Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wrapping Up Black History Month

Below is the article "Bond Between Ethiopian, African Americans Examined." It gives an interesting viewpoint of the historical context of the relationship between Ethiopians and African Americans. Very informative.

On Monday night, a bus full of New York Abyssinian Baptist Church members drove to Washington, D.C. to join the Ethiopian community to honor the church and its pastor, the Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts III.

The event, which was hosted at the Ethiopian embassy, was also intended to celebrate Black History Month and to strengthen the historical and spiritual connections between the Ethiopian and African-American communities.

“During slavery, African Americans always looked at Ethiopia as a place that represented freedom, black culture, history and religion,” said Princeton University professor Ephraim Isaac, who spoke at the event. “It inspired the fight against discrimination and religion. When slaves were told they were inferior, they were animals or subhuman, they would think of Ethiopia.”
Isaacs, who is also the founder of the African-American studies department at Harvard, quoted Langston Hughes’ poem, “The Call of Ethiopia.” The poem addressed the freedom of not only Ethiopia, but also the entire African continent.

Sociology professor Alem Habtu of CUNY Queens College described how, as an international student from Ethiopia, he learned from African Americans during the civil rights movement.
Habtu, along with some peers, took over the Ethiopian embassy in protest of issues concerning their country after hearing Stokely Carmichael and members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) speak.

The guests included members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the ambassador of Ethiopia, Samuel Assefa.

Robert Wallace, CEO of Birthgroup Technologies, said he plans to build orphanages for children whose parents died of AIDS/HIV.

Gary Flowers, executive director and CEO of the Black Leadership Forum, addressed the need to get back to the root of black culture.

“I am, because we are; and because we are, I am,” Flowers said. “There is no individual advancement without group advancement.”

The director of communications for Ambassador Al Rutherford said the program is the first of many that will recognize the connection between the two cultures.

The evening ended with the honoring of Butts, as he was presented with a piece of artwork by a famous Ethiopian painter.

His long-term goal is to use the church’s developmental corporation to build housing and educational facilities in Ethiopia.

“We can not be chauvinistic about our connection to Ethiopia and cannot deny what needs to happen,” said Butts.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Updated Adoption To-Do List

Here's an updated to-do list for the adoption.

*Prepare girl's room (assemble bookshelves, toy box, buy second mattress for bunk beds, hang new curtains, hang new artwork, re-organize closet)
*Buy baby stuff- carseat, highchair/booster, clothes, shoes, diapers?, sippy cups
*Present lesson to Abigail's class about Ethiopia and kick of donations drive
*Talk to pastor more about how the church can help
*Buy granola bars for the begging children
*Prepare information for day care center employees about adoption/attachment/possible delays or medical conditions
*Work ahead in school and try to complete classes as early as possible in case of early referral/early travel
*"Dry run" packing my stuff and Abigail's stuff in the compression bags I bought
*Revisit and trim the packing list
*Finish as many household projects as possible and clean house
*Consider and/or organize large garage sale (whole church, whole neighborhood, whole daycare?) to raise money for travel expenses

Week 6

6 Weeks (1 month, 1 week, 4 days) of waiting for a referral... where does the time go? When I was working on my dossier, I felt like the time between when I would send a document by FedEx to be authenticated and the time when it would arrive at it's destination took weeks when it actually only took a few days. Now I feel like the weeks are flying by- 7 days feels like 3, and I am starting to get worried that I just won't get everything done.

In actuality, I've made a lot of progress on the adoption to-do list, but the problem is that I keep thinking of more things to do! But, I think that is typical momma behavior- as they say, a woman's work is never done.

Week 6 highlights:
*Got our typhoid shots yesterday. Abigail was the hero! She didn't cry, and was super-helpful by cleaning my arm with alcohol for the nurse, and then putting the bandaid on when the nurse was done. Great job, Abigail! (My arm is sore, but I don't feel like I've been hit by a truck like I did with my last batch of shots. Apparently it's the Hep A shot that can give you the flu-like side effects.)

*Completed and sent off all the paperwork for the Oxford Adoption Foundation loan that I have been awarded. Now all I have to do is sit back and wait for the adoption to be finalized in Ethiopia, and the loan will be funded, with disbursement directly to Gladney. So, my Gladney costs left to pay before travel have just significantly decreased! Yea!

*Was blessed to receive a random package from Abigail's teacher, Ms. Barbara. She has been following along with our adoption journey, and has invited me to teach Abigail's class about Ethiopia, which will "kick off" the donation drive at Abigail's school/day care. Anyway, last week she pulled me aside as I was picking up Abigail and handed me a shopping bag. She said she had been at some stores, saw some great deals, and picked up a few things to give to the orphans. The bag contained clothes, art supplies, and toys. Thanks Ms. Barbara!

*Started the F.B.I. It's been really great to learn about other Gladney families, as well as having the opportunity to see a more realistic picture of referral to court, and court to embassy times. If you know of other Gladney families that are not on the list, please let me know! I am hoping that once I move past the time where this info would be helpful to me, that someone who is further behind in the process might take over the maintenance of the list, and hopefully it can be kept going to be a reference for Gladney families. All you need is a Google account!

