Friday, November 30, 2007

Just Received Dossier Packet

Our adoption agency sent us our packet for the Dossier. Wow! Really a lot of things to do here. You have to prepare an unbelievable amount of documents, all typed out on certain letterheads that they apply to, then you have to Notarize it all, Certify it all and then send it out for Authentication. What am I doing here typing this entry when I should be in my office doing paperwork. I'm trying to do as much as I can before the holidays hit (as if they haven't hit already by seeing all of the Christmas lights out around's not even December...sheesh!)

I already feel overwhelmed, but with every letter I complete, every document I sign, notarize, certify and authenticate...gets us closer to our 2 girls. We've already picked out names for them if we are going to give them a different name at all. It could all change depending on the situation. We'll decide that when we know who they are and know more about them.

So I'm off the laptop now to do housework and paperwork!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Why we chose adoption

Adopting a child came into the forefront of our minds while going through 3 very looOOOOng years of infertility. After a dozen artificial inseminations, a couple of exploratory surgeries, way too many doctor visits and months of meeting with infertile groups...oh, and the final in-vitro fertilization, which was successful (Brandon - whah-la) after 60 injections and inability to walk without excruciating pain (get the picture?), we finally became pregnant at the end of the 3 years. During those years, we'd always knew that somehow, someway we'd have children. It didn't matter so much how they came rather than THAT they came at all. So Brandon was born 12 years ago, and then we became pregnant with Evan 13 months later like those deals "Buy one, get one free". Us women love free stuff, so this was good.

I've always thought of adoption as a very unique gift for everyone involved. Maybe not so much the birth mother as this would have been an incredibly painful choice. I'll never know what that feels like. But the positive side of this for the birth mother is that she has a choice to keep her child or offer her a better life, opportunity. It's a gift for the child for obvious reasons and for the adoptive parents. There are actually some heavy duty sites on the Internet that promote that adoption is wrong and no one should ever do it. I had no idea...but when you enter into a different world of "something", it's amazing how you never knew certain groups or opinions were out there. I stay away from those negative forces as they have no value to me or anyone else. An adopted child will know and should understand that they have been chosen! They are wanted and purposefully picked out by people who have put a lot of thought into that decision.

I'm really liking the fact that more and more interracial adoptions are taking place because it brings culture to our nation as well as diversity in all areas. I'm married to an immigrant for goodness sakes. And that can't be bad ;) For whatever reason, orphans and babies who are given up for adoption are unable to be raised by their biological parents, and they both need and deserve loving, committed, permanent families. Consider this vision...sometime next year, David and I step off a plane in Addis Ababa, the capitol of Ethiopia, and get driven to the orphanage where our 2 toddlers will be waiting. When Caucasian people show up to an orphanage, it only means one thing...that they are there for picking up a child. All of the other children run to the windows or the doors slats because they wonder if it is for them. Is this their "Forever Family" coming to finally pick them up?

From what I know of some orphanages, the nannies do a really fantastic job of picking up babies and caring for toddlers and giving them as much time as they can, but they can never give them what a Father and a Mother can give them day in and day out. They just can't. So imagine their little hearts as they come to realize that this time, is not their turn. They wonder if it will ever be their turn. They don't know this, but I do........that the government offices that handle the paperwork that will unite an adopted with their new "Forever Family", are not motivated by what is happening in the orphanages. They are just sitting at their job, doing what they do, with no inkling or much concern of the pain, death, heavy hearts of waiting parents, disease, malnutrition, lack of interaction etc...that these precious little souls are going through. Every day that a file does not get looked at to move forward is another day that an orphan does not get to go home, and another day that a child or baby left on the side of the road is not going to have the chance to get into the orphanage to have that chance. It breaks my heart. There have been parents blogs that I've read who have been waiting to bring their new child(ren) home for 18 months now and it is the most painful thing to know that they are already your child, but are waiting on the "paper chase" in that country. Every day that they are not with their "Forever Family" is another day that they aren't being held enough, their bodies are not receiving proper nutrition, their hurts are not fully attended to...I could go on, but I don't want to go "there". It's heartbreaking.

