Thursday, January 31, 2008

Food!

I just placed an order over at Ethiopian Spices. Shipping was very expensive, but the cost of the actual food items was very good.

My order:

Package of 10 injera- $6.99
8 oz. Berbere- $9.50
1 lb. Shiro- $9.00
1 lb. Red Lintil- $5.00

Obviously, I am not feeling up to the challenge of injera, but I do plan to make some Yellow (Misir) or Red (Kik) Lentil Stew (Wot). I also want to try Shiro and Doro Wat (Chicken Stew).


Once I get the hang of this Ethiopian cooking, I'll give you my version of the recipes and hints. But it might take me a while:)

This and That- 1/30

Yesterday my Uncle Michael passed away. He had been sick for a long time with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). I was not very close to him, nor was my mom, but it is hard on my Grandma who lost my Uncle Tim on Feb. 10, 2006. Both of her sons have now passed away, and both at young ages. Please pray for her.

Apparently my eyes are like the desert. I was at the opthamoligist yesterday and he was shocked at how dry my eyes are. I have an incomplete blink, meaning that frequently when I blink, my eyelids don't come all the way together. He was very surprised that I was able to continue to wear my contacts with such dry eyes, but hey, I'm tough. So he started me on Restasis. I am also supposed to purposely think about blinking several times a day. Yes, purposely think about blinking. That makes me feel stupid.

My dentist (who I saw yesterday) is worried abou my gums. My teeth are great and there was virtually no plaque build-up, but my gums are inflammed. I wonder if this is related to the eye dryness and a medication I was previously taking. Hmm.

Yesterday I spent several hours with my friends Hooman, Leila, and their 3-day old baby girl, Darya. Now I want a baby. I told John this, and he got all confused. "I thought you wanted a toddler" he said. Well, I do, but I want a baby, too! I am a woman, and I am allowed to want what I want, right?

I <3 FedEx

As of 11:50am on January 28, my dossier is officially "in-country."

It took 6 days to ship from the US to Ethiopia, weighed in at just under 1 pound, and it cost $123.38.

Not even joking about that price. Wish I was, though.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

2 Weeks Down

2 Weeks down, 10-18 to go? I feel like this wait for a referral is actually going very quickly (don't hate me!)- I just have so much I need to do before the little one comes home- and I don't know when I will get it all done! School and work seem to be consuming more time than ever before, and people just keep asking me to take on more responsibilities than before. I feel like I need to do so since I will be backing out of all commitments once baby comes home. Maybe that is the wrong mindset?

Reason #14- No Less of a Miracle

"I don't want other people to judge us for it, or to make it seem like we are doing something "bad" by adopting... I don't want to have to defend our decision. I want to be excited and to feel like this is something worth celebrating (because it is!) ... I am not expecting balloons and cards, I just don't want any negativity either. I look at Solomon, and with all that he has suffered through and endured in such a short life, he deserves excitement and joy and to be celebrated, as much as any other child being born or adopted into a family. He is no less important, no less of a blessing, no less of a miracle."

Erin, mom to 10, bringing home #11 soon!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Echos of Abigail


I think Abigail NEEDS this!

Worth the Wait

I think my daughter is totally worth the wait (and the paperwork, and the cost, and the fingernail-biting...) And all you parents who have survived the wait can proclaim it, too!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

And That is Exciting!

My pastors have returned from their missions trip to India. They each shared a bit today about the amazing ways God worked and is working.

And that is exciting.

One thing I love about my church is that sharing testimony is very important. We want to talk about what God has done, how He has answered prayers, how He is working, and how we are growing. We build each other up, and give glory to God.

And that is exciting.

Grace Has Been Given

"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it."

Ephesians 4:1-7

Dear Lord, bless the body of Christ in Ethiopia today. Make their hands and feet Your hands and feet. Give them hope in You. Reveal to nations, to churches, and to our very hearts how you would have us serve the body. Make us one in You.

Amen.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Napping

"Momma, when I am a teenager, I will probably just take a nap after lunch."
Really?

Getting My Gall Up

In my previous post, I linked to a beautiful picture of the Omo Valley in Ethiopia. The picture is found on a site called EthioPolitics. I follow this site because it's important for me to learn about my child's homeland, and just like politics directly affect my bio daughter in America (ie- "No Child Left Behind"), the are affecting my adopted daughter in Ethiopia.

Readers of this blog will know that from time to time, I will link to interesting news stories about Ethiopia. I do this because the purpose of this blog is to inform my readers about my journey- not just the "emotional" journey, not just the papers and waits, but the journey I am taking to learn about my daughter's heritage and culture. I am excited about the things I learn because I am falling in love with the people of Ethiopia, and the more I learn about them, the more I love them. And ultimately, isn't this blog about sharing love?

