Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I am really excited because we have already booked our room, and we are staying with two, maybe three other families who are traveling at the same time. They are adopting from the same agency as we are, so we have become friends over the past few months. It will be so nice to have the support and company of the other families. I cannot wait!!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Mason, your mommy, daddy, and little sister Paige love you and are coming to get you baby.
Now, on to celebrating!!!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
We will keep all of you updated, but if we pass we are looking to travel late January or early February. If we do not pass, our court date will be rescheduled and it will further delay us getting to bring our little boy home.
Also praying for the several other families who have a court date tonight. Good luck!!!
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Friday night, we went to eat at a local Ethiopian restaurant, called Habesha. There we met three families who have brought home their children, one family on the infant girl waiting list, and two adoption coordinators at IAN. Paige had a blast playing with all of the children while Robbie and I visited with the adults. We also got to try Ethiopian food for the very first time, which was a great experience.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
"he has been scooting around in a walker. has a wonderful smile. is sitting up by himself. I think he has 4 teeth. 2 upper, 2 lower. he has a cough and was feeling under the weather today. One of the nannies was giving him extra tlc."
Of course I hate to hear that he is not feeling well, but at least I know to be praying extra hard for him right now. Hope he gets to feeling better soon. Poor baby!
Then, the day got even better!! I was dropping Paige off at school when the phone rang. I saw that it was Allison, but unfortunately I couldn't pick up the phone. As soon as I dropped Paige off, I called her back and she didn't answer. I hate missing calls from her, because she is my favorite person to talk to right now. A few minutes later, she called back with the good news...
We have a December 9th court date!!! Oh my gosh, I can't believe it. We are one step closer to bringing him home. We need lots of prayers right now, because there have been several families lately, who have not passed court the first time. Although I am hoping and praying that this will not happen to us, I am also realistic, and am trying to prepare myself for anything!!
I also found out that there are 4 other families who received the same court date. Good luck to all of those families as well. Hopefully we will meet you soon in Ethiopia!
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
We are very fortunate, because Max Lucado is our preacher at church. Sunday morning his message was titled "The Have-Nots", and it was about the people in the world who are less fortunate then we are. He began to tell a story about a family in Ethiopia, who along with so many other families, are struggling to survive on a daily basis. He then began to discuss the children in Ethiopia, who are at such a disadvantage simply because of where they were born.
As you can imagine, I was crying the entire sermon. I was crying for the people of Ethiopia and the rest of the world who live in these conditions. I was crying for our little boy who has had to struggle so much of his short life, and will continue to live in unfavorable conditions until we are able to go get him. I was crying f0r his family who had to make the decision to give him up for adoption so that he could survive, a decision that I cannot even fathom. But mainly, I was crying because I was overwhelmed at the message God was sending us. We are doing exactly what He has been asking us to do for so long. Why have we waited so long? Why have I let my fears and worries get in the way of a precious innocent life who deserves so much more. You see, we were given a golden ticket, just because of where we were born, and yet we take so much of it for granted, because we have no idea of what it means to truly struggle everyday.
Thank you God for sending us this message! I can see a lot more clearly now, and I hope that through this whole experience, we can help relay Your message to as many people as we possibly can.
Monday, October 12, 2009
It was Monday, October 5th, I had just dropped Paige off at school (she goes to afternoon Pre-K), and I was getting some lunch when the phone rang. I saw the Colorado area code and knew that it was Allison calling. I answered the phone...
'Hi Amanda, How are you?"
"I'm good, how are you?"
"I'm good. I just have a quick question for you. I know you said that you want as young as possible, but what would be the oldest age you would accept?"
"What do you mean? Are you talking about in our 0-24 month range?" We will accept anything in that range."
"So you will consider a one year old little boy?"
"Of course we will"
"Well, I may have some good news for you this afternoon."
As soon as I got off the phone, I called Robbie to tell him. He couldn't believe it, and he told me to patch him in as soon as she called back. After about an hour of waiting (which seemed like a lifetime), she called back, and as soon as I had Robbie on the phone, she told us the good news.
