Thursday, January 31, 2008
Package of 10 injera- $6.99
8 oz. Berbere- $9.50
1 lb. Shiro- $9.00
1 lb. Red Lintil- $5.00
Obviously, I am not feeling up to the challenge of injera, but I do plan to make some Yellow (Misir) or Red (Kik) Lentil Stew (Wot). I also want to try Shiro and Doro Wat (Chicken Stew).
Once I get the hang of this Ethiopian cooking, I'll give you my version of the recipes and hints. But it might take me a while:)
It took 6 days to ship from the US to Ethiopia, weighed in at just under 1 pound, and it cost $123.38.
Not even joking about that price. Wish I was, though.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Erin, mom to 10, bringing home #11 soon!
Monday, January 28, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Dear Lord, bless the body of Christ in Ethiopia today. Make their hands and feet Your hands and feet. Give them hope in You. Reveal to nations, to churches, and to our very hearts how you would have us serve the body. Make us one in You.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Readers of this blog will know that from time to time, I will link to interesting news stories about Ethiopia. I do this because the purpose of this blog is to inform my readers about my journey- not just the "emotional" journey, not just the papers and waits, but the journey I am taking to learn about my daughter's heritage and culture. I am excited about the things I learn because I am falling in love with the people of Ethiopia, and the more I learn about them, the more I love them. And ultimately, isn't this blog about sharing love?
I received a comment on my previous post that stated "Talk about adoption, not politics. Thank you." This comment was anonymous. This comment really got my gall up.
Why? Several reasons.
1) The politics of Ethiopia are directly affecting my daughter. They are a part of my adoption journey. They may play an even bigger role in my journey based on how the political situation in Ethiopia swings over the next several months. The relationships between governments, the wars, the economic situation of the country- all affect my daughter! It would be unwise to not be aware of this.
2) This is my blog. I can write about whatever I want. Just because this blog is intended primarily as a way to talk about my adoption journey, there is no limit on the content except my own imagination. I think it is ridiculous that someone out there is trying to censor me.
3) The original post wasn't even about politics. It was on a political site, but I merely linked to the picture. I was not trying to force political views on anyone. In fact, I keep my views of politics, both US and Ethiopian, fairly private considering I am a person who has 2 blogs.
4) Because the post is anonymous, there is no way to open a discussion. An anonymous comment is rarely intended to open discussion, it is rather a command- a statement that the poster does not want questioned. In general, that annoys me because my blog is intended to be interactive- a dialogue that helps both myself and my readers learn and grow.
So, commenter, I invite you to open a discussion. Why did you feel the original post was about politics? Why do you feel that this blog should be limited to "adoption, not politics"? How should the political climate in Ethiopia (that is very much affecting my daughter) be considered/shared if not on my blog? Why should my blog not contain my concerns, fears, opinions, and thoughts about any subject I wish to discuss?
For the rest of you, what are your thoughts?
Friday, January 25, 2008
Not much going on in adoption world. The wait for a referral continues, and I continue to add to my packing list (such as an adapter/converter, and for the ladies who need them, girly products) and record little ideas I have for traveling and such. The application review process continues. I stalk FedEx to see if my dossier has arrived in Ethiopia. I am trying to figure out what other documents I need before I can file my taxes, and how soon after filing I might receive my tax return.
Exciting Travel Purchase of the Week: Crystal Light Individual Water Flavor Packets- box of 10 packets for $0.99. This was a steal and I bought 10 boxes. Should be way more than enough.
I've also been contacted by a few of the agencies I have applied to for adoption funding- one grant agency and one adoption loan agency. We'll see how that goes.
So, this weekend, the adoption to-do list is:
~finish NCFA training
~finish Gladney training
~"interview" prospective traveling companion as schedule allows
~finish and copy "donations letter" to be distributed for parents/teachers at Abigail's school (to request additional donations for the orphanage, such as their new or gently used kids clothes and shoes.)
