pray for the families currently awaiting court and embassy dates. The most recent news is that one of the Ethiopian government branches has temporarily closed down to move offices. This means that the paperwork of many families is at a stand-still until the move is complete, and there is no information as to how long the move will take. Sigh... 

We are trying to fasten our seat-belts and be along for the bumpy ride! Hold-on tight everyone...this is going to take longer than we thought!!!!!!

Here's a shout-out to my e-mail buddy, Jenny. She has no idea how many times I've listened to this song on repeat the last few weeks since she sent it to me! 


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