We have a referral of a beautiful one year old little boy, and as soon as we saw his precious face, it was love at first sight. I think we were both surprised at how quickly we fell in love with him. Although we wanted to accept the referral immediately, we had been advised to have his medical records reviewed before we rushed into a decision. So, Tuesday morning I emailed his records to our International Adoption Pediatric Specialist, at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. Unfortunately, they could not schedule a phone consultation until Friday morning, so we had to wait four days to make it official, but as of Friday afternoon, it is!!!!
Now, the wait begins again. This time, for a court date. We are expecting this to be a while, perhaps 8 weeks, because the courts have been closed for almost two months for the rainy season. In fact, they just opened today, so they will probably be backlogged for awhile. The court appointment will be when he legally becomes our child. We will not travel to Ethiopia for that, we have someone there who will take care of it on our behalf. Once we pass court, it will probably be another 8 weeks before we can get the immigration paperwork to bring him back to the United States, so we are probably looking at another 4 months before we can travel to get him. Now that we know what his little face looks like, it is going to be so hard to wait. The mommy and daddy in us makes us want to leave everything here and go over there now, but unfortunately that is not an option. In the meantime, we will continue to stare at his precious face and pray for him, as often as we can.
Friday, October 2, 2009
I have been doing a lot of praying lately, because I just feel like we are getting really close, and I know big changes are in the works for our family as well as for him and his biological family. I will let you know as soon as I hear. I actually spoke to the lady that is #1 on the list, and she assured me that she would let me know as soon as she hears something as well.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
"We just received word from our facilitator in Ethiopia that the courts will be opening back up on October 7, 2009. This means that we will not be assigned new court dates until after the 7th."
The date was actually changed to the 12th today, but this does not affect us either way, because we are still waiting for our referral. However, it went on to say...
"Also- our staff in Ethiopia has confirmed that the US Embassy is now requiring all documents to be submitted 2 weeks prior to an Embassy Date. This means that travel will now be a minimum of 8 weeks after passing court as it takes six weeks to collect all necessary documents for the embassy appointment."
The wait had previously been between 4 and 6 weeks, so this will definitely push us back on traveling. As hard as the wait is now, I hear that the wait between referral and traveling is much harder, so this is a little bit of a disappointment. However, I know that everything happens for a reason, and it is all in God's timing. I am trying to be at peace with that.
Friday, September 25, 2009
This week, I met with another lady who is also adopting from International Adoption Net. They are # 9 on the baby girl list. It is so awesome to have the opportunity to visit with someone who is going through the exact same experience that we are, and to know that our Ethiopian children will have friends to play with, with similar backgrounds. Thank You God for putting these new friends into our lives.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
We took a last minute trip to San Diego, over Labor Day Weekend. Here are some pictures from our vacation.
Paige had a blast at Legoland. She even got her face painted like a dalmation, and loved all of the attention she got from it.
She loves posing for the camera.
Finally, Paige's fifth birthday was last Wednesday. Here is our annual picture of her, in front of her birthday sign.
I have more from her birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, but I am still trying to figure out how to get them off of my other camera. If I figure out how to do it in the next few days, I will post some of those.
Monday, September 14, 2009
As I mentioned before, this is all a learning experience for me, so I asked Allison a lot more questions. Here is what I found out...
The waiting at this point, is actually waiting for a child to arrive at the orphanage. Prior to learning this, I had assumed that the waiting was just for the processing of paperwork. Of course, once a child arrives at an orphanage, it takes a few weeks before he can be referred, because he has to undergo medical testing and they have to make sure that he is truly abandoned. This is relieving to me, because I have always thought that the less time he is in an orphanage the better. However, with that being said, at least at the orphanage he will receive some sort of nourishment, and you don't know what he is or is not getting before he arrives there. I guess it could be a good thing or a bad thing.
I also learned that once a young child is referred, he is typically moved to IAN's transition home. I believe there are less children here, therefore I am assuming he will receive better care here and more love and attention. This is where he will stay until we can get him. Allison said that they do not move the older children here, until they actually pass court, because they would never want to move them back to the orphanage, in the event that something changed. The little ones however, are moved because of overcrowding in the orphanage. This is great news, because obviously we are going to want him to be in a situation where he will receive the best care.