We just have very heavy hearts for these children in 3rd world countries. They didn't choose where they were born...they were just born. Ethiopia, China, Russia, Vietnam, Haiti...these countries don't belong to "their" people, they are all "our" countries and they are our world, our children. When we adopt internationally, it doesn't solve the problem. But it makes us feel like we're doing something rather than just feeling really bad. We feel as though God has placed us in such a position to be "able" to do this in every sense of the word. We feel so blessed with full hearts and resources to be able to do this and at the end of the day...our family is the one who is blessed with what we are doing. This I know for sure.

So...the subject was "Why we chose adoption". And for us, it is all of the above!

Where we're at...

We've had 2 of the 3 required Home Studies done. The last one is this next Monday, December 3rd. The stages are sort of like this...

1. Complete the Home Study. (The 3 visits, then she has to write it all up) This includes the contract, partial payment. (I'm still waiting for my new Drivers License as Sams Club did not return it to me when last I used it.) I'm still processing my new Passport because while I was in L.A., it was stolen from my trunk by the valet guy. He saw me put it there, then when I went to use it a couple days later, it was not there. I can't get my passport w/o a Drivers License or an "original" birth certificate, so I have to order that from San Diego. I've got to contact California officials to get a certified copy saying that David and I are not pedophiles from another state. I'm still waiting on 3 referrals from non-relatives saying that we are "okay" people to adopt. I know there's more, but I'll look at all that today. I've already started a black file box to stay organized with labeled file folders for each thing I need to get done.

2. Then there is the Dossier. This will complete what we have to do here in this country. That consists of ...

  • Application/ Intention/Petition to adopt

  • Medical Exams

  • Financial Information

  • Copies of Taxes

  • Salary Information

  • Photographs of the prospective parents

  • Birth Certificates

  • Marriage Certificates

  • Divorce Decrees

  • Letters from Employers

  • Proof of Health Insurance

  • Criminal Background Check

  • Several Letters of Reference

  • I-71H

  • Proof of Permanent Address

  • Home study

  • Photos of House

  • Finger Prints (Local and Federal)

  • Fire/Safety Inspection

3. Then there is all of the stuff they have to do in Ethiopia to process it on their side. They have to "approve" everything in my file.

And do you know why it all takes so long and why it is so costly? Because of all the low life jerks that adopt and decided the kids are too hard to deal with or they aren't what they expected and put them on a plane with no passport and "ship" them back to their country. Can you even imagine. One government agency in Ethiopia said this happens a couple times a month. I cannot even fathom doing that. So we, the nice guys, have to pay for their absolutely pathetic sense of stupidness. These poor children are all paying prices being somewhere lacking in everything, when they could be here sooner. It hurts to think about it, so... I breathe, I write, I read, I clean the house, I hug my boys, I dream of how I will do their room, I look at girly things at Target..........I keep moving.

A lot of this paper work needs to be notarized prior to submission. Many people travel to their Secretary of State's office to ensure that the hard work they put in to compiling all of this paperwork is not lost or misplaced. I may do that. I'm 20 minutes from our Capitol. can't say we're not going thru the labor right now of 2 children. Then of course there is the cost of all this. Whenever I see David downstairs and we talk about this adoption or how our future will change, I ask him to please go back upstairs and make some more money. We're gonna need it. With Ethiopian adoption, (which by the way, seems to be the smoothest process I know) you are only asked to travel to the country once when you are picking up your child(ren). Part of the reason why I never really wanted to adopt domestically is because I know that a biological parent can knock on your door and change their mind. We can go see our girls before it's all done, but it's very costly to buy 2 round trip plane tickets AND leave the boys for at least 5 days?? You never know what can happen though because it's an international adoption in the 3rd poorest country in the world. We are flexible and prepared for anything. You have to be.

