Tuesday, December 30, 2008
We had a minor set back in our home study process and had to go to the police station to redo Sorin's fingerprint card. Apparently she has very oily palms which messed up the first set. I made her go to the bathroom and wash her hands with soap and then had her continuously dry her hands on paper towels while they took the prints. They had to redo all the prints, and then had to redo the thumb again, and placed an extra one on the back of the card just in case. She is a slippery girl! We've requested all the physician letters, but Sorin, Liam and Daniel have to be seen before their letters are completed (they haven't been to the doctor in over a year). Sorin and Liam will go together this Friday, and Daniel will be seen tomorrow. After that we're done with homestudy work! All we'll do is await the social worker visit and proceed to the dossier checklist.
It sounds crazy, but I'm looking forward to the 'waiting' stage so we can let go of all the paperwork. Waiting is hard....agony, I know. I just have a hard time with the organizational aspect of documents, paperwork, etc. It takes everything in me to focus and keep things orderly and I end up with headaches, so worried I'm forgetting something (and usually am). Two people we chose for our reference letters had to redo their notaries. We so appreciated how quickly they got on it for us, but it's little details like those that can drive a creative mind batty!
Speaking of creative, I'm finally working with determination to complete Andrew and Sky's life books. You'd think I would have had them done by now, but my overly perfectionistic ways have had me stumped. I'm putting way too much energy into the drawings and artwork. After seeing several examples of them at the social worker's office I felt ridiculous about all my excessive efforts. I know my kids will appreciate all the thoughtful drawings, but they need the books before they're 25! In both of their books I have their pre-America stories completed. So, moving ahead I can compile pages using computer photo images and type. I'll have their original books in a safe place, and a photocopied version they can look at daily and keep in their rooms. I figure with their sister coming (who will need her own book) I'd better get on the ball with this.
The social worker shared some amazing books with us. They were children's books about adoption, and I never would have thought to purchase them because some are about Russian adoption, Viet Namese, Chinese, and various unrelated countries. She explained that the benefit of children seeing adoptions from countries other than their own that they see children are adopted in many, many countries, not just their own. It's important that they know this. I used to seek Indian adoption books, Guatemalan adoption books, etc. and I was really limiting myself and my kids by doing that! Any and all adoption stories are helpful for our kids, and there are hundreds out there. It was helpful seeing and thumbing through the books our social worker had, and she had piles of them. So far we plan to purchase these:
"A Place in My Heart" by Mary Grossnickle. This is my favorite of all the books she had, about a squirrel family that adopts a chipmunk. It addresses just about every issue and question a child may have about adoption.
"We Wanted You" by Liz Rosenberg. About a dark skinned boy who is adopted
"Mr. Rogers- Let's Talk About It: Adoption" Fred Rogers. This is a sweet book for younger children, and it addresses adoption in a very sensitive thoughtful way. Andrew loves Mr. Rogers!
"When You Were Born in Vietnam" by Therese Bartlett. This is great for any adoptive child, with photos of a real child who lived in an orphanage, and his story of adoption...it's very much like a life book.
"How I Was Adopted" by Joanna Cole. This book has drawings of a pregnant woman and her uterus, and shows the baby growing inside. It's a great visual for kids who are ready to see how they physically came into the world.
"Families" by Susan Kuklin. This is a book of photos showing the diversity of different families, many multiracial.
The last book on the list makes me think of a short conversation I had with Andrew two days ago. He was saying that Sky and Daddy like a lot of the same things, like Chess and sports and football. I pointed out that he is a lot like me and how I was as a child- creative, funny, an artist, always working on a project and very lively. He smiled to know he had a parent with things in common, but he quickly said "But we don't have the same skin, Mom, so how can we really be alike?!" This stumped me because I was speaking internally while he was obviously focused outwardly (like most of our culture). I had to explain that our skin and bodies can look different on the outside, but we are the very same on the inside with feelings, love, thoughts, ideas, etc. I'm finding that I'm having to do this often with my kids- redirecting their thoughts inwardly, away from external appearances. This seems to be one of the great challenges of humanity.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Here are some other blogs below that I'm posting for our family members who may need to see other folks who've traveled successfully in their Ethiopian adoption processes. It's nice to see others who have been there, and we understand any and all worries our loving family may have. Please keep in mind that whichever of us travels will be escorted to and from the airport, and we'll stay at the House of Hope for meals and everything. Ethiopia also recently implemented a new law that prohibits adoptive parents from taking their children out into the community. We are required to stay with our daughter at the House of Hope full time and cannot leave the premises with her until we're ready to leave the country. Unless this law is changed or revised before we go, if we want to go anywhere our daughter will need nanny services.
