Monday, August 31, 2009

Adieu

Now that our baby is home safe in our arms, I am going to continue blogging - but on our family blog. I've been debating which blog to update and that is a small portion of why it's taken me so long to get back to blogging. I do still plan to chronicle our trip on this blog, and I may have some adoption related posts here and there, but as far as updates - you'll need to check in with the family blog... So, I bid thee adieu - for now!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shame on me...

...for giving you a mini update with no pics!!

We're Home!

I'm hoping to do a lot more posting and recapping of our long trip, but I thought I'd jump on here to do a quick update. We are(0bviously) home safe. Malachi is an adorable little guy who can definitely throw a mean tatrum when he doesn't get his way. He's been doing a lot of sleeping and playing with his siblings. We had a wonderful trip with only a few snags along the way. We only got sick once and it didn't last very long, just some painful stomache cramps for a few hours. It was a wonderful visit - and really put things into perspective for us. Right after we got off the plane and were driving to the hotel I realized what a small thing we were doing. Just looking around the city and seeing the poverty and desperation really helped me see that we are giving a man a fish, not teaching a man to fish. Just bringing home this baby boy will not do anything to improve the conditions in Ethiopia. There is so very much to do and we are so far away. I now understand why people continue to adopt and also why many people decided to move to Ethiopia after visiting once - to serve the people of this impovershed country. Anyway, we are doing well and laying low for a while. It helps that the girls are in school, the boys take naps, Ian's been home, and my in-laws are coming tomorrow. Now if I could only adopt some Mary Poppings finger snapping to get this house in order...

Chow for now!
-Meg

Thursday, August 6, 2009

See ya!

We're all packed!! The kids are outside swimming with Ian and my sister, and I'm about to join them for one last romp. Then I'll be taking a shower and heading to the airport! I am such a mixture of nervousness and excitement that it's overwhelming me! I'm SO excited to hold my sweet baby boy, and I'm SO nervous that I'm going to be too sick to enjoy it! It's just so weird that after all of this HUGE long process, it's finally happening. Ian and I were just talking about what a big undertaking this is. When we began this process, we had no idea what emotional highs and lows it encompassed, what patience would be required, and how LONG it is! But I still think it will ALL be worth it in the end. I know there are more tough times to go through(what parent doesn't have those?), but I also know that this is right for us and will ultimately bring us more joy than we could imagine. So, wish me good luck, safe travels, and no sicknesses! I'll have plenty to tell you all soon!

-Megan

Thursday, July 30, 2009

One week!!


We've got one more week until we leave to bring home our beautiful boy! Time has really flown by much faster than I thought it would. We have just been so busy! The biggest two events were my daughter's 7th birthday and our 8 year anniversary, however there have been many other things that have helped pass the time. I think I've got just about everything I need for our trip, other than some formula and wipes. I was waiting to buy formula until I knew how much room we had. Last night I bought the 18 gallon Rubbermaid tubs that we will be bringing our donations in and once I packed them with all of the donations we have, I was happily suprised to see that we have quite a bit of room left for formula! We're bringing 3 tubs of donations, 1 suitcase for Malachi Eyob(mainly full of diapers!), 2 carryon's for Ian and me, a backpack with stuff to entertain us on the flight, and maybe my purse...I haven't decided on that yet! So, wish me happy packing and I'm sure I'll post again before we leave. Hugs!







Thursday, July 16, 2009

Plane Tickets!

My awesome friend Kelli reminded me that I never actually posted when we're going to Ethiopia... So I thought I should probably do that!

We have booked our travel to leave Thursday, August 6th at 7:30pm and we will return Sunday, August 16 at 4:15!

While we are in Ethiopia, we are planning on traveling to Lalibela and Dire Dawa. After that, we'll go stay at the agency's guest house and hang out with our baby and all of the other amazing kiddos. We are SO very excited and have been having fun making all sorts of lists and buying baby stuff.

Thank you so much to everyone who has sent donations. The pile just keeps growing. We are continually amazed at the generosity of so many people.

And now we're just counting down...3 more weeks!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Joy


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Happy Tears


We have a phrase in our house we call "Happy Tears." When my mom was in the hospital and had been for a while, I took my daughters to visit her. She was so overjoyed to be with them that she had tears streaming down her cheeks. My oldest daughter, Emma - 3 1/2 yrs at the time - didn't understand why her Grammy was so sad. But then Grammy explained that she was just so happy and the happiness was filling her up so much that it was coming out of her eyes as tears.


Today I had happy tears. 4 days ago I blogged about us traveling to Ethiopia and asked for donations. Today, I opened my door to find two packages from two people in different parts of the country who I have never met, and never even talked to before last week. I was shocked. And just thinking about it now starts my happy tears again. There are such generous people in this world, and particularly in the small world of Ethiopian adoption. My heart has been pulled so many different directions throughout this entire process but to ask for donations and then have them at my door 4 days later just shocked me. I know that these donations aren't for me, but I can't help but feel grateful for the generosity that was shown to me today. I know there's more in the mail coming, and I want to thank you all so VERY much, especially Lindsey and Estee. You made my day, thank you!!!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

We have travel dates!!!

Our Embassy interview appointment is set for Wed August 12!!!

We haven't booked our travel yet, but we'll get there a little before the 12th and leave a little after... and at least now we know when we'll see our baby boy!

And now that we have pretty definitive plans, we'd like to ask for some specific donations. We are planning on packing as light as we possibly can in the hopes that any other packing room will be full of donations for the children and babies at Layla house and Wanna house. PLEASE please please choose one or two of the following and send them with us!

  • Kirkland(Costco) infant formula - 2 pack
  • Lego - basic bricks or Duplo bricks
  • NEW Socks and underwear, boys and girls all sizes(up to about 14 yrs) including small size bras

None of these things are very expensive and if everyone who reads this blog would go out and buy one of those items, we would have plenty to supply the kids with. If you need my home address, please leave your email address as a comment(I'll delete your addy as soon as I read it). Otherwise, feel free to drop things by our house any time!

Also, thank you so much to those of you who have already bought formula to send with us. And thank you ALL for your prayers. It seriously meant so much to us and I KNOW those prayers were not only heard, but answered.

Yay for travel dates! Woohoo!!!

Monday, June 29, 2009

WE PASSED!!!

Without further ado, I'd like to introduce our son, Malachi Eyob:



We're hoping to go pick him up mid-August at the very latest...end of July would be even better!!

Congrats to all those of you who passed court today. I am so sorry for those of you who didn't, and we will keep you and your beautiful children in our prayers.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tomorrow...

Tomorrow's the big day! Please pray that MOWA will have the staff and electricity they need to complete our file and send it to court all ready to go. And please pray that we pass!! Thank you so much to those who called or stopped me at church to wish us luck tomorrow. I had no idea some of you were even following us on our journey. It means a lot to know we have such tremendous support.

Also, good luck to all of the other PAP's who have court scheduled for tomorrow. We're hoping for good news all around. I just think it would be SO amazing if we got to travel with the same families we've been in contact with throughout the past few months.

So... we'll keep you posted...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Drought

To state that Ethiopia is a struggling country would be an understatement. It's an obviously well known piece of info. Right now they are in the middle of a terrible drought. Not only does this affect crops and drinking water, but water is the main source of power for the entire country. They rely on dams to power the cities. When there is no rain there is no water in the lakes. When there is no water in the lakes there is no pressure on the dams. When there is no pressure on the dams there is no electricity. When there is no electricity businesses are forced to close their doors, necessary offices cannot conduct their business, factories cannot produce, and common "luxuries" are foregone - IE: refrigeration, hot water, lighting, etc.



Here are a few recent news articles that explain the damage better than I can:



Ethiopia blocks food supply as millions go hungry


Ethiopia Power Scarcity Approaching Complete Blackout

UN "Runs Out of Aid for Ethiopia"



Port Problems Hurt Aid in Ethiopia



And our adoption agency has written a blog about how this affects them:



The Electricity Situation in Ethiopia



A fellow adoptive parent wrote a beautiful post on our adoption group website:


As I have been reading about the food and electricity shortages in Ethiopia, I have come to realize more and more that we as a community must be about more than just adoption. We MUST be about HOPE for a nation that struggles in ways we will likely never understand. There are so many people in the U.S. who never learn about crises elsewhere. They have nothing with which to compare our standard of living in the U.S. because they have never left the "developed" world.