But can you imagine that plane ride? What is it going to feel like to be on that plane (and I hear it's a reeeeeeally long trip.) As much as I hate the discomfort of flying anywhere, this will be the best plane ride of my life. Especially coming back with our precious little ones. Really...I can't imagine it right now. I'm just trying to do all of the footwork and paperwork right now. And at the same time, not neglect my home life and my children that are!!

Every time Evan sees me on the laptop, he says, "Let me guess. An adoption site, right?" He laughs at me. The girls are going to take Brandon's existing room. Evan will stay in his room. We told Brandon that he can move into his room before they get here if your grades go up. Evan can't wait for Brandon to move to his new room, so Evan can get the drum set into HIS room. I can't wait for all this paperwork to be done, so I can celebrate all of those steps and think about the "Out of Country Steps" that will be probably the slowest and hardest time of all of this. When I speak with my Adoption Agency, and I hate to put this in print cause I'm expecting a long wait like every other adopting parent, but they are saying that it very well could be by May or June. That's only a total of 7 or 8 months from start to finish. I'll hope for that, but I won't count on it. What I really want to avoid is the 2 month "holiday" in Ethiopia that the courts close down for an Ethiopian holiday. That would make me crazy if I missed that deadline, cause that would mean that NOTHING is happening with my files or paperwork. Nope, going to do anything I can to avoid that time, which I think is August & September.

I am so grateful when I think of my friends, family and neighbors that have already expressed excitement and complete support about these girls coming. It matters that they care. I wish my Mom were alive to talk to about this. She would have been unbelievably thrilled. She must hate it that she's missed out on this experience and 2 more grandchildren. Dave (my step dad) laughed with excitement that he's going to be a grandfather to 2 more children. I'm so happy for him. We miss him, but I know he'll come to Denver when they are here. Mum & Dad all the way in Australia have already welcomed them into their beautiful family over the girls are covered! David and I are trying to plan a 20th Wedding Anniversary for us in August 2008 here at the house. My prayer is that the girls are here by then. That would be........well, words wouldn't describe what is in my heart.

Okay, so I've raved on...that's it for now.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ebony Magazine...Excellent article on Africa

Today I picked up the December Issue of Ebony Magazine (Michael Jackson on the front). Really great article on the plight of Africa as well as "The Africa You Don't Know". This is so true. As Americans, we only see what the media wants us to see. As a young American growing up, I feel like we've been sheltered from more of a "balanced" view of what the world is really like. The more I think about it, the more I realize how clueless we really are. It looks like this is the start of a year long examination of "The Africa You Don't Know" for Ebony Magazine.

Must get subscription...

Pastor Jason...Thank You!

This past Sunday at church I couldn't wait to tell Pastor Jason about what he did to us. I looked everywhere, but didn't find him until the last minute before service started. And although I hate being late to sit down and missing any of the Worship Singing and Band, this was worth it. I reminded him of his sermon a month ago (I can't believe it's only been a month since this adoption thing has been on my mind), and how he spoke of his Haitian adoption. I went on to tell him that because of his willingness to speak on the subject, we are adopting "two" little girls from Ethiopia. All because of his talking about it. I know it had kinda been on my mind, but had he not spoke on the subject, it would never have been prodded into the front area of my brain!!

He seemed really pleased to hear that. He said he got the chills on his arm as we told him...yep! So did I when he told me (and the whole church) about what HE was doing. I wonder how many other people have had this on their minds too? How many others went home from church that day and thought of the possibilities that would reward them should they step out of the "safety net" of God's safe place. Being a Christian should consist of some risk. My husband reminded me that 11 of the apostles were killed because of what they stood for. Our "risk" by no means compares to the apostles, but it is just a reminder that if we live our life very safe, perhaps we aren't taking enough risks? Something to think about.

