February 27, 2007

Life with five

We got home last night from a weekend away visiting my sister's family. We were greeted by loads of mail, included were the letters from INS requesting our presence to have "our biometrics taken" (ie fingerprinting done). The appointment is set for March 19, too bad as we would be in town the next week for another visit with the same sister. I'm not about to send the form back requesting another appointment! We will happily spend 4 hours in the car to avoid being lost in the shuffle. We also had a message from our social worker trying to schedule our first appointment with her.

On a different note-
My sister has two kids, 3 years and 8 months. Over the weekend I got the wonderful opportunity to watch my nephews (and my three kids) while while the other three adults vacated the premises. WHAT A HOOT! My mom called while the hullabaloo was in progress. She asked me how I liked five kids under the age of 6, and then laughed her head off. What a show of support! That leads to something I haven't really mentioned in detail. Seth and I are planning on requesting to adopt two children. I don't know more than that. I don't think he does either. As I'm thinking about this, it lends itself to another post since I can feel myself getting ready to be long winded :)

By the way, five really wasn't that bad. No one was (seriously) injured, they all ate lunch, they took naps, and I got about 30 minutes to myself. Pretty successful experiment I'd say.

February 23, 2007

Why Ethiopia?

I mentioned that we decided to take the scenic route on this adoption. I think if we would have stuck with our original plan we would probably have a referral and be making plans for travel instead of just starting on our dossier. That aside, I said I would get to this at some point and now is as good a time as any. I feel a little ashamed to tell the story, as looking back it seems silly that we strayed in the first place, but here goes...

Once Seth and I decided on adopting a fourth child, we had to figure out where to go. Most of our decision was ruled by circumstances. Each country has different travel requirements, costs, family size... This was a determining factor for us. We narrowed our choices down and were drawn to Ethiopia. I wish I could say that we've always had a love for the Ethiopian people or I have always dreamed of adopting a child from Ethiopia. Like I said in my first post, we are quite ordinary people, and most of our decisions, after much prayer, are made with good old fashioned common sense. I spoke at length with a friend who has adopted from Ethiopia and was in the process of a second adoption. She gave me some pointers, and then we decided on an agency. We had our application ready when we met another woman who was using the agency we had chosen. She was having a horrible time, and cautioned us against using them. So we decided to use our number two pick. We filled out another application, got it sealed in an envelope ready for the mail that Monday. Meanwhile, Angelina Jolie adopted her daughter and Ethiopian adoptions zipped straight to the headlines. This is, of course, great for the children as more parents than ever are adopting because of the publicity. We got an email from the agency that we were planning on using stating that they are no longer accepting applications. This sounded foreboding to us, and we suddenly veered far off course.

I'm a fairly impatient person, and this fault is magnified during adoption. I saw these roadblocks as doors closing, waiting up to two years to adopt? This is crazy (keep in mind we adopted Ella in 10 months, from first application to bringing her home) and must mean that we should just adopt somewhere else. We decided to adopt an African-American baby domestically. Don't ask me why, I can't really tell you. I wanted a baby, I spoke with agencies who assured me that they needed families to adopt these babies. I saw a need, saw that it could happen quickly and we jumped on the idea. I completely dismissed the fact that there are MILLIONS of children orphaned in Ethiopia. I don't want to downplay that adopting a child is a blessing, no matter where you go. There are children in the US who are in desperate need of forever families. I won't attempt to get into a one sided discussion about our foster system, domestic vs international adoption, because it will lead no where. You must adopt where you feel called. So we pursued this faceless newborn for months.

Weird things kept happening, our social worker fell into a hole (yes, you read that correctly) and instead of finishing our homestudy in 2 weeks, she took 4 months! We sent things to the agency that just disappeared, I don't mean the entire envelope disappeared, but one thing in the envelope just wasn't there. All of these things kept us from getting our paperwork DONE. We gave God the credit, thinking He had a child chosen for us that wasn't born yet. So we patiently endured these little mess ups just trusting in His plan. When we were finally ready, we had a few nibbles of interest from birthmoms, but in the end the agency said our family size was a deterrent. By then Seth and I started to doubt our decision. We weren't sure if we were with the right agency and started questioning domestic adoption.

We started praying and having little discussions here and there about our adoption. After a month of this wavering, we decided that we needed to either move on or stop worrying about it. Both Seth and I have spent enough time asking God, "Please be clear, we are idiots down here and can't discern your will." We have both seen how very specific prayers can be answered by God in specific ways. Seth (without my knowledge) asked God to show him during his morning Bible reading whether we should adopt from Ethiopia. The next morning he was reading and began reading a passage in which Ethiopia is mentioned. When he told me, I was still nervous about making this switch. So that day I spent time praying and asked God to give ME confidence in this decision. The next morning I got online and checked on a blog I read every once in a great while. The post for that day was titled, "Why we chose not to adopt from the US." The blogger listed reasons why she chose to go to Ethiopia after a domestic adoption fell through. This list mirrored EXACTLY the same things that Seth and I were feeling. After more discussion, we called our domestic agency and told them we wanted to stop our adoption through them. Then we started looking for an agency to use for adopting from Ethiopia. And that longwinded story explains our nine month hiatus from our Ethiopian adoption.