We, as a community, have already begun a response through adoption, but it simply is not enough. Susan PD said in a post on the AAI site that if you are inclined to pray, now would be a good time for prayer. I publicly agree but add...if you are inclined to help a nation, not simply to add a child to your
household, please find a way to support AAI's humanitarian work, even if it is through advocacy among your own group of friends. During the long wait all of us will have, others are waiting, not for a child, but for HOPE, sometimes for FOOD, many times for a CHANCE at FULL LIFE.

May those who give sacrificially be blessed.



There are so many ways to help. Donating(money or time) is always a great answer and there are so many places to do so. Here are just a few, but the options are practically endless.

World Food Program

AAI - Our agency's Humanitarian page where you can donate funds, items, or volunteer.

Melissa Fay Greene's How to Help has many wonderful organizations listed.

Another way to help is by spreading the word. Thanks to the Internet, there are so many ways to convey information. Facebook, MySpace, Blogger, Twitter, and even just email are great places to start. Please get the word out. The more people know, the more people help.

And, lastly - if you are religious is any way - please pray. This is the easiest way but possibly the most effective. Right now we are praying hard for rain. The country is in need of so many things, but right now rain seems to be the strongest need. Please join with us in praying for this country that is so close to our hearts.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

New Court Date

We just got assigned a new court date: June 29th. Still no word on why there were no cover letters on Monday. Thank you so much for all of your prayers and kind words. I've needed them. :)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Clarification

Sorry I was so vague earlier... I wasn't very happy and didn't really feel like taking the time to post an explanation. So here's a little clarification:

If the Ministry of Women's Affairs(MOWA) doesn't send your case in with a cover letter, you do not pass court. The cover letter basically says they approve everything. There are lots of different reasons they don't send cover letters. Many times they don't because they are understaffed and run out of time. This is obviously not the case since on Friday they sent some of today's in, so they were a little ahead of the game. Plus, NONE of the cases had cover letters. Apparently something happened. I know that just in the past year the director of MOWA has been imprisoned twice while the gov checked on some cases. Maybe that's the case again? We may never know. So now we just wait. It could be a week, it could be months... Once again, I'll be sure to let you all know the minute I know more.

Thanks so much for all of your kind words, it really means a lot.

Bad News

Here's my email from Merrily this morning:

Megan, I am so very sorry, we got news that no MOWA letters were written for today’s cases. Gail says that over 30 cases were scheduled to be heard, from various agencies, but there were no MOWA letters. When we know of the new court date we will let you know. This is very disappointing, I know. Merrily

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Countdown to Court - 1 more day!!!


1 Thing I ask of YOU:


1. PLEASE PRAY THAT WE PASS COURT TOMORROW!!!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Countdown to Court - 2 days


2 things I have begun to rely heavily on:
__________
2. Faith. There have been so many moments during this process(like when my husband lost his job) that have made me question our decision to adopt. But every time it always comes back to the undeniable confirmation a year ago that this was something we were told to do. And I know that the Lord wouldn't tell us to do this if he didn't have a plan. So, sure enough, each time I've had doubts and then replaced those doubts with faith - the Lord has shown his power.
Example: When we found out Ian would be losing his job one of the first things we discussed was whether or not we would continue with the adoption. We both prayed and realized what I said above about how the Lord wouldn't ask us to do this without providing a way to do it. So we decided to continue. We got our referral 3 days later. And he got a job a month after he lost it. And he was still being paid severance from the previous job. And the new job will reimburse adoption expenses...up to just about the exact amount we have left to pay(including travel costs). And the job pays a bit more than the previous one. So...there's my example of taking that first step in faith.
"I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith."
______________
1. Cinnamon Pop Tarts.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Countdown to Court - 3 Days




3 Ethiopian foods I love(Not that I've had much more than 3... but we're going to Cafe Lalibela tonight!! *drool*):

3. Injera. I say this with a bit of hesitation because the first time I had it I spit it out immediately. I did this mainly because the fermented flavor was SO strong, and because I didn't eat it with any other food. The second time I had it I LOVED it and couldn't get enough...yet my Ethiopian bro-in-law couldn't stand it and chose to have bread instead. Go figure...
2. Dabo Kolo. Little tiny snacky crunchy things basically made from flour, water, butter, and spice. It's like Ethiopian popcorn. Yum.

1. Doro Wat - It's a deliciously flavorful soup with onions(lots), chicken, and boiled eggs. OK my mouth is seriously watering right now...


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Countdown to Court - 4 Days


4 Things I'm nervous about:
4. PASSING COURT!!!!
3. The flight... 30 hours?! I've never been able to sleep well while traveling - whether it be boat, car, and especially airplane! But what makes me more nervous than the flight there is the flight back - with a most surely tired, confused, and active little guy.
2. The questions - from him and from others...
1. Transitioning from 3 kids to four...and the chaos that is sure to come. Is there enough mommy to go around?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Countdown to Court - 5 days!

5 people who can't wait to meet you, E!


5. Your energetic, helpful, smart, creative sister, Emma.










4. Your sweet, loving, thoughtful, funny sister, Mckenna.









3. Your fun, silly, happy buddy of a brother, David.









2. Your hard working, silly, also thoughful and fun Daddy.










1. Your impatient, crazy, impatient, nervous, impatient mommy! (Who is also very impatient right now.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Countdown to Court - 6 days


6 things I'm thinking about this morning:
6. I'm wondering why there haven't been any new pictures of E. posted? I know there've been traveling families...
5. I'm hoping our new power of attorney form is in the right hands, along with any other paperwork MOWA needs...and especially the MOWA cover letter.
4. I'm wondering if the other PAP was right in assuming that the new court group assigned to the same day as ours will hinder the amount of families passing court on June 8.
3. I'm hoping the above will not happen.
2. I'm wishing my girls upstairs would stop screaming at each other and finish their shower.
1. I'm wanting the next 6 days to hurry up and fly by so we can pass court, while also being nervous that the next 6 days will fly by and we won't pass court.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Countdown to Court - 7 days


7 Things I can't wait to do with Baby E.
7. Hold him.
6. Kiss him.

5. Sing to him.

4. Make him smile.

3. Hear him laugh.

2. Have him fall asleep on me.

1. Be his momma.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Countdown to Court - 8 days


8 things I want to do in Ethiopia:

8. Sightsee - especially Lalibela

7. EAT!!! *drool*

6. Take pictures of all of the other babies so their mommies in the U.S. can get their baby-fix.

5. Hug lots and lots of Layla house kids.
4. Travel to Dire Dawa
3. Shop!!

2. NOT get sick.

1. Hold my baby!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Countdown to Court - 9 Days


9 things I love about Baby E.:

9. His love of toys. He seems to always have a toy in his hand.

8. I love the pictures of him walking! It makes me sad that I'm not there to see it, but happy that when he comes he'll be off the floor!

7. He's getting bigger! He's a healthy size and is developing perfectly.

6. His big smooshy, kissable lips

5. I love that out of all the pictures we have of him, I've only seen one sad face...and I'm pretty sure he'd just been woken up.

4. He's such a good friend! He is always pal'n around with the other baby E. That makes me excited for he and David to be buddies.

3. His big, open mouth smile.

2. His big, beautiful, curious eyes.

1. And the number one thing I love about Baby E. is.... He is ours!!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Countdown to Court - 10 days


10 things I need to do before we travel to Ethiopia:

10. Make Dr. appt for rest of shots...ugh.

9. Figure out who's watching our other 3 kids and where.

8. Buy passport/money holder that I can wear under my clothes...Not sure how necessary, but it will make me feel safe!

7. Ask for Costco baby formula donations to take to Wanna for all of those babies!

6. Buy Baby E.'s coming home outfit. I did it for when my babies came home from the hospital, why not from the airport, right?

5. Buy plane tickets/arrange lodging & travel plans

4. Figure out what size clothes Baby E. wears so I can pull those out of David's hand-me-downs.

3. Pack!

2. Buy a co-sleeper bed attachment.

1. Pass court on June 8 - Please pray for us!

(I can't completely take credit for the countdown idea...another awesome AP did it a couple of weeks ago and I'm hoping that we'll pass court on the first try, just like they did!!)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Court Date!!!

