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!)...