Sunday, April 29, 2007

Dossier-ing & Car Seat Trouble

So, we had a minor set back on Friday when I took our dossier in to be checked by our social worker and our program coordinator. There were a few problems with some of the documents - one being that my notary's stamp was blurry. I was able to fix that by having her re-stamp them (lightly) so that the numbers can be clearly read. I also had to have our doctor's notes rewritten and Kevin's employment letter changed a teeny bit. But, hopefully I will have everything ready to go to be checked tomorrow and then maybe state certified on Tuesday. I'm praying that they will certify the documents while I wait.

I was feeling a little discouraged about the dossier problems so I went baby shopping. :) I have tentatively picked out some bedding, but it is so hard to do since we're not sure if we're having a girl or boy, one or two! I was looking at Pottery Barn Kids, but couldn't decide on any that would be cute if we had one of each. I did find these at Target and they're pretty cute:
They are also somewhat inexpensive in case we do have two. I'm still stuck on what color to paint the room - I was thinking pale yellow, but now I'm unsure again. I'm still hung up on the boy/girl thing.

The main problem I'm having is picking a car seat. This weekend CHI had a class for adoptive parents and one of the things they covered was car seat safety. I had been told that the Britax was the best and was considering getting those, but someone spoke up about how the Britax did not fit well in all cars, notably the Subaru models. I drive a Subaru. Not to mention, they suggested getting one for each car so we wouldn't have to move them. Well, we might be getting two for each car and the Britax starts at $200. So, now I'm on the hunt again. If anyone out there has any advice - please let me know!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


We are so excited about this - I can't even believe it!

Today we received our fingerprint clearance in the mail!!

(Now I won't have to stalk the mailbox.) This is amazing because we had our fingerprints taken last Monday (4/16) and were told we could expect the results in about a month. Or... maybe in a week and a half! This was the last thing we were waiting for. I had planned on having all of our dossier paperwork certified by the Secretary of State before this came, but now I can have it done all at once.

Next steps:
- Meet with Erin on Friday to have her approve our dossier paperwork before I send it to the Secretary of State
- Take the paperwork to the Secretary of State's office for certification (This could take 1 day or could take a week)
- Send our dossier (via CHI courier) to the Department of State (in DC) and the Ethiopian Embassy. (This takes 1-2 weeks normally)
- CHI will then send our dossier off to Ethiopia where our in country representative will translate it and take it to the appropriate ministries.
- We wait for our referral and then we travel!!! (Please excuse excessive amounts of exclamation marks- I have a problem :)

And, after we received this good news today, we watched American Idol (that's right - I'm admitting it) and I cried through the whole thing. I'm still about to cry. It was extremely moving and they had raised at least $30 million and were still taking donations. Amazing.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

First Baby Gift, Etc.

On Friday we received our first baby gift (aside from the things I know the Grandmas-to-be are currently acquiring ;). The gift is a framed poem about adoption and it is beautiful. This is very special to both Kevin and I because it was given to us by an adoptive mom. She adopted her son from Korea when he was a baby - he's now 17! It was the perfect first baby gift. Thanks Juanita!!
And, a lot of people have been reminding us that, even though we have a lot of paperwork and such to do, we should remember to relax during these last few months before the babies come home. We've been told to 'sleep in' (can't - the dogs wake us up every morning) and to go out on dates (we've been doing this one, but still trying to save $ for when I'm at home with the little ones). Well, today Kevin took the 'Relax' part of it to heart (on his new hammock)...
He deserves it! If it weren't for him, the lawn would not look so green, the dogs wouldn't get walked, the house wouldn't be as clean (I freely admit this), and dinner would always be boring. As my mom always says - He's a catch! :)

Oh, and today is Annie's 6th birthday (thanks to Petco for reminding us :). We celebrated with a new rope toy and liver-flavored mush filled Kongs for all the dogs. YUMMY.
Happy Birthday Ham!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

First Clothes!

Okay - I broke down today and bought the first clothing items for our children. I couldn't help it-
Admired & Adored from the Gap (Product) Red line. (Half the profits from Gap (PRODUCT) RED™ styles go directly to the Global Fund to help fight AIDS.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Lunch at CHI

On Monday, Kevin and I had our fingerprint appointments with CIS! So - that is one major thing we could check off our list. We were told to expect "the results" within one month. During that time we are working on our dossier - which means compiling paperwork - having it all notarized - and then having the notarizations certified by the state department. We're also working on our Hague approved education (which most agencies are requiring although Ethiopia does not require it yet) and we both passed our first online test. :) Our plan is to have our doss & education complete before we get the results - aka 171-H (I think) from CIS so we can send our dossier off to the next step (which is Washington DC). Once it arrives in Ethiopia we'll wait for news on our children!!