We have a court date!!!


June 8th!


Please pray that we'll pass the first time!
This means that if all goes well, we'll most likely be traveling to Ethiopia in July!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Update...

Here was our last court update on April 30:

Your case has been submitted to court as part of Group K. The court date will most likely be scheduled for 8-10 weeks from now. Once we are informed of the court date we will let you know.


So, if I use previous families' time lines... Our court date should be at the end of June. If we pass court that day, we should receive an embassy date about 4-6 weeks after(I know of a family who just passed court and got an embassy date 3 weeks later!). The embassy date is when we travel to Ethiopia to pick up baby E. If everything goes well, we should be bringing him home by the end of July/beginning of August!!

I still haven't heard what our court date is, but I'm hoping to hear about that in the next week or so. As soon as I do I'll let you know!

We had a little hiccup in the process last week. I was asked to send in a copy of our I-171H, which is our application for advance processing of orphan petition - basically our approval for our son to have a U.S. Visa. On this form it states that we have been approved and that the approval was sent to the U.S. embassy in the country we requested.

As I was getting ready to send this form to our adoption agency I glanced at the bottom where it said which embassy it was sent to, assuming it would say the U.S. embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Not so. Instead it said that our visa approval was sent to the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City, Guatemala!!! What?!

So, after a week's worth of calling every possible person in the U.S. government(ok that's a gross exaggeration, but that's what it felt like!) I finally was forwarded on to some supervisor who -with just a couple clicks on her computer- was able to tell me that it wasn't, in fact, sent to Guatemala, and that it was not only sent to Ethiopia, but it was received and we even have a case number. Hallelujah! Apparently it was just a typo on the form and when someone meant to tell us it was sent to Ethiopia they just typed in the wrong country(sure...I get those two mixed up ALL the time).

Whatever the cause, the outcome was just fine and it ended up being no problem. I was super worried about it, though, because if Baby E's visa was waiting for him in Guatemala, we might run into a few problems along the way. Also, the I-171H takes quite a while, quite a bit of money, and quite a bit of effort just to get, so I was very grateful we didn't have to do all of it all over again!

Also, Baby E. is doing wonderfully! He's gaining weight and pulling himself up to walk along furniture. Most of the pictures we receive he is smiling and laughing. He even has a little buddy who shares his name that we've seen playing with him in a lot of the pictures. I did get one picture last night where our boy had the saddest face ever. He looked almost like he'd just woken up. Whatever the cause, that face broke my heart! I've never wanted to hold him more than I did when I saw that picture.

So, there's our update - sorry it isn't very exciting, but that's just where we are!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Court Update

I emailed Merrily today about whether or not we'd been put into a court group and if our papers had been filed. Here's her response:

We got a list just a few minutes ago about the next group and your name is on the list. I am not sure when it will be filed, within the next few days.We will let you know. Merrily
Yay for good news!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I love MFG

With all of the controversy surrounding Madonna's latest Malawian adoption, CNN interviewed author and adoptive parent, Melissa Fay Greene. You might remember my previous post about her book There is No Me Without You.

You can read CNN's interview here. I thought MFG's last statements were so perfectly worded:


I admire Madonna. And I don't understand why everyone attacks Madonna. I think that she is in part trying to raise the world's consciousness about the African orphan crisis.

You know, 95 percent of the children orphaned by AIDS [globally] are in sub-Saharan Africa. You don't hear world leaders talking about it. Where is the global outrage? ...

So, into the breach steps a celebrity. But don't attack her for it, you know. Maybe her methods are not what ours would be, but how many of us are Madonna? But at least she is out there; she's creating a school.

Obviously, she's fallen in love with the Malawian children to such an extent she wants to make some of them her own. And I think that it's great. I just don't understand why the world's attacking her. Let other people step forth and do something. At least she's trying. That's my feeling.

Also, no new update on Baby E. Well I guess that's not technically true, we've been updated on his health and development(he's doing great!), but we still haven't been put in a court group, and still have no court date. There have been some issues with court because our agency hired a different lawyer to represent AAI in court and is now being required to have new Power of Attorney papers drawn up and submitted. We're hoping this issue will be sorted out soon and really really hoping to get a court date!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Baby E. Update

I got a wonderful email from another adoptive parent about our sweet baby E.:

I was volunteering at Wanna house in February. I remember two E's. One had a family, so I'm guessing it's the other E. He had quite short hair and two teeth on the bottom. Am I right?
He was very sweet and loved to be in the swing and walker. I loved it when he smiled with his two bottom teeth shining bright. He was quite active and looking like he was anxious to start walking. CONGRATULATIONS on your referral!
Isn't that the best ever! I love it!

Friday, March 6, 2009

It's a BOY!!!

We are proud to announce that we have accepted the referral of an 8 month old baby boy!

For now, I'll just be calling him Baby E. Until we pass court(probably not for another couple of months), I can't post pictures and I don't want to give out too much info...but I can tell you that he his healthy and beautiful! He has the most stunning big brown Ethiopian eyes and the smooshiest, poutiest lips I've ever seen. If you happen to have the pleasure of bumping into me any time soon, feel free to ask to see his picture - I'm sure I'll have it with me!

Yesterday when I was at Mckenna's dance class I got a message from the director of our agency wanting to talk to me about a baby boy! I called back and she read most of his info over the phone and then emailed me all of the info, medical reports, and two adorable pictures.

My mother-in-law had a good point...she said that if there was any doubt in my mind that this was the right choice...do NOT open that picture. Luckily there was no doubt, and Ian and I both really felt right about this from the moment we got the call. I actually opened the picture on accident. I told the compy to open all of the files in the email and was looking at something else while they loaded and then all of a sudden his picture just popped up on my screen. And my m-i-l was right because the moment I saw that picture...he became my son.

It's funny how quickly the sense of "ownership" kicked in. I don't think I felt it this early on with my biological kids, but every time I look at that picture I think: There he is, that's MY son!

So, Ian and I both prayed about it and I pretty much felt a "why are you even bothering to ask...you know he's your son" response... So Ian called today and accepted! He's only been in the orphanage for 5 weeks and they don't usually match the babies with families until they've been there closer to 6-8 weeks, so we won't get a court date for a bit. Probably in another 2-3 weeks we'll get a court date that will be about 2 months from then. So we're thinking we'll probably get to go bring Baby E. home in June. Yippeee!!!

And as far as his name...It has some pretty profound meaning to us, so we're thinking we'll keep it, but because it's not a very easy name, we'll move it to his middle name and choose a new name. We haven't quite decided, but we'll let you know when we do!

So, there you have it! 9 months into this process and we actually have a name and a face and a sweet adorable little spirit that I am already so inexplicably attached to!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

I sent an email to the director of our adoption agency this morning so that I could get a real idea of where we are on the list. Here was her response:

You are right up there, I would guess another week to ten days for a single boy, for twins it would be months or maybe more-- Merrily

HOLY COW, I'm going to be a crazy lady for the next week!!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Babies, Babies Everywhere

Last week we received an email from our agency about the recent influx of babies to the orphanage. If you click here, it will take you to a copy of the email. Please read it, enjoy the pictures, and see if there is any way you may be able to help the orphanage. Anything from donating the money for a can of formula, to traveling to Ethiopia to volunteer in the orphanage would be awesome.

As sweet as the pictures are to look at, I was shocked at the amount of diapers and formula! Granted, 60+ babies would obviously raise the numbers of supplies, but to put it so exactly was staggering.

I am finding myself wishing I was at a different point in my life and I could hop on a plane and head right over. Honestly, I'd love nothing more. I'm still having a hard time with the mixed feelings about so many babies being in the orphanage. I would rather not get a referral for two years if it meant that those babies could stay and live with their families.

Last week I was at Costco with my kids. My four year old, Mckenna blurted out, "Mommy, look! They're Ethiopian!" Now, my 6 year old has said this many times...and none of those times has that person actually been Ethiopian. Mckenna - up to this point - had never said that. I brushed it off, said, "They may be from Ethiopia, but just because they have dark skin doesn't mean they're Ethiopian. Lots of people have dark skin and are from different places all over the world, many are from right here in (insert hometown, state, country, etc)." Then I finally turned to see the most beautiful babies, a boy and a girl, strapped in the front of the Costco cart, a mom wearing a Bob Marley t-shirt, and a grandmother wearing very traditional Ethiopian clothing. All of them had beautiful, bright, shining eyes that shouted Ethiopia. I just laughed and told Kenna that I thought she might actually be right!