~buy a coffee grinder
Yes, a coffee grinder. I know you think this is not adoption-related, but IT IS!!!!! I intend to bring back yummy Ethiopian coffee when I travel, and I want to bring it whole-bean so that it will stay fresh longer. So I will need a coffee grinder. And since I am going to be getting a nice little store credit from Target, I might as well use it for this, right?
Also, completely unrelated to the rest of this post, I would like to say that I am really excited about the hand-me-downs that Abigail's little sister will get. Abigail's growing so fast, and she has so many cute clothes that she doesn't really wear a lot before she outgrows- it will be fun to see them on her little sister!
Monday, January 21, 2008
Which is why I am pointing out that from the time I committed to an agency to the time I was put on the "Wait List" for a referral was exactly 3 months. I think that is a pretty quick process, all things considered.
But you... Have you watched our little one shiver in the cold of a biting night wind? Have you taken off your shawl to wrap around her and felt the bitter cold sink into your bones? I know you love her, too.
Momma, I am thinking of you as Abigail cuddles next to me. She points out the "silent e" on her new set of words, and reads a short book about "Bill Bug." I marvel at how bright she is, and I am amazed at how quickly she soaks up new information. I love that I am teaching her how to read.
But you... Have you looked at our little one and wondered if she will ever have the chance to go to school? Have you struggled yourself to discern what notices are saying, fought to find out the information that others can see and understand? Do you worry that our little one will end up deprived of an education and unable to achieve her hopes for the future? I know you want her to have a bright future, too.
Momma, I am thinking of you today as Abigail tells me she is getting fat. She isn't getting fat, but she is growing up too quickly. Her childhood is rushing by, and I am trying to savor every day and help her love being a child. She will move into adult responsibilities altogether too soon. So we play together like little girls, and hold onto this moment.
But you... Have you looked at our little one and known that she won't be a child much longer, known that she will be working or begging or watching the new baby in just a few months? Do you think of your own childhood and wish hers could be more like yours? Do you long to play but are too distracted by simply teaching her how to survive? I know you want her to get to be a little girl, too.
Momma, I am thinking of you today as Abigail and I lie together in her bed. We've read our stories and said our prayers, and now I am listening to the sound of her breath slowing as she fades into sleep. In and out, little puffs of air tickle my cheek, and I match my breathing to hers. This is love- it is life.
But you... Are you looking down from heaven at our little one and wishing that you could hold her one more time? Are you missing the way she kicked inside your tummy, nuzzled to your breast, grasped your finger tightly and smiled? Are you dreaming of the moments when your heartbeat was only inches away from hers, and the sound of your laughter made a beautiful melody? I know you want her to live a life where she is loved, too.
Momma, I am thinking of you today. And I am praying for you. You are beautiful, and you are loved; thank you for the beautiful gift you will give me. May God be with you and give you peace today. And may your journey bring you closer to Him.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Please be in prayer about if this the path God wants Abigail and I to take.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Many have inquired about my packing list (which I am happy to share, just ask, and remember- it's a work in progress!). However, everyone I have shared this with has been a first time parent and is requesting an infant as young as possible- or at least under the age of 12 months-ish. Obviously, this means they will have different needs than I, since I anticipate adopting a toddler. So, here is my list of "baby stuff" that I couldn't live without (items in italics should def go to Ethiopia with you!)
* A good thermometer. The ear thermometers are not to be used on children under 2 years old, so a quick digital thermometer to the armpit is best. Get one that has the quickest read time you can find. Practice taking a axillary (armpit) temperature on another baby so that you know what to do (babies wiggle and you have to hold them tight to keep it in place and get a good reading.
*Infants medicines: Tylenol, Motrin, gas relief drops, Little Noses, and Benadryl. I promise, you never need these medications unless you don't have them, so having them pretty much ensures your baby will be healthy. None of these medications interact with each other, so you can give them per the box directions (if baby has a fever, give Tylenol and Motrin at the same time, then scatter the doses.) Keep in mind that you may have to be creative with administering the medication if your baby spits it out (I recommend the "suck it out of the dropper" method.)Always dose your baby according to their weight, not their age!