Finally, I have joined IAN's yahoo group, and have been amazed with the camaraderie amongst the members. Of course you have people in all stages of the process. Some are still gathering paperwork, some are on waiting lists, some have received referrals and are waiting for court dates, some have passed court and are waiting for travel dates, some are traveling, and some have already returned home. The most amazing thing to me is those who are traveling to pick up their children are taking things (like medication) for people who are waiting to travel, as well as taking pictures and sending updates on everyone's children. One gentleman, who just left to pick up his child, is apparently a doctor, and is doing physicals on everyone's children. It makes me so excited to get a referral and have people do this for us, as well as to travel and get to do this for other people who are half a world away from their children. If nothing else, this whole process has reminded me of the goodness that still exists in the world today.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
I also saw on another blog that a family who had their fingerprints taken 3 weeks before us, just received their I-171H. This leads me to believe that we should have ours in about 3 weeks. Because we cannot receive a referral before this comes, I am not expecting any movement until at least then, so things should be slowing down. Everything has moved so fast up until this point, I have gotten a little spoiled. Now I am going to have to get used to just waiting.
Finally, our dossier was reviewed on Wednesday, and I spoke with Allison on Friday. She said everything looked good, except for one small thing. She forgot to tell me that one more document needed to be state certified. So, she is going to send it back to me and as soon as I receive it, Paige and I will head back to Austin. It was such an easy trip last week, that it is worth not having to wait the ten days it would otherwise take in the mail.
I will keep you updated...
Sunday, August 23, 2009
We are officially #4 on the waiting list!!
I finished gathering and notarizing all of the documents for the dossier, on Monday, and planned to drive to Austin to have them state certified Tuesday. However, I learned Monday night that the Secretary of State's computer system has been down. I tried to call their office on Tuesday, but of course could not get anyone to answer, so I decided I better wait before making the trip. Needless to say, I was very disappointed.
Wednesday morning, we had our appointment with the Office of Homeland Security to have our fingerprints taken. I had read on several blogs that this was a quick appointment, so I told Robbie we would be in and out in no time. Well, of course this was not the case for us, and for those of you who know Robbie, you know that he does not have the most patience for sitting and waiting, especially on a workday. To make things worse, they will not let you bring cell phones in, so he was completely out of commission (work wise) for well over an hour. However, he made it through it. Now we just have to pray that our fingerprints take so we will not have to go back again. If everything does goes well, we should receive our I-171H in a few weeks. This again is our paperwork that allows us to bring our little boy back to the U.S.
Before going to the appointment Wednesday morning, I got online to check the Secretary of State's website. There was a message that their system was still down. I checked again after our appointment, and...still down. Finally, I told Robbie that I was going to make the trip anyway, hoping that they had some way of getting our documents certified. Our adoption coordinator only works on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I knew if I didn't get the documents to her on Thursday, I would lose several days. So, Paige and I packed up and drove to Austin, praying the whole way. When we arrived, everything was running fine, and we were in and out in thirty minutes, with our documents state certified.
Once we returned home, I drove straight to FedEx and overnighted our dossier to Colorado. I probably tracked the package 100 times between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, until I saw that it arrived safely at IAN. Then, I just waited for Allison to call. I waited until probably 2:30 and was just about to call her, when the phone rang, and I saw the Colorado area code. It was Allison on the other end of the phone telling me that she received everything and that they are going to go through it all next Wednesday, before sending it on to D.C. In the meantime, she had good news...we were officially added to the wait list at #6. Right where we thought we would be!!! But wait, she had more good news. #6 was deceiving, because they just received three referrals and one family already accepted one of them, so by 4:30 we were already #5, and Friday another family accepted their referral, so we are now officially #4!!!
She also informed me that #1 on the list is unexpectedly pregnant, so as long as she doesn't have any complications in her pregnancy, they will skip to the next in line. So, if the third family accepts their referral and the #1 does not have any complications in pregnancy, we are unofficially #2!!! Can you believe it? Already, that fast? As I said earlier, there is no rhyme or reason to how often they receive a referral, but after looking back several months it is about one a month. So, I am hoping to know something by October. Maybe for my birthday we will find out who our precious little boy is. I also learned that our dossier says we will accept a little boy up to 24 months. Allison asked me if there was an age in which we did not want to accept, but I told her that we were just going to pray for God to send us the right little boy for our family, regardless of age. I just feel like everything happens for a reason. There is a reason that we agreed to putting 0 - 24 months on the dossier, and there is a reason that we are where we are on the list. I just want to leave it all in God's hands. With that being said, please pray with us, that we receive the perfect match.