*I've had lots of fun seeing the responses to the polls I have posted. If you haven't voted yet, please do so, and please feel free to leave a comment with your rationale! Do you all know something about summer vacations that I don't know? I'm wondering if the Gladney caseworkers all take a summer vacation and that's why no one has chosen June 1-15 as the time frame to receive my referral?

Well, that's about it on the home front. We're off to take Abigail to school, and then I have to call the township and find out why I haven't gotten any info about enrolling Abigail in first grade. All the other parents have gotten info packets and are doing stuff... Hmm. A mystery.

Monday, February 25, 2008

APB!/Forensic Blogging Adventure #1

Okay Ladies and Gents, I am doing a little experiment in forensic blogging, and I need your assistance! This is a call to the public in response to the APB I am putting out on my referral.

Now, before I start, let me just say that I am not over-eager for my referral (it will happen in God's time, and the good Lord knows I have a lot to do between now and then.) I am, however, very curious, and hoping to successfully plan my summer/fall class schedule and vacations. So, don't take this as a "I want my referral!" post, but rather a "Hmm, can I accurately plan on taking a trip to the Blog Union or taking 4 classes this summer?" type post.

Okay, disclaimer aside...

My goal is to figure out a few things:

a) How long is the recent wait for Gladney families requesting a toddler girl, with or without correctable medical condition?
b) How long is the recent wait for a court date for Gladney families?
c) How long is the wait between passing court and embassy date for Gladney families?
d) How many people are on the Gladney wait list ahead of me?
e) For those ahead of me on the wait list, how many are requesting a toddler girl?

First step- visiting the most up-to-date, organized, and informative Gladney blogger I know: Amy "Momma to many, and now home with Nathan" Breedlove. She lists blogging Gladney families in the left sidebar (scroll down, it's there- or stop and check out her blog first:)

First question, readers, is this: who else do you know that is a Gladney family, besides those on her blog, and where are they in the process (most interested in waiting, referral, court date, and traveling families). The key to successful forensic blogging is the amount and quality of your information!

So help me out fellow bloggers and blog-readers! I know you know much of what I don't know, you know?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Take a guess...

Here are some questions for you to ponder... (Keep in mind I went on the wait list 1/16/08 and I am requesting a todder girl, under the age of 36 months, with or without a minor medical condition, with a preference for a girl 12-14 months at age of referral.)

Friday, February 22, 2008


Alright, I might ruffle some feathers here, but I trust that my regular readers will not be offended:)

I'll be honest: until I started educating myself about transracial adoption and parenting a black child, I never heard of "white envy"- an idea that basically espouses that black kids want to be white and that is the reason why they want straight hair or lighter skin or whatever. From the reading I have done, it seems that this idea is not really "true"- Dr. Wright, who wrote "I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla," debunks this myth in her book, and for a further discussion, I recommend you read her book.

Now, I ask you, has anyone ever heard of "black envy"? Because I think it's real, and I think Abigail has it.

This girl is so in love with black people! She could look at pictures of Ethiopians for hours, and keep up an endless stream of how beautiful their eyes and smiles and faces are. She loves black skin of all colors, and is always asking to touch it because "it looks so soft and shiny." (This is odd in public places, and I hope we have not offended anyone when she has made her request in a voice loud enough to be heard by others.) And black hair... she has never seen a black hair style she did not want to imitate. Ballies, cornrows, locks... she cries when my attempts at braiding her hair fail (which they inevitably do since her hair is just not the right texture to hold a braid.)

Every time we see a referral picture, every time we click to see Micah, Pacey, the Owlhavens, the Quinns, or baby Ian she ooohs and ahhhs and asks if her sister will look just like these beautiful kids. When we read her favorite book "We're Different, We're the Same" she always chooses the eyes and skin and nose of the black characters as the most beautiful (and sometimes even as the one she looks the most like.) This girl has black envy. I love it!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Horizon House Prayer

I saw this on another blog. I was touched, and wanted to share. Here is the daily prayer recited at Horizon House

In the name of the Father (beh semeh ab)
the son (beh wold)
and the Holy Sprit (beh menfes kidus)
One God (ahadu amlak)
Amen. (ahmen)

Our God, we pray to ask you to please bless this bread and this water,
we pray to ask you to please provide to those who are hungry and thirsty
and give to them with your blessings,
Let those who are working hard for others and those with giving hands be blessed.
In the name of your Son, Jesus Christ,

Week 5

Another week down of waiting. The weeks are really flying! Let's see, what adoption stuff did I do this week?

* Bought a nice blend of a croc/sneaker at W*lmart for $8. I think they will work well for walking and be easy to keep clean. Plus, they are pink, so... You know:) They are happy!

* Picked up more travel/trip stuff at said store. Got a great deal on clearance V-Day shiny pencils (they have hearts on them.) Thought this would be great for the orphanage.

* Finished all 10 required hours of Hauge training.

* Did I tell you I ordered the bunk beds? Can't remember if I told you, but I did. They should arrive some time around Easter.

* Stalked the Breedlove's blog and Jocelyn's blog. Cutie pie babies!

* Decided that rather than trying to explain to non-adoption people what a referral is, that it is much easier to say "I am waiting to be matched with a child." People get that.

* Bought mirrors.

