Wednesday, March 30, 2011


We have made some good headway both in the home study process, and in building our dossier. This is what we've done so far:

- paid the home study fee, and pre-paid the post-placement visits.
- signed and mailed the home study agreement.
- wrote our autobiographical statements (whoa baby, that was a lot of writing/thinking)
- ordered certified copies of our marriage certificate and our birth certificates
- Ben asked his HR department for a letter of employment. Katie wrote her letter of voluntary non-employment.
- printed off last year's tax return
- filled out the financial statements as well as the monthly expense worksheet
- printed off the reference forms, and gave them to our references along with a pre-addressed, stamped envelope
- asked 3 wonderful people to write us a letter of recommendation for the dossier
- sent my parents the guardianship form to fill out
- signed and mailed the duty of candor form and the international adoption disclaimer form
- made appointments for medical exams for Katie and Ben. The boys had their check-ups yesterday, so we already have their health forms.
- did our Washington State Patrol criminal background checks.
- filled out the forms for the DHS background check
- Katie finished the online training, and Ben is almost done.
- drafted the formal letter for the dossier in which we ask the Ethiopian Ministry of Women's Children's and Youth affairs to allow us to adopt an infant girl.

Have I mentioned that we've been busy??!!!

We still need to make color copies of our passports and proof of health insurance, and we are still waiting to get our proof of life insurance, as well as birth certificates, marriage certificates etc. in the mail. We also still need to have a whole bunch of the above forms notarized, but we'll do that all at once. At first glance, the mountain of paperwork seemed insurmountable, but really, it's all coming together well, and it all does make sense...

If you feel like peeking over at my art blog, I also painted a fun little set of three paintings titled "hair time."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hague online adoption course

We just got a note from AWAA telling us that they have received and processed our contract and first payment of the program fee. We should hear from the social worker who will do our home study as well as the family coordinator who will help us compile our dossier in the next week or so.

Ben and I get to complete an 8 hour online class about adoption. I completed the course yesterday, and was pleasantly surprised at how useful the info was (originally I kind of thought that it was "just another hoop" to jump through). The first few lessons were mainly about the process of adoption, which had nothing in it that I didn't already know. I think it will be useful for Ben to get more of an insight about the cogs and wheels of the process though, I even saw him taking notes.
The final lessons had a lot of info about the mental and physical health of children that have been institutionalized, and how to recognize and help with problems. There was good information on helping your child bond and adjust. There were some great articles on raising a child that is of a different race than her parents. I thought the articles and videos presented a well-balanced viewpoint. The only downside was that a lot of the reading about mental and physical health was specific to adoptees coming from Easter Europe and Russia.
There are actually some very good articles about mental and physical health of adoptees from Ethiopia, e.g.
Matern Child Health J. 2008 Sep;12(5):599-605. Epub 2007 Aug 22.
Health of children adopted from Ethiopia.
Miller LC, Tseng B, Tirella LG, Chan W, Feig E.

The "paper chase" portion of adoption is tedious for sure, but thankfully I'm one of those weird people who enjoys filling out forms.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

...learning how to "do" curly hair...

Today my friend Kia came over for a play date and to let me practice/play with her daughter M's beautiful hair. Thank you so much for your advice and encouragement!

Here is what her hair looked like afterwards. I did 6 french braids in the front, and 4 regular braids in the back. We then put all the braids in a pony tail. In retrospect I should have started on top, and also done smaller sections in the back. For it being the first time I braided curly curly hair, I think it turned out pretty well. I was going to do the corn-row kind of braid where the braid is visible on top. Unfortunately my fingers just couldn't quite do it yet, so I opted for a few french braids instead, until my fingers get a bit more nimble.

My take-home lessons:
-use LOTS of moisturizer/detangler
-detangle/moisturize in sections, and start at the tips
-get a rat-tailed comb to do parts (I used a regular detangling comb, and in addition was a little afraid of hurting sweet M, so the parts I made weren't as perfect as I would have liked to make them)
-make smaller sections. In the end it will look neater, and will be easier to keep untangled
-braid as tightly as you possibly can!
-I will need to grow out at least one fingernail on each hand just a little to make corn-rowing easier
-Being able to finish off a braid without a rubberband, just by twirling the curl, is TOTALLY AWESOME!
-plan for time. M did an awesome job being patient with me for the 2 hrs it took me. She watched a movie, had some snack, and read. Good girl!

I know it will probably be 1-2 years before we even bring our daughter home... but I like to be prepared! I want "hair time" to be special, and I think I am going to have a lot of fun doing our daughter's hair. I want to get good at it, because I want her to feel good about her beautiful naturally curly hair.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Adoption agreement and first installment of the agency fee = mailed

We signed a bunch of contracts last night, including the adoption agreement for AWAA, and mailed it along with our first installment of the agency fee.

Now we need to complete the online Hague adoption orientation course, and wait to be contacted by the social worker who will do our home study.

Good-ish news concerning possible changes or slowdowns to the Ethiopian adoption process - Our adoption agency has posted the following update on their blog:
"America World has received confirmation of significant personnel changes within MOWA. These changes have resulted in overall staff turnover and changes within the adoption unit. The unit is now called the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA). We are hopeful that the new leadership will not only support processing an adequate number of favorable recommendation letters, but also continue to implement policies that will best serve the children of Ethiopia. (...) We have continued to receive optimistic feedback and have seen how the Ethiopian government is very committed to adoption."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pink clothes explosion!!!

