Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

We had a lovely day:

  • Sleeping-in
  • An awesome brunch at our friend A-M's
  • A few hours to relax at home
  • Working a performance
  • A fantastic New Years Eve party at our friend's V and A's apartment (with a partial view of Times Square:-)

At midnight Ababa and I looked at each other.  We realized this might be our last New Years as a family of two....We are so grateful for all of the wonderful times in 2010, but we can't wait to see what 2011 holds!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Reading List

Several of you have been asking me about our favorite adoption-related books from this year...

Here's our list of favorites (it's really just the top of the iceberg--we also have books on parenting...child development...more kids adoption family books...transracial and transcultural families...general kids books...books to aid toddler ESL...the list is endless...I truly should have bought stock in Amazon and this year:-).

I think my New Year's blogging resolution will be to post reviews of each book by the end of 2011.

For now, here's our list of faves:

1.  Parenting Your Internationally Adoption Child by Patty Cogen

2. The Connected Child by Karen Purvis

3. There is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene

4. Toddler Adoption: The Weaver's Craft by Mary Hopkins-Best

5. Telling the Truth to Your Adopted or Foster Child by Betsy Keefer and Jane Schooler

6. 20 Things Adopted Kids Wished Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge

7. Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches by Russell D. Moore (this is a great book about adoption, but I disagree with his approach to his children's birth culture and history.  Adoption here on earth is different than spiritual adoption in that very significant way...children's first families, first cultures, and history MATTER!)

8. A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza (kids book)

9. Horace by Holly Keller (kids book)

10. Rosie's Family: An Adoption Story by Lori Rosove (kids book)

Additionally, if you are looking for some interesting reading on Ethiopia here are our current faves:

1. Held at a Distance: A ReDiscovery of Ethiopia by Rebecca Haile

2. There is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene

3. E is for Ethiopia

4. Cutting for Stone (a novel)

5. Ethiopian Voices: Tsion's Life by Stacy Bellward (see Tsion in action in the videos below)

I am currently reading:

1. Dead Aid: Why Aid is not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa

2. Human Rights Watch: Development Without Freedom, How Aid Underwrites Repression in Ethiopia

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Big Decisions

Hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to a Happy and Healthy New Year.

We had a wonderful weekend with family, though I think butter became a new food group! Pilates is first on my agenda for this evening!!!

We are still working through our grief over the Aang situation.  Our hearts are sore and we are troubled by the way our agency handled things; however, we are also considering some big, exciting, and momentus decisions.  It is definitely a confusing but interesting time at our house and we may be ending 2010 with a bang...we'll see.

We'll post an update in the next few days once we've arrived at a decision, so stay tuned...

On The PaperChase front, our social worker emailed us that she sent a first draft of our homestudy to our homestudy agency last Wednesday!  I think that they are closed this week, but at least we are moving forward:-)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

12 Days of Christmas (Cliff notes version)

Between everything with Aang and work being crazy, the 12 Days of Christmas kind of fell apart...we'll try again next year.

In the meantime, here are my top three faves that we planned to highlight (P.S. some of you may be getting one of these for Christmas...:-)

Sponsor a child at Faya Orphanage through the Vulnerable Children Society

Help build a well through Charity: water

Provide food and a livelyhood for a family (or a village) through Heifer International

On our end, not much to report...waiting for our homestudy, everything else is done!

We have the form I-600 ready to submit, but our agency won't let us do that until we have our notarized homestudy so...we are waiting for what...yep, our homestudy...

We're hoping for a Christmas miracle to get our homestudy (or at least a draft of it) this week.

Many families have been getting their I-600A processed very quickly recently, so we are hoping that ours will also go quickly as soon as we submit it...

We're still waiting and praying to see how things with Aang work out.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Update #7

Well, after the angst of last week (ETA no pun intended, really!) we are now back to our regular scheduled programming!

Friday Update:

  • Our dossier documents are all done, notarized, certified, and ready to go as soon as our homestudy is written.
  • My PA clearance arrived today! Hopefully this time we'll be all set.
  • We're waiting to hear from our homestudy agency about how the draft of our homestudy is going.  Hopefully they'll send our placement agency a copy to review before Christmas, but I'm not holding my breath.
We're continuing to pray for Aang and are holding out hope that perhaps we'll still get to be his parents, but we know that is a slim thread of hope...

There were several infant referrals at our agency in the past two days, so hopefully that trend will continue and maybe the family that is considering Aang will decide to go in a different direction in terms of his adoption.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Crazyland Roller Coaster

The past week has been, well, a crazy rollercoaster.

We are still processing everything that happened and honestly, are not yet ready to write about the emotional side of this yet, it is too raw.  Also, it is still unfolding, so we want to see how everything ends up.