So, I am making some progress on my adoption to-do list. There are some things that I simply cannot do until I have a referral, others that I can't do until I have a court or travel date, but there are still some things I can finish up before then. I forsee a trip to Sam's and then a little rendezvous with some suitcases for a packing "trial run." And I definitly foresee more lists:)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Adoption Counting- Like Pregnancy, but Different.

When I was preggers, everyone always wanted to know "how far along" I was. I always responded in the number of weeks pregnant that I was, but most people were looking for a quick "5 months" or whatever. This created a problem, because people who heard "oh, I'm 20 weeks" would listen and translate that to 5 months and assume I had 4 months to go. In actualality, because pregnancy is a 40 week process (or 37 weeks in Abigail's case), 20 weeks meant I had about 5 months to go, not 4. (This is because of when you start "counting" the pregnancy- it's all medical stuff, and I won't bore you, but suffice it to say that I counted by weeks, others counted by months, and this created mass confusion.)

So, now with the adoption, I find myself in another counting dilemma. I am tracking my wait for a referral in the number of weeks I have been on the wait list. But my anticipated wait is predicted in months, not weeks (3-5 months, to be exact.) So, it's not really accurate to say "at least 12 weeks for a referral" because months are not exactly 4 weeks (more like 4.3 weeks.) It is more accurate to say at least 13 -14 weeks of waiting before a referral.

All this to say, should I switch and start counting my wait in months instead of weeks? I don't know. All this silliness.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

You are my sunshine...

Abigail got a pillow in the mail from her Gaga and Pepaw that says "you are my sunshine." It also plays the tune- a song that Abigail frequently heard as a toddler as it was my second-favorite lullaby (can you guess my favorite lullaby?)

Anywho, by popular demand, here is Abigail practicing to sing a lullaby to her sister:)

Warning! This video rated "H" for Ham!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Look Like Me

Abigail: Momma, I want to buy a mirror for me and one for my sister.

Me: Well, that's fine, if that's how you want to spend your money. But do you both really need your own mirror?

Abigail: Yes, because then she can look like me!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Getting Some Education!

Tonight I did the Ethiopia-specific Gladney training that is required by Gladney as part of the 10 mandatory Hauge education hours.

It was sooooo good- really educational! It gave me a lot of insight into the Ethiopian culture, as well as good info on the Gladney process from referral forward. If you are a Gladney family, I strongly encourage you to do this training as soon as you are committed to Gladney and Ethiopia!

(I did it online and had no problems. The quiz was 10 T or F questions.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Week 4

Today we have been waiting 4 weeks for our referral (Saturday will be 1 month.) Whew! So stinking busy!
I finished up my 8 hours of NCFA's Hauge training today, and only have 2 hours of Ethiopia-specific Gladney training left to complete the required 10 hours. I will be glad when that's done, because trying to get ahead with schoolwork (in case I travel before the semester is over) while also trying to do a bunch of adoption stuff is too much.

Ooohhhh! Also found out today that one of the new ladies I work with is an adoptive parent to a 6 year old Abigail Grace who is from Russia! And that Abigail Grace might get a new sister sometime soon:)

Monday, February 11, 2008

3 More Cabbages!

Okay, scroll down to the very bottom of this page. See the ticker of the little girl in the cabbage patch? Well, Abigail was wondering how long it would be until her sister came home.

So, first I showed her the ticker at the bottom of my Gracelings page that is counting down the days to her birthday. I explained that her 5th birthday was at the left-most part of the ticker, and her 6th birthday was the cake at the right-most part of the ticker. She seemed to understand what that meant, and how time could be visualized by counting down the number of flowers it would be before her next birthday. She's on flower #3, and 8 more flowers until the cake. (Seriously, do you have any idea how hard it is to make "time" into something concrete enough that the 5 year old mind can understand it? God bless the teachers of the world. I do not envy them.)

Then I showed her the ticker at the bottom of this page. I explained that we would go pick up her sister when the baby got to the 6th cabbage plant. Maybe before, maybe a little after. We don't know for sure, but probably not longer than the 7th cabbage plant.

Her reaction? "Only 3 more cabbages, Momma!"


Abigail was feeling yucky and tired yesterday. By bedtime, she was pooped and had a little fever. Not surprisingly, she woke up this morning with a fever and generalized malaise. We talked about it and agreed that she couldn't go to school.

"Are you going to call them and tell them that I am homesick?" she asked.

"Well, I will tell them that you are staying home because you are sick."

"Right, that means homesick, right?"

I explained that staying home sick and being homesick were not the same thing. Staying home sick means you can't go to school or work because you are sick. Homesick is when you really want to be with your family and in your home, but you can't because you are far away.

"Oh, so, I am staying home sick. But my sister is homesick."

Blowing Away Dark Clouds

Please check out this post by Tiffany.

The girl just solved the orphan epidemic.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

My Heart Will Be Glad!

My son, if your heart is wise,
then my heart will be glad;
my inmost being will rejoice
when your lips speak what is right.
Do not let your heart envy sinners,
but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD.
There is surely a future hope for you,
and your hope will not be cut off.
Listen, my son, and be wise,
and keep your heart on the right path.

Proverbs 23:15-19

Adventures in Cooking

Saturday night, I entered into an Ethiopian Cooking Adventure. I bought my supplies at and used thier recipes for Shiro and Kik Wot. I have never had Ethiopian food before, so I have nothing to compare this to, but I will go ahead and give you my impressions.