Pastor Jason also reminded us of something he said last month on that Sunday, October 21st. He said that he was told by someone he knew who'd already adopted more than one, that "The greatest gift you can give an adopted child from a foreign country was a sibling." Either at the same time or later. Thinking about our family now, really makes me think. When the girls are alone in their room, confused, doubtful, scared...they will always have each other. They will have their bond of coming from an amazing country that will always be a part of them. The little amount of past they will have there will never be forgotten. A country so full of hurt, yet so much beauty. Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee....and I loooOOOve my coffee!! Part of the Ethiopian culture is their "Coffee Ceremony". It's what they do whether they live in a hut or a house. It is a ritual and it is their tradition. It has so much history with churches and ruins that date back to the 1600's.

Here is a little history...well, a lot of history actually!

History of Ethiopia

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Now what!

Now we wait. We do paperwork, we redesign our life. Now that this is all sinking in, I go about my life as if they were here with me/us. The other day I was at one of my favorite restaurants, Mimi's, where I always have to have a booth. I loooOOve eating out and MUST have a booth. As I sat with my friend in a big booth, I realized that now that we'll be 6 in our family, most booths don't sit that many. Oh my...what will I do? So many little things like that will be hitting me as I go about my days. No longer do I go thru shops looking at pink things or girly things and only wish that I had a reason to buy them. Now, watch's all over now. I've not bought a thing. Perhaps it's better later on when most of the paperwork is done and on it's way to Ethiopia. Like I said, long process. This is going to be a very, very long wait.

But really, there is so much to prepare for. We told Brandon that he can have the triangle room in the basement. He was blown away. This is currently our music room. We have 12 guitars (now 13 cause David is doing his latest training DVD on a Fender guitar) and they hang in this room. So we have to reconfigure rooms and bathrooms and toy areas. I can't believe I am finally going to have girly things in the house. What does that look like? The 4 of us each day envision what it's going to be like. We are already incorporating their sisters into our lives in all areas. Brandon said the other day, I can't wait to be walking in church with the girls holding their hands. He was so proud. Evan is going to teach them legos and guitar. Brandon is going to teach them how to wrestle and draw. And probably to annoy his little brother...who by the way is THRILLED to know that shortly he will no longer be the "little brother" or youngest in the family. I don't know why, but this thrills him to no end.

Ohhh, the mysteries around each corner are endless now.

Three steps done...A hundred more to go!

Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork! We've had our 2nd home study done and it wasn't too scary. The 3rd one perhaps may be, who knows. The Case worker was really wonderful. She was very easy to talk to, perhaps because she is one of 15 siblings...8 of which are adopted. Just amazing. There are numerous steps to take, and a ton of paperwork, but we are looking at it like a pregnancy and labor. Looks like on the optimist side, the girls could be here perhaps by Summer? And on the pessimistic side, it could be next Christmas. But I'm doing everything I possibly can to get them here NOW! For those of you who went through my three years of infertility, you'll know that not a single infertile month was wasted without me getting a few shots, or writing about it, or going to a "RESOLVE" meeting, or looking up how I could get closer to my child...I was always doing something, so this is not going to be any different. The girls are already ours, we just don't know what they look like or when they will come. We do know that we are asking for sisters or even 2 girls from the same orphanage who are very close to each other. It's hard because you really don't know what their background is going to be like. Did their birth mother die from AIDS? Is she still alive? Will we meet her? Do they have living relatives? How long would she have been living at the orphanage? How much would they have gone thru before they came to the orphanage? How easy/hard will their transition be into our lives here? It's very unsettling to not know this, but what I do know is that we are prepared for all of that and we love them already. Truly!

This blog is for them. It is for the journaling of our thoughts, our struggle, their struggle, some of our feelings and most of all to let them have a past with us, a history (so to speak) with their new family before they even get here. I wrote letters to my boys before they came, never knowing if they even were coming or when. These girls already have a whole neighborhood of kids and adults who are very excited to meet them. They have a family in Australia (my husband's side) who adore them already and our family and friends back in SoCal who are thrilled with our new additions.....Tracey has already said she will HAVE to come here to Denver to show me how to do their hair...I know! Tracey, you don't have to, but I'm getting the idea about the "hair" thing. Please...educate me. And Shelly in Newport Beach who has a hair salon, please come too...or better yet, I'll bring them to you. But the truth is, they have a huuUUge extended family here already. I had the best response from Tracey....