In a nutshell, here are the facts:

  • Monday we inquired about a waiting boy on our agency's site (we'll call him "Aang" on the blog b/c Ababa thought one of his photos resembled Aang from the cartoon 'Avatar: The Last Airbender')
  • Aang was listed as special needs, and after much thought and conversation we decided that we we would be completely fine adopting him with his special need and began seriously praying about adopting him.
  • Tuesday afternoon we were surprised to find out from our agency that in fact Aang wasn't special needs.
  • Wednesday we let our agency know that we were very interested in adopting Aang, they told us there was one other family considering adopting Aang, that they were at the same stage of the "paper" process as us, and that it was only fair that we both knew about each other as it might impact one of our decisions to adopt. They said that no other families were interested in adopting Aang and that no one currently waiting for a toddler boy was approved for a child over 36 months.
  • We prayed and prayed and prayed and did a lot of soul searching to determine if Aang could truly be our son.
  • Thursday morning at 6 am our agency's time we contacted them to say we definitely wanted to adopt Aang (we just couldn't contain our excitement and joy!)
  • Thursday morning at 9 am their time we made contact with our agency and they said a "paper ready" family had asked to review Aang's file Wednesday afternoon; they got precedence b/c they could possibly bring Aang home faster; and that they had 48 hours to decide if they wanted to adopt him, then if no other paper ready family had decided to move forward with Aang we could move forward.
  • We sat by the phone for 48 hours and waited and prayed, and prayed and waited, with our hearts in our throats.
  • Friday afternoon when we still had not yet heard anything I called and we learned that the paper ready family had requested additional medical testing for Aang which would take several weeks or more.
  • We are heartbroken, tired, frustrated, disillusioned, and worried for Aang.
  • With all our hearts we want to be Aang's parents but it looks like that is a pretty slim chance at this point.
  • We are trusting God and praying that he brings Aang into the best family for him, a family who wants HIM and loves HIM--a special toddler boy with a complex background who may have special medical needs.
We do want to be his parents...but we want what's best for HIM...we are hoping and praying that our agency makes a wise decision that will place him with the right forever family for HIM.  (We understand completely that that may or may not be us and are praying to be able to accept God's will, whatever the outcome may be.)

As for our paperwork:

  • Ababa is taking two documents to be certified this week
  • We are waiting for my re-done PA child abuse clearance (should arrive any day now...)
  • We are waiting for the final written copy of our homestudy (should be done by Christmas, definitely by New Years)...
That's it! Then our dossier and homestudy will be done!

After that we file the I-600A, get fingerprinted yet again, and wait to get our I-171H from the government and then we are finally paper ready!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

On the Second Day of Christmas...


On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me...two little dolls, and an ornament from etsy.

This mama makes ethiopian adoption dolls as well as dolls from a variety of international adoption countries.  Proceeds help kids in need and orphans.  Right now they are especially funding family-style homes for abandoned children with special needs in India in partnership with Sarah's covenant homes.

***For those of you, especially our family, who are wondering what we want for Christmas, the answer is we really don't need or want anything except funds and prayer for our adoption:-)  We're thrilled to be so close to having our dossier and homestudy done and accepted, but it also means we'll need to pay $3000: for the second half of our agency fee, the fee for our agency to authenticate our dossier, and the fee to review our homestudy. They are due as soon as our homestudy is done. once we get through this, the next payment we'll make is to accept the referral of our child/children!!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

On the First Day of Christmas...

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to ornament from Etsy.

This family (Jenkins Adoption) is selling ornaments to help fund their Ethiopian adoption.  The ornaments are really pretty and unique! They have tons of patterns, and you can request custom work too...We may or may not be giving some of these for Christmas presents:-) You can purchase on their blog or through their etsy shop.

***For those of you, especially our family, who are wondering what we want for Christmas, the answer is we really don't need or want anything except funds and prayer for our adoption:-)  We're thrilled to be so close to having our dossier and homestudy done and accepted, but it also means we'll need to pay $3000: for the second half of our agency fee, the fee for our agency to authenticate our dossier, and the fee to review our homestudy. They are due as soon as our homestudy is done. once we get through this, the next payment we'll make is to accept the referral of our child/children!!!


We just had our in-person meeting for our homestudy...YAY!!!

It wasn't so bad really:-)  Lots of questions about our marriage, parenting style, family backgrounds, etc. Pretty much all the questions we already answered on the different forms for our agency.

She said it will take her 1-2 weeks to write it and it may take up to a month to have the finished notarized copy b/c our homestudy agency closes for the, here's hoping that our PA clearance comes through fast and that we get our notarized homestudy before our agency closes for Christmas.  If not, we're looking at mid-January before we'll be on the waitlist.

Either way, at least it is forward progress!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Update #6

We're in the holiday craziness already, between work, school, and getting ready for Christmas (we have 3! Christmas parties in 1 day next week:-) things are pretty busy.  But here's our current update...

