Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ethiopian Weekend

This weekend was full of fun, food and fact finding. In Colorado, there is a google group that caters to the people of Denver and the Rocky Mountain area. It is a great resource for all sorts of topics from adoption to rashes when yu get your child home. We meet once a month and meet for picnics and quarterly dinners at Ethiopian restaurants.

There were kids of every age there.

The girl on the left is my friend Sally's oldest daughter.

These are most of the kids from our group. Brandon and Evan are in the back with black shirts on.

For a while we had planned to go to Nile restaurant for a gathering. There were about 90 people who RSVP'd so we had to split it into 2 restaurants for accommodations. The other restaurant was called Habesha closer to the city. Everyone brought their spouses, bio children and adopted children, so that was really fun for us to see lots of children running around the dance floor playing, eating injera (bread) and little girls flirting with little boys. There were even children who had come from the same orphanage and are now here together in different families. How fantastic is that!!

The food was very good. What you order comes all together on one plate for your party. So for David and I and our 2 boys, everything was on one big place placed on top of injera bread. Then you take your basket of injera bread, tear it off and use that as "utensils" to eat with. Very different. Although we took up most of the restaurant with our group of 48, there was a group of men sitting in another part sharing 2 huge plates of food. Just men. It reminded me of what I have learned about their culture how they are from "villages". Meeting in groups and hugging or holding hands is a common practice. They are a very strong community. I glanced over during the night and saw all of their heads bowed as they prayed. It was so lovely to see.

This is Sally's second daughter.

On Sunday, we then attended our Ethiopian Church where David brought his acoustic guitar and played and sang songs for all 3 classes of children. They are so cute. Most of the little girls dress in their best dresses and shoes, the others all looked so cute too. Again we used head sets to understand the adult sermon. The message is similar to what our other church would preach. Our friend, Mesfin and his wife invited us to their home in 2 weeks time for a home made Ethiopian lunch. I believe her name was Genaw (probably spelling it wrong), and she said she is a good cook and wants to host us. they have 3 children. I am very much looking forward to that.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dossier Going To Ethiopia Today!

Ahhhh! It is out of my hands and on it's way to Ethiopia as of today. I've been waiting for this day to come. It'll be 2 months before I hear of a court date, which is how we can know when to book our flights. During this 2 months, the Dossier is translated, approved and given a court date. Very strange to book 2 flights there and 4 flights back. Sounds like a Paula Abdul song!! It could be sooner, so we're just hoping it's on the "sooner" side of time.

I also received confirmation that Homeland Security has received my I-600a application. Which is asking Homeland Security (go figure....why??) if we can adopt these children. The receipt gives us a place and time to get our biometrics done (fingerprinting for the 3rd time).

Now it's the big waiting game!!!!

  1. - I wait for referral
  2. - I wait for my I171H Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Advance Processing of an Orphan
  3. - I wait for court date in Ethiopia
My list is certainly getting shorter, which is reeeeeeally fantastic.

Note: I realize I might be reiterating quite a bit as each step passes, but that is just how my brain works.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Love Letter...to "T"!

Dear Precious Little "T",

Your Daddy and I have fallen deeply in love with you already. Everyday until we hold you in our arms, we are also preparing our hearts for you. Your brothers are more excited now than they were when we first told them you were coming. Your Daddy is writing a song for you. If it's anything like the one he wrote for me when we first met and our wedding song, I don't know how I will hear it without you being near us.

You need to know that although we don't know "who" you are yet, we know that God has already chosen you for our family. We know that God's amazing grace will keep you safe and prepare you for what will be a life changing experience for you. We bask in the knowledge that each day we wake up only brings us closer to bringing you home. I have picked up a beautiful pink Bible for you. It says "Princess Bible" on the front of it, which is probably very appropriate knowing that you will most likely be put on la ittle pedestal from the moment you arrive. It will be sitting on your pillow just for you. I sometimes become overwhelmed with the thought of lying in your bed with you and reading you passages as we learn about our amazing God together. We don't know what your circumstances will be, but know that we will get through anything together. With time, love and patience...we can overcome all of it.

The day that we look into your eyes and say to you, "Are you ready to come home?"..... seems so far off in the distance. The day we step onto the airplane with your little pink back pack that I've already picked out for you and buckle you in.......feels like it will never come. The moment we arrive at your new home with your brothers holding your hands and show you your new room.....will be a moment we will never forget.

Know that although we are not physically on our way to get you yet, we are moving closer as each day passes. Prepare yourselves for a family who adores you to no end, will love you forever and where 2 brothers wish we were more normal. You will fit right in!

More than you know.......we love you!

Mommy & Daddy

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A little stressed!