*Crib sheets. Babies who spit up will probably get it on their crib sheet. Babies who overflow a diaper will probably get it on their crib sheet. Make sure you have enough sheets on hand that even if you have 2 (or 3 or 4) in the wash, you still have one clean. Baby blankets- those I don't think you need so many of, but again, have enough that you can make due if you have a few in the wash.
*Onesies and burp cloths. Babies who spit up (during transition of formula or change in the water- or stress!) make messes of these. Stock up.
*A good baby advice book. I referenced my Focus on the Family Complete Book of Baby and Child Care frequently, even though I rarely found anything actually wrong with Abigail- it was just nice to know what was normal. For adoptive parents, a good book about bonding and attachment would probably be helpful, too (haven't read a good one yet) and for transracial families, a good book about race would be helpful (I highly recommend Marguerite Wright's I'm Chocolate You're Vanilla: Raising Healthy Black and Biracial Children in a Race-Conscious World.)
*A good pediatrician. Find a doctor who has a doctor or nurse practitioner on-call around the clock. Many times I called (especially during the first year!) and was able to save a trip to the ER/Urgent Care. It would probably be good to have an "adoption specialist" for the transition home but also a local doc for the ongoing stuff:)
*Mom (or another parent with experience who you trust) on speed-dial! There will be a lot of times where you are not sure if it's worth calling the doctor and you will want to run it past an experienced parent. Or sometimes, you might just be going slightly nuts because you can't make it stop crying and you need to vent. Moms (and other experienced parents) understand and can really help- they can't always fix it, but they can usually help you get some perspective, regain your sanity, and feel a little better.
*Pacifiers. It might take a while to find one your child likes, but once you do- never go anywhere without it! Like mom, it might not be able to fix everything, but it does usually make baby feel a little better. And when you are in the car on a congested highway, it might be the only thing that keeps your hearing intact when baby starts to scream.
*Perspective. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Even really good parents are hard to come by. Most of us are good-enough parents. And you know what? That's good enough. And God gives us lots of grace and mercy. I promise your child won't fail out of high school because you don't read 3 books a day or practice Baby Einstein twice daily. I promise that the occasional crying fit that goes on for hours won't scar your child emotionally. And I promise that skipping naps, going to bed late, or using Benadryl now and then to get them to drift off does not make you a horrible parent. I promise.
Hope this helps all you first-timers. If I think of anything else, I'll add it and refer you back here:)
I do not want my child to be viewed as a charity case. Nor do I want to be viewed as some kind of extra-good person for adopting him or her. So I tend to de-emphasize this piece. But... it was an important part of my decision-making, so I shouldn't pretend it was not.
I could go on forever about the situation in Ethiopia and what needs to be done, but here's the quick-and-dirty version: The latest research says there are 6 to 6.5 MILLION orphans in Ethiopia.It is indisputable that these children would be better served by an adoption within their own culture and country.
It is also indisputable that there are not enough people in Ethiopia to adopt all these kids. In the meantime, the majority of Ethiopian orphans will die, or will survive for some time in poverty, disease, and hunger.
A tiny fraction of these orphans will get adopted by people from other countries, and will miss out on their Ethiopian culture. This is indeed a significant loss, and a life away from one's homeland and biological family is definitely a life compromised. But it's a whole lot better than no life at all.
There is a child in Ethiopia who needs a family. Coincidentally, so do I."
Thanks Chou-Chou for explaining it so well.
Friday, January 18, 2008
*Complete Hauge training
*Prepare Girls' room
*Buy booster seat (or high chair if more appropriate)
*Buy baby stuff (clothes, shoes, diapers?, sippy cups/bottles?)