List for this week/update on last week:
  • Our sworn statements of no criminal history are done
  • Ababa's chest x-ray is done and he's seeing the Dr. Thursday provided the notary can make it:-)
  • All reference letters are done!
  • All our required training is done--we did 4 hours of training on USCIS issues, 2 hours on discipline for the adopted child, 2 hours on Attachment, and 2 hours on Grief (plus, since we're nerds, we're doing three other sessions-1 on toddler/preschool transitions to a new home, 1 on navigating the adoption tax credit, and 1 on facilitating lifelong conversations with your child).  We've also read a ton of books for children and adults about adoption, Ethiopia, transition, and parenting children with complex backgrounds--we'll post a "reading list" of our favorites later this month.
  • Ababa's passport arrived today
  • My PA clearance was re-submitted (grrr...)
  • My MA clearance was re-submitted (grrr...)

Hopefully my PA clearance will come soon b/c other than that we should be done with everything else by the end of this week!

Thanks to a big sale on Melissa and Doug toys, we may or may not have gone Christmas shopping for our future child/children and now have a shipment of puzzles, blocks, soft dolls, and cars/trucks on their way:-)

We're also very excited to share with you The 12 Days of Christmas (starting Monday) to give you some awesome Christmas shopping ideas that will help children in Ethiopia and/or adoptive families!

Oh, and P.S. Ababa got into school for the spring semester, so although he will probably have to fight to get registered for the classes his least he's in!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bureaucracy and other things...

Wanted to post the details of yesterday now that I am more awake:-)

The PA form, that my homestudy agency twice gave me incorrect directions for, is a giant pain in the you know what!!!  It includes every address where I have ever lived (going back to 1975, three years before I was born!) and EVERY PERSON I HAVE EVER LIVED WITH ANYWHERE.

Um yeah...I lived with my family, then a variety of roommates in college, then a whole lot of roommates after college (in three different states) and then now I live with my husband.  Oh, and the PA form wants the names--first, middle, and last, as well as their exact age.

Right...I didn't know my roommates middle names and ages when I lived with them, 10 years ago! Why on earth would I know them now, plus I have no contact information for them...I don't even remember one of my roomates LAST names:-(

So, my amended form has first and last and approximate ages for all of roommates except for 1.  I have no idea regarding her middle or last name, my other roommate from that time has no idea either, and after two straight days of cyber stalking I have found nothing...nada...not one thing.  So yep, my revised PA form includes the line item "Ashley, Last Name-???, approximate age 39" with a footnote about how this is the last paper we need for our adoption and how I have no way of finding her to discover her exact age or middle and last names.  Please pray that they will accept my form (it has pretty much complete info for my other 20 or so roommates...)

According to our homestudy agency the MA form was re-faxed today.  I am calling Monday to verify that it is all set, and I'll continue to call every three days until it's done!

I'll save the rest of the updates for tomorrow's Friday update.

Also, on Monday, stay tuned for "The 12 Days of Christmas" 12 unique ideas for awesome Christmas gifts that will benefit children in Ethiopia and families who are adopting:-)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


This is me right now!

We were so happy to be just about done with our homestudy and dossier and then I find this out today...
1. The PA child abuse clearance (the one I specifically asked my agency how I should fill out) was completed wrong and will need to be re-done and re-submitted (this will take at least 2-4 weeks)
2. My MA clearance has not yet arrived

Here's the thing....I specifically asked my agency how to complete the PA form and they gave me the wrong information.  I called again today to clarify and they gave me different wrong information.  I finally just said, hmmm, I wonder if I can get someone in the PA office to explain this to me.  They agency is wrong wrong wrong.

As for MA all clearances through yesterday afternoon have been processed and sent out.  Since our forms were sent in in late October it should have been done long, long, long ago.

This mama is not happy.

More updates tomorrow (I just got back from a work event and am beat) but I am definitely not happy.

On the bright side, our escrow check finally arrived today (3 weeks later than they said it would!)...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Quick update

1 Police Plaza seemed to go just fine this morning, as long as they follow our directions and remember the "live signature" part we should have our letters on December 7th...and...drumroll please...we have our in-person homestudy scheduled!!!!! for December 6th!!!!!! So, if Ababa's passport and medical are taken care of by then, I think we might make our goal of Dossier in Ethiopia by Christmas!!!!! (The big variable in that is the NYS approval of our homestudy, but I am choosing to be happy and not think about that today:-)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Showers of Blessings

Wow, just wow! This whole adoption process is full of things we can't control and are challenging to deal with.  Since Friday, we've had several more big breakthroughs.  I'm sure that in time the other shoe will fall and we'll be stuck waiting for something crucial again (ahem, possibly our home study:-) but for now, we are enjoying being so grateful for the shower of blessing we just experienced!

