Thursday, December 23, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
.....is good news?? I'm hoping so. I was supposed to hear confirmation of my Embassy appointment yesterday, but I have heard nothing yet. Sally says we should she have a response tomorrow. Fingers crossed and positive vibes out there!!
HAPPY 6 MONTH BIRTHDAY TO ANDREW!!
I actually finished decorating his room today--it looks great! I'm so excited to get him home and into his room. It's an adorable room for my adorable boy!
Monday, December 13, 2010
I haven't posted anything in a couple of weeks....so I thought I would write a bit tonight. The good news is that I have received copies of Andrew's birth certificate, court documents, and passport. It appears that we're on track for our December 30th Embassy appointment. It's not definite yet, as we have to wait to hear confirmation of the appointment on Monday, December 20th. I'll be a little nervous until I hear about that.
I'm in a little better position than some other families though, and I'm worried for them. A wonderful family that I met last month in Ethiopia has not received their documents for their little girl yet. They are planning to travel the same time as I am, but without any word on their documents, it's a bit scary. I feel for them, and I'm hoping and praying that they get copies of their documents in the next day or so. I will be heartbroken for them if they are delayed for some reason.
In the past several weeks, I have had 2 showers, and my friends, colleagues, and family have been so generous. We have almost everything we need for Andrew's homecoming at this point. Just a few more things for me to buy (that I can think of, anyway!). I'm still working on his room, but I should have it ready to go by the end of this weekend. It's going to be beautiful.
I was able to go ahead and get Andrew added to my health insurance since I have his birth certificate! This means that the meds I will bring over are covered and that we can get him set up at the International Adoption Clinic and his new pediatrician as soon as we get home!
I thought I would post this picture here of my smiling boy! I can't wait until he's in my arms, and I can make him smile like that!
Monday, November 29, 2010
It looks like my Embassy Appointment will be December 30...we are still waiting on absolute confirmation, but I was told to start looking for flights. So, it looks like I will head back to Addis right after Christmas and will bring Andrew home on January 2!!
The day after I returned from Ethiopia, my dear friend and surrogate daughter, Janetta, threw me a shower--there were about 30 friends and family there. We all dressed in the colors of the Ethiopian flag, ate Ethiopian food (My friend Andrea brought from Atlanta), and played some creative games. Then, this afternoon, my UAB Band family had a surprise shower for me! So many people are excited to share in the celebration of bringing Andrew into our world! I am so appreciative!!
Friday, November 19, 2010
On Thursday, November 18, at around 10 am in Addis Ababa, "A" became my son! I am finally able to share a couple of pictures with you here! He is a beautiful, sweet baby...being well-cared for....and I am in love! I have lots more to share about our experiences in Ethiopia, but I'll need a few days to get back to normal before I post! Suffice it to say--it was a fantastic experience--full of a wide range of emotions, some occasional tears, lots of laughter and joy. If all goes well, I should return in about 4 weeks to bring my son, Andrew home!
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Just a short note here to say that we (my parents and I) leave for Ethiopia at 1:30 tomorrow! We have a long flight ahead, but I'm excited about the adventure. I need to go throw some things in a suitcase, but I wanted to document the day!! More from Addis!!
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
On this past Monday, our first court hearing took place in Addis. This is the one when the birth mother officially relinquishes A to the orphanage/government so that I can come adopt him on November 18th!! All went smoothly, so my official travel dates are November 10-20, with court on the 18th. My mom and dad are going with me for this first trip. We're all really excited! We had all of our shots ($$$), I've been collecting donations for the orphanage, and I will pack this weekend. We leave one week from today!!
Recently, I have received several new pictures from families who have seen my little guy, and the pictures are phenomenal!! I'm so appreciative. I wish I could post the pics here, because I'm telling you--my little "peanut" is one good-looking kid:-) When I opened one of the new pictures last night that had him with a giant smile on his face, I just burst into tears! (Of course, pretty much anything related to this process makes me cry these days!) All good!!!