The timing of having our appointment on Monday was perfect because it just so happened that our agency was having an Ethiopian lunch for their staff and for any local families who could make it. We were the only family there (a lot live a bit further away) but it was great to meet other CHI staff and we were able to sit and talk during lunch with the agency's Executive Director Dwyatt Gantt. It was so great because he is very excited about the new Ethiopia program. He spoke to us about his visit there and about the exciting news that CHI has secured a foster home for the children that will be adopted by CHI families! He even got up to go print out some pictures of the home for us to take with us (which was SO nice!). I've been staring at those pictures because it is a real place in Ethiopia that we might visit, or a place that our children might even stay before we can get there! Our In-Country Coordinator in Addis is Tsegay and he has been working tirelessly to first acquire the license and now to set up this foster home for all of the CHI families' children. I cannot wait to meet him in person and thank him. We also got to spend some time with our Program Director, Sharon, and our SW, Erin, who are both equally excited about getting this program going. We are so fortunate to have our adoption, and our experience of becoming parents for the first time, surrounded by such supportive and caring people.

Okay... now that my ode to our agency is finished (I really do love it!), I'll end this (superlong) post by saying that things are moving along and we'll keep everyone posted (hah! pardon the pun).

I'd also like to add that Monday's lunch was also when we first learned of the horrific shooting at Virginia Tech. While our adoption generally keeps us distracted, our thoughts and prayers have been with the families of the victims from that day.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The ONE Campaign

I just found this over at Swerl's blog - it's from the ONE campaign to make poverty history. This is from the ONE website:

We are just days away from securing $39.8 billion for the international affairs budget -- an increase of $3.9 billion over last year.

Six senators, Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Gordon Smith (R-OR), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), and Norm Coleman (R-MN), are taking the lead by writing a letter encouraging their colleagues in the Senate to support this critical funding.

By clicking here , you can easily send an email to your senator to encourage them to sign the letter to ensure the increase goes through. I know many of us have viewed Bono's speech at the NAACP awards and wondered what we could do to help - well, this is a very simple way to support the campaign and to make your voice heard. Just thought I'd help spread the word.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

First Time Parents

So last night Kevin & I decided it would be 'fun' to go and get our registry started. Well, if by 'fun' we meant overwhelming and a little scary, then we were right. Our idea was that we could get some of the basics on there, and once we know whether we're having a boy, a girl, one or two, then we could add on and change things. We quickly realized that we have no idea what we need! Our major accomplishment was the car seat, which was chosen with the help of a friendly Babies R Us employee (thank goodness he came over to us - we were about to run out of there!).

After the car seats, we moved on, with our new friend in tow, to the high chairs. Basically, that is where we stopped. Do we get the big one or the ones that strap into your chairs? What if we have two? What if we want to eat on the deck - do we want to drag two big high chairs outside? Aaagh! :) We turned in our scanning gun and were informed that we did quite well for the first time- we had 30 items and most people only get to 5 and then get overwhelmed. So, that made us feel better.

We got to the car and called Chrissy (mom of 4 and my friend for 20+ years) and informed her that we needed HELP! She and I are now planning our excursion and I think it will go much better this time.

Kevin & I are definitely the quintessential 'first time parents.'

(P.S. Just after I finished this, I went to our agency's Yahoo group and found that they have started a new group called CHI First Time Parents. Just in time! :)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Let the Paperchase Begin!

My head is swimming! This week we received our dossier packet from our LICENSED agency (still excited about that!) and we're getting started on gathering all of our paperwork. (I keep thinking of a post over at the Ethiopian Adoption Blog where Mary said she eats paperwork for breakfast :) - I'm hoping I can have that attitude for the next month!)

We have our fingerprint appointments next Monday and CIS in MO is running at about 4-6 weeks from the time we turned in the I600a, which would mean we could get approval back by early or mid-May. If we can have our dossier together by then, it will be sent along to the state departments and embassies, and then on to Ethiopia! Is it possible that we could get our referral and have our adoption go through the courts before they close?? And, can anyone tell me exactly when the courts do close? I'm a little lost on that one. I'm suddenly thinking that, just in cases (I'm quoting from the movie Love Actually for you grammar-hounds out there), we should pick a paint color and start registering!! Let me say this: we would be thrilled if we could bring our babe(s) home this summer, but just as thrilled if they come home next fall. I know this, just like the licensing, will happen all in God's time and I keep reminding myself that He has a plan. In the meantime, I'll start my breakfast of paperwork! EEK!