Sunday we had two friends offer to help with our travel expenses--one friend offered financial assistance and the other (an on-again/off-again flight attendant at the mercy of the fickle airline industry) offered buddy passes provided they are working then. Wow! We are just speechless and so grateful!!!

Speaking of friends, we got two of our three reference letters (actually 5 of 6 b/c we are just waiting for 1 home study letter) best....self....esteem....boost....ever! I think every year from now on I am going to ask my friends to write a reference letter for me:-) Seriously, it's pretty incredible that we have such awesome friends and that they think (or at least write:-) such amazing things about us:-)

This morning, our homestudy agency emailed me back:-)!!!!!  It seems two things converged to slow up our case-1. they misunderstood some language in our placement agency's agreement and 2. someone was out of the office for almost a week but didn't have their "out of office" on...I am pretty sure now that things are moving forward and everyone is clear that this is a priority for us to get done and sent to Washington before Christmas if at all possible.  We still haven't heard from our social worker, but the Executive Director said the social worker should be in touch tomorrow and gave us her email--so if necessary we can start e-stalking:-)

Then tonight both my passport and Ababa's 2007 tax return arrived in the mail:-) (Plus some awesome Ethiopian-themed Christmas presents for family and friends:-)

AND, when I opened my email I found out that our placement agency is now going to be working with two more orphanages (both of which have been vetted by the Ethiopian government and our agency). So, they are expecting referrals will pick up!!!  As important as it feels to us to know that we may become parents sooner, it's really fantastic b/c it means more kids who are in need of families will get them! YAY!!!

So...if our escrow check and Ababa's passport arrive this week and if we can set up our in-person meeting with our social worker before Thursday, we will be truly be filled and overflowing with Thanksgiving!!! (I mean we will be anyway, but really, how amazing would that be:-)

Tomorrow morning we are trucking down to 1 Police Plaza to get our "Good Conduct Certificates with Live Signature" sounds exciting, right?  They'll take 10 business days to process, so we want to get that moving ASAP.  Ababa is still working on his chest x-ray/medical report, it's looking like this will happen the first week of December.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Update #5

Friday Update #5, some good...some bad...some...just bureaucracy....I think...

We got a huge chunk of papers done this week and only have a few left that require more effort than just going to the notary BUT we're now getting really concerned about the fact that we have not yet gotten to speak to our social worker directly to discuss or schedule our in-person meeting.  Our placement agency is also getting concerned with the delay.  I left a message and sent an email today to the home study agency to request a phone call ASAP to discuss the delay and the best path forward, but I have not heard anything back yet (I also called several times throughout the day and no one picked up.  Usually they are really prompt, so I am hoping that they are at a conference today or something, but I am definitely getting nervous about this! :-(

On to brighter news, here's the updates on last week's list:
  • Get the third reference letter for the dossier notarized-I believe all dossier letters are now notarized and should be in our possession by Sunday! We are waiting on 1 homestudy reference letter (yes Pastor R, this means you:-)
  • Organize all paperwork to see what else needs to be done/printed and notarized-DONE:-)
  • My PA child abuse clearance arrived today (yay!) I need to forward it unopened to our home study agency for them to review, also mail them our home study reference letters-SENDING ON MONDAY PROVIDED THEY CALL ME BACK
  • Get that darn criminal clearance notarized paper at our local precinct-Um yeah, turns out we're going to have to take a notary with us to 1 POLICE PLAZA, WHAT?!?!?!?! 
  • (M'kay for those of you not in NYC, here's  1 Police Plaza, looks like a barrel of laughs and a paragon of efficiency, right?!?!?)-
  • Mail our last non-notarized home study form (if possible, I think we have to wait so that the financial information matches our dossier financial information which includes the bank letters)-SENDING IN THE PACKAGE ON MONDAY PROVIDED THEY CALL ME BACK!
  • Figure out if Ababa's unemployment letter will work for our dossier-PRETTY SURE IT WILL:-)
  • Continue to push for our in-person homestudy meeting-APPARENTLY WE NEED TO PUSH HARDER!
  • Ababa has to get his medical forms done tomorrow-STILL WORKING ON THIS
  • Follow-up/track:
    • Passport applications-IN PROCESS, they cashed my check.  Ababa's isn't in the online system yet, but we did expedited for his, so it should be here around the same time as mine :-)
    • bank letters-DONE:-)!!!!!!! YAY!!!!
    • notarized employment letter-Pretty sure this is all set, if not then Ababa can get it quickly
    • BONUS-We also started our mandatory training:-) Cultural Sensitivity training-DONE:-)
List for this week:
  • PUSH FOR IN-PERSON HOMESTUDY!!! This will entail a 3-5 hour interview at our house, the social worker writing the homestudy, our placement agency editing the draft, the social worker making edits, and then...the final version gets sent to NY State for approval which can take a few weeks...see why we're getting concerned?!?!?!?!?!?!
  • Confirm Ababa's unemployment letter is all set
  • Re-do our sworn statements of no criminal activity b/c we each need one, not one together like we did.
  • Get Ababa's medicals done!  It's tricky coordinating the chest xray, Dr's schedule, and notary...
  • Get letters from references and mail as part of package to home study agency (provided they call me back on Monday and everything is kosher!)
  • Do the USIC training (4 hours) and 6 hours of additional training, we need to hear from our home study social worker if NYS has any requirements about what we should do...are you seeing a theme here? :-(
  • Other than that, we wait for our last clearances and passport to come in and get ready for Thanksgiving:-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another great break:-)