This is the injera I ordered. Injera is a staple in Ethiopian food, like bread, rice, or pita might be to other diets.
The injera was mosit and spongy. The thickness was between a crepe and a pancake. It was a very bendy, flexible bread. It is kind of tart and sour, and the taste reminds me of lime.
These are the red lintel I ordered. They are really more orange than red. I made Kik Wot (Red Lintel Stew) with these. They are also used in other recipes, and next time I will try making Misir Wot (Yellow Lintel Stew.) The main difference between the red and yellow lintel stews seems to be that red is made with berbere as the main seasoning, while the yellow is made with Turmeric.
I started by cooking the onion, garlic powder, and berbere in oil.
I then added the water and Lintel and let cook. I cut the recipe in half. (In the future, I think I would add more than one cup of water. The Lintel never really softened up, and maybe a better proportion would be 2:2 rather than 1:2 for water:lintel.) It wasn't really a stew as it was pretty dry.
This is the Shiro. Shiro is flour made from ground yellow chick peas. I don't know if it was because the Shiro was shipped in the same box as the berbere or not, but the shiro had a slightly spicy aroma.
The Shiro recipe started much the same way as the Kik Wot- cooking the onion, garlic, and berbere in oil. (Note- I used only about 1 tsp. of berbere in both recipes, and it was still pretty spicy. Granted, I am a spice wuss, but still...)
Then I added the water and the Shiro. I had to let it cook much longer than 20 minutes to get it to thicken up enough that it was not runny as the recipe calls for...
It did eventually thicken up, and of course, thickened more as it cooled.
Here is our Shiro and Kik Wot on injera.
And here is Abigail trying it... she didn't really care for it. I didn't care for any of the parts seperately, but eating the Shiro and Kik Wot with the injera tempered both. (The injera was pretty sour! And the Shiro and Kik Wot was pretty spicy! But they worked together.)
Overall, I can't wait to try more recipes, and to try some authentic Ethiopian food on March 1 so that I know what I am supposed to be aiming for:)


Person at Church: So, you are getting a little sister?

Abigail: Yep, and she's gonna be a todd-year-old.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Rubbermaids? Yes, Rubbermaid containers.

Check out The Tale of Two Rubbermaids, which is where I got this idea.

Mary (of Owlhaven fame) used Rubbermaid containers to transport her donations. Rather than buying more luggage (duffle bags of this size start around $25), she packed up these containers, secured them with zip-ties, and used them as part of her checked luggage allowance. (Note- she strongly recommends the "roughneck" containers as other brands have not held up so well...)

(Bought my zip-ties at Home Depot today:)

Big Sister Interview

Get your daily dose of Abigail right here! (How do you like her new, super-short hair cut?)

Friday, February 8, 2008

More Check Marks

Here are things I've done this week to prepare for the adoption:

~Ordered bunk beds (estimated delivery time: 3/21/08)
~Bought comforter sets for girls' room (they were on sale)
~Bought neck travel pillow thingy for Abigail and Little One
~Bought Rubbermaid containers for packing donations (on sale at Target thru tomorrow for $4.99! What a steal!)
~Bought bookshelves and toy box for girls' room (should be available for pick up by 3/1/08)
~Put packing list online, and went over it about 6 times (lots of thoughts traveling though my head about what will end up going with me and what won't)
~Bought hair care products for Little One (and some cute toddler-sized headbands, too!)
~Reviewed completed FMLA paperwork that was returned from Gladney (to be handed in next week)
~Considered buying the travel size Charmin rolls- but couldn't bring myself to spend $0.99 on 55 sheets of toilet paper when Abigail could easily use 20 sheets on a good potty stop. Decided to just take whole rolls with the cardboard interior removed, stuffed into a ziplock to keep it safe.
~Did a "dry run" of toiletry packing (some people think I am taking too many tolietries:)

Still so much to do... and since my stuff arrived, I have to cook Ethiopian food sometime this weekend, too!


I am borrowing this info from Habesha Child.

Ethiopia seems to be surrounded by conflict and the latest violence in Kenya is just one more to add to the list, I’m sorry to say.
If you think about Ethiopia’s neighbors, it starts to sound pretty scary:

On Ethiopia’s Eastern border lies Somalia - tons of violence and conflict there.

Depending on your politics, you could count the next bordering country as self-declared state of Somaliland. Again - high conflict, high violence.

Just north of Somalia / Somaliland on Ethiopia’s border is the tiny nation of Djibouti - probably the only stable place around right now. Thank God, because it’s Ethiopia’s primary access to a seaport at this point (Kenya’s Mombassa is an alternative, but Eritrea does not allow Ethiopia to use its ports).

Continuing counterclockwise, the next country is Eritrea, to Ethiopia’s North - bad news here. Ethiopia and Eritrea have increasingly hostile relations, and are on the brink of another war over the long-contested border between them.

To the West, we find Sudan. The site of perhaps the worst genocidal violence in the world right now. ‘nuf said.

Finally, to the South, Kenya. (Lots of tribal violence at this time.)

While I am not particularly concerned about our safety while in Ethiopia, I will ask you to pray for safety for us in our travels to and from Ethiopia, and while we are there. Addis Ababa recently hosted the African Union summit, and is considered a safe and stable place. But anything can change.