This family just returned from Ethiopia this month with their gorgeous girl, Agnoti: http://familyofsixgoingtoethiopia.blogspot.com/
Here is another beautiful family of 5 (2 bio, 3 adopted): http://www.killeenteam7.blogspot.com/
You may be able to go back through the archives to find their travel details, but this little one os adorable: http://www.tnateam.blogspot.com/
Here are some startling statistics on Ethiopia:
One out of every 20 children born alive die in their first month of life
One out of ten die before reaching their first birthday
One out of six die before reaching their fifth birthday
There are 4.6 million+ orphans in Ethiopia
The median age in Ethiopia is 18
1.5 million people in Ethiopia are infected with AIDS
Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa
Sunday, December 28, 2008
After making a grocery list I'll be working on invitations to slide under each child's door while they are sleeping. Probably Tuesday evening.... they'll awaken with an invite to a "Special Ethiopian Dinner" and dance party. Daniel wants to film the moment we tell them...that should be interesting, and will be fun for our little girl to watch some day.
Vegetable Alecha (Vegetable Soup/Stew)
Yield: 8 portions
The Copts in Ethiopia have many fast days on which they are not permitted to eat meat. Vegetables Alechas and Wats are substituted on these days. (The Wat differs from the Alecha in that it is made with a spice called Ber-beri or Awaze.)
In a 4-quart saucepan: Sauté: 1 cup Bermuda Onions in 4 T Oil until soft but not brown. Add: 4 Carrots, peeled and cut in 1-inch slices 4 Green Peppers, cleaned and cut in quarters 3 cups Water 1 6-oz. can Tomato Sauce 2 t Salt ½ t Ground Ginger
Cook for 10 minutes covered. Add 4 Potatoes cut in thick slices. Plunge 2 Tomatoes in boiling water, remove skins, cut in 8 wedges each, and add to stew.
Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add 8 Cabbage Wedges, 1 inch wide.
Sprinkle with Salt and Pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender. Correct the Seasoning. Place in an attractive bowl and portion out uniformly.
This unleavened bread of Ethiopia is really a huge pancake made in special large pans with heavy covers. The combination of buckwheat flour mix and biscuit mix seems to produce the closest substitute for the sponginess of this Ethiopian bread.
25 min 5 min prep
1 cup buckwheat pancake mix
1 cup Bisquick
1 tablespoon Canola oil
1 1/2-2 cups water
Combine all ingredients with just enoough water for an easy pouring consistency.
Bring a 10-inch skillet or a handled griddle pan to medium heat uniformly over the flame. Do not let the pan get too hot.
Spray skillet with cooking spray.
Fill a measuring cup (with spout) or a large cream pitcher with batter.
Pour the mixture on the hot pan or griddle in a thin stream starting from the outside and going in circles to the center from left to right. As soon as it bubbles uniformly all over remove from heat. Pancakes should be 9 inches in diameter.
Place the pan in an oven at 325 for about 1 minute until the top is dry but not brown.
Arrange the five pancakes overlapping each other so as to completely cover a fifteen-inch tray, thus forming the Injera "tablecloth.".
Friday, December 26, 2008
Our adoption placement agency: Childrens Hope International based in St. Louis (they placed approximately 16 Ethiopian children with new families last month). Their Ethiopia program presently works with three orphanages.
Our Home Study agency is located locally in Overland Park, Kansas: Adoption & Counseling Services for Families. The social worker has been in business for over twenty years.
Present status: Our exact stage is primitive at this point. We've completed almost all the paperwork for the home study, but need to redo Sorin's fingerprint card at the police station, get doctor letters for each family member, and a financial statement completed. After all those are received our social worker will visit our home so she can complete the study.
-We will take the completed home study to the local USCIS immigration office to get approval to adopt an Ethiopian child.
-Compile Dossier documents (some of which will be taken from the home study, and includes the home study).
-All our documents will be sent to the placement agency (CHI) for review and then sent to our State capitol to authenticate all the notaries.
-Then the documents are sent to Washington DC to authenticate the State's authentications.
-After that is done I'm told our dossier will sit with our agency until they receive a referral from one of their partner orphanages that matches the age and gender we are requesting. This is the long waiting stage. There is a waiting list of families, however the order is almost meaningless because each family is different (some requesting siblings, younger or older age ranges, etc). It's whatever fits and the timing. Right now, waiting time for referral is as short as 2 months to 9 months.
-When we get our referral we will see her picture, medical history and any other information they have on her.
-We accept, and then wait for a court date to receive full custody of the child.
-We travel within 2-3 months of receiving the referral.
Travel: Only one of us will travel this time, due to alleviating stress on Sky (he had such a hard time when we were in India). We haven't decided who will travel yet because we're looking for a travel companion (we don't want either of us to go alone). Anyone interested, please let us know...all travel expenses will be paid for by us, of course. The stay will be 5-7 days at the House of Hope in Addis Ababa. We will be accompanied from the airport to the guest house, and again back to the airport. At no time would we leave the guest house unaccompanied by a guide. The House of Hope is a transition home for orphans who have been placed with families and are waiting to go home.