*Talk to travel agent more
*Finish Travel Shots (Still need typhoid and a second Hep A if traveling after May)
*Prepare information for day care center employees about adoption/attachment/possible delays or medical conditions
*Hand in FMLA paperwork (when received back from Gladney)
*Prepare "donations" letter for day care parents/co-workers
*Prepare and present lesson about Ethiopia to Abigail's class and make "donation baby bottle"
*Buy large duffle bags for travel
*Find travel companion
*Buy travel stuff (miniature tolietries, crocs, snacks, etc.)
*Buy granola bars for street children
*Buy Money Belt? or Fanny Pack? type contraption for securing money and passport
*Finish Excel spreadsheets
Thursday, January 17, 2008
I have enjoyed reading many of your blogs, and if you have chosen to go private, please let me know how I can continue reading!
I will keep my blog public- I don't intend to post pictures or give identifying info about my referred child once I receive a referral, so don't get your hopes up.
I hope no one else suffers because of this anti-blog mentality (and yes, Ethiopia has an anti-blog mentality. They don't even allow access to Blogger in Ethiopia because they want to control the media!) And more importantly, I hope that children are not forced to wait even longer for their forever family just because their family wants to share the joy.
This makes me sad.
1) Ethiopians are very modest. Skirts should be to the knees. Shorts are not really appropriate most places. With my (very long) legs, it's difficult to know what would be okay.
2) I want to pack as lightly as possible to make more room for donations and such.
3) Packing lightly means doing laundry in-country. So I want items that are light enough to dry overnight.
4) Cost is an issue- I don't have a lot of money to spend on travel clothes.
So, yesterday in W*lmart, I found something that was absolutely perfect!
1) Mid-calf length flare Capri that are not too tight but are still somewhat form-fitting.
2) They are very light and take up hardly any space.
3) As a cotton/poly blend (with 3% spandex) they should wash and line-dry fairly quickly.
4) They were on clearance for $5!!!!! I actually bought 2 pairs- one in navy and one in khaki green. They are definitely something I will wear over the summer/fall here. And since they are fairly "neutral" colors, they should match several of the tops I will take to Ethiopia.
I've also been busy developing Excel spreadsheets for packing. I have a master packing list divided by person (Grace, Abigail, New Child), General (Snacks, Electronics, etc) and subdivided into categories (clothes, sanitary, fun stuff). I also have a "What to Pack Where" list to make sure that I have everything in the right place (and don't accidentally get stuck without my court papers if a bag is lost.) The lists are not complete, but the plan is to take the list with me when I travel so as to make return packing easier- to know how many of what I brought and need to re-pack, and to remember what needs to be in carry on and such.
Now, if I can just find a travel companion, I am good to go!
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
What I didn't tell you is this:
Remember how I said that my dossier would have to get the final review and final documents added before flying to Washington DC? Well, Natalie the Great who hails from the land of Gladney has done just that, and as of this evening, my dossier is headed to DC! (Strange to think that it will be so close and yet so far...)
Now, having read Natalie's email that she took it to FedEx tonight, I am currently trying to find out where in the FedEx system the package is, and how she shipped it so that I can estimate when it will actually depart from the US en route to Addis Ababa. (Hmm, just checked, and it's not yet showing up on my FedEx account or on the credit card where my account is billed.) Let's say she overnights it, it arrives tomorrow (Thursday) and maybe is on it's way to Ethiopia by Friday night? The DC representative hand-delivers the dossier to the US Secretary of State and the Ethiopian Embassy for their authentication, so it should go out the same day, I think.
At any rate, maybe about 2 weeks until it's in Ethiopia?!? Hooray!
One day there was a nice box delivered. And inside the box was a little kid. Abigail was very happy- she had her little sister. They named the little sister Gabriella. Gabriella had a new big sister! So she had a very nice time with her big sister because she was very nice and she loved being the little sister.
Then came the day of her birthday. All her fiends and Abigail presented her friends to her little sister named Gabriella. Now they had a good time. Until it was time to open presents. There was a special present hiding behind all the other presents. And she opened the first box and on top of it it said that it had a name called "big sister." And she loved it when she opened it- it was a Barbie doll and she really loved it. It was beautiful.