I received a comment on my previous post that stated "Talk about adoption, not politics. Thank you." This comment was anonymous. This comment really got my gall up.

Why? Several reasons.

1) The politics of Ethiopia are directly affecting my daughter. They are a part of my adoption journey. They may play an even bigger role in my journey based on how the political situation in Ethiopia swings over the next several months. The relationships between governments, the wars, the economic situation of the country- all affect my daughter! It would be unwise to not be aware of this.

2) This is my blog. I can write about whatever I want. Just because this blog is intended primarily as a way to talk about my adoption journey, there is no limit on the content except my own imagination. I think it is ridiculous that someone out there is trying to censor me.

3) The original post wasn't even about politics. It was on a political site, but I merely linked to the picture. I was not trying to force political views on anyone. In fact, I keep my views of politics, both US and Ethiopian, fairly private considering I am a person who has 2 blogs.

4) Because the post is anonymous, there is no way to open a discussion. An anonymous comment is rarely intended to open discussion, it is rather a command- a statement that the poster does not want questioned. In general, that annoys me because my blog is intended to be interactive- a dialogue that helps both myself and my readers learn and grow.

So, commenter, I invite you to open a discussion. Why did you feel the original post was about politics? Why do you feel that this blog should be limited to "adoption, not politics"? How should the political climate in Ethiopia (that is very much affecting my daughter) be considered/shared if not on my blog? Why should my blog not contain my concerns, fears, opinions, and thoughts about any subject I wish to discuss?

For the rest of you, what are your thoughts?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Look Over Here

If you look over here, you will see something beautiful.

Random Ramblings

Lest you think I have abandoned this blog, here is a little post.

Not much going on in adoption world. The wait for a referral continues, and I continue to add to my packing list (such as an adapter/converter, and for the ladies who need them, girly products) and record little ideas I have for traveling and such. The application review process continues. I stalk FedEx to see if my dossier has arrived in Ethiopia. I am trying to figure out what other documents I need before I can file my taxes, and how soon after filing I might receive my tax return.

Exciting Travel Purchase of the Week: Crystal Light Individual Water Flavor Packets- box of 10 packets for $0.99. This was a steal and I bought 10 boxes. Should be way more than enough.

I've also been contacted by a few of the agencies I have applied to for adoption funding- one grant agency and one adoption loan agency. We'll see how that goes.

So, this weekend, the adoption to-do list is:
~finish NCFA training
~finish Gladney training
~"interview" prospective traveling companion as schedule allows
~finish and copy "donations letter" to be distributed for parents/teachers at Abigail's school (to request additional donations for the orphanage, such as their new or gently used kids clothes and shoes.)
~buy a coffee grinder

Yes, a coffee grinder. I know you think this is not adoption-related, but IT IS!!!!! I intend to bring back yummy Ethiopian coffee when I travel, and I want to bring it whole-bean so that it will stay fresh longer. So I will need a coffee grinder. And since I am going to be getting a nice little store credit from Target, I might as well use it for this, right?

Also, completely unrelated to the rest of this post, I would like to say that I am really excited about the hand-me-downs that Abigail's little sister will get. Abigail's growing so fast, and she has so many cute clothes that she doesn't really wear a lot before she outgrows- it will be fun to see them on her little sister!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Satan in a Textbook

You know school is back in session when I start saying things like

"Statistics is of the devil. I'm not joking- it's Satan in a textbook!"
Oh, when will it end? (Apparently somewhere around May 2, according to the syllabus.)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Mathaholic

You can always tell when I have lots of homework because I start posting really random stuff as I try to convince myself that I have other things to do besides homework.

Which is why I am pointing out that from the time I committed to an agency to the time I was put on the "Wait List" for a referral was exactly 3 months. I think that is a pretty quick process, all things considered.

Momma

Momma, I am thinking of you today as I hold Abigail's hand and rush into school to escape the biting wind. It's cold, but we are bundled up and dash from warm building to warm building.

But you... Have you watched our little one shiver in the cold of a biting night wind? Have you taken off your shawl to wrap around her and felt the bitter cold sink into your bones? I know you love her, too.

Momma, I am thinking of you as Abigail cuddles next to me. She points out the "silent e" on her new set of words, and reads a short book about "Bill Bug." I marvel at how bright she is, and I am amazed at how quickly she soaks up new information. I love that I am teaching her how to read.

But you... Have you looked at our little one and wondered if she will ever have the chance to go to school? Have you struggled yourself to discern what notices are saying, fought to find out the information that others can see and understand? Do you worry that our little one will end up deprived of an education and unable to achieve her hopes for the future? I know you want her to have a bright future, too.

Momma, I am thinking of you today as Abigail tells me she is getting fat. She isn't getting fat, but she is growing up too quickly. Her childhood is rushing by, and I am trying to savor every day and help her love being a child. She will move into adult responsibilities altogether too soon. So we play together like little girls, and hold onto this moment.