So pray for us. But more importantly, please pray for my Ethiopian daughter, as she waits for her Momma in a land surrounded by conflict. And pray for the children of these nations whose lives are being cut short by grown-ups who can't find a way to peacefully resolve thier conflicts.

So you see? The whole thing in Kenya conflict starts to sound pretty tame, although I’m sure that’s not the case for people there.

Packing List Manifesto

So, you know the travel companion postion I have been looking to fill? Well, I think it has been filled by my friend Liz, geographer and world traveler, coffee lover, friend from high school, and all around fun person. Upon reading my packing list she had a few things to add...

Now, I realize my packing list is excessive for a 10 day trip. The list is really a compilation of the list and hints of many different people, who traveled at different times of the year. Therefore, a lot of things, like clothing and an umbrella, might not be needed based on when I travel. I also realize I mentioned a ton of food to take with me, and I probably won't need all of it, but since I will be traveling with Abigail, I want to remind myself of good options that have worked for other moms. I have also excluded a lot of new kid items, because I don't know anything about my child yet. Carry-on stuff for Abigial has been omitted. I also added the "Omitted" column to the right to better keep track of what I actually ended up using.

So, here is Liz's packing manifesto. Based on her rather extensive world travel, I think she has included lots of good hints.

OH! I love commenting on packing lists.

First of all -- you don't need travelers checks (at least that is my personal opinion). I haven't traveled with them in quite some time -- and they are more of a pain than anything. Its much easier to just use cash. Second of all -- its not really the date thats an issue -- you just have to make certain you have the latest release of bills -- so that means the new 20, and the new 10. 20s in general, are the preferable exchange in banks -- they REALLY don't like small bills (1s, 5s, and 10s can be iffy). Now I will travel with a few ones -- because occassionally I'll take those to a market or give it to a taxi driver.

Next up. Make copies of everything. and then make another copy. Keep one copy in the bag you check. And one copy with someone back at home. As crazy as this sounds -- I also make copies of my credit cards especially the phone numbers if they get stolen. Also. When you are getting ready to go -- call your bank and credit card companies and let them know that you are traveling to ethiopia, and give them the dates that you are going to be there. (I recently had my credit card numbers stolen when I was in canada and had my checking account emptied out. Now thankfully everything got returned but now I'm very careful about telling banks, etc that I'm traveling -- primarily because I won't have immediate internet access to find out if my accounts have been fished. Which is how I found out this last time). Also -- you can even tell them some sort of limit for charges if you want. Now, I travel a fair bit -- and just in case -- I made a document with my passwords to things like email and my bank accounts for my dad (he legally would have the rights should something drastic happen to me). I realized that when so much of my life relies on email/my cell phone/online banking -- they would have to know these things in order to access them should something happen. I may be a tad fatalistic I realize this -- but it was a piece of mind to know that should something happen -- they would have an easy way of knowing how to get in touch with the people who matter.

Phone Cards / cell phones.
Chances are your phone will work in Ethiopia (mine worked in Rwanda). Now CALLING people from it is VERY expensive. Texting -- its the same international rate. So. Example. I'm sitting in the Nairobi airport waiting for my best friend hannah to show up (she was coming to Rwanda with me and living in Nairobi at the time). She has a kenya cell phone number, I have a u.s. number. I just texted her back and forth to find her in the airport. when I came back and checked my cell phone, I only got charged the int'l texting fee. So. If I go with you -- I'll probably bring my cell phone (if worse comes to worse I can also just get a SIM card there too and plug it in my phone), and I'll just text folks. Now -- you should also have a phone card -- but I tend to think thats more for emergencies... you can get some great deals on int'l phone cards.

I wouldn't worry about bring a hot pot. You'll be able to find hot water, its the land of coffee remember!. Next, I remember you had it on your list from before -- bringing granola bars or snacks for street kids. Now -- this is a personal opinion, and one not necessarily shared by all, and you can do as you see fit. I know your intentions are good. A couple of things -- I am actually against bringing and giving food to street kids. I know that can be taken as harsh and what not -- but there are a couple of reasons. First of all, yes, I know that many of them are hungry -- but it is impossible for me to provide long term care to them. Secondly, there has now become an expectation of kids expecting hand outs from westerners. This is NOT something that should be expected. Sometimes the kids can be very forceful. It can be a challenge -- and I guarantee your heart will break. But I think you make the situation worse by giving them the food -- often times its the kids who are the strongest (hello survival of the fittest laws) who get the 'goods' anyway -- or they will take it from the weaker ones. Your intentions are good, I'm not argueing that -- but there are appropriate mechanisms. That being said, if you decide to bring 'treats' for the orphanage -- give it to who ever is in charge at the orphange. The same goes for books, toys, etc. Let her (or him) appropriately give it out at the right time. You may already know all of this -- and therefore I'm being redundant. :).