February 22, 2007


We are experiencing some serious fog due to the warm temperatures (warm compared to zero) and the snow on the ground. The other night we were leaving church and the fog had arrived.
I comment to hubby, "Wow, this fog is so thick! It's hard to see!"
My youngest, "Huh, sog, what's sog?" He's in the far recesses of the van and obviously can't hear me very well, EVER.
My eldest, "No, FOG. It's Foggy."
Youngest replies, "It's soggy? Where is it soggy?"
Meanwhile I repeat, louder, "Fog, Fog, it's foggy."
Now my middle child decides to chime in, "Fog, Fog, like ribbit, ribbit, ribbit."

Yeah, thanks for the help.

How to Help

I just visited Melissa Fay Greene's site for her book. A sidenote on this: go to her site and take a look around. There is an amazing slideshow of the kids that are in the book. What caught my eye (after the teary slideshow viewing) is this listing of how to help. It's an incredibly thorough list of agencies that are working to lessen the suffering of children in Ethiopia. I won't bother to copy all that she has, I'll post this link over with the others as a great resource.

Seth "the stamp nazi"

I'm officially overwhelmed! I have a little confession to make: I figured that the paperwork for this adoption would be cake. When we adopted Ella we didn't use an agency. Ukraine is funny like that, you hire a translator and Ukrainian facilitator and go at it. You CAN use an agency, but we figured for the thousands of dollars we would save, it was worth the sweat. My ego has officially been crushed! We received our package from the agency detailing what is needed for the dossier, which is so helpful! They even included a handy-dandy checklist with space for dates, so great! "Wow!" I'm thinking, "This agency thing is really cool." Good for a second then I look at the list and start to feel a creepy, yipesy, feeling. Then the next day, we get more mail. This time from our social worker--piles of paper for our homestudy. I sat down, looked at it, *sighed* and felt pitiful.

Tiny bites at a time, right? I did the easy stuff, figuring our homestudy needs to take priority. Oddly enough it took me two days to sign 4 papers (because I kept forgetting to tell Seth to sign them--how did we ever manage this before?). Now this batch is done, but one thing holds me back from putting the date on my little chart and mailing it. I don't have any stamps.

Seth buys them, hording them in his wallet until I come and beg for one. I rely on him because the post office is a place I try to avoid. I don't know why. I don't even have to stand in line to buy stamps, but there is something about the trip that makes me shudder. Hauling three kids into the car, buckling them into seats, driving 5 minutes, unbuckling, corralling into the foyer of the post office and then repeating the entire procedure in reverse--merely for stamps? We are not even in there long enough for me to recover before we turn around and leave. So I trust Seth to be my "stamp daddy". Unfortunately, his well has run dry recently and he's been too busy to refill it. Out of sheer disgust with myself for waiting so long I will make the treacherous trip to the post office tomorrow and buy 15 books of stamps so I never have to go again.

On a brighter note: we received confirmation that the CIS office has our i600a, now we wait to hear about getting fingerprinted. I did get to put the date in the little box on that one!

February 20, 2007

I'm working on it

If you haven't read my previous post this won't make sense. I spent a little time looking around today and found a few links for those of you who might be interested. They are listed under "Want to do Something?" I'm only posting the links for infomation, be sure to research any organization before you get involved with them! I'll update as I find more, let me know if you have any ideas. Here's the story of one family making a difference:

February 14, 2007

There is No Me Without You

I think over the past 2 days I have completely depressed every relative or friend I have spoken with. Thankfully, we are in the middle of a horrendous storm, so I haven't really gotten out too much. I got There is No Me Without You a few days ago from the library. I've been looking forward to reading it because of the buzz that has surrounded it within the Ethiopian adoption community. When I read a book, (and I'm sure most people are like this) I live in it for a while. This is a book that isn't a pleasant read, especially for a middle class American. The author, Melissa Fay Greene, tells the story of a woman who is attempting to save children who have been orphaned by poverty and HIV in Ethiopia. She goes to great lengths to give an accurate picture of the dire situation and the causes of this crisis.