Later we stopped for drinks and I struck up a conversation with the mother. As soon as she began speaking, I could see and hear my sister-in-law, Tuni(from Ethiopia), in her voice and expressions. At that point I had no doubt she was Ethiopian. We had a lovely conversation. I told her how beautiful here babies were, she was excited for us to adopt - and has many friends who have adopted from ET., and we just really had a nice little visit. I walked away just beaming! Those babies just made my heart want to leap out of my chest! And she was such a nice lady. I'm still kicking myself for not getting her contact info.

That encounter made this adoption a lot more real. It was feeling real before...but distantly real. Kind of like when I got pregnant the third time - I had been through it twice before, so I knew then end was a long way away, and I just didn't really even focus on the baby at all. We were busy moving and dealing with many other things. After the holidays, when life got back to normal I was about 1 1/2 months from my due date. That was when I finally allowed myself to realize I was having a baby and needed to get ready.

That's kind of how I feel now. OK, Christmas is over, family has left, it's time to really start thinking about this. I need to start figuring out travel stuff, money, shots(round 2), and all that jazz. Oh yeah - and I need to be ready for a referral. I'm not expecting it tomorrow, but another month or so...and it never hurts to be too prepared, right?

So, check the link I posted above, see if there's anything you can do, and please know how grateful I am for all of your support on our journey!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Same News, Different Mouth

This was put up on our adoption board today from the director of our agency:

"For those of you in the adoption process, I wanted to give you a little update on processing and time frames. Today I called three families with referrals of little ones. The dossier for the family for the baby girl was sent to Ethiopia in July. The dossier family for the family getting the baby boy went in late August, so waiting times are shorter than we had expected for these families. We have more babies than ever in our nursery, in fact, it is getting crowded! Gail says they are expecting at least one new baby and perhaps two this weekend. The families who continue to wait are those asking for young siblings or toddler or preschool age girls."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Anticipation...

(Remember those Burger King commercials singing "Anticipation"...that's what song is in my head right now.)

I really wasn't feeling too anxious about being on the waiting list...Till my mother-in-law emailed me this(she got it from another adoptive mother):

I think the wait for your newest grandbaby will be short. ;-) I got an email from a friend (an old timer) who is at Wanna right now and she says this:

I have never seen nor imagined so many babies and toddlers there. Gail says she get 1 or 2 every other day.

I am choosing to be selfish for the moment and look at the glass as half full - meaning...I'm excited that we may get a referral sooner than later. I'm choosing - for this moment - not to dwell on how sad it is for those families and children that so many are being brought in to the orphanage.

I was previously feeling rather "eh" about waiting for our referral, knowing it could be quite a long time. So, thanks Laurie for making me eat, sleep, and breathe anticipation... A referral sure would be a nice Christmas present!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

WE ARE ON THE WAITING LIST!

Woohoo!! I just got an email from our agency yesterday that said our dossier was received in Ethiopia on November 21. That means it was actually sent a little earlier, so we've most likely been on the waiting list for about a couple of weeks and had no idea! Yay!

I called the agency this morning with a few questions about the list. She said that most families who submitted their dossiers in June have been receiving referrals for baby girls right now. That is significant in that baby girls are the most often requested, but the least often brought in to the orphanage(from what I've been told). So, I'm assuming that from June to November, most families have received their referrals, making the longest wait about 5 months.

There are so many variables in that though. Sometimes the list will remain stagnant for a while, sometimes it is fluidly moving right along. And that part is very unpredictable. The other things that make the list variable are all of the other families' preferences regarding age/gender preferences, and health preferences(I know that sentence is super grammatically lame but I'm too lazy to figure out how to fix it).

I did find out that there are only a couple of other families requesting twins, so that could make us get a referral sooner than some. However, twins aren't super common, so that might mean nothing at all!

So, basically what I'm trying to say is that - yes - we are on the waiting list, but I have no idea where, no idea how many people are ahead of us, no idea what they have requested, and NO idea how long it will take to get a referral! Regardless...I'm stoked!

Monday, November 10, 2008

November Update

Not much to say...which is why I haven't posted in a month! We sent our dossier and home study in, but our police clearance was the wrong kind. We redid it and sent the right kind in on Saturday, November 1st. I emailed her tonight to make sure she received that and I'm hoping she will tell me she did and that they sent all of our paperwork to DC. I'll let you know when it's on its way!

The only other news on the adoption front is that many families received referrals in the month of October, and more families are continuing to receive theirs. It's exciting for the families, but doesn't speak so well for the conditions in Ethiopia right now. It's also good news for us because by the time we are put on the wait list, less families will be ahead of us. So, as exciting as this news is, I can't help but feel sad for those mothers and families who are (for whatever reason) separated from their sweet babies. Please pray for these families.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Finally!

I know I promised an update on our family blog...Sorry I took so long!

The first good news is that we finished our homestudy 2 weeks ago and faxed it to the agency for approval. The only correction they made was to change our requested age from under 9 months to under twelve months. They didn't want to refer a child to us who is 7 months old, and then have it take 3 months to bring him/her home, because then we wouldn't be approved if our homestudy said we are only approved up to 9 months. She said she'd make sure to note that we want a younger baby, so it's not really changing anything. Our social worker then sent our homestudy on its way!

Our second good news is that our dossier is finally complete! WAHOO! What a load off that is! For those of you who don't know, the dossier is basically a big packet of about 25 notarized documents that are sent to the Ethiopian government which allow us to obtain guardianship of a child. It sent us on a veritable paper chase, getting documents from all over the place. We've been fingerprinted 3 times each, been to the notary 3 times, and driven everywhere from downtown Phoenix to Florence. It is such a relief to be done with it! And now? ...we wait.

First, our dossier and homestudy will be sent to Washington DC to be authenticated by the Dept. of State, and then by the Ethiopian Embassy. Once that is done, everything will be sent to Ethiopia. I believe that once it is sent to Ethiopia we will be put on the referral waiting list. Our dossier is translated, submitted, and(hopefully) approved by the Ministry of Women's Affairs(MOWA). After we receive and accept a referral, and have been approved by MOWA, our dossier is submitted to court. This is sometimes a bit tricky as a paper might be missing or a living relative needs to be tracked down. It isn't uncommon for families to not pass court the first time. Once we pass, our child/children is/are legally ours! We just have to wait to be assigned a travel date and we can go there and bring our baby home!

Many people have asked when we expect to actually do that(bring our baby home). The answer isn't that simple. It all depends on how long it takes to be matched with a child(typically 2-8 months), how long it takes for all of the courts to do what they need to do, whether or not we are approved the first time around, if the child is healthy enough for travel...blah blah blah. We are hoping for a baby sometime in the spring, if not early summer. I'm really not sitting on pins and needles here because I know it is out of my control, and when it happens, it happens!

So, to sum up my good news - My work(for now) is complete and it is just time for us to put this in the Lord's hands and hope for the best. It's nice to have the responsibility off my shoulders. At this point in the process, I'm not super anxious, because I expect it to be a while for us to get our referral. Once we see a picture of our baby...then I can assure you I will be more than anxious. I will be giddy with anxiety! The bad news is that I probably won't have much of anything exciting to post for a while...hopefully I'll be posting soon!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The News is Out!

To my new blog visitors, Welcome! I would suggest scrolling all the way to the bottom of the blog and reading up. It'll make more sense that way.

This is copied from my family blog(and is the reason I have new blog visitors):


...Another thing she did in true Emma fashion happened at church during Primary today...and in this case "true Emma fashion" means she revealed a little more than I would have liked her to.

