Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered!

Happy Thanksgiving Eve to you! Peter and I sent ALL of our final documents to our adoption agency (aka, the dossier), completely notarized, certified, and bonafied today. We also received our fingerprint appointment from the Department of Homeland Security and will be doing that on December 6th in Hartford, Conn. Now, unless they find any errors in our paperwork, we ARE DONE with everything that can be done. And we will begin the waiting period for a referral. Yea!! We celebrated by going out to some hoity-toity French restaurant this evening.

Tomorrow I'm making apple pie for friends, but otherwise hanging out quietly. Peter is working the holiday and this coming weekend, though he is off on Friday. We picked out our tree on Sunday and it is awaiting my careful adornment, so perhaps I'll conquer that tomorrow. Last year Peter put the tree up by himself because I was in Germany, so I'm looking forward to it this year.

One exciting bit of news is that our congressman gave us tickets to Barack Obama's inauguration in January! We are really excited to go, and have booked a trip from Jan 17-21. We'll be in DC for Martin Luther King Day and the next day for the inauguration. We couldn't believe we got tickets, although I did write our congressman for them on election night.

We have many things and many people to be thankful for this year. We are especially thankful to our very caring friends who have written us endless letters of evaluation for our adoption (that'd be you Sanjiv, Jen, Eric, and Suzi, thanks!!!!) We're also thankful for the support from other friends and family. I don't imagine we'll have our child home yet next Thanksgiving, but hopefully not too long after that.

Love and blessings to you all.....

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Why Ethiopia?

So a number of friends have asked me, "why Ethiopia?" when I tell them about our adoption journey. This is an easy question to answer, as Peter and I have many reasons for choosing Ethiopia. One reason is because we have had a long standing interest in the country, its people, history, culture, cuisine, and art. Starting with our years at Augsburg College where Peter, in particular, had several friends who were from Ethiopia, to his work with Ethiopian refugees in Minneapolis, to our enjoyment of Ethiopian culture and cuisine in the Twin Cities area (did any of you know that the Twin Cities hosts the second largest Ethiopian immigrant population in the US?), to the friends we've had from Ethiopia in Philadelphia and even Rostock, we've long had connections with the country and are committed to maintaining our future child's connections to his/her ethnic origins.

Another reason we chose Ethiopia is because of the possibility of maintaining connections to our child's birth family and relatives. It is common for those of us adopting from Ethiopia to meet birth family relatives while in Ethiopia to pick up our child. Compared with children needing adoptive families from other countries, children placed for adoption in Ethiopia are more commonly orphans due to parental death from childbirth (women's lifetime risk of dying in childbirth is 1 in 14), from the AIDS epidemic, or from simpler things like diarhea and malnutrition. While extended family members or the surviving parent typically try to care for children as long as possible, increasingly children are placed in Kebeles, or community orphanages, when the family no longer has the resources to provide care. Ethiopians treasure their children and often wish to maintain connections with children even after placing them in Kebeles for adoption. Thus, it is very common for families to request meetings with adoptive parents whenever possible. We think the high potential of maintaining these ties is wonderful and important for the healthy development of our future son/daughter. Most international adoptions do not allow for these connections, and this led us to favor Ethiopia.

Another set of reasons for choosing Ethiopia have to do with our adoption agency, Wide Horizons for Children (WHFC). Our agency maintains its own private orphanage in Addis Ababa where children receive excellent care and our agency works hard to place children who are less likely to be adopted due to their age or health issues. More importantly, our agency has extensive humanitarian projects in multiple regions of Ethiopia to work to improve the lives of children and families and their communities. They are involved in public health projects, water supply/irrigation projects, school building/education projects, and more. It is important to us that our agency channels monies that we contribute (and that they raise through charity programs) to impact Ethiopia in a positive way. We believe that in a better world, Ethiopians would not need to place their children with foreign families, but would have the resources to adopt children within country. We aren't living in that world yet, but through strong humanitarian efforts (and different American foreign policies), we can work for that world. Thus, the fact that our agency is in line with our values in their work in Ethiopia contributed to our choosing them and Ethiopia as our pathway to building our family.

Children from Ethiopia, like children everywhere, are simply beautiful. The children in orphanages deserve families to love and nuture them, and Peter and I want to raise a child. Some day in the future the stars will align (and the bureaucracies of two countries will agree) and a child from Ethiopia will find her/his new home with us. And we will gladly embrace that child and Ethiopia as a forever part of our family.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Patience has never been my virtue...

Hi all! It's just soooo slllooooowwww..... I told Peter this weekend about how difficult it is for me to wait for bureaucracies to go through the motions and feel so powerless to do anything about it. He chuckled when I said I actually have pain inside me from feeling so impatient.

So our home study is done and we are praying they send it, our I600A application, and money to the Department of Homeland Security tomorrow so that we can get approval to seek to adopt a foreign child. We are virtually done with the dossier of papers that will be sent to Ethiopia after we get US approval. Our little Williamsburg police department has been amazingly helpful in writing up clearances for us, contrary to the experiences of our friends who live in other small towns nearby. Yesterday Peter photographed our house while I prepared our financial statement for the dossier. Ugh, I didn't realize how bad our retirement funds got hit this year. My personal rate of return on my 403b was -41% this year (yeah, that's a negative sign). I can't think about that now, I'll think about that tomorrow...

To celebrate his 40th birthday, Peter wanted to get road bicycles to encourage our ever increasing riding habits. We've been doing long-distance rides on his mountain bike and my commuter bike, and apparently having lean and sleek road bikes will be more fun (he tells me). We both got used bikes...he got a Pinarello Galileo at the local bike shop and I got a Trek Madone 5.2 via eBay. Peter rode his new bike in the basement for an hour last night (on a windtrainer) and mine is being assembled at the bike shop this week. Now if we could only find out where all those Tour de France guys get their performance enhancing drugs... :-) (Just kidding Dept. of Homeland Security!)

By the way, here is a picture from Peter's party....