But you... Have you looked at our little one and known that she won't be a child much longer, known that she will be working or begging or watching the new baby in just a few months? Do you think of your own childhood and wish hers could be more like yours? Do you long to play but are too distracted by simply teaching her how to survive? I know you want her to get to be a little girl, too.

Momma, I am thinking of you today as Abigail and I lie together in her bed. We've read our stories and said our prayers, and now I am listening to the sound of her breath slowing as she fades into sleep. In and out, little puffs of air tickle my cheek, and I match my breathing to hers. This is love- it is life.

But you... Are you looking down from heaven at our little one and wishing that you could hold her one more time? Are you missing the way she kicked inside your tummy, nuzzled to your breast, grasped your finger tightly and smiled? Are you dreaming of the moments when your heartbeat was only inches away from hers, and the sound of your laughter made a beautiful melody? I know you want her to live a life where she is loved, too.

Momma, I am thinking of you today. And I am praying for you. You are beautiful, and you are loved; thank you for the beautiful gift you will give me. May God be with you and give you peace today. And may your journey bring you closer to Him.

Jesus on the Unit

Please see my Privacy Statement.

This past weekend we had a guy on our unit who, to be quite honest, I know pretty much nothing about. I don't know his diagnosis, age, name, or prognosis. Pretty much all I know is that he has long brown hair and a full brown beard- kind of hippie-esque. And he told this story:

A few years back, his mother was hospitalized. While visiting her in the hospital, he was distracted by a patient across the hall who kept screaming. As he was leaving, he asked the nurses if he could go in to visit he screaming woman. They said it would be okay.

When he went in, she was in leather restraints and red in the face from yelling. He sat down next to her and took her hand. He began talking to her "what's wrong? Why are you so upset?"

After a few minutes, he emerged from the room and went on his way. As he later found out, the nurses were shocked! The screaming woman stopped screaming and was able to be let out of restraints. The nurses were so surprised by the change in her behavior. They asked the woman what happened to make her so much more calm.

She replied, "well, Jesus came in and told me everything was going to be okay."


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Prayer Needed

So, I've had an application for the traveling companion position. The offer came from an unexpected place, but right away, I thought it would be ideal! (I love the way God works- always a surprise!)

Please be in prayer about if this the path God wants Abigail and I to take.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Necessities

A few have asked for them, and perhaps no one will benefit from this, but here I go...

Many have inquired about my packing list (which I am happy to share, just ask, and remember- it's a work in progress!). However, everyone I have shared this with has been a first time parent and is requesting an infant as young as possible- or at least under the age of 12 months-ish. Obviously, this means they will have different needs than I, since I anticipate adopting a toddler. So, here is my list of "baby stuff" that I couldn't live without (items in italics should def go to Ethiopia with you!)

* A good thermometer. The ear thermometers are not to be used on children under 2 years old, so a quick digital thermometer to the armpit is best. Get one that has the quickest read time you can find. Practice taking a axillary (armpit) temperature on another baby so that you know what to do (babies wiggle and you have to hold them tight to keep it in place and get a good reading.

*Infants medicines: Tylenol, Motrin, gas relief drops, Little Noses, and Benadryl. I promise, you never need these medications unless you don't have them, so having them pretty much ensures your baby will be healthy. None of these medications interact with each other, so you can give them per the box directions (if baby has a fever, give Tylenol and Motrin at the same time, then scatter the doses.) Keep in mind that you may have to be creative with administering the medication if your baby spits it out (I recommend the "suck it out of the dropper" method.)Always dose your baby according to their weight, not their age!

*Crib sheets. Babies who spit up will probably get it on their crib sheet. Babies who overflow a diaper will probably get it on their crib sheet. Make sure you have enough sheets on hand that even if you have 2 (or 3 or 4) in the wash, you still have one clean. Baby blankets- those I don't think you need so many of, but again, have enough that you can make due if you have a few in the wash.

*Onesies and burp cloths. Babies who spit up (during transition of formula or change in the water- or stress!) make messes of these. Stock up.

*A good baby advice book. I referenced my Focus on the Family Complete Book of Baby and Child Care frequently, even though I rarely found anything actually wrong with Abigail- it was just nice to know what was normal. For adoptive parents, a good book about bonding and attachment would probably be helpful, too (haven't read a good one yet) and for transracial families, a good book about race would be helpful (I highly recommend Marguerite Wright's I'm Chocolate You're Vanilla: Raising Healthy Black and Biracial Children in a Race-Conscious World.)