Then every one she opened. She opened Donna's and Tinna's and Tina's and a beautiful sparkle.
And they lived happily ever after.
Clearly, she is slightly confused about how her sister will get here. I think this may have been influenced by her recent acquisition of her Cabbage Patch dolls.
For some reason, I thought when I submitted my dossier, I was on the wait list. But alas, since my agency had to get some documents authenticated in Texas, I couldn't go on the wait list until those documents got back from the Secretary of State. So my old "referral wait"is all wrong.
But here is an updated one:)
Besides, this is more special- since today is my sister's birthday! And since I got the email from my agency just after returning from purchasing my first baby item (a Hip Hammock.)
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
On Friday, we received a large envelope package in the mail from my mom. I knew it contained some pictures and goodies for Abigail- it was addressed to her, after all! I called Abigail over to look at the package so that she could see that it was addressed to her.
She took one look at the size and shape of the package and exclaimed "Momma, does this mean the judge said that we could get my sister!?!"
That just tells you where her heart is, I guess:)
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Other Compensation: Being involved in tremendous amounts of love and life-change!
Start Date: Unknown
Requirements: Must be able to travel to Ethiopia with approximately 6 weeks notice. Must be able to help care for fun, lively, well-behaved 5 year old and assist with care of female child, 0-36 months. Must not be disgusted by my morning breath or explosive diapers. Coffee-lover with travel shots a plus.
To Apply: Leave a comment!
Seriously, I found out yesterday that my sister will be unable to travel to Ethiopia with me. So I am in need of a travel buddy. Hypothetically, I could go alone, but I really want to take Abigail with me, and I don't think it's realistic to do that without another adult. So, I am in need of travel companion. Any applicants?
Here is a beautiful article from Parade about one adopted Ethiopian-American girl's return to her native land.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
"Google all Ethiopian holidays, mark them on your calendar and worry about how these holidays might slow your process down. Save your angriest thoughts for judges who take days to get back to court after the Ethiopian New Year. After all, we are Americans. We should not have to wait on Ethiopian holidays."
So far, I haven't done any of these things... yet:)
This was a great article written about parenting adopted Ethiopian children. Check it out!
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Right now, my dossier is on it's way to my agency, Gladney. Once there, my fabulous case worker, Natalie, will review all the documents and make sure every possible piece of information and every money order for fees is there. She will be adding a few items to my dossier such as an authenticated copy of Gladney's license, an authenticated copy of our post-placement supervision agreement and such. Once this is complete, my dossier will fly to Washington DC.
First stop in DC is the US Department of State where it will receive federal authentication, basically meaning that the US government will authenticate that the Secretary of State from each respective state has the authority to authenticate the documents in my dossier.
The courier will then take the entire double-authenticated dossier to the Ethiopian Embassy in DC. There, the embassy will authenticate the dossier again.
Once that is completed, my dossier will be forwarded to the in-country representatives and the Ethiopian Ministry of Women's Affairs (MOWA). From today, my dossier should be in-country within about 2-3 weeks, barring complications. The representatives will have my dossier translated into Amharic in anticipation of court.
Meantime, stateside, I will be eligible to receive a referral. A referral is when my agency will give me information about a child that is eligible for adoption. The information will include a medical and social history (as much as known), current health status, information about the child (such as developmental milestones like sitting, standing, walking, speaking), and pictures! I will have the option of accepting the referral or awaiting a different referral. Currently, my agency is reporting a 3-5 month wait for a referral of the age and gender I am requesting. It could be longer or shorter based on the children available.
Once I accept a referral, a court date in Ethiopia will be requested. At that court date, my dossier along with information about the child will be presented to the judge. If all goes well, the child legally becomes mine at that court date! In-country representatives then get to work on getting a passport and such for the child, and approximately 3 weeks after a successful court date, I will travel to meet my new daughter and bring her home forever!
I point out that the court date must be successful because recently, many adoptive parents have "failed" court their first time through. Some for reasons such as missing paperwork, others because of unknown reasons. So even though I my get a court date, I can't know for sure when I will travel until court is successful.