I should apologize to my sister who called me in the midst of reading it. She bore the brunt of my agitation. My conversations have generally started like this, "I'm reading this amazing book, you should check it out." I'm very congenial about it, but then in attempting to give a brief synopsis I lose control of myself. I'm unable to say anything briefly, I suffer from severe make-a-short-story-long-itis. I should give myself a little credit, I think I've limited my rantings to under 45 minutes. I'm frustrated, and feel inadequate to express what I'm feeling without seeming angry. I guess in a way I am angry. I'm angry with myself for being so poorly informed, our government, my inability (unwillingness) to help... I'll try not to get started again. I don't really know what to do about the suffering of millions of people a world away from me. Any ideas? If not, I will retreat to my plush American lifestyle. Maybe if I wait a while and fill my life with a little bit of meaningless busywork what I've read will fade and I won't feel so burdened. I hope not, I hope I can find some way I can do something. I don't want to be lacking when the children we will bring home ask what I've done to help their friends and family. I'm going to spend some time looking around and hope to share some ideas here. In the meantime-take the time to read this book, it's well written, informative, and absolutely a must for anyone bringing home a child from Ethiopia. And I'll leave it at that!

February 12, 2007

Pregnant with paperwork

We have begun what is appropriately deemed the "paper pregnancy" for the second time in a year. All that we put into the domestic adoption that we were planning on doing has gone to waste (and the money that we spent to do the paperwork). So we are starting from scratch--new homestudy, fingerprints, notarized copies of anything and everything we have ever done. I really shouldn't whine (though doing another homestudy really stinks), because we get to keep the certificates for completing 24 hours of classes with our previous agency. I don't think that either of us could survive those again. Found out we only needed 5 hours with this agency--we will be the absolutely, positively most over-prepared parents they have ever met.

At this point we have been approved by our new agency, America World Adoption, and sent off the i600a to BCIS. The i600 is a request for the government to approve us to adopt a child from another country, they approve us by mailing back 'the 171'. This part of the dossier was the most difficult for us when we adopted Ella. I think it took us 5 months to get the completed 171 in the mail, so we wanted to get an EARLY start this time. I'm hoping that the delays before were related to the fact that we were in the South, everything moves at a slower pace down there. Here's for hoping that envelope reaches an efficent, sympathetic governmental employee. Seems like a pretty tall order.

February 6, 2007

Just the beginning...sort of.

Seth and I decided to start blogging because it seems the easiest way to feel like we are keeping in touch without constantly saying, "Did I tell you...(fill in obscure paperwork adoption related detail) is finished?" So this is really an attempt to keep us from driving those closest to us mad, and hopefully we can be an encouragment to those who might be thinking about adopting and just not sure. Let me first reassure everyone that we are not saints, we aren't crazy, we are just normal run of the mill people. I didn't grow up hoping to mother a houseful of children. In all honesty, I wasn't planning on having any kids until God threw our oldest son our way. Two years later we had our second son and then started talking about adopting. We brought our daughter home from Ukraine just 10 months later (in 2004).

A year ago I started praying about adopting another child. I talked to Seth and he was pretty noncommital. So I stopped talking to him and started talking to God. I figured if I wanted a baby but God wasn't planning that for us, then I'd flounder around trying to adopt and it just wouldn't work out. So I decided that I'd just ask God to tell me through my obtuse husband! After weeks of praying, not mentioning anything to Seth, he called from work. The first words out of his mouth were, "So when are we going to adopt again?" I felt like I'd been socked in the stomach--What? Yikes, does this mean...but before I could even exhale, Seth started jabbering. "Well, where would we go, and could we manage another kid, and what about the money? Forget about it." Then he hung up. I just sat stunned, wondering what that meant. I didn't mention that call for three or four days. I was scared and doubtful, thinking that really wasn't the answer because he convinced himself it was a bad idea. So I thought I'd just wait around for him to ask again.

What pushed me over the edge was a Bible study I'm in. We were studying the story of Abraham sending his servant to find a wife for Isaac (Genesis 24). It's amazing how God can zing you with something when you least expect it. This servant prayed that God would show him whom He had for Isaac to marry. He prayed specifically, asking for something that would not happen under normal circumstances. Then (and this is the kicker) when God answered that prayer, the servant immediately took action. This is where we differ. I start questioning the answered prayer- crippled by God's provision and my unpreparedness. The more I studied, the more conviction I felt. The kicker came with James 1:6-7. While studying Genesis, I was sent there as a reference for prayer. This is what it says:

"But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord." (KJV) Whoa, I'm a wave tossed with the wind? Great analogy, why would God continue to put up with my requests, if when answered, I ignore them?

That day Seth came home talking about tax returns and as he spoke all I could think was "He's going to go and blow that money paying off my student loans when it could be beginning of financing another adoption." So, I ambushed him that night--snot, tears, the whole nine yards. I'm not an emotional mess under most circumstances but I felt so bad I couldn't help it and Seth certainly wasn't prepared for my reaction. Sitting sipping coffee, reading a magazine, kids asleep, all is right in the world...until I come and sit down, bawling my eyes out! Poor guy, he said if I would have just honestly told him how much I wanted to adopt he would have agreed wholeheartedly. I explained that I didn't want to convince him, I wanted to know God's will for our family. He said he had no idea why he called the week before, but got excited about adding another child to our family. What a turnaround! That was the biggest step of many that led us to where we are today, unfortunately we decided to take the "scenic route" for this adoption. I'll get to that later though!