Next up. PEANUT BUTTER! Unless someone is allergic to peanuts. This is my food traveling kit: Peanut Butter (sometimes even 2 jars if I'm gone for longer than 2 weeks), Salt Shaker, Pepper Grinder (or shaker), jolly ranchers (then if I'm craving flavored water -- I just throw one in), sometimes tuna (depending on where I'm going and the time of year), crackers, coffee (but its ethiopia -- so thats a non issue), ginger tea (I get upset stomachs a lot from food -- so that tends to settle me pretty quickly), fruit leather (dried fruit substitutes in a pinch), oh. and hot chocolate mix -- thats to add to my coffee when I'm craving something a bit more creamy and sugary. I think thats all that I typically travel with. Now granted. You have a five year old who won't necessarily understand that there its not readily available, especially if it is something that she is used to. If Abigail regularly eats pudding cups, than bring them -- just make certain you pack them in lots of plastic cause they may explode in the plane.

How long are you traveling? (thats actually something I was in general wondering -- 1 week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 4?) Cause you are packing a HOUSE! :)

Grace and toiletries :). First of all -- those face cloths, kind of like handy wipes, are your friend. Second of all, I hope this doesn't come off as harsh, but you are going to a developing country -- do you REALLY need all of these things? :) And yes. Abigail can share. As I'm sure you've realized -- you may want to find out a little bit about african hair care -- but I doubt that you will have to wash your new daughters hair while in Ethiopia... seems to me that african hair isn't washed very often in general anyway. But -- there are other ways to appropriately take care of it.

Underwear. Depends on how many days you are going. I tend to pack a weeks to a week and a half worth (because I'm a bit excessive) others will just pack five pairs. I really don't like doing laundry -- I can live in the SAME clothes for however long I need to -- I just really like clean underwear. and Bra's I only bring 2. Swimsuit tops also work as bras -- and depending on the bra, vice versa.

I would also say you only really need one dress, if that is even necessary.

Liz's packing list when she was in rwanda (and I over packed)
5 t-shirts (that was because I was painting).
5 nicer short sleeve shirts that I could wear when I wasn't painting and that would also go with skirts.
2 skirts (I think I only wore one)
2 jeans
2 pairs of misc. pants
1 pair of pj pants
2 long sleeve shirtslots of socks (I brought WAY too many pairs of socks)shawl/wrap/sometimes skirt thing.
gym shorts
1 sweatshirt
3 sweaters (it was a little colder)
1 swimsuit (didn't use). Actually, I'll just typically swim in shorts and a t-shirt, unless I'm at a VERY european type place.
2 weeks worth of underwear.

1 pair of flip flops.
1 pair of tennis shoes
1 pair of ballet slippers
1 pair of 'hiking' boots.

BANDANAS! (I never leave with out them)
Baseball hat (I left it there)

I could have not taken some of the shirts, socks, the hiking boots, and the ballet slippers.

Next up. Compression sacks are your friend. You can find them at camping stores. I recommend not buying the plastic compression sacks at target, and instead going to an REI or some sort of camping surplus store and getting a few. You could probably do with 3-4 medium to large size ones. Here is why. they will SERIOUSLY suck your clothes down to nothing. It's pretty much amazing. When I travel, I try to only go with 1 duffel bag. You don't want to carry a lot. And you don't want to attract a lot of attention. Plus, if you travel with less -- if it gets lost its not the end of the world. 2ndly, when then when you get going in your travels you can have a compression sack for clean clothes, and one for dirty clothes. I'm a HUGE fan of compression sacks. I started traveling with them three trips ago I think, and now I won't travel with out them. I also try and limit myself to packing in 1.5 compression sacks (.5 compression sack is in the backpack).

More packing hints.
When you fly internationally -- you are actually only allowed one carry-on item. Period. That could be your purse. That could be a backpack. That could be a small duffel. I pack a purse in a large back pack :). Now. in this backpack goes everything that is essential should your luggage get lost. On the Rwanda trip 3 people had their luggage lost / it didn't arrive in time. I've never had 'lost' luggage -- but then I'm also prepared to survive should anything go wrong.

In my backpack (using a compression sack!) I pack a change of clothes -- plus an extra t-shirt and a pair of underwear, maybe another pair of socks for the plane. I pack the essential medication (malaria -- though I've actually quit taking that these days, so mostly IB Profin, vitamins, anything I have perscriptions for, etc) I travel with shampoo bars (solid shampoo -- at LUSH (, so one of those. Purse and under clothing money thing (the one that hangs from your neck -- I don't like the money belt one personally). Some snacks. A book. A deck of cards. Essential electronics (phone, ipod, laptop if I feel I need it -- most of the time its a relief to NOT bring it -- especially if its a heavier one) and all their chargers, Flashlight. Bandana. Gum. Maybe a pair of flip flops. Basically. Enough to live out of my backpack for a couple of weeks if I have to. Some of my make up. an eye shade thing. ear plugs.

Other packing list hints.
You need either crocs or walking shoes. Not both.
I really like those travel sleep sack things...they pack down to nothing -- and are great if the sheets are slightly questionable (I've slept in some questionable places in the past...)
I think I mentioned some sort of sarong type thing. Multi purpose. Love them. Also function as towels.
Oh. pack some towels. not huge ones. but larger than a hand towel.
Yes. Bring Toilet paper. In fact. Pack one in your backpack.
I'm noticing that you are very very cleanly :). as you have every imaginable cleaning product... if you can let any of those go -- that could be useful. If they are essential -- then don't worry too much.
Duck Tape. It is so multi-functional. A small roll goes in my back pack.
Nalgene bottles. Empty. I carry one on -- and fill it up with water once I get through security. You have to make certain you stay hydrated on the long flights.