We got two bank letters today, so we now have all three!!!!!!!  Tomorrow we will check with our agency to make sure that they are all suitable, but they seem to meet the requirements.

Full update to come on Friday, but we're happy that we have made some big progress on The Paper Chase this week!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Finally, we caught a break:-)

Yay! I yesterday I emailed our homestudy agency all the extra papers they needed...and...we finally caught a break.  Today I found out that one of my coworkers is a notary and will notarize our paperwork for free and in a really convenient time and place (at work)!  Yay!

You'll get the official Friday update on Friday, but suffice it to say that we're moving forward, trucking through the paperwork.  Ababa still has to get his chest x-ray and his notarized medical form, and we are still working on the notarized form from the police precinct, but the rest of our notarized paperwork should be ready to go by Friday!

Pray that our passports, remaining clearances, and last bank letter arrive soon, b/c that's all we're waiting on (of course besides the in-person meeting with our social worker...sigh...hopefully we can schedule that soon):-)

Monday, November 15, 2010

More paper...

We just got an email from our home study agency that they need some other documents.  I am pretty sure we sent them in the very beginning of this process, so I just need to dig out our copies and scan/email or re-mail, but urgh! it's really not so fun.  We are determined to get through everything we possibly can before Thanksgiving, so here goes nothing...:-)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

TB tests

Yay! I got my PPD test checked today and...wait for it...yep, I definitely do not have TB:-) (Shocker I know:-)

I officially have my dossier and homestudy medical reports done, although I must say (and my Dr. agrees with me!) is a rectal exam truly necessary to determine if I am healthy enough to parent a child?!?!?! I thought the bonus of our "pregnancy" with this child was that it was all on paper and involved no invasive medical procedures....

Ababa's medical paperwork, um, yeah, not so much.  We both forgot that he had a positive PPD a few years ago when he was volunteering at the hospital and he had to take the pills and get a chest xray (he was likely just exposed as a child, but they had to be super sure since he was volunteering)...anyway, he can't have any more PPD tests now.  Apparently, once you have a positive PPD test and do the therapy you can only get chest xrays to determine your TB status.  So...he has to go to the hospital on Monday (they were only open until noon today and his Dr's appointment didn't get done until noon) and get a chest xray, then set-up another time to take the traveling notary to the Dr's office and get his paperwork done...Argh!  Hopefully we can get it all done this week, but his Dr might only be in the office on Monday and it takes a day to get the results of the chest xray...So, we'll slog through the rest of our list for the week and just try to get his medical paperwork done as soon as possible.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Update #4

Friday Update #4 (short b/c I have homework to plough through:-)

Progress on last week's list:

  • Continue working on the bank letters--it took several phone calls, but all have been requested, cross your fingers that these each arrive soon!
  • Have mtg with my CFO--Done.  We have the insurance info we need and as soon as I get the notary thing figured out she'll print and sign the employment letter.
  • Ababa now has to get a letter from the Unemployment office for our dossier which he then has to sign and notarize the same day it is issued...we have a letter we think will work. If not, then he'll go to the unemployment office.
  • Figure out how to get the notarized proof of no criminal activity form--Ababa is still working on this...
  • Submit our final two notarized homestudy forms and push to schedule the in person meeting--done and we're pushing:-)
  • Edit dossier documents--done
  • Have our Dr's appts and get the homestudy and dossier forms we need completed (and notarized in the case of the one for our dossier)--mine is done provided I pass my TB check tomorrow (the "bump" is still flat so I should be fine:-)
  • Saturday we'll hopefully be getting our reference letters from our references.  We need to figure out the best way to get their letters notarized--two are arriving this Sunday already notarized.  The third we are figuring out a time to get notarized this coming week.
  • Ababa has to re-send his passport application--Done

List for this week:
  • Get the third reference letter for the dossier notarized
  • Organize all paperwork to see what else needs to be done/printed and notarized
  • My PA child abuse clearance arrived today (yay!) I need to forward it unopened to our home study agency for them to review, also mail them our home study reference letters
  • Get that darn criminal clearance notarized paper at our local precinct
  • Mail our last non-notarized home study form (if possible, I think we have to wait so that the financial information matches our dossier financial information which includes the bank letters)
  • Figure out if Ababa's unemployment letter will work for our dossier
  • Continue to push for our in-person homestudy meeting
  • Ababa has to get his medical forms done tomorrow
  • Follow-up/track:
    • Passport applications
    • bank letters
    • notarized employment letter

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Life with Ababa:-)

Today was quite the day...

