Thursday, September 30, 2010

Where is Ethiopia Anyway?

If your geography is as sketchy as mine, you might need a refresher:-) We have to finish our autobiographies tonight so we can get our policy documents submitted this weekend. So, here's today's contribution...a mini geography lesson.

Ethiopia is a landlocked country (Eritrea, Djibuti, and Somalia keep it from having any ports.)  Ethiopia used to have an agreement with Eritrea to use the port city of Assab; however, the border disputes of the late 1990s and early 2000s ended those discussions and agreements.) 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Homestudy Agency and Current Wait Times

Today I think we narrowed our choice of home study agencies down to 2!!!  We are checking references and then should be able to make an informed decision. I actually really like the two "finalists".  They seem to have great feedback on-line and with the BBB, plus they are prompt and personable! Also, they are each about $1000 less than our third choice agency!  That is a major blessing.  So, we'll finish checking their references, but then we should be good to go!

Also, I just have to say how much we love our placement agency.  As we started our paperwork we had some more questions (such a surprise, I know:-).  We asked for full audited financials, a board list, 501(C)3 letter, updated statistics, and a host of other questions.  Our placement worker emailed us back immediately each time with awesome and transparent answers. This is very different than many other agencies and we really, really appreciate their transparency and efficiency.

The answer from above that is probably most interesting to you is the response to, "When do we come home with our child/children?":-)

Below are the current list of wait times. You are allowed to go on multiple lists and pretty much every family is on the infant girl list.  Our agency is working with about 60 families right now.  We will likely go on all lists, but specify a single toddler under 2 1/2 or a sibling group with all children under 4 (maybe 5...)

It will take about 3 months to get our paperwork done and then we'll be on the waiting list (remember to add another 3-4 months at the end of the process for court/embassy dates).

Based on these wait times (which have remained pretty constant over the summer) we will probably receive a referral for a toddler boy (2-2 1/2 years old) or a sibling group (sibling wait times are highly variable because families request so many different specifics, e.g. only twins, no twins, only girls, only boys, must have one infant, must have no infants, must have one girl, no child over 3 years old, only 2 children, only school aged get the picture:-) Our only specifications for a sibling group are that it is not more than 3 children and that all children are under 4 (or 5...we're a little flexible on that one:-)

So far this year, through our agency, about 60 children have come home from Ethiopia with their forever families.  As of this morning at our agency there are: 

·     36 families waiting for INFANT BOYS
·     9 families waiting for TODDLER BOYS
·     25 families waiting for SIBLINGS
·     59 families waiting for INFANT GIRLS
·     22 families waiting for TODDLER GIRLS

·     There is no waiting list for children 4 years and older, placement is usually immediate
Current estimated wait times for a referral, once a family is on the wait list: 
·     up to 18 months for INFANT BOYS
·     up to 8 months for TODDLER BOYS
·     unknown for SIBLINGS
·     up to 18 months for INFANT GIRLS

·     up to 12 months for TODDLER GIRLS

Of course these are all estimates.  There are so many variables in international adoption!  We're hoping to be done and back home with our child/children by Christmas of 2011. We'll see if that happens:-)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Paper-part 1

The Paper Chase is underway.

Tonight we read our policy documents, figured out the documents we need (namely, proof our insurance will cover adopted children, our marriage certificate, and info on our life insurance).  We also ordered our birth certificates (no clue where the originals are--mom/dad, did you ever give me this or is it sitting in your safe deposit box?) and started writing our autobiographies. Um...yeah...I think mine is going to be 6 pages and Ababa's is going to be 3 pages.  Hopefully they will average out:-)

We also need to submit the documents to get the $5k that is still sitting in escrow from when we bought the co-op (this is the money we are using for the first phase of the adoption process).  Of course they can't just give it to us (even though it was supposed to be released last February)...we have to re-do all of our financial documents that were submitted in the co-op board package and then submit it to our building's managing company (who made the closing one of the most miserable experiences of my life) and then wait for the co-op board to approve it.  Fortunately, they have a meeting in early October, so hopefully this won't get delayed.

The big exciting news is that we virtually "met" our adoption placement coordinator today and she seems great!

Monday, September 27, 2010

What happens next? (aka The Paper Chase)

"What happens next?" you might ask. is a heap of paperwork, also know as The Paper Chase.  We are just starting it, but from what I can tell it will make our co-op board application look like a walk in the park (gulp!).

The international adoption process unfolds something like this (culminating milestones in parentheses):

1. Research and Pray (select country, placement agency, and homestudy agency)
2. The Paper Chase (completed dossier sent to Ethiopia)
3. On the Waitlist (referral of a child/children)
4. Court Dates (returning to the United States with your child)

Where are we in this process?

Almost done with #1 (we've researched and prayed, selected a placement agency, and are well on our way to selecting a home study agency) and we've started #2.

We are working on the long form application, legal policy documents to sign with the agency (these docs basically say that you understand there are risks associated with international adoption.  Laws change, countries change, wars happen, orphanages close, orphanages get the point...bottom line, it's not like a perfect child clothed in sunshine and roses is going to drop into your lap within the next 2 weeks:-)

The policy docs and long application take about 1-2 weeks to complete (they include many pages of paperwork and legalese, a thorough autobiography, and they need to be signed an notarized in about 20 places--literally!) then need to be sent back to the agency with our first big check.