Each week in Primary the presidency asks the kids to tell about something that makes them special. They call on a few and those kids get to go put a sticker on a poster board with a picture of Christ on it. The kids have their usuals: "I helped my mom do the dishes," and "I cleaned my room." Lately the teachers have been trying to get the kids to say something different than the usuals...which made it the perfect time for Emma to chime in. She doesn't always raise her hand to answer and I'm not sure what made today any different...but she did and she got called on. Here was her answer: "We're adopting from Ethiopia." Sister Perkin's said, "What?" Emma repeated herself. Sister Perkins looked at me...rather confused... To which I repeated Emma, "We're adopting from Ethiopia. Surprise!" I guess we couldn't keep it a secret forever. So, thanks for spilling the beans, Em. It had to happen sometime. :)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

No News

I don't have much to update this week. We're still waiting for our bank statement(for the dossier) and one more friend referral(for the homestudy). The bank manager is awfully hard to track down! Other than that, I really don't have much to report! We havent made any more progress because I don't really feel like doing a bunch of work right now and since there's no hurry(while we wait for the above items) I'm not too worried!

Monday, September 1, 2008

SO close!

We met with our social worker last Tuesday and I was so hopeful that we would be all done with our part of the homestudy. Ummmmm...no. Not so much. Only because of my stupidity, though. I forgot to get the guardianship paper notarized the previous Saturday when we got everything else notarized. I also forgot that for the pool pictures we needed a picture of the lock on the gate, not just the fence. There were a couple of other holes in the homestudy that I needed to fill in - my kids weight and height, some more specific verbage about our health insurance, etc. So, we have just a little bit more to do and then our homestudy can be on its way. Oh, and we did get the dogs immunized. Thankfully it was pretty uneventful.

As for our dossier, we're just waiting on our letter from the bank. We actually had the bank manager at the branch we opened the account do the paper for us. He got it notarized and everything. He just forgot to have it printed on bank letterhead paper. Whoops! And he was gone all week, last week, and today's a holiday. So hopefully tomorrow will be the day! And then we'll just have to finish up our dossier and send that with our payment to AAI. Yay!!!

To Nurse or Not to Nurse?

Last night I talked to Ian about the possibility of nursing the baby. I am and have always been very pro-nursing for our three children. I very much feel that it is the best form of nourishment that our babies can receive. And luckily I've had 3 very good nursers. If our adopted child is young enough, I'd really like to try to nurse him/her. I'm just nervous about nursing a child - that is obviously not my biological child - in public. I know we'll get enough stares without actually nursing this baby. Ian had the idea that the baby will already be used to bottles, so if they do take to nursing, I can still feed them bottles in public, and then nurse when we are home. That made sense. Of course if we get twins or an older baby, this won't be an issue anyway. :)

This week I've actually been feeling slightly baby hungry. I don't know that it's baby hungry, or just feeling like there's a baby out there for us, without us.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Immunize My Dogs??

Ugh. For our Homestudy, I need to provide copies of our two dogs' immunization and rabies vaccine records. The problem is not that our dogs haven't been immunized, because I'm 99% sure they have. The problem is that we don't have the records. For most people, this wouldn't really be a major issue, they'd just go and get their dogs immunized again, which is what we'll be doing this weekend. The real reason I'm hating this part of the Homestudy is because our dogs are 13 and 14 years old!! That's roughly 91 and 98 in dog years! To get my dogs loaded in the car, unloaded at the vet office, shot, loaded again, and unloaded again is a huge, stinky, hairy nightmare. One of my dogs is deaf, unstable on her feet, skittish, incontinent, and just weak. The other one should do fine...unless there's a thunderstorm nearby and if so - there's no way I'm taking her anywhere. So I guess there's really no point to my rant, since this has to be done no matter what, I just needed a minute of frustration before I could continue with my update.

...moving on...

We are almost finished compiling our dossier paperwork. We received that the same day we met with our social worker for the Homestudy. At first, I was completely overwhelmed. I knew that the dossier is a pain in the tush, so I'm not sure why it was so intimidating since I'd been somewhat prepared. I showed it to Ian and he seemed unfazed by it - so opposite of the reaction I'd had. But I'm so glad he's an auditor for a living. He's not scared of a bunch of paperwork! He dove right in, and in the past week and a half has been running all over Phoenix trying to gather the documents. I didn't think we'd be this close to finishing! This weekend we're going to have all of the documents notarized and we're still waiting for a few to come in the mail, but I think that by the end of next week, we should be done!

I'm also meeting with our social worker next week to give her my personal history. When I meet with her I'll need to give her a few papers that we didn't have last time, and also the dogs' shot records(argh!) and a picture of our pool fence. I'm hopeful that she'll not need anything else and that would mean that by the end of next week I can take a bit of a break from paper chasing and focus on reading more about intercultural adoptions, interracial adoptions, RAD, and anything else I can get my hands on! I'll just be glad to have the pressure off me for a while and in someone else's hands!

At this point I'm not really even thinking about the baby we'll be bringing home because I'm so focused on the Homestudy and dossier. I'm not even sure I want to think about the baby because it'll be quite a while before we get a referral and I don't want to start feeling anxious now. That will just make the waiting even worse. But it will be good to have a break so I can focus on learning all that I can...and then the waiting can begin!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Homestudy!

Our social worker, Peggy, came today to begin our home study! Woohooo!! When she left I actually felt like we're on the right track and that things are moving right along. Ian and I still have a few more papers to scrounge up(that we'll be needing for the dossier anyway) and Peggy needs to draw up a more formal draft of our discussions from today. Then she'll come back, I'll give her the paperwork I have, and then we can fill in any gaps from the info she gathered today.

The homestudy visit, itself, was really nothing to be worried about. I'd read other blogs from other pre-adoptive parents who said that they scrubbed their house from top to bottom, cleaned out the closets, bought new blinds/etc and the SW didn't even look in their closets. So, I tried not to worry about it too much, but I also saw it as a good excuse to get my house a little cleaner. She, like the other social worker, did not really look in any closets, except for the one in David's room, and I think she only did that because she was standing right by it. She did a very quick tour of the house while the girls ran ahead of her, gabbing away the whole time. By the time we were done with the tour I think she was a little overwhelmed with all of the activity of the 3 kids running around, yelling and jumping. So we had them stay and play in the loft while Ian and I went down to the table to go over paperwork and talk. The kids were so good the whole time.

She basically just took an extremely comprehensive history of Ian's life(she'll do mine on our next visit), how we were parented, how we met, our marriage, our positive and negative feelings towards each other, our child rearing philosophies, our expectations of adoption, our hopes for our children, how we will handle future racial issues and trials related to adoption(i.e.:Reaction Attachment Disorder/health problems), our disciplinary measures, etc... She was here for 3 hours and seemed very efficient, but still very nice and personable. She also sat down with Emma for a bit to get a better idea of how she feels about adoption, adding siblings, how she is disciplined, etc. She did great.

I needed to order Kenna and David's birth certificates, I still need to take a picture of our pool fence, I need to gather immunization and rabies records for our dogs...which might be a problem as I don't think we have any of those records... And Ian needs to track down a few things as well.

Altogether I thought it went very well and don't feel nervous about anything. It was nice to hear Ian analyze our marriage and say nice things about me...maybe we should have a social worker over more often!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

August Update

Things have been kind of crazy around here, so I'll try to be brief with my update - as much has happened since my last post.

On Wednesday, July 23, I was able to change the name on my driver's license, apply for a passport, and get my fingerprinting done and submitted to the courts. It was an insanely busy day, as we had friends from out of town coming to visit that night and left to go camping the following morning. Luckily I was able to have my good friend, Amanda, watch the kids while I ran all over Arizona. I was so glad to be finished with all of that stuff so that we could start working on our Homestudy paperwork.

I emailed the letters of referral to our family and friends last week on Wednesday, July 30. Most of the people were able to have theirs filled out, notified, and sent by the following Friday, two days later. We have one friend who is out of town and hopefully will complete his tomorrow or Monday. We have also scheduled our physicals for tomorrow morning and have our social worker, Peggy, coming on Saturday morning.

I know we don't have to have our house spotless and dust-free when the SW comes, but I think it is a great excuse to clean out all of the nooks and crannies of our house and get a little (late) Spring cleaning done. So each day, in addition to cleaning the usual stuff in our house, I've been trying to tackle small projects like organizing the laundry room and the kids' closets, dusting, wiping baseboards, etc. It's nice to have a sparkling clean house again.

We've also been slowly telling a few more family and friends about our plans to adopt. We had to tell those who we asked to be referrals, and although I still don't want everyone to know, I feel fine having those we are close to knowing. My cute mother-in-law accidentally spilled the beans (in a round-about-way) to my sister-in-law, and to be honest, it was nice to not have to keep the secret with one more person.