Thanks to my friend Audrey we have a TON of girl clothes size newborn - 3T for our daughter! She gave them to us a while ago, and today I got motivated to unpack them all, sort them by size, and pack them into labelled rubbermaid bins. I have to say, we are going to have one stylish little Miss.

When Ben came home to THIS his first reaction was "Help! It's a pink explosion!" :o) I'm going to keep some of the boys' clothes as play clothes for our little girl...

Hmmmm. Our daughter isn't even born, and she already has too many shoes...

With the Home Study in mind, I bought a fire extinguisher and a lock box to keep the ammunition and firing pins for our weapons in today. We should have gotten those items before, anyway... *cough*

Monday, March 14, 2011

We are officially "paper pregnant"...

We just got a call from AWAA congratulating us to being officially accepted into their Ethiopia program! I didn't really have any doubts about whether we would be accepted, but it still feels wonderful to know we are one step closer to bringing our darling daughter home.

With the current changes being made by MOWA (Ethiopian Ministry of Women's and Children's Affairs), there is the possibility that the wait time will be longer, so we were given the option to put our application on hold or switch to a different program. I feel confident that Ethiopia is the right path, so we decided to stick with it, and move forward.

As soon as I've gone to the store to buy new printer cartridges, we will print off the initial stack of forms to fill out and sign, take our adoption orientation classes, and pay our first installment of the program fee. We also get to start our home study!

~Today my prayers are for wisdom for the Ethiopian politicians, bureaucrats, and judges who are implementing new rules, laws and procedures for international adoption. I pray that the children's best interest is represented, whether this means programs that make it possible for them to return to their birth families, or them being released for international adoption. Either way, I am praying for orphaned children to be united with their life-long families SOONER rather than LATER.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

One step closer

Today we sent in our official application and application processing fee to AWAA!!!

We were going to wait until April 1, but with the rumors of possible policy changes in ET we wanted to get the ball rolling sooner rather than later.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

...why Ethiopia?

Good question! :o)

We've known that we want to adopt for a long time. Because my Grandma was born in India, and I was there as a little girl, we used to think for sure we would adopt from India some day. However, right now India is not accepting any new adoption applications, and we really feel like God wants us to adopt a daughter NOW. In addition, we don't want our kids to be too far apart in age, and who knows how soon India may or may not change its policies.

I don't at all feel like Ethiopia is a "second choice" after India. I think our focus originally was on India was because I had been there as a child, so it felt semi familiar. Really, the important part is the wish God has grown in our hearts to bring a little one into our family from afar.

We've prayed a lot, and researched a lot. We looked at domestic adoption thoroughly, but it just didn't feel right for us right now.
We decided to stick with the plan of international adoption. We looked at different agencies, and 3 of my friends have had a really good experience with AWAA. We also feel like their values and goals are in line with our own beliefs. We looked at the different country programs that AWAA offers, and Ethiopia seems to fit our family best: the process takes 18-24 months to bring home an infant girl (China's wait time is 4 years!), and it is possible to adopt very young infants (starting at 1 month, so as young as 4-5 months at home-coming), which is a lot younger than in many other countries.

The more I read about Ethiopia the more my heart aches and I feel myself falling in love with the country from afar. There is a huge need there, with an estimated 4.3 million orphans.

In spite of the dire need in Ethiopia, infants and children are treated well: both from what I've read in books and on the internet, and heard from friends who adopted from Ethiopia, the babies in the orphanages receive good health care, are loved on a whole lot by the nannies, and are all screened for HIV, Hepatitis, and some other common diseases.

Also, one reason we decided to adopt from Ethiopia is that some friends here in town adopted from there, so our little girl will grow up seeing other families that look like hers (white parents with light and dark skinned kids).

~This evening my prayers are for our daughter's birth mother. Right now, our daughter has probably not even been conceived. Who knows the hard path that still lies ahead, both for the birth mother and our little girl. May God be with both of them. May God give comfort, strength, and courage.

Thursday, March 3, 2011, in case you didn't know, we are going to adopt a daughter!

Welcome to our adoption blog.

Ben and I have known pretty much from the very beginning of our relationship that we would grow our family through birth and through adoption. Now that little Sean is 6 months old, we have prayerfully decided that we will begin the paper chase in early April.

Mark has known for years that some day we would adopt a little sister for him. We have raised him in the knowledge that some babies grow in my belly, and some grow in my heart. I have even heard him explain this to his friends.

What we know so far:
~We have chosen AWAA (America World Adoption) to be our agency.
~We will bring our daughter home from Ethiopia approximately 18-24 months from the time we hand in our application.
~We are requesting an infant girl under 1 year of age.

Next steps:
~hand in our application to AWAA
~pay the initial application fee
~start our home study
~pay many more fees!
~once we pass the home study, we begin compiling our dossier, which consists of the documents necessary to adopt from Ethiopia

What I have been doing so far:
~Going over our budget.
~Filling out the application forms.
~Researching international adoption and Ethiopia online.
~Reading books about adoption and Ethiopia.
~Lying awake at night praying and dreaming about our little daughter-to-be.