I'd recommend bringing some games... like cards, mad libs, string for cats in the cradle, a jump rope if you are playing at the orphanage, deflated balls for the orphanage if you want, books for the orphanage (again given to the head of the org). Things to draw with. Actually -- I'd get abigail a journal too. Even if she can't write manifesto's have her draw something that was new each day, or something that she liked, or something that she didn't like -- at the same time that you journal.

Make a binder up of pictures from home -- like what the parks look like, what your little girls room will look like, what a school looks like, what some of the day to day activities are that she will now be a part of. Use it as a teaching tool not to demonstrate opulence -- but to instead talk humbly about our culture. Try and grab things that are typical day to day tasks. You know -- this is what a bedroom is. This is us eating dinner with our extended family. Cultural things that are the same in function but different in execution. Does that make sense? So then people can see that really -- ethiopia and the us aren't that different -- because we are ALL HUMAN! :).

Why are you bring clothes pins? For laundry? In that case -- bring a clothes line -- cause you won't find those there. Either that -- or just wear not so clean clothes :). Though. Depending on the hotel -- they will often offer laundry service. This is a great way to bring money into the local culture. Though it depends on the hotel. Also typically -- if you have laundry done, they will not wash underwear. Hence why I pack lots and lots of underwear. Suggestions for gifts...I recommend little things -- something that can be unique to your home. You're from hershey penn. Bring some chocolate bars (even if it isn't the BEST chocolate in the world). Or -- bring a picture of you and abigail in front of the house -- or bring a book (with lots of pictures) about your hometown.

Rules to live by.
Don't bring anything that you can't leave behind. (Now there are somethings that would be a loss, like say, your laptop... so minus that... things like sandels, clothing items, sunglasses...even photos)Be flexible.

Things you don't need.
An umbrella.

Have I written a manifesto yet? It's only cause you touched on a topic that I think a lot about :). And everything I've said. Guidelines :). Just a few (or more) thoughts on things I do...I'm sure I could add more. We'll save that for later.

So, there you go! Lots of good info and advice. I will certainly be limiting my packing based on some of these hints. After I travel, I will update my list with what I took, what I used, and what I didn't use.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Packing List, Maybe

I think I might have done something really exciting with my Google account. But maybe not. We'll see.

Click here to see my packing list. It's a work in progress, so if you have suggestions for additions (or items to be removed) let me know and I will change it. The site should automagically update with the revisions!

Week 3

Week 3 of the referral wait raced by yesterday! Now into week 4 of waiting, and still so much to do. So, off I go to do some of it!

Neither Hair nor There

Recently, there was a big "debate" (ie-debacle, argument) about black hair care, and specifically the messages sent to black girls by chemically treating (perming/straightening) their hair at a young age. Some argued that it is akin to coloring a white girls hair at a young age and that it sends the message that a girl is not "beautiful" or her hair isn't "good" the way it is, and it needs to be treated to be "fixed." They say that adults are sending the message that "being black" and having "black hair" isn't beautiful because they are so drastically changing it.

Others responded that whatever makes a little girl like her hair (and makes it manageable so that hair time is not PAIN time!) is okay. Who cares if it involves locking, straightening (chemically or otherwise) or lots of products? Just let the girls get to the point where they like their hair- where they can wear the clippies or ballies that all their friends are wearing- or the cornrows or whatever. It's just hair! It's not going to affect their identity as a black woman!

Valarie wrote a post quoting India Arie's song "I Am Not My Hair" which India wrote after her own struggles with letting her hair define her. I am not black, and I cannot comment on how much hair affects one's identity.

But what I will say is this:

My daughter is 5. Last night, we sat on the couch and played "Beauty Shop." We took turns putting nail polish on, styling each other's hair, and applying make up to each other. Abigail loved it!

My daughter watches me put make up on nearly every day. Sometimes she asks me why I wear make up. I tell her it's because I like the way I look and feel when I wear make up- I like how I can pretend to be someone else or bring out a different side of my personality based on my make up. I don't tell her that it is because I don't look pretty without it or because I don't like my blotchy skin or because people with fair complexions like ours look horrible without a little color. Those things may be true, but that is not why I wear make up, nor is it what I communicate to my daughter about make up.

And to be honest, I let her wear make up (sometimes.) Not just when we play beauty shop, but whenever she feels like it. Sparkly lip gloss, glitter in her hair, nail polish or even blush- if she likes it and thinks it's fun- why not? Will it hurt her? No. Do I think it will have long-term effects on her self esteem? No. Is it possible that allowing young girls to wear make up can send the wrong message to them (that they aren't pretty enough or whatever?) Sure, it's possible. But this is not one of the circumstances where I think it will.

And that's how I feel about allowing little black girls to straighten/perm their hair. If you send the message that it needs to be done because they aren't pretty enough, then it will hurt them. But if you give them the option of treating their hair to try something new, different, or fun... I guess I just can't see how that's a problem (nor can I see how chemically straightening hair is safer or less damaging than heat-straightening it... but then again, I am no scientist!)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Praising God!

I just received notification that I have been approved for a $5000 adoption loan from the Oxford Adoption Foundation.