But, they are just the amuse bouche for the real deal...creation of our DOSSIER.  We'll get the directions for that after the policy docs are sent back to the agency and accepted, but basically the dossier takes anywhere from 2-6 months to complete--average is about 3 months--and the variability is largely due to waiting for certified copies and government acceptance of a whole bunch of documents.  By all accounts creation of the dossier is not very fun, and proves the truth of every negative view of government inefficiency, red tape, and bureaucracy.

When the dossier is complete and accepted by our agency it means the US government thinks we are fit to parent a child and supports us bringing an adopted child back to the US as a citizen.  The dossier is translated in Amharic (one of the main languages of Ethiopia) and sent to Addis Ababa (the capital of Ethiopia) where the Ethiopian government then decides if we are fit to parent a child.  While our dossier is jet-setting around the globe, we will be added to the WAITLIST!

The waitlist is when we start officially waiting for our child.  Currently, our agency has wait times of about 4-8 months for a toddler (24 months and older) and 12-18 months for an infant (24 months or younger).  Sibling groups have a variable wait time b/c there is so much variety in what parents are willing to undertake.  Also, boys over 4-5 and girls over 6-7 tend to be considered "old" by adoptive parents and end up on a waiting child list.  There is not typically a wait time for these children.  They are already waiting for you!

Once we are matched with a child (either through referral or through selection of a waiting child) then we begin the court process.  It takes about 6-12 weeks to get the first court date (where we become the legal parents of the child as for as Ethiopia is concerned) and then another 6-12 weeks to get an Embassy date where the US Embassy issues the child's visa so they can enter the US.  Adoptive parents have to be present at both court dates.  There is the option to stay between the two visits to parent your child/children; but you are on your own for that, so many families choose to return to the US in between.  We'll cross that bridge when we come to it:-)

The first trip to Ethiopia (for court) is short, only about 4-5 days, the second trip is longer, about 7-10 days.  Many families choose to spend some time during the trips becoming familiar with and getting to experience their child's culture.  Ethiopia will always be meaningful to children adopted from Ethiopia and to their new families so these trips are a wonderful opportunity to take in as much as possible about the country and culture.

After the embassy trip we will make the long flight home with our new child/children and begin the special and unique process of becoming a family (more on attachment, bonding, and other such things in much later posts).

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tell me about Ethiopia...

Ethiopia is a beautiful country with a rich cultural history, that includes being the home of the Queen of Sheba and being the only African nation that was never colonized. It is a culture that values its children and family connections and is one of only a few places where people of the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic faiths live together peacefully; however, today Ethiopia is struggling.  It has been ravaged by famine, the AIDS epidemic, and abject poverty.

- One in ten children die before their first birthday.
- One in six children die before their fifth birthday.
-44% of the population is under 15 years old.
- 60% of the children in Ethiopia are stunted by malnutrition.
-The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years old.
-1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world).
-There are roughly 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia.
-Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any other country in Africa
-Half of the children in Ethiopia will never attend school
-Ethiopia’s doctor to child ratio is 1 to 24,000

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. Isaiah 1:17

Why Adopt from Ethiopia?

We choose Ethiopian adoption after much thought and prayer.  

Top five reasons we chose Ethiopia

  1. We feel strongly and inexplicably called to adopt and want to offer a child/children the love and stability that a family provides.
  2. We feel best suited to adopting and dealing with the needs of an infant, toddler, or young sibling group. We explored adopting through the US fostercare system first, but learned through that system that we would most likely be adopting older children, many with significant issues.  We may pursue that route at a later time when we are more experienced parents, but do not feel equipped to meet the unique needs of an older child at this time.  Adopting through Ethiopia we can limit our parameters to infants, toddlers, and young sibling groups.
  3. Ethiopia has a tremendous need and we fit the requirements for marriage length, health, and finances stipulated for Ethiopian adoption.
  4. Ethiopia offers a relatively affordable, straightforward, and ethical adoption process. 
  5. If we are blessed to also get pregnant during the adoption process, we have the option to put our adoption paperwork on hold and resume after the baby is 6 months or older.  If we have already received a referral for a specific child Ethiopian laws and our agency offer some flexibility to continue with the adoption, which would be our desire.
We understand that issues in Ethiopia are far larger than can be addressed with the current adoption system; however, through adoption we can change the life of a child/children.  One of the really cool things about adoption is that it raises your awareness of pressing issues, softens your heart, and calls you to action.  And it doesn't tend to be just you! Whole communities of families, friends, and colleagues become aware of issues and seek to help.  Maybe adoption isn't for you...but sponsoring and praying for a child...or a well...or a school...or an NGO...might be.  Meaningful, large-scale change can happen and God can use our individual actions to work amazing change!

First post...Welcome to our blog:-)

Anti-climactic title, right? This week we decided to pursue adoption and we are embarking upon the paperchase to adopt a child or sibling group from Ethiopia.  This is our first foray into blogging (and definitely our first foray into adoption:-) So here we go!  We hope you'll join us on this exciting journey that is sure to be a life-changing adventure!

What does our blog title mean?

Mama-I think this is self-explanatory worldwide
Ababa-This means "Daddy" in Amharic, one of the main languages of Ethiopia
Woosha-This means "dog" in Amharic

That's us...Mama, Ababa, and Woosha, starting the journey to adopt the little someone (or someones) who are supposed to be part of our family.