So, right now we are trying to finish up any last paperwork and gather any documents that we haven't yet. I'd like to do everything I can to speed this along so that the waiting time won't be so much up to me and my ability to complete things quickly, but more up to the agency for the referral and the courts for processing.

Our oldest daughter began first grade yesterday and our middle child will begin preschool in September. I've begun working out at the YMCA and am looking forward to getting my body healthier. I like that our lives are on more of a schedule now, and feel much more like my normal self, and also much more motivated to do things that need doing(cleaning, homestudy work, exercising, making healthy dinners, keeping up on the laundry), which - to be honest - I wasn't very motivated to do anything for the month of July.

So, here's to a busy and productive August!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

There Is No Me Without You

I just finished reading an amazing book: There Is No Me Without You, One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Africa's Children, by Melissa Fay Greene. It's the story of a courageous, humble woman, Haregewoin Teferra, coupled with many facts about AIDS, Ethiopia, and the orphan crisis. After shedding some tears and having a few laughs, I am so much more educated about and committed to adoption. Here are some of the passages that I felt were worth mentioning:

Page 22:

The Berlin Wall is down, the Iron Curtain has fallen, but it is as if a pulsating wall of strobe lights, televised celebrities, and amplified music
has gone up mid-Atlantic or mid-Mediterranean Sea. It is hard to look past the simulated docudramas, television "news magazines," and mock-reality memoirs designed to distract us in a thousand ways while making us feel engaged with true stories. America wrestles with its obesity crisis to such an extent that Americans forget there are worse weight problems on earth than obesity.


Page 153:
All the big action of the household--the scores of healthy children
breezing in and out--swept past Ababu like storm winds. He couldn't partake in the life the other children enjoyed, other than to be blown over by it. But he had a small bit of life all his own. When Haregewoin handed him a roll, he gnawed on it. When she scooped him up and showered him with endearments, he purred.
The above excerpt, I felt, really personalized the suffering all over the world. To us, it may seem like an insurmountable task to overcome the poverty, sickness, and suffering in the world. But to that one person, that one child - it is real. That child has a whole life inside of them with thoughts, hopes, and feelings. To group a people and their suffering together, and dismiss it as a whole is impractical and impossible. Because each one lives through each day the same way you and I do: through their own eyes.

Page 216:
HIV-positive and AIDS-afflicted orphans lined up politely to greet
Haregewoin. The touch of their parents had survived in the children's beautiful and elaborate names. As each lisped his or her name, Haregewoin fleetingly pictured the mother and father, even the poorest of the poor, inclining their heads above a newborn and conspiring to bestow an extravagant and ambitious name on the baby. Most nonbiblical Ethiopian names have meanings; but the names of these HIV-positive orphans seemed exceptionally poignant.

She met Tidenek(You Are Amazing), and Bizunesh(You Will Become Much), and Asegdom(He Who Makes Others Kneel Before Him).

She shook hands with Mekonnen(Dignitary), and Zerabruk(Descendent of Holiness). Makeda(The Beautiful) had been the name of the Queen of Sheba, and here came a little Solomon as well.

Tadelech meant "She Is Lucky" and Zenash was " Famous." Messaye meant "You Resemble Me" --one couldn't miss the happiness of a mother or a father in that one. Etagegnebu's charming "I Have a Sister!" preserved a moment of family happiness, the rejoicing of a baby's older sibling.

Metekie's very common name, on the other hand, signaled the high infant and child mortality rate, for its bittersweet meaning was "Replacement Child."

Tenagne was "My Health," a touchingly hopeful choice given what must have followed(since Tenagne was now and HIV-positive orphan).

Allefnew's name was almost worse: "We Made It Through the Bad Times."

A scrappy little boy was seen by his parents as a future wheeler-dealer:
his name was Million.

In the era of the pandemic, his name took on a different meaning entirely.


As a mother, myself, having the experience of choosing a child's name - this gave me a completely different perspective. Only one of my children's first names has real meaning behind it. However, if my child's name was the last thing I would ever give them, you can bet it would have deep meaning. For some mothers, aside from the gift of life, this might be the only thing they will ever give their children. Ian and I have discussed a little bit about what we will do with our adopted child's name. Eventually, we just decided to wait and see what it is. I would love for them to keep their name - for that reason: that was something their mother gave to them and I don't want to take that away. But I need to factor in how hard/easy it is to pronounce and whether or not the child will be made fun of. Worse case scenario, we will move it to their middle name. I really would like the child to be able able to keep the name, especially after reading this.

Page 227:
One could almost calculate how long a child had been motherless by its diminished cries: a little girl who has lived a long time, even at age two, without individualized attention, wails silently, mouth open wide, tears flowing, yet voiceless. Such a child has learned that full-tilt wailing - of the type that can only be soothed by a mother - takes her down a long road and drops her there out of breath, and she will have to make her own way back, her clean blouse wet and her toy now in the hands of someone else.


Page 237:
Like Haregewoin, Hodes saw the epidemiological data every day, personified. The charts in Geneva, Washington, and Paris showed HIV prevalence in soldiers, babies, and prostitutes. They looked absolutely nothing like the bar graphs, pie charts, and line graphs propped on easels in conference rooms in the northern hemisphere.
This quote is similar in point to the previous passage from page 153. You cannot understand the crises by looking at a chart, reading a book, or sitting in a conference room in a nice, air conditioned conference room in L.A. You must see a child clinging to their dead mother, scrambling for something to eat, huddling together for warmth. You must personalize it because it is not something to be completely understood with out completely experiencing it.

Page 277:

One day, about four months after arriving in Atlanta, Helen collapsed in my arms, suddenly stricken with the memory of her late mother. I held her as she writhed, wailing, "Why she had to die?"

A few moments later, she said between sobs, "I know why she died. She was very sick, and we didn't have the medicine."

"I know," I said. "It's true. I'm so sorry."

By then I was well versed in the AIDS orphan crisis, but it floored me that she captured it with such accuracy, brevity, and grief, more powerfully than any of the thousand pages I had read on the subject.

To really comprehend the meaning of the above, I suggest reading this amazing book. It really helps the reader to understand what HIV is, what AIDS is, and what is or isn't being done to eradicate this awful disease from our world.

What an amazing woman Haregewoin Teferra is, and thank you so much Ms. Greene for your extensive research and softened heart that allowed you to create such an eye-opening literary work. It's not the easiest book to read, and by no means a "quick read." But I would put in it my top 5 books of all time. Please, if you haven't read it...go out and grab yourself a copy. It will change your perspective and be well worth your time.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Update...ish

Not much to update here...

We've slowly been telling family and friends about our decision to adopt. Well, technically we're only telling the family and friends that we put on our homestudy reference list...because the homestudy agency will eventually be contacting them and we don't want them to be caught off guard.

I can't completely explain why I want to wait so long before we tell anyone. The reasons I've been using make sense. It's just that those theories don't tell the complete story. My two reasons are:

1. The adoption process is a long time. I don't want people coming up to me and asking about it a million times when I don't have any more info to give. My memories of pregnancy are everyone(including people I don't know) coming up and asking, "Are you pregnant??" "When are you due?" "Do you know the sex?" "Do you think you can handle 3 kids?" followed by everyone grabbing my belly. Now I know getting a child through adoption and getting a child through one's own pregnancy are 2 completely different scenarios, but they usually have the same end result, and many parts of the process are similar. Which leads me to my other reason for not telling people yet:

2. As with any pregnancy, there is always the chance that things won't go as well as is hoped for. Just as pregnancies can end in miscarriage, adoption can end for many different reasons. I don't want to tell everyone we're adopting, just for it to not work out, for whatever reason.

My other reason for not telling people - and the reason I don't usually share - is that I'm not quite prepared for negative reactions. I know that there will be someone, at some point in this process who won't approve - whether because they think we have too many children, we can get pregnant, so why adopt, or anything related to mixing races. I'm sure there are other problems people will have, I'm just not prepared to be confronted by them. I need to be more educated and more prepared.

So...back to the few we have told. They are some of our closest friends and family and I knew that none of them would have problems with this process. It was so exciting to finally talk about it with someone! And, of course, they all agreed to do whatever they needed to for the homestudy agency.

