Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Not Dead Yet

We completed Referral Paperwork 2.0 today -- thank goodness the bank doesn't charge to notarize. (They sure charge for everything else!) It leaves in tomorrow's mail, after we photocopy it. It was, however, quickly replaced by Travel Paperwork, which arrived today! Sadly, we still don't have more than a general idea of when we will get to use said Travel Paperwork, but its sure fun to think about!

This Thursday we will have our first travel call, in which we get to discuss the Travel Paperwork. It will be a conference call with other families in a similar stage of the process -- folks we only know through the Internet. Each step is exciting because it means we are just that much closer to actually meeting our daughter. Remind me of that when I get my hepatitis shots.

In other news, we are preparing a garage sale for President's Day weekend. Yes, I know. Its still winter. It will be mostly indoors, as in actually in a garage. Well, technically its my in-laws' home office, but that's beside the point. The point is, if we waited until the sun decided to show up around these parts, we'd be holding the garage sale four months after we get home from Ethiopia -- as in August. Given the expenses involved, we may just have to do one in August as well. (For you local folks who may have garage sale-worthy items you want to donate, you can drop them by Tim and Bev's house anytime before February 13th. Thanks!)

Speaking of donations, we have been unbelievably blessed by some anonymous donations lately. Unbelievably. Blessed. Let's just say, God is good!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Death by Paperwork

So, you remember that big ol' stack of referral paperwork that we filled out and overnighted to AGCI? Yeah, well, it has vanished. Gone. They can't locate it anywhere. They know they received it -- they have the check -- but somewhere between our Case Manager and the Program Manager, it got misplaced. Thus, the kindly UPS gal once again appeared on my doorstep with a packet of papers. We have a week to return this set and you can bet I'm not paying the big money to ship it this time around! Thankfully, its just internal paperwork for the agency, and will not in any way slow down our process. It just gives me one more thing to do while I wait! (I think I'd rather go shopping for little leggings instead -- for the baby, not for me -- but whatever.)

Speaking of missing paperwork, I do have good news to report, in that our long, lost document from Citizenship/Immigration has finally reached its appropriate places. Long story short, we had the correct document since August, though we were told it was not. They had given us our extension back when we filed for our country change, but sent it to AGCI's Vietnam liaison, so nobody really knew. Anyway, even when they finally figured out that it was the right document and where it was, it still listed the Vietnam agency on it. Now, however, we have the REAL correctly-labeled, document. It only took 4+ months to figure that out. (Funny how quickly things were ironed out once our social worker mentioned our state senator....) It is a definite answer to prayer, however it came to pass.

Several families just returned from picking up their children -- how exciting! A couple of them are ill -- yes, that seems to happen a lot despite every precaution -- but you can bet that once they're better I'm going to be bugging them for information on our little Miss M: "Tell me, did you see my baby? You know, the cutest one in the whole place?" :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Counting the Days...and Pennies

No, we still haven't heard anything. But each day that passes is, well, another day passing, so in reality we are getting closer, right? We are assembling funds from all sorts of creative means, including some garage sales we held way back when we were supposedly adopting from Vietnam. All that change has been stashed away, quite appropriately, in our baby girl's room-to-be, for a good year and a half now. With our change drive we're holding at our church, its adding up to decent amount of change. Every little bit helps. It really does. You may have noticed our nifty donation contraption on the side bar of the blog. I figured it couldn't hurt, though we don't expect much to come through it -- the main readers here being members of our church, family, and other adoptive families. But you never know if Bill Gates might just google his way here some day or something. (I actually did have a comment one time from someone who claimed to be in the upper-management of Microsoft. It was a very generic comment and I didn't give it much credit, though it was on a post about autism, and Microsoft is a big supporter in terms of autism funding...but I digress.) Anyway, it was an interesting tool somebody somewhere created.
I also wanted to address two of the most common questions we have been getting these days. The first question we hear is "Why can't you post her picture?" The answer is honestly, I don't know. It is an ethical issue mostly. Referred children aren't yours until the courts say they are, and in many cases, not until a family disembarks in the United States. It is vital to an adoption agency to be found above reproach and to avoid any activity that might be misconstrued as unethical. (ie taking advantage of or selling children, or taking advantage of birth families and their rights, as well) Pictures that are posted online can quickly end up in places they were never intended to go. Now, there are agencies (and countries, because sometimes the countries themselves set some of the guidelines) who are more lenient about posting of pictures and identifying information. But, to be perfectly truthful, I am so much more comfortable being a part of a program and with an agency that has strict guidelines and that does all it can to protect all parties involved than an agency that waffles on issues and bends the rules to please their clients. I can live with not publishing my daughter-to-be's photo online for three months if it means that Ethiopia agrees to let me bring her home! Then everyone will be sick of pictures!

The other question we've been getting is "What are you going to name her?" or variations on that theme. That's another tough one, and what follows will be our opinion only and is in no way meant to be a judgment on other families who do things differently. When we first began the adoption process three years ago, we intended to give our baby a first name of our choosing and have her middle name be her given name. Of course, at the time we were intending to adopt from Vietnam and felt her given name would probably be more difficult to pronounce. Fast forward to our switch to Ethiopia and you'll find that our feeling on that matter has changed. For one thing, many children who come out of Ethiopia have familiar, and often biblical, names such as Abel, Lydia, Miriam, Elias, or Sara. Names that are more Amharic (the main language in northern Ethiopia) in origin are a little more challenging, but not impossible. We were moved by the thought that her given name might be the only thing she may have from her birth mother, apart from DNA, and felt that we may in fact want to keep her given name as her first name in tribute to that fact. Of course, in the case of abandoned babies, which is so often the case in Ethiopia, their name could have been given to them at any point, by any person. All that being said, we haven't really decided what we are going to do. The name she was given, (which I can say starts with an M!), isn't too hard to pronounce, has a lovely meaning, and most importantly, is simply her name. We also have the nickname "Jo" which we have been using for years now, simply so that we wouldn't have to just call her "the Baby." We will likely incorporate that into a longer name, which will either be her first name or her second name...but we haven't completely decided. Actually, we've decided about 5 times now since we got her referral...only to change our minds each time. If we do finally make a more permanent decision, we will let everyone know. And we will release as much of it as we are able -- see the paragraph above! I suppose we technically have until we arrange for her passport in Ethiopia (??) so you may be in for a long wait!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What Happens Now