*A good pediatrician. Find a doctor who has a doctor or nurse practitioner on-call around the clock. Many times I called (especially during the first year!) and was able to save a trip to the ER/Urgent Care. It would probably be good to have an "adoption specialist" for the transition home but also a local doc for the ongoing stuff:)

*Mom (or another parent with experience who you trust) on speed-dial! There will be a lot of times where you are not sure if it's worth calling the doctor and you will want to run it past an experienced parent. Or sometimes, you might just be going slightly nuts because you can't make it stop crying and you need to vent. Moms (and other experienced parents) understand and can really help- they can't always fix it, but they can usually help you get some perspective, regain your sanity, and feel a little better.

*Pacifiers. It might take a while to find one your child likes, but once you do- never go anywhere without it! Like mom, it might not be able to fix everything, but it does usually make baby feel a little better. And when you are in the car on a congested highway, it might be the only thing that keeps your hearing intact when baby starts to scream.

*Perspective. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Even really good parents are hard to come by. Most of us are good-enough parents. And you know what? That's good enough. And God gives us lots of grace and mercy. I promise your child won't fail out of high school because you don't read 3 books a day or practice Baby Einstein twice daily. I promise that the occasional crying fit that goes on for hours won't scar your child emotionally. And I promise that skipping naps, going to bed late, or using Benadryl now and then to get them to drift off does not make you a horrible parent. I promise.

Hope this helps all you first-timers. If I think of anything else, I'll add it and refer you back here:)

Reason #13- Coincidentally...

"There is a child in Ethiopia who may only have a family if I adopt him or her.

I do not want my child to be viewed as a charity case. Nor do I want to be viewed as some kind of extra-good person for adopting him or her. So I tend to de-emphasize this piece. But... it was an important part of my decision-making, so I shouldn't pretend it was not.

I could go on forever about the situation in Ethiopia and what needs to be done, but here's the quick-and-dirty version: The latest research says there are 6 to 6.5 MILLION orphans in Ethiopia.It is indisputable that these children would be better served by an adoption within their own culture and country.

It is also indisputable that there are not enough people in Ethiopia to adopt all these kids. In the meantime, the majority of Ethiopian orphans will die, or will survive for some time in poverty, disease, and hunger.

A tiny fraction of these orphans will get adopted by people from other countries, and will miss out on their Ethiopian culture. This is indeed a significant loss, and a life away from one's homeland and biological family is definitely a life compromised. But it's a whole lot better than no life at all.

There is a child in Ethiopia who needs a family. Coincidentally, so do I."

Thanks Chou-Chou for explaining it so well.

Friday, January 18, 2008

This is what a momma is...

"Momma, I'm not tired, I just like listening to you while you do your typing."

I smile, pretending to believe her, and click on another link. It's not quite the info I am looking for, and when I glance at her again, she is asleep.

Links forgotten, I watch the slow rise and fall of the scarlet blanket draped across her chest. This is what a momma is.

Adoption To-Do List

Right now, here is my current to-do list for the adoption:

*Complete Hauge training
*Buy BunkBeds
*Prepare Girls' room
*Buy carseat
*Buy booster seat (or high chair if more appropriate)
*Buy baby stuff (clothes, shoes, diapers?, sippy cups/bottles?)
*Talk to travel agent more
*Finish Travel Shots (Still need typhoid and a second Hep A if traveling after May)
*Prepare information for day care center employees about adoption/attachment/possible delays or medical conditions
*Hand in FMLA paperwork (when received back from Gladney)
*Prepare "donations" letter for day care parents/co-workers
*Prepare and present lesson about Ethiopia to Abigail's class and make "donation baby bottle"
*Buy large duffle bags for travel
*Find travel companion
*Buy travel stuff (miniature tolietries, crocs, snacks, etc.)
*Buy granola bars for street children
*Buy Money Belt? or Fanny Pack? type contraption for securing money and passport
*Finish Excel spreadsheets

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Private

After an upset in the Ethiopian courts where a family was denied their adoption and was told they could never adopt from Ethiopia because they did fundraising on their blog and because they posted pictures of their referred child(ren) on their blog, many bloggers in the Ethiopian adoption process are choosing to go private, at least for now.

I have enjoyed reading many of your blogs, and if you have chosen to go private, please let me know how I can continue reading!

I will keep my blog public- I don't intend to post pictures or give identifying info about my referred child once I receive a referral, so don't get your hopes up.

I hope no one else suffers because of this anti-blog mentality (and yes, Ethiopia has an anti-blog mentality. They don't even allow access to Blogger in Ethiopia because they want to control the media!) And more importantly, I hope that children are not forced to wait even longer for their forever family just because their family wants to share the joy.

This makes me sad.

Reason #12- It's right.