Everything is fine now, but I waited all day Thursday for the 2 Certified FedEx documents from California and they never came. I called FedEx and they showed it going to Brandon, Colorado. Very far from my address!! The gal at the Calif. Sect'y of State transposed my zip code so it was never going to get here. I got a FedEx agent on the line and explained how urgent I needed these and she was kind enough to have it rerouted to me, but not the day I needed it, but the next day which was yesterday at 7:30am. I drove it over to my agency and it went out Friday and all was fine, but seriously, the stress people have put me through by simple mistakes on their part are just ridiculous. I mean, I make mistakes myself too. But in every situation, these people have known that these records are vital, urgent and involve 2 precious little girls in a 3rd world country that need to get here to their family.

However, on a happy note, I made sure that the last piece of mail I sent regarding this adoption was sent from the precious hands of my favorite Ethiopian postal worker, Mesfin. I stood in line and let other people go ahead of me so that I could have Mesfin help me. This guy is just so sweet! Remember he's the one who invited us to his Ethiopian church that we go to sometimes now. So, sealed with a blessing....off went the final docs.

Next steps........
We wait for the I-171 approval to come back which is our "Golden Ticket" to "approve" us for adoption. I know....you already thought we've been approved with all of this preceding paperwork. But, not so fast. Homeland Security needs to tell us officially that we are okay folks.


" must decide whether the adoptive or prospective adoptive parent(s) are able to care for the child properly, whether the child is an orphan as defined in U.S. immigration law, and whether all other legal requirements have been met. If the petition is approved, an I-171, Notice of Approval of Relative Immigrant Visa Petition, or an I-797, Notice of Action, is sent to the petitioner.

If the petition is denied, the petitioner is notified in writing. The petitioner may appeal that decision. Instructions on how to appeal a denial are included in the notice of denial.

Denial is justa river in Egypt! So no denials here!!

Meanwhile, we wait for an appointment to be given to us to take yet a 3rd set of fingerprints electronically called biometrics.

As paperwork comes in and dates become more precise, I will have a better idea of when we would travel, etc.

I'm just grateful to be at this stage of the process with paperwork behind me. REALLY glad! I still dream about the girls many nights. I imagine smooching on their cute little toes. Kissing their cheeks and letting them know in every way possible how much they are loved...even now.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Home Study Approved! Dossier Goes To Washington!

Today, our Dossier gets overnighted to Washington DC. And I have the Home Study in my possession "Signed, Sealed (really, I can't open it or it becomes invalid) and I'm Delivering it today" to USCIS in the city. What a relief to be done with all of that. It has been pretty uneventful, just several areas that could have gone smoother.

I have been waiting for these 2 docs from California to be certified and had shipped it on Feb. 1st using 2 day shipping. They received it on Monday the 4th, but when I called yesterday at 10am to ask where it was and that it is the last thing to be sent with my Dossier, they say, "Oh honey, we are only working on mail that came in on Jan. 22nd, we won't be getting to yours for weeks". My heart just about stopped, but on the outside I was trying to play it cool and collected, yet..........desperate. I pleaded with her to work with me to find a way to get my documents found, certified and overnighted to me. She said that there were piles and piles of docs the come in each day and that they couldn't find it to even do it and not sure about the overnight thing. Well, I couldn't have that. I had to have these docs by today!!!!!! My Dossier is scheduled to go out TODAY to DC with another couples docs (Shawn and Justin). MUST...HAVE...DOCS...TODAY!

Well, I begged and pleaded all the while totally respecting the fact that their job is huge and that I wouldn't be asking for special treatment had it not involved getting my 2 little babies here in time, from Ethiopia. She empathized with me, and said she would call me back if she found it, but there was no guarantee. I expressed my gratitude and said I appreciated anything that she could do. So we hung up and I set up an account with FedEx to pick it up anyway. At 2pm I called her back and said, "Just in case you find it, I have arranged FedEx to pick it up so that you do not have to do anything". She said, "I was going to call you. Me and another co-worker found it and it is being Certified as we speak and FedEx can pick it up anytime." Wow! I was so happy about that. So, I should be receiving it actually, anytime now, then I'll drive it to IAN (my agency) and it can be overnighted at 3:30pm to DC! Whew!

Still waiting for our referrals! I am being very patient!!! I'm patient! I'm a patient person! I can be patient even though I don't feel like it! I am patient! Yes! I am patient! It's only our 2 daughters I'm waiting on. Just the other half of my children...waiting...for us....in another country...just waiting. But, yet, look at me.....soooOOOO patient!?

Evan's 11th Birthday!

Evan's 11th birthday at our house. He said it was the best birthday he ever had. His friends were there from class and also his 2 band mates (Dillon the guitarist on the left with the hat and Blake, the drummer, you can't see). They sang Karaoke, played laser tag with these gift laser pens we gave everyone.