Monday, April 9, 2007

I love blogs

I've been thinking a lot lately about how blessed we are to have been led to adoption. When we were going through infertility treatments we both felt very frustrated and I know I felt very lonely. I had friends who had gone through it, but they had children by then, so it was hard. In fact, we were the only one without kids in our group of friends that live nearby. (Granted, there are 6 couples and 13 kids, so there were always plenty of kids around!) But now, I feel like we are part of something so much larger than us - there is such a sense of community surrounding this adoption. Not only do we get from the support from excited family & friends, and from our agency, but also from reading everyone else's blogs and sharing in their happiness. I get so excited when other people get referrals - I am so happy for them, and I know one day they'll share in our happiness.

I guess my point is that I'm grateful for everyone out there sharing their stories. I can't even express how much it means to me that I've found such a welcoming community here on the Internet! I never thought I'd have a blog - but now I'm so glad we do.

Also - two families on the list of blogs I read recently got their referrals - Finding Baby G and Ethiopia or Bust. I highly recommend going to take a peek at their beautiful new baby boys. It will remind you that adoption truly is a miracle! And, if I haven't mentioned it before, be sure to watch the video on the blog Raising Lucy. Be warned - it makes me cry every time! (You'll have to scroll down a bit and it is on the left side.)

: )

Thursday, April 5, 2007

We Have Big News!

Guess what you'll find if you go to the Children's Hope International website...

That's right - our agency is officially licensed in Ethiopia! We are so excited - I've been in a fog all day, dreaming of our babies.

If you're dying to ask me, "How long?" I don't really have a clear answer, but things are definitely going to start moving along now. We are awaiting our fingerprinting appointment and after that we'll wait for the 171 form (which I think is clearance for our fingerprints), and we'll get the paperwork together for our dossier. Once we have all of that together, we'll submit it to the Ethiopian government and then wait for a referral! YAY!!


P.S. This is how I think things are supposed to go with the dossier - if anyone who has gone before us has any words of wisdom - I'd really appreciate it! Thanks!

Monday, April 2, 2007

It's Here!

It's here! My passport is finally here!! Why am I so excited? Well, this means that tomorrow I will take the long awaited passport number and a copy of my passport photo page to Erin (our SW) and she will give me a completed home study. I will then FedEx the home study off to the local USCIS office and we will wait for a letter telling us when our appointment is for fingerprinting. Just one small step closer to our babies!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Busy Weekend - Ethiopian Food & More...

We had such a great weekend -
Friday night - Ethiopian food at Meskerem (more on this later)
Saturday - matinee - Blades of Glory (very funny), then the Ohio State basketball game (they won- on to the championship game!)
Sunday - church with my friend Chryssi and her daughter Emma and brunch at one of my favorite places (vegetarian biscuits & gravy - yum!), I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the sun reading There is No Me Without You (I don' t have to say it, but I LOVE this book - I can't put it down), and tonight we're going down the street for hot-dogs and the opening day baseball game on the tv (outside on the patio).

On Meskerem - my mom (Grandma/Mimi), Kevin & I went to the new Ethiopian restaurant in town. It was so great- the food was wonderful - it was just like I remembered from the Ethiopian restaurant in Tucson and I didn't want to stop eating. We had two combo platters, so I cannot remember the names, but my favorite was the chickpeas. Kevin's favorite was the yellow lentils. He did not like the lamb - he hates lamb and I had no idea I had even ordered it - I took a big bite (I don't eat lamb) and said, "YUM!" so he took a big bite and was distraught. As a chef, he has tried a lot of different foods, but does not like (read- HATES) only two things - lamb & goat cheese. He got over it and enjoyed all of the other dishes.
The best part of the night was the owner - he came to our table and we told him we were adopting from Ethiopia and he stayed and talked to us for a long time about Addis Ababa and what we could expect. We promised we'd be back when we got our referral so we could show him the pictures (if not before then). Our server was also from Ethiopia and she offered to write down her family's address so we could visit them while we were there. That was surprising to us as Americans b/c not many people here would do that having just met someone. We told her we weren't sure when we were going but that we'd be back before we went. We left so happy to have such a great experience - I already know this will be a place we can take our children! Now if Kevin could only learn to cook injera... :)

Sorry - no pictures this time - I tried to post a picture of "twin" tulips I took with my cell phone (there are two tulip blooms on one stem!) b/c it made me smile, but I am not that tech. advanced. Maybe next time!

Continue with prayers for licensing!!