Ababa drove me to my Dr's appt this morning (yay, one notarized doctor letter down, one to go!)

He drove me back to work after my appointment and right after he dropped me off, while he was waiting to turn right, the person behind him decided to try and drive around him, shorted the turn, and tore off most of the front end of our car AND KEPT DRIVING.  Ababa got the driver's license plate and called 911.  The police took a full report and should have an accident report number for us tomorrow, so hopefully we'll be able to resolve this, but definitely not an ideal morning:-(

On a brighter note, here are some pics of our beautiful new glass tile backsplash 100% hand done by Ababa.  The tile is a mix of clear glass, textured glass, frosted glass, marble, and granite.  It's called Jeffrey Court Silver Tradition Mini Brick from Home Depot.  It's beautiful and Ababa did an amazing job!!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Update #3

Hey y'all, TGIF!!!!!!
So glad that it is Friday....and today was relatively calm at work so I was able to catch up on some work stuff that's been looming over my head.  Ababa's period of unemployment before stating school is well underway and it's resulting in us finishing our kitchen renovation that was started a year and a half ago:-) YAY!  He's doing the glass tile backsplash as I type this and next week we're hoping to make progress on the two big remaining items--fixing the floor in the corner (we need to find matching tile still though:-( and skim coating the wall! He certainly isn't bored:-)

As far as The Paper Chase, here's our update.

Progress on our list from last week:

  • I applied for my passport.  Ababa accidentally applied for a passport card, so he needs to reapply:-(
  • Still working on the bank letters.  These are definitely the biggest pain in the rear so far!
  • I emailed my CFO for a mtg next week
  • We're still working on the criminal clearance thing
  • Our homestudy stuff is pretty much all done except for our in-person interview and our Sworn Statement of Criminal History and our Duty to Fully Disclose Form (both will be notarized tomorrow) and our medical forms which will be completed this week at our Drs appointments.
  • BONUS--I typed drafts of our dossier documents!

Our list for this week (it's a doozy!):

  • Continue working on the bank letters
  • Have mtg with my CFO
  • Ababa now has to get a letter from the Unemployment office for our dossier which he then has to sign and notarize the same day it is issued...
  • Figure out how to get the notarized proof of no criminal activity form 
  • Submit our final two notarized homestudy forms and push to schedule the in person meeting
  • Edit dossier documents
  • Have our Dr's appts and get the homestudy and dossier forms we need completed (and notarized in the case of the one for our dossier)
  • Saturday we'll hopefully be getting our reference letters from our references.  We need to figure out the best way to get their letters notarized
  • Ababa has to re-send his passport application

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Money, money, money, money...(think the O-Jays:-)

"How much does adoption cost?"  and "How are you going to pay for it?"

We've heard these questions a lot in the past month, and we asked these questions a lot ourselves before we committed to starting the adoption process.

Adoption involves a lot of different people whose jobs are a necessary part of the process...attorneys, social workers, administrators, government workers, childcare providers, in-country workers (in the case of international adoption), etc.  Of course they all need to receive payment for their work; however, when all the financial costs are tallied it becomes a pretty big number.

One of the reasons we chose not to go with domestic infant adoption is that the fees are so high (often $30,000-$50,000+), and most of the money goes to whomever "finds" the baby (usually attorneys and/or the placing agency).  We weren't comfortable with the dollar amounts these individuals "made" on each adoption or with the profit-driven mindset that seemed to come across in conversations with several individuals.

Although the international process is certainly not perfect, the numbers make more sense to us.  Here's where our money will be going (all numbers are approximate and rounded for simplicity's sake):

1. Homestudy--$2000
2. Agency fee--$4500 (this fee underwrites our agency's administrative/operating costs)
3. Dossier Authentication and Home Study Review--$850
4. Fees to Ethiopia--$8000 (almost $5000 of this goes directly to humanitarian work in Ethiopia-which is required of all agencies adopting children from Ethiopia-and to supporting the orphanage, the rest supports our agency's administrative in-country work in Ethiopia and expenses for our child--medical, childcare, etc.)
5. Government paperwork, documents, and visa fees--$1,500
6. Travel to and from Ethiopia--$8,000 (we'll post more on this another day, but we either have to take two trips to Ethiopia or take one big trip and remain in-country for 5-12 weeks depending on our court date)

Grand Total for one child's adoption: $24,000

If we adopt more than one child then there is an additional fee of $8,000 (which is the same regardless of whether we adopt two or more children).