If anyone has other questions I didn't answer here, please ask away.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
We both left the meeting feeling 100% positive that we're sticking with Ethiopia. During the social worker's explanation of domestic adoption I couldn't help feeling a loud "Noooooooo!" rumbling from my core. It all felt completely wrong somehow and I still can't pin point why. All we do know is that we want all three of our adoptive children to be in the same boat, so to speak. We don't want Andrew, with absolutely nothing on his birth family, and Sky with very little ability to contact anyone in his, with an adopted sibling who knows their birth mother and may even see her from time to time. On one hand this could be positive (seeing a birth mother who cares and is loving with our whole family), but there are a whole plethora of things that make it uncomfortable for us, like potential resentment, discomfort for Sky & Drew. We also love international adoption in general... it's what we're called to most strongly, for whatever reason. We have to listen to that voice inside.
We initially desired to adopt from India again. With our strong spiritual roots there it just seems the most natural thing to do. But after a few knocks on several doors it was clearly not going to happen again. I'd inquired about two waiting children in Delhi only to discover they had a judge who wasn't hearing cases from families with even 1 child already in the home. The orphanages wouldn't even consider us with four kids. Then there was a child in Mumbai, but the orphanage required that a new child be younger than our youngest child....that didn't work. There are many court issues with judges, along with the fact that India just became a Hague country, complicating adoption even more until they get that process ironed out. We found a baby girl in Haiti we inquired about, only to discover Haitian adoptions can take up to 2-3 years, not to mention travel there is quite risky. Ethiopia became a tempting and beautiful option when we researched the almost streamlined process and efficient timelines. I'm not expecting a completely smooth road, but it is far more appealing than the other options at this point.
Daniel is completely smitten/head over heels with the idea of an African daughter. He has always admired the beauty of African children....they do have an undeniable glow about them! We just cannot wait to finally have our dossier completed and receive that call and photo of our little girl. After talking with the social worker, we've decided to share the news with our kids over the Holiday break. Probably around the New Year. She raised points about the kids needing time to adjust to the idea. If we wait for the photo, we'll travel within 2 months or so and that's awfully sudden for them.
The social worker also gave us a lot of advice I'm taking to heart, and implementing asap. She told us that one mom who adopted 3 children internationally had only one thing she would have done differently after her kids had grown. She said she would have not only pointed out and celebrated her children's cultures, but she would have embraced them as part of her own. She would have made them part of her very self, as things she loved personally and not just because they were her children's birth countries. This really affected me because I have no trouble doing that with India....I always did, prior to Andrew coming home, embrace that country because of my spiritual roots. I don't listen to Indian music or eat the food because of Andrew, I do it because I love it myself. I need to work on that more with Central America for Sky. Right now I have one Spanish CD that I love (I love Spanish guitar & singing), and we LOVE our Central American restaurant here, La Parilla (I think it's our favorite). I need to do more, though, to make it more a part of my very self. I wonder if Frida Khalo counts? Mexico is Latin America after all. We'll have to keep focusing on that, and make it clear to Sky that "We" love these things, and not because of him. GREAT ADVICE that I feel blessed to have received.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Meanwhile, Daniel's business has picked up drastically. We are so relieved, but also realize this could taper off again at any moment (a downfall of self employment). I've begun child care in my home today for an infant girl and will be putting every dime toward adoption costs. I feel so blessed to be able to do this, as it takes a lot of the burden of adoption expenses off Daniel's shoulders. Little Cecilia, almost 4 months old, was so good for me today that I hardly see it as work :-)
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
We are very close to having all our homestudy paperwork completed. We did our police fingerprinting today (with Sorin) and those will be sent off to the Kansas Bureau of Investigations for clearance. All that remains are physicians letters, and a household income & expense statement we draw up ourselves. We'll have a meeting with the social worker in a week or two to go over everything.
Our social worker at the homestudy agency facilitates a lot of domestic infant adoption. She has offered to explain that process to us, and has shared that the process is far less difficult and often faster than international adoption. This is an option that Daniel and I never really considered, but with the economic crisis causing many international adoption agencies to close down we're leary and a bit nervous. I read somewhere that between 1/3-1/2 of all agencies are likely to go under within the next 6 months. What if this happened with our International adoption agency after we paid all those up front fees? Anyway, we're looking into every option for now prior to deciding what we'll do.
I was interviewed last evening by a wonderful couple for my child care services. I'm praying they hire me. All went great, and their 3 1/2 month old little girl is absolutely adorable. I got the sense they wanted to hire me on the spot after telling them I'm willing to use their cloth diapers! Doesn't bother me in the slightest. I have two other local families interested and I'll have interviews set up with them this week. I know that I'll watch no more than 2 at a time, and I think the second child will be a part time thing (maybe 4 hours a day). I got to hold the baby last evening and my whole body melted into a warm ooze. There is something very spiritual about infants...they're still so present in a whole other realm and it's calming to me. I will get my fix of baby ooze, and at the same time I hope to contribute substantially to our adoption fees.