The music was loud, the meatballs were a huge hit, then for the big moment...Evan and his band mates performed the Beatles "Eight Days A Week" and then they performed the song that Evan wrote named the "Way I Feel". It was an absolute blast.

Evan came home to a bed full of presents. We had rearranged his room so that he can fit the drum kit in it. And of course I had to "clean" it first. I mean, how nice would that be, on your birthday to come home after a mini party at school, then your room is not only clean and looks amazing, but your bed is filled with prezzies. He was so excited. He was the most excited about having now collected all of the Bionicles in the Lego line. He just about flipped out. I want their life!! I mean, I had a good enough life that my Mom had given my sister and I , but our boys have it made. And they don't even realize it. We try to explain to them how privileged they are, but really, they don't know!

We aren't planning on taking the boys with us to Ethiopia, but in the back of my mind, I think that it could change something in them that we just can't explain here at home. I feel like they need to experience picking up their sisters up front and center. It's a very expensive plane ticket (I think about $2000 per round trip), but we'll see how the boys are and how our finances are. This could be life changing for them.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

My Sisters

I am really excited about my sisters coming. When they get here I will teach them to play guitar, drums, legos and sledding. They'll L-O-V-E- the snow!!! :) I'll show them my friends and teach hem how to make comics. I'll help them with their homework ( and make Brandon do my homework). Anyways, I can't wait to see my sisters.
Until next time...

"God Grew Tired Of Us"

This is a documentary that will open your eyes to many things. It'll break your heart in two just knowing the strength and courage these children and young men had to take this journey from Sudan, through Ethiopia, and down to Kenya......to ultimately live in huts for 10 years. What they thought would be just a few months turned into 10 years. A handful of this group of guys were given permission to come into the United States for opportunity. To leave behind everything they know and everyone they knew and loved was not an easy decision, yet they had no choice if they wanted a better life and to offer more to their friends and family back home.......This should without a doubt be seen by everybody no matter your situation or where you are in life!

Click on this link..... God Grew Tired of Us

If you HAVE seen it, let me know what you thought.

Second "Adoption Class" Completed!

Our second 5 hour adoption class was today. The topics I thought were really great and useful to us with not only our forthcoming adopted girls, but with our existing boys. Really the classes are half parenting and half adopting a different culture and just plain adoption related topics. Really great though, I thought. I'm always interested in learning better ways to do things that you do on a daily basis!!

We were happy to see our new friends Lory and Dave and also Justin who we found are all at the same stage with the same agency. We got a kick out of thinking how in a years time, we will be meeting up with 4 Ethiopian children in tow. Hard to imagine right now since we feel like it is so far off in the future. We are all 3 waiting for our referrals.....it could be next week or next month. We have no idea. But it'll be good when it does happen. We sit each day on pins and needles wondering when our children will be "found" and what will they be like? What are their personalities? Will they adjust well? So many unanswered questions...all to be answered with a simple call from our agency. Who will get the call first? Wow! So exciting.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Dossier Complete!

Well, the Home Study is all written up and will be signed off on this Thursday. Although I thought I was done with the Dossier, I had to send the final 3 final documents to be "certified" in their originating State. I hadn't known that needed to be done. So when I get those back this Friday, I will be 100% done with the Dossier.

It only then needs to go through authentication in Washington and the Ethiopian Embassy. Then.......off to Ethiopia for about a 2 month wait for them to translate and do their stuff, then another month to wait to hear about a court date. It all goes "something" like that, but it's really fantastic to get all of that done.

My experience with the Secretary of State was lovely, however the mistakes they found that had to be fixed was hard to hear. My local bank notary had put a wrong date on her expiration of commission, so I had to walk around town while I was there and get another branch of my bank to re-do what she had done wrong. There were 12 documents that I had to redo. Then, when the 2nd notary there re-did them, I took them back to the Secretary of State and she said, "you are missing one doc that the notary must have left in his copier, he didn't stamp one doc, and he really shouldn't have used a particular stamp because he in fact did not "witness" my signature." What should have been a drop off and leave within 5 minutes turned into 3 1/2 hours of running around and constantly putting coins in my car meter. Last thing I wanted was to get a fat ticket on top of all of that. And it's below freezing and icy.....but I'm done! I picked the certified docs up the next morning and it all looks good.

No sign of referrals yet. Still waiting, but that is what all of this part is about.....lots of waiting.
Now I exhale.................and breeeeeeeathe!

P.S. I break down now and again and buy some thingies for the girls. Today was a set of 8 pez dispensers of Disney Characters. I think they were just so cute because they were feminine and pink. Also bought a few really great things for their bathroom. I'll post a picture of the bathroom when it is all done.