Grand Total for multiple children's adoption: $32,000

Money Tree

Gulp! That is a lot of cash! Since we don't have a money tree in our apartment, and we aren't gazillionaires (in fact we are a one income family now, with both of us in school), how are we going to pay for this?  Well for starters there's a hefty tax credit in 2011 that will refund about $13,000 of adoption expenses per child IF our adoption is finalized by the end of 2011. That would help a lot!

We've already paid the homestudy fee ($2,000), the first part of the agency fee ($2,300), and a chunk of paperwork fees ($500), a total of $4,800.  We will need to pay the balance of the agency fee ($2,200) as well as the dossier authentication and homestudy review fee ($850) in late Nov/early Dec if things go according to plan.  Depending on how we time our tuition payments we are pretty sure we can squeeze this out of our savings account.  After that, we're stepping forward in faith, our liquid assets will be pretty much tapped out so, at a minimum, we could have some cash flow issues.

We have investments that can be liquidated if absolutely necessary, and hopefully we'll get a decent tax return on our 2010 taxes, but we aren't totally sure where the funds will come from for the $8,000-$16,000 we'll need to pay for the Ethiopia fees when we accept the referral of our child/children, or how we will pay the $8,000 for travel to Ethiopia.  Since we don't know how long we'll be waiting for referral, we could need those funds in 3 months or in 2 years....we just don't know. It's nice to know that we have investments that could be sold if we get stuck, but we'd like to save those as our back-up plan for when we are actually raising children (since we hear there are lots of expenses--like childcare, braces, college--and since we both have a significant tuition/student loan bills looming in our immediate future).

Despite the fact that I'm a "professional fundraiser" (whatever that means:-)) we're not going to "fundraise" through this blog for our adoption.  I know, I know, here I go breaking all the cardinal rules of fundraising....:-)

If you feel led to help us out with adoption and travel costs we will gratefully and gladly accept any help that is offered, but at this point, we're not planning to put a paypal link on our blog or sell t-shirtscoffee, or ornaments.  We love the t-shirts, coffee, and ornaments (in fact I own a t-shirt and don't be surprised if you get coffee or ornaments for Christmas:-) but we don't feel right about actively fundraising through this blog for our adoption, particularly since we have investments we could liquidate if we absolutely had to and because we might be eligible for the generous 2011 tax credit.  On this blog, we will just be open and transparent about the financial costs associated with adoption and where we are in meeting them.  If you feel called to help us, THANK YOU!

If we are fortunate enough to be the recipient of financial gifts for this adoption, and if we receive all or part of that money back through the tax credit, rest assured we will only use the tax credit funds for costs associated with bringing our child/children home (car seats, cribs, strollers, necessary childcare...) or for humanitarian work in Ethiopia.  Our hope is that with tax refund funds we would be able to build a well in Ethiopia in honor of our child/children's birth mother through Charity: water and to provide funding for our child's orphanage in Ethiopia. So, if you do give us money and we do get the tax credit, your money could accomplish two amazing things--helping us through the adoption process AND providing aid in Ethiopia.

Whew, this ended up being a  Hopefully it helped to shed some light on the financial side of the adoption process and where we are in it. We are more than happy to discuss this in greater detail (we have itemized break-downs of all line items from our agency--yet another reason we are so comfortable with them) but this should give you a good starting framework:-)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Update #2 we are, somehow it is Friday again!  How did that happen?!?!?!?!?

I got my case study done last week (yay!) and have my midterm tomorrow (nay!).  We'll see how it goes, there is just something weird to my little liberal arts heart about "studying" marketing:-)

Here's our weekly update:

We've initiated the name change process on all my bank accounts, added Ababa to them, and requested the notarized bank letter for our dossier. It looks like we're going to have to print out all the statements from our checking account for the year, manually tally the amount deposited for the year, tell that to our bank, and get them to include that on their letter.  Really USAA?  You are so awesome in all other ways, why  are you our only bank that is not able to pull this data out of your system?!?!?!

Ababa's wallet arrived intact:-) He's now waiting for his NYS license (but he has a temporary license) and he applied for his passport.