I have a friend who has adopted 3 beautiful children from China and she said that when we came across the place that was right, we would "know". I found that hard to believe because I never "know" anything. I analyze, change my mind and think everything to death. Yet, she was right. We started reading about the country, the culture, the people and the process and it was just "right".
(From the website of Jennifer and Jody)
Sometimes, things are just "right," and you don't know why. You just know that it is what it is.

Shopping and Excel

Yesterday I bought my first stuff for my anticipated travel. Several things guided my decisions:

1) Ethiopians are very modest. Skirts should be to the knees. Shorts are not really appropriate most places. With my (very long) legs, it's difficult to know what would be okay.

2) I want to pack as lightly as possible to make more room for donations and such.

3) Packing lightly means doing laundry in-country. So I want items that are light enough to dry overnight.

4) Cost is an issue- I don't have a lot of money to spend on travel clothes.

So, yesterday in W*lmart, I found something that was absolutely perfect!

1) Mid-calf length flare Capri that are not too tight but are still somewhat form-fitting.

2) They are very light and take up hardly any space.

3) As a cotton/poly blend (with 3% spandex) they should wash and line-dry fairly quickly.

4) They were on clearance for $5!!!!! I actually bought 2 pairs- one in navy and one in khaki green. They are definitely something I will wear over the summer/fall here. And since they are fairly "neutral" colors, they should match several of the tops I will take to Ethiopia.

So yea!

I've also been busy developing Excel spreadsheets for packing. I have a master packing list divided by person (Grace, Abigail, New Child), General (Snacks, Electronics, etc) and subdivided into categories (clothes, sanitary, fun stuff). I also have a "What to Pack Where" list to make sure that I have everything in the right place (and don't accidentally get stuck without my court papers if a bag is lost.) The lists are not complete, but the plan is to take the list with me when I travel so as to make return packing easier- to know how many of what I brought and need to re-pack, and to remember what needs to be in carry on and such.

Now, if I can just find a travel companion, I am good to go!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I told you...

I told you I am officially a big dork...

What I didn't tell you is this:

Remember how I said that my dossier would have to get the final review and final documents added before flying to Washington DC? Well, Natalie the Great who hails from the land of Gladney has done just that, and as of this evening, my dossier is headed to DC! (Strange to think that it will be so close and yet so far...)

Now, having read Natalie's email that she took it to FedEx tonight, I am currently trying to find out where in the FedEx system the package is, and how she shipped it so that I can estimate when it will actually depart from the US en route to Addis Ababa. (Hmm, just checked, and it's not yet showing up on my FedEx account or on the credit card where my account is billed.) Let's say she overnights it, it arrives tomorrow (Thursday) and maybe is on it's way to Ethiopia by Friday night? The DC representative hand-delivers the dossier to the US Secretary of State and the Ethiopian Embassy for their authentication, so it should go out the same day, I think.

At any rate, maybe about 2 weeks until it's in Ethiopia?!? Hooray!

Abigail Writes a Story (about her sister)

Abigail wrote this story today...

One day there was a nice box delivered. And inside the box was a little kid. Abigail was very happy- she had her little sister. They named the little sister Gabriella. Gabriella had a new big sister! So she had a very nice time with her big sister because she was very nice and she loved being the little sister.

Then came the day of her birthday. All her fiends and Abigail presented her friends to her little sister named Gabriella. Now they had a good time. Until it was time to open presents. There was a special present hiding behind all the other presents. And she opened the first box and on top of it it said that it had a name called "big sister." And she loved it when she opened it- it was a Barbie doll and she really loved it. It was beautiful.

Then every one she opened. She opened Donna's and Tinna's and Tina's and a beautiful sparkle.

And they lived happily ever after.

The End

Clearly, she is slightly confused about how her sister will get here. I think this may have been influenced by her recent acquisition of her Cabbage Patch dolls.

Abigail Writes a Story (involving canibalism)

Once upon a time, there was a girl who had a nice prince.

And the princess would love to have a nice little kid that was named Charma.

Charma grew up in a far-away land and her parents did not have enough room in South Carolina. And they all were happy since Cowma had a daughter and they were very happy. The witch with her dragon almost burnt down all their clothes. All of them were everywhere searching and searching for a dragon and a witch to catch for everybody to have a big feast because they were made out of meat- only the witch was.

All of them were getting ready to repeat the sire's command to search for the prince to have a big feast with the witches meat inside of her body. And then they caught the witch.

I could be the now king since the normal king died. Are all of them going to be all around the world searching for that icky old dragon? That was a question.

Now they lived happily ever after since they caught the dragon.

The End

It's Official!

It's official- I'm a big dork.

For some reason, I thought when I submitted my dossier, I was on the wait list. But alas, since my agency had to get some documents authenticated in Texas, I couldn't go on the wait list until those documents got back from the Secretary of State. So my old "referral wait"is all wrong.