Monday, October 25, 2010
I got an email last Monday from Sally at AAI....she said that we have court dates! The first one is November 1. I don't go for that one. At that meeting, the birth mother and the Ministry of Women's Affairs officially declare A-man to be an orphan, available for adoption. The second court date is set for November 18, assuming all goes well at the first court. This is the trip I make. The plan now is to leave Birmingham November 10, arrive November 11...meet A November 12, travel and sightsee in Ethiopia the next several days, then return to Addis to see A again and then the court date on the 18th. I will board a plane that evening to head home. Only a few weeks away! I'm excited and a bit frantic...trying to figure out how much money to bring, what gifts to bring to donate to the orphanage and to thank the people there, best flight options, what clothes to bring, who will travel with me, etc. Not to mention--how do I take care of my bands at UAB while focussing all my energy on the adoption and travel!? So--lots on my mind! To add to that--Sally called on Wednesday last week and told me that they could move my hearing to November 1 if I wanted to travel this week!! That would likely move up A's homecoming date. THAT is exciting...but I just don't think it's practical for me to make this trip happen in a week. I haven't had any immunizations yet....my parents couldn't go if I went this week....it's just too much. So...ultimately, I've decided to wait for the original dates. This way, I at least have a couple of weeks at home to get my act together. Either way--A will probably be home before New Year's if all goes well!! Keep your fingers crossed!!!
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Friday night, I experienced my first get together with other Ethio-Adopt families here in Birmingham. The 3 boys that were there are all around the same age (2-3), and it was absolutely beautiful to watch them play with each other, to play independently, and to interact with all of the adults as well. The first picture here shows the 3 boys holding a picture of my little guy--so we were all there in spirit! Lots of smiles all around, some great conversations with everyone, and the opportunity to build lasting relationships for our unique families!! Love it!!
Thursday, October 14, 2010
There is another couple from my agency going on their first trip to Ethiopia on October 20th. They have graciously agreed to take a care package to A and to take pictures. I bought him 3 onesies and a cloth photo album! In the photo album, I put pictures of me, of grandma and grandpa, and of one of the doggies. I hope that some of the great folks visiting him will show him the pictures and talk to him about it and that the nannies will too!
There are 3 other AAI families that are currently in country and visiting A's orphanage. I sent them his referral photo, so hopefully, they will find him and take some updated pictures for me. I'm getting a bit anxious for an update. I called Sally at the agency, and she said I may expect something around the end of the month!! I'm looking forward to that.
Tomorrow night, I will get together with other families in Birmingham who have adopted Ethiopian children. I'm really excited to have the opportunity to interact with all of the parents and kids!! I hope to develop relationships with these folks who all share a unique bond so that A has a connection with other Ethiopian Americans.
Can't wait to share more about that!!
Sunday, September 19, 2010
I was thrilled that A and B were able to deliver a package to my little guy in Addis. However, they were rushed at the orphanage, and they were only able to snap one quick picture of A-man, and he was sleeping! SO...you can't see much. It was less than I hoped for, but at least it was something!! At least I know that my little guy sleeps peacefully, with his mouth wide open, and that he has the cutest ears!:-)
I am working on making some more connections through the AAI Yahoo group with folks who will be traveling in October or November. People are so wonderful in offering to deliver packages and take pictures!! The adoption community seems to be full of incredible human beings!!
I have started acquiring furniture for A-man's room. My friend, Val, gave me a beautiful changing table, and last weekend, I bought a crib to match!! I just need to buy a rocker, and then I can decide how I'm going to paint and decorate the room!! I hope to get the room together by the end of October. This part will be fun!
Thursday, September 2, 2010
A couple using my agency will travel on Tuesday, September 7 to pick up their daughter from the same orphanage where my little guy is. They agreed to deliver a care package to my guy as well as to take pictures!! Very exciting! I just love the connections within the adoption community! Anyway, I bought a couple of outfits, a blanket, and a small toy for A-man (guess that's what we'll call him here!). I packed it up and sent it to them yesterday. Here are a few pics of A-man's first gifts from his mommy!