Yesterday we sent off our acceptance paperwork -- overnighted it, in fact. There was a lot to sign off on and notarize, plus we needed to document that we sort of have an idea of what we're getting into by creating a transition plan. Of course, we had to fork over a hefty sum to get things rolling over in Ethiopia, as well. They will need to do further medical tests and some poor soul needs to translate all our documents for court.

And now we will wait. Again. This time we are waiting for a call that should arrive in the next 2 to 4 weeks letting us know our assigned court date. By the time we get that call, the court date will be at least a month out, if not longer. About a week after our court date we should receive a call telling us whether or not we passed court. If we did pass court, we will recieve travel dates...about 2 to 3 weeks out from that point. (Very short notice for overseas travel!) If we fail to pass court, which does happen for various reasons, some of them unclear, we'll be assigned a new court date and wait again.

In the meantime, we'll be raising the money neccessary for travel, getting a couple immunizations, coming up with a permanent name, and -- the most time-consuming of all -- turning our office/storage area/bedroom-sized junk drawer into a nursery!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Abby needs your Prayers

Please pray for Abby and her family on Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Big Things in Small Packages

Its our much-anticipated Referral Packet! Seriously. We watched for the UPS truck all day long. I had pretty much given up around 5 o'clock, then at 7 o'clock I was trying to herd the boys upstairs when I heard the truck. We thundered back downstairs and answered the door en masse. I think we scared the poor woman. (One adoptive family I know of took a photo of their UPS delivery gal dropping off the package. We intended to steal the idea, but if you've seen the news, we're under major flood conditions here in Washington State. The poor woman looked as if she had swum upstream to deliver the package. At 7 pm. I decided to spare her.) This half-inch-thick binder, complete with a much cuter picture on the front than the representation seen here, holds nearly a half-inch-thick stack of paperwork that must be completed to really get this thing moving! Well, until it hangs out in Ethiopia for another three months. But at least its progress!
Speaking of which, we have our phone consult with the international pediatrician tomorrow morning. AND my new favorite person, our social worker, is now playing hardball with the folks that are holding our FDL form hostage, telling them that she is trying to dissuade us from contacting our senator. Ha! Love it. Our former copy was also discovered to be at the agency that AGCI teamed up with for the Vietnam program. Ah, bureaucracy.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Our Early Ethiopian Chirstmas Present!

Guess whose picture we're looking at?! That's right! We got our call today. For months and months I've been dreaming about what I'd write when I finally got to create this post -- well, that's all out the window now. Its 10:39 -- past my bedtime -- but I promised I post what info I could, so here goes -- and I apologize for the lack of profundity:

Sometime just shortly after noon, I was in the WalMart parking lot, having just finished loading up our groceries, when my phone rang. It being the first day the AGCI offices were open following the holidays, I briefly wondered if it might be my husband. But, alas, it was a number I didn't recognize -- and it wasn't the prefix for Portland, where AGCI is located. Of course, since I don't ever receive phone calls from AGCI, I wasn't aware that they don't call out from that prefix. Anyhow, some strange thing caused me to answer regardless. And it was Julie. Our case worker. I don't remember which thought I had first -- "What the heck? Why is she calling me instead of hubby?" or "Oh my gosh. Its actually happening." Either way, I was in the WalMart parking lot. Not with hubby. So after confirming that this was indeed THE Call, I asked her to call me back in half an hour when I would be with hubby. Then I called Hubby. He had just found Julie's voicemail on his cell phone and had guessed what was up. I told him I was on my way. Then I called my mom. Then -- don't tell the cops this, since we have a law here that forbids it -- I started driving while calling our biggest adoption fan, Susan. AND, to top it off, I broke a REALLY big rule and sent a text to Amy W, because I promised her I would. After an excruciating drive home, I dashed inside, threw anything remotely perishable (still in the grocery bags) into the refrigerator and dashed right back outside again. If our neighbors didn't already think we were completely bonkers, they probably would now. Then I got stuck behind a truck going 10 miles UNDER the speed limit. Going down a hill. It was really painful. Even my three year-old, my unwitting partner in all this craziness, was complaining. To make a long story short, we eventually made it to hubby's office. (He has conference calling and Grandma is across the street.) During the looong drive, I had hubby call Julie to let her know that it would be a little longer, and that we would call her from where hubby was. Well, wouldn't you know that when we tried to call she had gone on lunch break. Lunch break!
Anyhow, we finally did eventually get to chat with her and hear the news we have waited so long to hear. There is a baby girl for us. Almaz, at Hannah's Hope, the home in Ethiopia, estimates she is between 7 1/2 to 8 weeks old. We were emailed 22 adorable pictures of "M" -- she is small with big eyes and a little bit of hair. Tomorrow we will get our actual referral packet via UPS. In the meantime, I have already contacted two different pediatricians who specialize in adopted children. We are required to run the baby's medical info by one such doctor before we can officially accept the referral. For now, she appears to be a beautiful, healthy little girl!

What a long-awaited answer to prayer! Praise God!

*Sorry I can't give more details or post photos on the Internet.