But here is an updated one:)


Besides, this is more special- since today is my sister's birthday! And since I got the email from my agency just after returning from purchasing my first baby item (a Hip Hammock.)


Lilypie Waiting to adopt Ticker

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Packages

Last week, when I sent off my dossier, I explained to Abigail that our dossier was on its way to Ethiopia and that the judge would have to decide if we could adopt her sister. I told her it might take a long time, and we would just have to wait and keep praying for all the children who need a family.

On Friday, we received a large envelope package in the mail from my mom. I knew it contained some pictures and goodies for Abigail- it was addressed to her, after all! I called Abigail over to look at the package so that she could see that it was addressed to her.

She took one look at the size and shape of the package and exclaimed "Momma, does this mean the judge said that we could get my sister!?!"

That just tells you where her heart is, I guess:)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Now Accepting Applications....

Position: Travel Companion

Salary: None

Other Compensation: Being involved in tremendous amounts of love and life-change!

Start Date: Unknown

Requirements: Must be able to travel to Ethiopia with approximately 6 weeks notice. Must be able to help care for fun, lively, well-behaved 5 year old and assist with care of female child, 0-36 months. Must not be disgusted by my morning breath or explosive diapers. Coffee-lover with travel shots a plus.

To Apply: Leave a comment!


Seriously, I found out yesterday that my sister will be unable to travel to Ethiopia with me. So I am in need of a travel buddy. Hypothetically, I could go alone, but I really want to take Abigail with me, and I don't think it's realistic to do that without another adult. So, I am in need of travel companion. Any applicants?

$77

My car got fixed. For a mere $77.

And that included changing a headlight.

Nice! (Prayer works!)

Roots

It is my hope that my Ethiopian daughter will not loose touch with her wonderful heritage as an Ethiopian. The reality is, though, that growing up as an American will change her. This will be both good and bad. But through service, travel, (and maybe even future adoptions), I hope both of my daughters can learn about Ethiopia and make it a part of their lives.

Here is a beautiful article from Parade about one adopted Ethiopian-American girl's return to her native land.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

So, when do we have a baby?

Is that the question you are thinking now? Maybe not. But it is the question my mom is wondering (I think she is a little bit excited to be a "gamma" again:)

Right now, my dossier is on it's way to my agency, Gladney. Once there, my fabulous case worker, Natalie, will review all the documents and make sure every possible piece of information and every money order for fees is there. She will be adding a few items to my dossier such as an authenticated copy of Gladney's license, an authenticated copy of our post-placement supervision agreement and such. Once this is complete, my dossier will fly to Washington DC.

First stop in DC is the US Department of State where it will receive federal authentication, basically meaning that the US government will authenticate that the Secretary of State from each respective state has the authority to authenticate the documents in my dossier.

The courier will then take the entire double-authenticated dossier to the Ethiopian Embassy in DC. There, the embassy will authenticate the dossier again.

Once that is completed, my dossier will be forwarded to the in-country representatives and the Ethiopian Ministry of Women's Affairs (MOWA). From today, my dossier should be in-country within about 2-3 weeks, barring complications. The representatives will have my dossier translated into Amharic in anticipation of court.

Meantime, stateside, I will be eligible to receive a referral. A referral is when my agency will give me information about a child that is eligible for adoption. The information will include a medical and social history (as much as known), current health status, information about the child (such as developmental milestones like sitting, standing, walking, speaking), and pictures! I will have the option of accepting the referral or awaiting a different referral. Currently, my agency is reporting a 3-5 month wait for a referral of the age and gender I am requesting. It could be longer or shorter based on the children available.

Once I accept a referral, a court date in Ethiopia will be requested. At that court date, my dossier along with information about the child will be presented to the judge. If all goes well, the child legally becomes mine at that court date! In-country representatives then get to work on getting a passport and such for the child, and approximately 3 weeks after a successful court date, I will travel to meet my new daughter and bring her home forever!

I point out that the court date must be successful because recently, many adoptive parents have "failed" court their first time through. Some for reasons such as missing paperwork, others because of unknown reasons. So even though I my get a court date, I can't know for sure when I will travel until court is successful.

Other things that have to happen prior to traveling are:
~Complete 10 hours of Hauge accredited eduction (about 4 done at this time.)
~Make sure my sis can go with Abigail and I!
~Pay remaining $9,935 to my agency
~Finish vaccinations for Abigail and I (Typhoid and second Hep A)
~Plan our travel, stock up on new kiddo stuff, and get lots of rest!

Doing the "Dossier Done Day!" Dance

Wanna dance? I am doing the dossier done day dance. It looks kind of like this:




I got my CIS approval notarized and authenticated, and I am now dancing my way to FedEx to send my dossier to my agency.

So, what's next? Stay tuned to find out!

Monday, January 07, 2008

More Good News!

"Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today... The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."
Exodus 14:13-14

I finally got to talk to my lawyer today. All I can say is that God is good!

Turns out that even though I got all this bad stuff in email and I couldn't talk to my lawyer about it, he did manage to talk to the prior's lawyer ("Ex" sounds like a bad word, and "Abigail's dad" takes a long time to type, so for now I am going with "prior" but I am open to suggestions!)

Basically, nothing is going to be happening "immediately." It may be happening "soon" but not urgently. In fact, the next thing scheduled for court is Feb. 7 and even that is supposed to be a "disclosure" (exchange of information) type thing, not a hearing. The goal of the motion for immediate return was probably 2-fold: 1) to show that they actually want Abigail back in Illinois (if they didn't file it, they would have no argument) and 2) Intimidation.

But my God is not intimidated by any power under heaven. So I don't have to be afraid, either.

So, while things are far from over, I know God is working this for me. Big dates coming up are Feb . 7 (disclosure) and March 11 (status hearing). Things might actually get settled at the status hearing- or at least some compromises worked.

Thank you so much for your prayers- they have been what has sustained me during this time, especially this past weekend. Please continue to pray- I know it's working!

I GOT IT!!!!

That's right, boys and girls...

I am CIS approved! And I only waited 3 weeks and 6 days! YEA CIS! YEA ME!

More info on what's next coming soon:)

The Sicklings

Just wanted to update you all on the state of our health...

Abigail is feeling stupendous! Her antibiotics are not quite agreeing with her bowels, but that's not slowing her down for a moment!

Grace is feeling better. Not quite 100% yet, but much better!

The car is still not working. Hopefully some answers tomorrow.

Reason #11- Witness and Vessel

"God called Moses to be a witness and a vessel but not the savior. That's how I feel about this adoption."

Valerie Washington, Chicagoan, Ethiopian adoptive parent-in-waiting

Valarie has just written a series of 3 posts about poverty in Ethiopia and how adoption relates to the humanitarian crisis there. Wonderful and enlightening stuff. Check it out:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Reason #10- And I Quote...

"Each time we have taken the leap to adopt (and in a lot of ways it is no less scary the eighth time than it is the first time), we have done so with a strong personal conviction that the child we were adopting was meant to be in our family, and an overwhelming desire to love that child and bring him or her home to us."

Erin, mom to 11 (8 throught transracial adoption)
Transracial/Transcultural Adoption Blog

Friday, January 04, 2008

Trader Joe's

Not having been to a Trader Joe's before, I had a lot of fun visiting TJs on my recent escape, um, I mean, getaway. (Wish there was one near me!)

While at TJs I discovered my new favorite kind of coffee! Having long been a Starbucks Breakfast Blend drinker, I think my palate is ready for a little change, and more flavor without overwhelming bitterness or smokiness.

So, if you like good strong coffee, try TJ's Ethiopian blend. It's organic, shade grown, and, most importantly, a fair trade blend. It is described as "a rich tasting, medium body coffee with slight tart acidity and a floral aroma." Mmm!

The Name Game

I have written before about my new daughter's name. Since that time, I have discovered that the first name God instructed me to use, the one that I thought was unusual and unique, is actually an Ethiopian name! The middle name has a more private significance. Because of the Ethiopian link, I don't know if I will be retaining one or more of the original names of my new daughter. We will have to wait and see, I guess.

But this post really isn't about what my daughter's name will be. When Abigail and I discussed naming her new sister, she chose the name Brianna as her favorite and #1 choice for what we should name her sister.

Um, no.

So, imagine our delight when Abigail opened a Christmas present from my aunt that was a Cabbage Patch doll (one that looks like Abigail) named Brianna Emilie! Then, a few days later, she got another Cabbage Patch doll named Courtney Lola. Here they are: big sister Brianna and little sister Courtney Lola... (Brianna is waving at you!)



Abigail was so excited to adopt her girls... she even got to fill out adoption papers! (Notice, she "got" to fill out the adoption papers, I "have" to fill them out.) I think she has told just about everyone we know that both she and I are adoptive mommas:)

Here is the new momma rocking her girls... She was happy to realize that her adoptive family is just like our adoptive family will be.

I can't believe I am a grandma at 25 (haha!)

(Funny side note- as many of you may know, Cabbage Patch dolls are all signed on their bottoms. When Abigail undressed Brianna and found this, she exclaimed "Look, Momma! She has a tattoo on her butt!")

Christmas Play

As a surprise, Abigail and Teta got a play together to show me. Various family members played roles and Abigail was the angel in the play of the Christmas story.
Angel (Abigail), shepherd (see her lamb and shepherd's rod?), and narrator (Teta)


Waiting for her cue...


Here is the verse she learned...

video

What a ham!