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Yesterday, after work, I looked at my cell, and there was a missed call from my adoption agency. I thought to myself--this is either really good news or possibly bad news......but my gut said "this is your referral!" This morning, I got the call from Sally! She told me I had a referral....a 2-month old boy that she described as a "cute little peanut." I couldn't breathe--excited, amazed, scared, thrilled! I started to cry immediately, but tried to hold it together while Sally gave me details about his health ("healthy baby"), his birth mom, where he was born, and where he is now. I asked her about possible travel, and she explained that the courts are closed in September. It will take a few weeks for them to assign me a court date when they return at the end of the month. She anticipates that those of us accepting referrals today will travel around the holidays for the first trip. This is perfect!! Very exciting news! I called mom and dad, brothers and sisters, friends, other adoptive parents, my local agency, etc. So fun to share the good news! She sent me an email with a picture of him as well as his orphanage and medical info. I decided to send all of that to the International Adoption Clinic here so that Dr. Chambers can give me her input, but I did accept the referral pending her evaluation!! Sally also put me in touch with a family that's traveling to my guy's orphanage next week, and I talked with them tonight. I'm going to send them a care package to deliver to my "peanut," and they agreed to take some more pictures for me! So exciting and so fortunate!!! What a great day! My birthday is in 5 days--happy birthday to me!:-)
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
My dossier is officially in Ethiopia and has been for a couple of weeks now. My agency told me this week that there is only one other family ahead of me for an infant referral, either gender! This is great news! They estimate that I should hear something in 2-3 months. That means that I should be matched to my baby by Thanksgiving! Once that happens, then I would travel 2-3 months after that to meet the baby and for court approvals.....and then about 6 weeks later, I will make a second trip to bring the baby home. A possible hold up in the timeline could be that the Ethiopian courts close completely for about 6 weeks from August 6th until mid September. So, this timeline could be pushed back another 6 weeks. Either way is fine with me....I'm just hoping to have a baby home by this spring!!
In the meantime, I have plenty to keep busy. My students come back this Saturday, and we have band camp for a week...and then school and the busy football season begins! Plenty to do while I wait for a referral!
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
I drove to Montgomery today and got the State Seal from the Secretary of State of Alabama on all of my documents!! Then I went to Fed Ex and spread everything out on the floor so I could really see all the paperwork! BIG SIGH!! I sent everything to the Assistant Stork in Washington DC, and they will hand deliver my documents to the US State Department and to the Ethiopian Embassy. After that, they send everything to my agency. Once they approve, everything goes to Ethiopia! Here's to hoping it's a smooth process!! I'm relieved that this part is DONE!!!
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
I got my I171 approval form in the mail today! It really was such a fast process. I mailed the I600A on June 14...got fingerprinted on June 29, and received my approval on July 6 (the date my fingerprint appointment was actually set for, but I snuck in early!). I had been nervous about the possibility of this taking some time, but it took exactly 3 weeks! I immediately got the form copied and notarized (I'm sure my friend, Carla--the notary at the bank--was happy to see me again!), and I took all of my dossier documents to the Jefferson County Courthouse for county certification of the notaries. Seventeen documents to be certified. Tomorrow, I will drive to Montgomery in order to get the dossier state sealed, and then I'll FedEx everything to the Assistant Stork (a courier service that takes the dossier to the US Department of State and the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, DC). From there, the dossier goes to my agency and then on to Ethiopia! Another step closer!!
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I received an e-mail today from the first agency I started with. They asked me if I would be interested in a domestic adoption. Apparently, a lawyer representing a birth mother contacted that agency--the birth mother was specifically looking for either a same sex couple or a single mom for her baby. I was immediately excited, scared, interested in learning more. I responded and asked for more info--details about the birth parents, health of the pregnancy, costs associated, timeline, do I need to hire a lawyer, etc. At the same time, I was worried--I had no intentions of giving up my Ethiopian adoption process, and I wondered how a possible domestic adoption would affect it. Then I started thinking about the possibility of adopting 2 babies within a year--one domestic and one Ethiopia...and then my mind started really racing! I spent several hours really thinking things through, considering, weighing the pros and cons. When I got home, I called my parents to talk through the possibilities with them. Then, I checked my e-mail: a message from the agency saying they're sorry, but an adoptive family had already been found!! Much ado about nothing for me!! This little event represents exactly why domestic adoption can be so hard and was not something I had chosen to do! My feelings about the news that a family had already been found--slightly disappointed....but honestly, relieved! I'm so excited about my Ethiopian adoption and the baby I've been imagining that I don't want anything to get in the way!