I'm hoping to go on Wednesday to be fingerprinted, change my driver's license, and get my passport. Wish me luck!!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Paying for Adoption

When I first decided that I wanted to start the adoption process, my husband's first hesitation came from the large amount of costs involved. After researching a bit, we discovered that his company offers an adoption reimbursement. We also discovered the adoption tax credit - which will pay back a little more than 10k that we spend. We will still have to cover the costs first, before we can be reimbursed from both, but we are hoping to acquire a no-interest adoption loan, and I am looking into grants(although I don't feel that we will need much once we are reimbursed for monies spent).

Yesterday, I came across a great article that describes how the tax credit works, and how the tax system, with it's deductions and credits, can work to give you more money to pay (retroactively) for the adoption itself. For anyone wanting to adopt, but concerned that they may not be able to afford it, I highly recommend you take a gander at the article, and sit down with your spouse to figure out if you can do it. It's worth a shot!

Paying for Adoption - Part One

Paying for Adoption - Part Two

Friday, July 18, 2008

Information Junkie

Hi, my name's Megan and I'm an information junkie.

Since we started this process I feel like I can't get enough information about adoption. I find myself searching blogs, agency websites, news articles, anything and everything that has something to do with adoption. I subscribed to someone's blog a little while ago for something completely unrelated to adoption. Today, she posted something about her family and their journey to adopt from Ethiopia. Crazy! So, of course I had to go back and read all of her previous posts about adoption.

I've spent way too much time researching this process. But, in my defense, I do this with everything. When my mom had cancer and would have a new symptom, my sister and I would google it to death...and then call the nurse. When my older daughter was having "issues" I looked up everything I could on her behavior - including books. When we planned our Hawaii vacation I knew just about everything you could on the island of Oahu. When my feet started having problems I knew every solution and treatment possible. So, it is fitting that when we chose to adopt, I learn everything I can about adoption, Ethiopia, Ethiopian adoption, the costs involved, the timeline, grants and loans to pay for the adoption, local families who have adopted, books on adoption, Layla House, AAI, and everything before, after, and in between.

The only problem with this? I'm a mom to 3 beautiful, wonderful children that need my time more than I need to look up more families who have adopted/are in the process of adoption. So, my dear and beloved Google, I bid the adieu...for now.

I am one

I'm only one. But still, I am one. I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

-Edward Everett Hale

I read an amazing two-part article today that made me feel even more grateful and excited for this adoption journey. The Kennard family lives as an amazing example of true, Christlike love and sacrifice. I hope that by adopting an Ethiopian child into our home, we will be creating ripples of change. I know our journey can't create as large of ripples as the Kennard family was able to, but my in-laws inspired us to action by their selfless act of adoption and so I hope that others may be inspired to "do the something that (they) can do."

Part One: Making Room for Just One More

Part Two: With Joy Ye Shall Draw Water

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Yikes!!

OK I'm already beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed, and we've barely begun!! I received a call today from our social worker, Peggy. We talked for a little bit(which is unbelieveable since the girls had some friends over and the house was wild and crazy!). She asked if we had any questions so far(no) and told me a bit about the next few steps and how we go about accomplishing them. The first step is to get fingerprinted. She said that sometimes the finger printing takes longer than the rest of the homestudy process and can sometimes cause it to take longer, so it's best to do that first and get it out of the way. She also said the whole process is usually about eight weeks...so if that stays true, we should be finished around the beginning of September. She also emailed me all of the instructions for our next steps, which detail how to go about getting finger printed...

Holy cow! What a process! I thought about copying and pasting it, but it is just wayyyyy to much. You'd think I would just show up, touch some ink pads and be on my way but nooooooo. To even get to the point where they take my fingerprints is a whole lot of effort. I'm not even hesitating, it's totally worth it, and I knew going into this that there would be quite a bit of work involved, I just didn't think it would start with something so simple as fingerprints! Oh well, every step is one more step closer to my sweet baby!

P.S. I'm not sure if I mentioned this but we put on our application that we'd be willing to accept a child under nine months old(either sex) or twin infants under 9 months. Just thought that might be worth saying. :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sent!

Our adoption application is in the mail! We're really doing this! I thought that once we had the marriage certs we'd be all ready to send them....but then I realized we still needed 2 things: a copy of tax returns to verify income, and a copy from our health insurance book stating that the adopted child would be covered by our policy. The first one was easy, the second - not so much. We don't have an insurance booklet! And when we went online to the Blue Cross website, they don't have their whole book on the Internet. So we waited until Ian went to work yesterday and he was able to log in to his company's benefits website and find the right information - which he printed and we sent off our application Priority Mail this morning!

Here are the contents of the envelope:

Application
Application and training DVD fee(check for $200)
Training DVD choice form(we chose the <4 yrs old video)
Family Photo
Tax forms
Health Insurance print out
Copy of Marriage Certificate

I also chose a Homestudy agency - International Child Foundation, Inc.
I had called AAI and requested some homestudy referrals. They gave me 3, 2 of which I found websites for, and 1 which seemed better than the other. I called that organization and left a message. A very nice woman(Jackie) called me back and said she'd pass my phone number along to a social worker who serves the Phoenix area. She also emailed me some forms to fill out, fax, and then mail to her with our check for $1300($300 application fee, $1000 homestudy fee). I did some looking around and found this to be a fairly average price. So I've printed those out and need Ian to come home so he can sign them and fax to ICF tomorrow morning.

Lastly, I printed out my passport application. I need to call the babysitter so I can go do that next week, along with finally changing my name on my drivers license!!

Altogether I feel really good about everything that has happened today. And to top it all off...I was able to share our news with someone! We decided we should call Ian's mom and tell her about our decision to adopt since we put her name on our adoption application...not to mention the fact that I've been dying to tell her ever since we made that choice!

Ian's parents adopted a set of twins from Layla House last year, Mikyas and Tihune(Miki and Tuni). They are the real reasons we chose to adopt at this point in our lives, and from Layla House.

Ian and I had always talked about adopting in the future. He served his mission in Thailand and was blessed to serve in an orphanage for a short time. He even has a picture of one of the sweet babies strapped onto his back. I love that picture. So we knew we'd adopt, long before we even got married. But, for us, it was always somewhere in the distant future.

Then, Ian's parents chose to adopt. Ian's parents have always been amazing examples to us of faith, selflessness, and humility. But when they made the choice to use the extra money from the sale of their home towards adoption - instead of the house on the ocean that they'd always dreamed of, you can imagine how much that touched us. But we still had that "distant future" opinion about adoption.

The final push was when we went to visit them after this last Christmas. Ian's mom had received an email from Layla House. It was just a bunch of pictures of the orphanage's Christmas. There was one picture in it that has stuck with me forever. It was of all of the babies spread out all over the floor in their Christmas whites. There were so many of them! And they were so tiny. And so absolutely gorgeous. It made my heart so sad, but at the same time, it was just such a beautiful picture. I have imagined that picture many times in the past 7 months.

And then there was the night that started this whole journey. (read my first blog post)

And now it just feels right. I know, someday we'd like to adopt older children, or possibly children with poor health, or other limitations. But for now, I know that what we have chosen is best for our family. So, it was so exciting to share all of this with Ian's mom, the woman who really gave us the push to get this thing going.

So today was a great day!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Thank you, City of San Diego!

It only took 6 days to get our marriage certificates back!! And that's starting the day we sent it, not the day they received it...So speedy!! We got them last night, and since today is Sunday - I'm hoping to get our application in the mail tomorrow. We have all of the paperwork except something from our health insurance stating the adopted child will be covered. I'm a little confused as to where exactly we should find that, but Ian thinks he can log into his work's network and find it through there. I'm hoping he will do that tonight...because that's the only other thing we need before we can officially start the adoption process!

The other night when Ian was saying our prayer before bed, he prayed that we wouldn't lose our excitement about this adoption. I thought that was so interesting. At this point, I don't feel like that's possible, but I know that once we start working on our dossier and realize how much paperwork we need to track down...we just might lose our steam. And I don't want to do that because it will just slow us down.