We sent the notarized release for clearance form to our home study agency

We sent the briefing and info to our references and asked for their letters to be done by Nov. 14

Our list for this week:

  • Apply for my new passport (will do tomorrow)
  • Get all of our bank letters straightened out (including the manual statement stuff for USAA)
  • Schedule a meeting with my CFO (yep, that's right, no HR department at my job...) to get my notarized employment letter and notarized proof of insurance for adopted child/children
  • Figure out how to get the notarized proof of no criminal activity form (somehow we need to show up at our police precinct, bring our own notary, and get this done...yeah, that's going to be an interesting experience in NYC:-) Ababa went by our local precinct today and it was full of people getting booked...
  • make sure all homestudy paperwork is done and they have submitted all of our criminal and child abuse clearances
Please pray that our passports and criminal/child abuse clearances all go through quickly!  Everything else seems to be coming together to be done by November 15th.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Update #1

I think I am going to try to give an update of where we are in The Paper Chase each Friday (if nothing else it will give my procrastinating-self a deadline to get that week's stuff out:-)

This week was a little touch and go as I've been sick with a nasty sinus infection and Ababa has been figuring out his next steps following the lay-off. Also, his wallet was left at a Taco Bell en route back to NYC from Virginia last weekend, so we can't get forms notarized or apply for his passport until we have his license (we spoke to the manager 3 hours after we left Taco Bell--when we realized it was missing--and they are mailing it, it's just taking a while to get to NYC.  We're monitoring our bank account closely just in case:-)'s our first official Friday Update.

1. YAY! We got an email today saying our escrow release has been approved.  This is awesome as it means we can send the next big check to our homestudy agency and apply for our passports (first one ever for Ababa and first one with my new married name for me)
2. We are all set for our Drs appts in mid-Nov to get our homestudy and dossier forms signed and notarize--the appointments are made, our Dr takes our insurance, and we have a notary lined up to come to our appointments with us.
3. All of our criminal and child abuse clearances have been sent off and are in process, I sent the final one to PA today.  (We do need to get a form notarized ASAP and send it to our homestudy agency to   release the results of these clearances to them.)
4. We sent in the request for more notarized copies of our marriage certificate today

I have a big marketing case study assignment due at school tomorrow so this will be short, but goals to be done by next Friday (provided Ababa's wallet shows up) are:

1. Mail letters to our other two banks to change my name on the accounts and to request the notarized bank letter for our dossier.
2. Apply for our passports (Ababa's will have to wait until his license arrives)
3. Send notarized release for clearance form to our home study agency
4. Draft briefing for our references and give them the info to write our reference letters

*Sigh* This definitely makes my head hurt, but I know in the end it will all be worth it!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Weddings, lay-offs, and paperwork

We've had an interesting past few days....

My little brother got married this weekend (congrats to D&A!).  It was an awesome wedding and a great weekend with family.

We're still slogging through the paperwork for our adoption.  We need to make a trip to the notary, so that we can send in the latest round of paperwork, which is difficult given both of our demanding work schedules...but our schedules may have just become a little easier as Ababa was unfortunately laid off today.

Ababa knew that a large round of lay offs was happening at his company during October, but his boss thought Ababa's job was safe.  Well, at the last minute his whole division (except his boss who is very senior) was added to the list.  Obviously this is not ideal,  but it may be a blessing.  He was starting school part-time in the spring semester to prepare for his career transition into medicine and now he has more flexibility in terms of classes/schedule/school...and may even be able to go full-time. So, we'll see what the job market offers and what school situations seem best for our family.

We are still moving forward with the adoption (Ababa may even get to be a daytime stay-at-home dad/nighttime student for a while:-) but obviously this does change the financial picture for our a family.  Many thanks to those of you who have offered direct financial support, funding from tax returns in the spring, hosting yard sales, etc. over the past few weeks.  We would probably have taken you up on it either way, but we are definitely going to be taking you up on it now:-)  Thank you for your amazing generosity!  I'll post more details about the financial side of adoption later this week so that you have a full and transparent view of the costs and how that money is spent.

We knew adoption would be a big adventure.  It's shaping up to be an even greater adventure than we thought, but we know that we are so blessed in every way possible and believe that even if our financial situation is a little less flush that we have much to offer a child/children and that God has given us much to share--financially, spiritually, and emotionally.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Status Update: We both got fingerprinted today and we scheduled our physicals for early November.  Ababa's birth certificate arrived in a record 24 hours!  We got our money's worth out of that express service fee! I changed my name at Social Security and submitted or bank letter requests...but...I am sending in some additional paper work so that the letter will have my new full legal name b/c apparently foreign governments are even more picky about names matching than the U.S. government. We'll give another update on Friday but it's looking good to accomplish all our tasks for this week.

For fingerprinting we each went to different places near our work.  Gone are the days of ink fingerprinting, it's now all done via a scanner.  I took a cab to my appointment, but traffic was horrible.  I needed to get to 36 and 7th Avenue.  On the west side of 9th Avenue and 34th my cabbie decided he was off-duty and refused to go any further.  So I speed walked/jogged to the appointment.  Needless to say my usually sweaty palms were out of control and the technician and I were both uncertain if the scan would work...but it did!  Thanks to some persistent paper toweling:-) For some reason we'll have to get finger printed again after our I-600A form is filed.  That's called biometric fingerprinting. I'm not really sure how that's different than what we got done today, but our home study agency said for sure we'll have to get another set of prints done then.  I'll keep you posted:-)