Friday, June 11, 2010
I just received word that both my home study and placing agency have approved my home study! That's great news because it means I can finally submit my I600A petition to bring a child into the US. Once this important step is approved, then my dossier will be complete!! One step closer!
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
I love it when I'm reminded how great people can be.....as I have been going through the dossier process, I have had to ask people for things. That's not something I often do! I usually try to be the independent one who can do everything on my own. However, that's not possible in the dossier process. For example, I have been to the credit union to get document after document notarized. Now, my new friend, Carla, is someone I can call by name every time I enter the bank! I was amazed at how helpful everyone has been so far in the process. Today, for example, I was finally able to connect with my doctor about the health statement. She was having a hard time finding anyone at the clinic to notarize for her, so I contacted my neighbor (who I just found out was a notary) and asked her to help. She met me at my doctor's office today so we could get the letter done. I really appreciate my neighbor going out of her way, leaving work to meet me at my doctor's office! So many people....part of the process....I won't take it for granted. I will be sure to show my appreciation for everyone along the way--that means my family, my friends who have written letters and supported me, even the clerk at the local police department! At this point, the adoption process is really reminding me of the GOOD in people!
Sunday, May 30, 2010
I made the decision to change agencies and countries. This is officially my 3rd placing agency (I just have to sigh when I add up those application fees!) I have a good feeling that this one is right. With the help of the folks at my home study agency, I was able to locate an agency that has a strong history in Ethiopia and a strong history placing single moms with young children. We found it, and I immediately contacted about a dozen of their references. I was amazed at the number of responses I received--all positive about the agency and their Ethiopian adoption experience. When I read the responses, talk to adoptive parents, or look at their blogs, I get more and more excited about the reality of the process! I sent in my formal application to them last week, and I am getting dossier materials together starting this week! YEAH!! I'm excited to finally be moving forward.
Friday, May 21, 2010
I did a lot of emailing, calling, and questioning this week about what the minimum 3-month hold on Kaz was really going to do. The truth is--no one really knows that the hold will only be 3 months (although most of the experts in the adoption field I've talked with DO think the change of Kaz to Hague policies will go fast). Apparently, most of what Kaz currently does is Hague compliant already.....but I still wonder how long the already-long process will be extended, and do I really have any kind of connection to this country anyway?? All of this has caused me to rethink country choices again.
I went to lunch last week with a single gal who is adopting from Ethiopia. She should be bringing home her child sometime this summer! I had a great time visiting with her, and I was amazed at how similar our thought-processes regarding adoption had been.
I had researched Ethiopia at the same time I was researching Kaz, but neither of the agencies I had worked with were taking single applicants for Ethiopia, so I kind of dismissed it. After going to my home study agency and talking with the social workers there, we got online and on the phone and found a couple of agencies that would indeed take single applicants for infants! So this is where I am now--researching these 2 agencies....contacting their references....seeing what the actual process looks like with Ethiopia. I'm feeling really positive about it at this point. I plan to have a firm decision by the end of the weekend...I'm ready to move forward with this!!
By the way--my fingerprints have finally been processed by ABI, and I should receive my clearance any day now. This means that we can complete my home study. So if I just make up my mind about agency and country, I'm on it!!
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Today, I met an adoptive Kaz mom for coffee. We had a great time! We talked for nearly two hours about her kids, her experience in Kaz and since she's been home. It was wonderful! I loved meeting her, and I loved talking "shop" about Kaz adoptions. That's the top of the coaster!