Right now I'm really confused one the whole homestudy thing. We read somewhere that you should postpone your referral as long as you can when applying for an infant because it usually takes a while to get a referral. But, I was under the impression that you cannot even get a referral until the homestudy is completed. Also, there are so many homestudy companies...who do we use? How do we narrow down the list to just one company? I'm hoping I'll remember to call AAI this week and ask them for the contact info of some families in AZ so I can see who they've used and ask them what they thought about the process. Also, it would be nice to meet with some local families and connect with them. Ooooh - maybe I should send an email right now so I don't forget...Perfect, see ya! :)

Monday, July 7, 2008

In the mail!

Ian sent off the marriage cert form, so hopefully 2 more weeks until we can send in our application! Today was a great day(for other reasons), and knowing that we are one step closer to adopting makes it even better! I feel much more at peace after my Gifts post. I think it was good to get my thoughts out and really organize them so I could stop dwelling on things.

Ian is having some stress from work lately and I just got a call last night that the Stake President wants to meet with him, and have me come too. We're assuming they want to ask him to be a seminary teacher - since Ian told our Bishopric that he is trained to be one, and has experience being one - but he is also the Young Men's President in our ward and it is extremely unlikely that they will release him from that calling...so I'm assuming they will ask him to teach seminary in addition to his calling. I know he will say yes, I'm just feeling bad because he has this stress at work, he's waking up early already to train for a marathon, and to add seminary to his already busy life as a husband and a father makes me a little worrisome. However, the last time he taught seminary was the hardest time our family has ever gone through. It was when we lived at my mom's and were taking care of her in the year before she died. I know that having him teach seminary was so important to our spirituality and sanity at the time. And I know that because he was so diligent in his teaching, we were so blessed.

If the Lord wants my husband to teach seminary, I know that it is because our family is in need of blessings. And with our desire and decision to adopt, I can't think of a better time to ask for His Spirit in our home. Now, if we're wrong, and this has nothing to do with seminary...then I can worry, but for now - I am very much at peace with the direction our lives seem to be headed.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Oh well

So I filled out all of our adoption application and at the very end I realized that I have to send a copy of my marriage certificate...so I suppose I needed to order them anyway - regardless of what I needed for my driver's license. I guess we won't be sending out paperwork in for another 2-3 weeks. Oh well...

Gifts

I don't know why, but this week I can't stop thinking about the mother of our soon-to-be child. I keep thinking about what she must be going through and how hard it would be to know you will not be able to care for your sweet child. Maybe it stems from me losing my own mother. Now that I'm a mom, I think of what she must have felt all those years fighting cancer. I, as the self absorbed child I was, never tried to think of things from her perspective. Once I became a mother, though, the reality of what she faced for the last 21 years of her life hit me hard. The thought of leaving this life with your children still in it is an awful thought. Luckily, my mom didn't pass until both of her children were self-supporting adults. However, there are hundreds(maybe even thousands, I don't know) of mothers in Ethiopia facing that awful future right now. Sick and dying, leaving their sweet babies behind, or too poor to properly care for them, so they are giving them up. The lucky ones will either have family who can afford to take them in, or will be put in an orphanage where they will be sent to a loving, adoring family. But there are so many children who will die in their poverty, who will be sent to an orphanage and never find a family, or who will grow up on the streets. How lucky are we that Ian and I have the means(well, hopefully) to bring a child out of that and into our home where we can feed, clothe, educate, and love them into adulthood. Sometimes I feel guilty for only wanting a baby, and not wanting to adopt a sibling group, a child with disabilities/handicaps/medical problems, or an older waiting child. But I know that at this point in our lives, that just isn't a possibility. We have 3 other children to take care of and I need to be able to devote my time and energies to them, as well. I just wish I could bring them all home and love them all. I read a Family Circus comic today that said(in response to her 4 children smothering her in love and asking, "Mommy, aren't you afraid you'll run out of love?"),"It seems the more I love, the more love I'm given to love with." Isn't that so true? I know I will love every child I bring into my heart and home, I just wish I could feed, clothe, read to, push on the swings, go swimming with, drive to dance class, play board games with, and kiss goodnight all of the orphans who have already suffered so much by losing their parents. Which brings me back to the purpose of this post. That sweet mother who is about to give me an amazing gift. I wish I could comfort her in her hard times. And I'm wondering if the reason my thoughts have been so turned to her are because she's suffering right now. All I can do is pray that someday she will watch her baby come into my arms and know that all is well. I hope that as I take her child as my own, that she will become a part of me and she can raise her child through me. And I hope that I can do all that she would do if given the chance. I also hope that someday in heaven, when we meet, I can hug her and look into her eyes, recognizing her spirit and thank her for what I know will be the greatest gift.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

GAH!

I couldn't think of anything to title this blog, so instead I just used the best word to describe how I'm feeling.

OK I'm about to admit something that I'm sure will shock you all, but ...whatever. Ian and I have been married 7 years at the end of this month, and I have still not legally taken his last name. When we were first married, things were just so crazy and busy that I never got around to it. We changed them on our bank accounts and stuff like that, but never through SS or the DMV. And then we just kept popping out these babies which made it harder and harder to get the motivation to go. I've always kept a copy of my marriage certificate in my wallet so whenever we fly, or buy a house, or any other time I've needed proof of his last name, I had it.

3 years ago I had to renew my license, so I thought I'd change it then(got a babysitter and everything). When I went there, they told me that I had to change it through Social Security first. So I just renewed it and moved on.

I finally decided that 7 years was long enough and I decided that for Ian's 7 year anniversary present, I would change my name to his. I printed out the SSO form and just put it on the counter, where it sat for a month. Well, when we received our paperwork from AAI, the first thing I read said something about the husband and wife having separate names, and what to do if that is the case. Ian and I decided that it would make things much easier if I changed my name. So, on Monday I went with Mckenna and David(Emma was at camp) and changed it through SS. No problems at all. I was in and out in under an hour. They said I needed to wait 2 days before I changed it at the DMV.

So yesterday morning(Wednesday) I got a babysitter and drove to the DMV with all of my paperwork in a nice and tidy folder. When I got there, I filled out my paperwork and took a number. They called my number, I went to counter number 12, laid out all of my paperwork and told the woman what I was there for. She took one look at my marriage certificate and told me that I had the wrong kind and would need to get a certified copy before I could continue. Huh?! For the past 7 years I've used that exact license(not a copy) for everything under the sun - including Social Security. You'd think that since I have to have my SS card changed before I go to the DMV that the DMV would take one look at my SS card, one look at my marriage cert and say, "OK, you're good to go!" But, sadly, no. And to make matters worse, I asked for the manager - to be sure - which only escalated my emotions. Somewhere in there they realized that I got married 7 years ago and they asked why now. I said that we were trying to adopt, and we just wanted to make things easier. So when she told me the same thing, I started to get tears in my eyes. I tried to hide it by looking down, but then I think they noticed because the manager said that if I could get the city of San Diego to fax a copy, she'd accept that. So I packed up as fast as I could before the tears could fall, and tried to rush out...of a door that doesn't open. Then, after I did find a door that opened, I stepped off a curb that I didn't know was there...GAH! I was just trying to hurry out before anyone noticed what a wuss I was, but instead, made everyone realize what a klutz I am.

I got in the car and had my cry, then called the San Diego Recorder and found out that they only give you a certified copy if you snail-mail a form to them and they will snail-mail it back to you. In 2-3 weeks. I know that waiting 2-3 more weeks is nothing compared to the past 7 years, but I was just so frustrated that for the 2nd time I couldn't do it - and it's just the one thing that's keeping us from really getting this adoption process started.

So I went to the mall for some retail therapy. Oh yeah...and if you couldn't tell I'm PMSing.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Packet

Woohooo!!! We got our packet from AAI!!! I feel so elated because we can begin! We're one step closer to bringing our sweet baby home.

Last night as I laid in bed saying my prayer, I prayed for the mom of our sweet child. It hurts my heart to think of the trials she is about to/is going through. And to think that she might be pregnant with our baby right now is such a weird thought. Weird because it makes me feel excited, but at the same time, so sad. That poor mom will have to separate herself from her child - whether because of poverty or even her own death. I feel so connected to her right now. She is about to give me an amazing gift, but most likely not because she is choosing to. I wish I could tell her that I will take care of this child as my own because he/she will be my own. I promise I will love her child, nourish her child, teach her child, and give her child everything he/she could possibly need. I wish I could placate her worries and help her to understand that this child will be a blessing to us. And I wish I could thank her.