A quote from Tracey Dugan..."Congratulations...and Whoah!"

A Talk That Changed Our Lives ... Forever!

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The associate pastor at our church, Jason, gave his sermon (John 2:1-11) and it forever changed my life. In a sentence, it was about doing what God says, even if it doesn't make sense at the time. It may never...but to just do it. Pastor spoke of a very challenging adoption he was in the middle of from Haiti. I couldn't understand why my heart leaped inside my chest. As he continued speaking, I had a hard time fighting back the tears that were trying to escape. Tears of confusion, tears of unbridled emotion. Tears of "possibility for us". Subconsciously, I had been thinking about adopting for months now, but it never came to the forefront of my mind...until today!

During the sermon, I kept looking sideways at my husband to see if he was feeling the same way I was. He didn't appear to be moved. So as I took the day and the next week to allow this idea into my life, I would imagine what it would be like. How my (our) life would change. How right now, it's very comfortable. My life is on the way to being less stressful and just very lovely. And if you know anything about me, that doesn't sit well. It seems as though when life gets like that, I've got to shake it up somehow. My husband laughs at me all the time about what pops up in our life. I think what is really happening, is that I get things running smooth and ..... and then what? I believe that God has blessed us so. I believe that we've been obedient to what we believe He would have us do in all small and large things. It's not like one day we heard Him say, "Wills, you must adopt a child". Not like that. It's like, if we look back in our lives, we see the "breadcrumbs", the "God whispers" that I think could very well have been ignored. But we've had our eyes wide open to the possibilities of those "sign posts" being "God whispers". Does that make sense?

It's like our move a year ago from Southern California to Denver, Colorado. Everyone who knows me would NEVER have thought that I would decide to move from my happy little place, with happy little weather and unbelievable friends, my sister and my step dad....why the heck would I do that? Well.....God whispered. So we listened. We really moved to Denver by faith that the whisper was real. And that we couldn't see why we were doing it, and we may never, but we did it and see now. I find this hard to believe, really hard to believe, and harder to write, but here it goes. Our life here in Denver has become richer than it was back home. And I find that hard to write because right away, I think of my relationships that took decades to build. The experiences we have there. The ocean...why would I leave that?? My sister that I get closer to each time we meet. How could I leave that? But I know just as sure as I'm breathing right now, that had I not moved, the thought of adopting would not have entered my mind.

My husband and I have discussed how you can go to so many Bible Studies, hear so many scriptures at church and talk up a storm about the problems of the world.......until there comes a time to do something about it. So we shut up and took discussing what we knew would end in us adopting a child from Africa. We chose Africa because it has such a deep meaning to us. We went there 3 years ago on a mission trip with our church and were forever changed. When we came home, we really did not want that feeling to leave or dissipate into if it didn't matter, cause it DID!

Shocking to me, however, was when my husband said, "Have you thought about more than one?" I thought he was trying to tell me not to get too crazy and think that later on we would do this again. So I said, no, of course not. I was still trying to see if he was okay with adopting a toddler and wondering if in the next 5 minutes he would freak out. Our life was just lovely the way it was. But he was going the other direction...he said, "If we adopted sisters, they would have each other." And it broke his heart to think of us adopting one little one and not having someone that she could relate to nearby. I almost burst with joy when I realized where he was going with this. I didn't skip a beat when I said, "Yes! We can do that." Not knowing how we would arrange where our boys would sleep or how we would use the one tiny bathroom for 4 kids now. Two of which would be girls and 2 would be dirty, careless boys with their clothes on the floor and a small sink and shower. Didn't matter...we would figure it out later.

So that is how we went from 2 kids to 4, and 1 adoption to 2. Is that a God whisper or a God "shout"! Go figure.