THEN....I got a call from my program coordinator this afternoon...and she told me that Kazakhstan had made the decision to go Hague today. They are halting all adoptions for a minimum of 3 months in order to implement the changes in policies. I'm actually in a good place in terms of my paperwork and not having to make too many adjustments to changing over to Hague....BUT...I'm wondering how the halt will affect the process....will there be a backlog of dossiers waiting in country to be placed? Will it affect the age of the child I will be able to be matched with? How will this change affect the process? I'm confused and looking for answers. I hope to find them in the next couple of days.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Yesterday, I went to get fingerprinted for the 2nd time! The first time, the prints went to the Alabama Bureau of Investigation/FBI for clearance of criminal record/child abuse. I just submitted another set of prints to the FBI in West Virginia to release my "criminal records" to my placing agency. Apparently this process takes 10-13 weeks. I'm not sure why they couldn't just check with the first guys......I understand that I actually will do another set of prints for something else down the line...I'll let you know when I figure out why and when on that one too!
I also signed my contract with my placing agency today...had to get everything notarized, and I set up an account with FedEx so that the agency will always be able to charge me for everything they ship on my behalf.
I received the fee schedule for an adoption from Kazakhstan...YIKES!!! It's really overwhelming when you look at all the money that will somehow, someway go into this process! I got a little depressed about it last night--thinking about this huge financial commitment. It's scary. I need to stop shopping and eating out!!
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Happy Mother's Day to my mom and all the moms out there! I am so lucky to have the most incredible mother in the world....she is a wonderful role model. My mom is unstoppable! She has a special quality about her--a level of confidence that says she can take on the world! She is a fierce advocate and an unyielding bond for her family...always has been. She always told me--and all of us--that we could do anything or be anything, and she encouraged each of us to accomplish our goals. She has always supported me and continues to--in all that I do. I am so lucky that she is so smart...so strong...so loving....so open...so generous...so absolutely beautiful in every way. I love you, mom!
Friday, May 7, 2010
Tonight, I had my second home study visit. It was fun! I got to talk about my parents, brothers and sisters...growing up....I relived a lot of great memories. I'm so lucky to have a family that is so loving and supportive. My social worker said--"your baby won't be coming home to just a mom but an entire extended family of people who will love him or her." That made me smile! I feel good about where I am. I will complete the I-600 form this weekend and hope to get to serious work on the dossier next week. Tomorrow, I attend the international adoption seminar at UAB. I'm looking forward to learning and to meeting some other prospective adoptive parents!
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
I wrote an email to an agency that I had decided not to use.....I just explained that I had chosen Kazakhstan and an agency that has had success placing children with single moms. The response I got was worrisome. She threw a whole bunch of "threats" at me--said I should make sure I ask the new agency about the possibility of singles not being allowed to adopt in the near future, the delays caused because Kaz is likely to go Hague, the incredible amount of travel time in country--8-9 weeks....it felt like scare tactics, to try to get me to come back to her agency. I know there are no guarantees in adoption...or in life, for that matter.....and choosing an adoption agency feels like such a gamble.
I hope I made the right choice...I wonder how many times in the next year or so I will question my decision....it's already an emotional roller coaster, and I've just begun!
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Saturday, May 1, 2010
I started the adoption journey on March 21, 2010, when I sent in an application to begin a Russian adoption. A few weeks later, there was a distressing incident, when a mother in Tennessee who had adopted a Russian boy returned him to Russia. Not only did this incident potentially slow down the adoption process for Americans in Russia, but it brought to my attention the serious problems with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Effects is the Eastern Bloc countries. SO...I began looking for other options for adoption.
As a single person, the options these days are not many....especially if you want to adopt an infant--and I do. I spent MANY hours on the internet doing research, talking with various adoption agencies, contacting adoptive parents, and simply exploring to come up with the best decision for me.....well...after much deliberation, I have decided to go with Kazakhstan. I mailed a new application to another agency today, and I am moving forward with a Kazakhstan adoption! I am excited and scared...but mostly excited! Today, my journey begins, and I look forward to sharing it with you all along the way!