This loan can be repayed over the course of (up to) 9 years, but can be repaid earlier if able. The terms of the loan are 0% interest for the first 3 years, 3% interest for the second 3 years, and 6% interest for the last 3 years. I anticipate paying off the loan well before the interest kicks in, so this is essentially $5000 of free money to bring my baby home!

Praise God!

Thanks Soucys!

The Soucys just sent Abigail this book. Thank you! Abigail is loving reading through the stories of different African princesses throughout history, and I look forward to sharing their stories with the new little one. The book is not for young children (Booklist says grades 4-8 to read the book, but Abigail is okay with having it read to her... just one story at a time as they are fairly long and filled with actual history and facts.) However, the stories can easily be abreviated by a grown up and the pictures can be shared with younger children.
Abigail's favorite part? Watching me try to pronounce the different African names and words! It is a challenge!
Thanks again, Soucys!

When There's No Place Like Home

Brianna recently wrote a series of 2 posts in reaction to this Newsweek article. The article discusses the role that UNICEF is taking in discouraging intercountry adoptions by taking the viewpoint that it is best for kids to stay within their own country and culture when being adopted.

Of course, as I learn more and more about adoption, I cannot help but agree that kids should, when possible, remain within their own country/culture. Brianna does a good job articulating a "good, better, best" senario ("best" being that kids are able to remain with their own parents or within their own family.)

However, it is simply unrealistic to think that the 6 million orphans in Ethiopia would ever be able to be adopted within their own country. There are just too many kids, and not enough resources. Again, I would refer you to Brianna's post- she does a great job explaining why intercountry adoption is still a good option, even though it's not the "better" or "best" option.

This is something that I see presented as a concern of most adoptive parents, and it is closely tied to ethical adoptions. I encourage you to read the article, read Brianna's reaction, and tell me what YOUR thoughts are. I am still sorting mine out. Like most adoption topics, heck, most parenting topics, I don't know if there is black and white on this issue. I see a lot of gray.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Reason #15- Sisters, Revisited

I have written before about how I would like Abigail to have the experience of having a sister. But as I continue in this journey and think more about the reasons I am adopting, I have more to add.

Someone close to me recently expressed concerns about how this adoption will affect Abigail. It is their opinion that the adoption will be detrimental to Abigail, detracting from the time, resources, and finances that I can dedicate to "securing a good future" for her. These are valid concerns. Certainly, having another child will mean that the time I have with my children will be split between 2 children instead of directed only at Abigail. Certainly, having another child will mean that Abigail might have to miss out on things such as ballet classes or that, as the children get older, perhaps I won't be able to attend every field trip as a class mother. Certainly, having another child will mean that my budget is tighter and Abigail won't be lavished with gifts from me.

But having another child does not mean that I will not be able to express my love to Abigail in an effective way. In fact, as I read more about attachment and parenting, I think my skills as a parent are growing, and I am purposely participating in activites to grow the bond and attachment between Abigail and I (not that there is a problem with it, just that why not enhance it if I am learning how to do that anyway.) Even though I may not be able to spend as much one-on-one time with Abigail, I don't feel that it will be detrimental to her. In fact, I believe that the more love one experiences, whether it be from parents, grandparents, siblings, or friends- the better! And the more love one is exposed to- be it observing the love between your parents, grandparents, parents and sibling, or friends- the better!

While the resources I have may be split between Abigail and her sister, I think that this can be a good thing for her. She has pretty much lived a protected life, but as she grows, learning to help care for her younger sister- learning to help out, or read to her sister, or teach her sister how to write her name because Momma is spreading her resources more thin- well, I think that is a good thing. The skills of helping others, sharing, and creativly finding ways to accomplish tasks are excellent skills to prepare her for the future.

And yes, my budget will change with a new child at home. But I don't feel like I even need to address this one very much because people who know me well know that I am not one to promote the accumulation of wealth- the accumulation of things and stuff. I am much more interested in raising a caring child than a child privledge to have all the latest "stuff."

More importantly, the more I examine my life- the more I think about how I became who I am and what experiences really shaped me, the more I realize that it was not just my mom that had a hand in that, but rather the experience of being a sister and one of my mother's children that truly helped craft me into who I am. I've come to realize that at 5, I was glad I had a sister, at 15, I was not so glad, but by 25 I was once again glad about it. And I anticpate that the appreciation I have for having my siblings is likely to continue at 35, 55, and beyond.

I want both my children to experience the joy of being and having a sister. It will make them better people. It will make them more compassionate, more aware of the thoughts and feelings of others. And it will give them someone to dance and sing and laugh with:

Or this:

Friday, February 1, 2008

Just a Friendly Reminder!

I knew Statistics was good for something- even if it is just keeping me grounded in the adoption process:)

So here was my daily dose of reality, embedded in my (devilish) Statistics notes:

"As with most predictions about anything you expect there to be some error, that is you expect the prediction to not be exactly correct..." Just a friendly reminder to take all things in stride, to understand that estimates for wait times and court dates and travel timelines are all predictions, prone to error and likely to not be exactly correct:)

Would you like another taste of my statistics notes? Yes? You are perverse, but here goes:

"As to the other expressions in the slope equation, Sy refers to the square root of the sum of squared deviations between the observed values of y and mean of y; similarly, Sx refers to the square root of the sum of squared deviations between the observed values of x and the mean of x."

So there.