Who Needs a Sled?

video

Here is Abigail and Teta sledding during our visit. My favorite part is Abigail "sledding" down the hill on her knees at the end.



Abigail and her super-special hat that Gaga made her wear... (the sparkly pin that my mom added says "Jesus")





And two where you can see the falling snow...


Not So Good

Click here to read about my really not so good day yesterday.

The long and short of this whole mess (and why it affects my adoption process) is two-fold:

1) Moving to Illinois (as I might be required to do) would interrupt my adoption process and cause me a lot of extra adoption expenses since I would have to get all of my paperwork and my home-study re-done.

2) Lawyers cost money. Money that was supposed to be used for this adoption. And money that I don't have. Right now, if I were to get my "golden ticket" (I-171H), I could not move forward because I simply do not have the funds.

So, please be in prayer about this. Adoption has all kinds of setbacks, and this is one for me. Fooey.

A Really Not So Good Day

Yesterday was a really not so good day. Really, really, really.

On the 2nd I returned home from visiting my family for a week. Amazingly, many of the problems I had before leaving for my trip, and some of the problems that developed during the trip seemed to get resolved. My friend's brother-in-law was able to get my car started and running with just a few tweaks and I was able to drive all over without difficulty. Abigail was able to get in to see her doctor for the intermittent ear pain she had been having for a few days, and they agreed that she didn't need to be treated for an ear infection (there was some signs of infection, but she didn't have a fever and wasn't complaining of ear pain, so they agreed to let the infection clear on it's own.) I had been able to do laundry before coming home, so I didn't have a huge pile of laundry waiting, and I was able to unpack quickly. I even got a free ride home from the airport!

But then yesterday....

First, my car wouldn't start. Even though I was able to get to work on time, I felt really rushed which I hate feeling first thing in the morning. Then my day continued by having to wrestle a patient to the ground and put her into 4-point leather restraints. Not so fun. Then, I got the news that Abigail's father was pursuing some drastic legal actions.

I haven't written here about what is going on in my legal muck, but let it suffice to say that for several months I have been attempting to get Abigail's dad to fulfill the obligations that he has in regards to Abigail's schooling, childcare, extracurricular activities, travel expenses, and medical expenses. Things haven't been going well, but I was hoping that they could get settled relatively quickly and easily since everything appears to be cut and dry according to our divorce settlement/parenting agreement. Abigail's dad decided that the best way to get what he wants is to pay dirty and low- to try to outlast and outspend me until I gave up.

But yesterday things got worse.

Since my lawyer couldn't get ahold of me at work, he emailed me the info that Abigail's dad had filed for immediate return of Abigail to his custody. He is already essentially asking the court to order that I move back to Illinois, but now he is even seeking custody and child support.

This is getting way out of hand, and I don't know what to do. My lawyer had been in court all morning, so I haven't been able to speak to him about this. I am just so disgusted that Abigail's dad is using her as a pawn to get out of living up to his responsibilities.

Please be in prayer. I will let you know more soon.

But wait- there's more!

The icing on my yucky cake was that when I got home from work, not feeling well and very tired, Abigail was sick. Not just "I feel yucky" type sick. A really sick- 104 fever, rigoring, refusing oral intake, not making urine, multiple doctors called and referring her to the emergency room type sick. I stayed calm, but Doctor John was pretty freaked out (well, as freaked out as he gets, which isn't much.)

Anyway, we had to rush to the emergency room where Abigail promptly threw up all over every article of clothing that she and I were wearing, including my coat and scarf. That was gross. We ended up having to giver her IV fluids and antibiotics for what they determined to be a raging ear infection. They did finally send us home at 3:15am. That made for a very long day (not to mention that I kept seeing people I know/work with... but at least John was able to go home and get me clean clothes!)

We are now home, I am sleep deprived and have a horrible head cold, and Abigail is perky. Great combination, no?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Duh + Eek!

Duh + Eek! = My I171H.

The Big Duh
My I-600A (application to USCIS for advanced processing of an orphan- basically, the application to bring my new child into the US) was the first document I filled out and filed relating to my adoption process. I filed it as soon as I knew which agency would be my placing agency. On December 28, I got a voicemail indicating that my application is complete and they want to process it, but I forgot to sign it!

I realized then how much this adoption process has affected me... I routinely check documents three times, have others check them for me, and I have even been known to tear open a sealed FedEx envelope to double-check that all the required papers are enclosed. So, how could I have forgotten to sign one of the most important papers in this process? Well, what can I say- I was a newbie!

The good news is that she just had me fill out another one and overnight it to her, so it should be processed/approved this week or next.

The Big EEK!
Um, Hello! I just found out that my I171H should be approved this week or next! My dossier might be in Ethiopia by the end of this month!!!

Anyway, that's the news from the homefront. Happy New Year to you all! May God bless you richly in the coming year!
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