Other things that have to happen prior to traveling are:
~Complete 10 hours of Hauge accredited eduction (about 4 done at this time.)
~Make sure my sis can go with Abigail and I!
~Pay remaining $9,935 to my agency
~Finish vaccinations for Abigail and I (Typhoid and second Hep A)
~Plan our travel, stock up on new kiddo stuff, and get lots of rest!
I got my CIS approval notarized and authenticated, and I am now dancing my way to FedEx to send my dossier to my agency.
So, what's next? Stay tuned to find out!
Monday, January 7, 2008
Valerie Washington, Chicagoan, Ethiopian adoptive parent-in-waiting
Valarie has just written a series of 3 posts about poverty in Ethiopia and how adoption relates to the humanitarian crisis there. Wonderful and enlightening stuff. Check it out:
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Erin, mom to 11 (8 throught transracial adoption)
Transracial/Transcultural Adoption Blog
Friday, January 4, 2008
While at TJs I discovered my new favorite kind of coffee! Having long been a Starbucks Breakfast Blend drinker, I think my palate is ready for a little change, and more flavor without overwhelming bitterness or smokiness.
So, if you like good strong coffee, try TJ's Ethiopian blend. It's organic, shade grown, and, most importantly, a fair trade blend. It is described as "a rich tasting, medium body coffee with slight tart acidity and a floral aroma." Mmm!
But this post really isn't about what my daughter's name will be. When Abigail and I discussed naming her new sister, she chose the name Brianna as her favorite and #1 choice for what we should name her sister.
So, imagine our delight when Abigail opened a Christmas present from my aunt that was a Cabbage Patch doll (one that looks like Abigail) named Brianna Emilie! Then, a few days later, she got another Cabbage Patch doll named Courtney Lola. Here they are: big sister Brianna and little sister Courtney Lola... (Brianna is waving at you!)
Abigail was so excited to adopt her girls... she even got to fill out adoption papers! (Notice, she "got" to fill out the adoption papers, I "have" to fill them out.) I think she has told just about everyone we know that both she and I are adoptive mommas:)
Here is the new momma rocking her girls... She was happy to realize that her adoptive family is just like our adoptive family will be.
I can't believe I am a grandma at 25 (haha!)
(Funny side note- as many of you may know, Cabbage Patch dolls are all signed on their bottoms. When Abigail undressed Brianna and found this, she exclaimed "Look, Momma! She has a tattoo on her butt!")
The long and short of this whole mess (and why it affects my adoption process) is two-fold:
1) Moving to Illinois (as I might be required to do) would interrupt my adoption process and cause me a lot of extra adoption expenses since I would have to get all of my paperwork and my home-study re-done.
2) Lawyers cost money. Money that was supposed to be used for this adoption. And money that I don't have. Right now, if I were to get my "golden ticket" (I-171H), I could not move forward because I simply do not have the funds.
So, please be in prayer about this. Adoption has all kinds of setbacks, and this is one for me. Fooey.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
The Big Duh
My I-600A (application to USCIS for advanced processing of an orphan- basically, the application to bring my new child into the US) was the first document I filled out and filed relating to my adoption process. I filed it as soon as I knew which agency would be my placing agency. On December 28, I got a voicemail indicating that my application is complete and they want to process it, but I forgot to sign it!
I realized then how much this adoption process has affected me... I routinely check documents three times, have others check them for me, and I have even been known to tear open a sealed FedEx envelope to double-check that all the required papers are enclosed. So, how could I have forgotten to sign one of the most important papers in this process? Well, what can I say- I was a newbie!
The good news is that she just had me fill out another one and overnight it to her, so it should be processed/approved this week or next.
The Big EEK!
Um, Hello! I just found out that my I171H should be approved this week or next! My dossier might be in Ethiopia by the end of this month!!!
Anyway, that's the news from the homefront. Happy New Year to you all! May God bless you richly in the coming year!