In the meantime, I guess we will just have to wait...
Sunday, August 16, 2009
So, I am going to head to Austin, Tuesday, to get a couple of the documents state certified and then I am going to put our dossier in the mail. Allison told me that there are still only 4 families on the infant boy waiting list, so we could be number 5!!! I will let you know as soon as we hear something.
By the way, we also received our fingerprinting appointments and will do that Wednesday morning, at 10:00. Everything is moving right along. I cannot believe it is going so fast. Faster than I can keep up with, that's for sure. We better get some things ready around the house, we are not quite prepared for a baby.
Please keep praying for our little one. Now that things are moving so fast, I feel like he is probably already born. Thanks so much!
Sunday, August 9, 2009
We received our notarized copies of the homestudy Tuesday, July 28th, and I had it, along with our I-600a, in the mail to The Department of Homeland Security that afternoon. Again, this is our application to bring an orphan to the United States. On Thursday, August 6th, I received a letter back requesting more information, so I have spent the weekend gathering the items they requested, and will put it back into the mail tomorrow. Hopefully we will have a fingerprint appointment soon. Again, this process usually takes approximately 6 weeks and then we will finally be put on the waiting list.
I also spoke with our adoption coordinator, Allison, and she asked up to raise our age from 0-12 months to 0-18 months. She said that we do not have to accept a child this old, but that in the event that the paperwork gets caught up in court while our child turns one, it will save us time amending the documents. Does that make sense? In other words, if our child turns one, before we are able to process the adoption, we will have to go back and change a lot of paperwork, thus prolonging the adoption even furthur. So, this is just a precautionary step to save us time, in the event that we needed it in the future. With that being said, we could end up with an older child than we first expected. Robbie is excited, because he would prefer an older child, but I am hoping for as young as possible. Either way, we are just praying for the right child for our family, regardless of age.
Allison also said that there are only 4 families on the little boy waiting list right now. So, at this point the wait may not be as long as we had originally expected!! I do not think there really is any rhyme or reason to how the referrals come. I believe there were two little boy referrals in June and one in July, so that could mean two to three months waiting, as opposed to the original five to six I was anticipating.
On the other hand, I also learned that the courts in Ethiopia are closing August 21 until late September for the rainy season. This happens every year, so it is really no surprise, and hopefully this will not affect us too much, since we are not on the waiting list yet. However, I think that this will mean two things. One, that there will not be any referrals during that time, thus the wait list will not change; and two, we may not be able to actually get on the wait list until the courts open back up. I had hoped to be on the wait list by mid September, but since there has been a hiccup with the I-600a, I anticipate that that will push us back on time anyhow.
So, what does all of this mean? It means that things change daily, and it is so difficult to predict anything. I am just trying to keep an open mind about everything, and trying not to get my hopes up about anything, but if I was going to get my hopes up and predict, I would guess that maybe we will be traveling closer to the beginning of the year, as opposed to early Summer. : )
I will post again, as soon as we receive new information. Thanks for checking back.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
With that being said, here is what the adoption process entails.
1. Apply to adoption agency
2. Upon approval, begin homestudy process. This is where you begin collecting TONS of paperwork, including...
- a six page application
- a 12 page questionnaire going back as far as elementary school
- photographs of our family
- 3 personal references
- verification of employment
- verification of health insurance
- a certificate of financial status, indicating assets, liabilities, etc.
- tax returns
- monthly income and expenditures
- physical exams for all 3 of us
- marriage license
- work history for the past ten years
- residence history for the past ten years
- copies of drivers licenses
- copies of social security cards
- birth certificates
- a floor plan of house with dimensions of each room
- photos of the front and back yard
- photocopies of any degrees we have
- local police clearances
- vaccination records for our dog
- home visits and interviews with our social worker
- 10 hours of adoption training
3. Upon completion of homestudy, we have to send an application for advance processing of an orphan petition and get fingerprinted at the US Immigration Services
4. Upon getting your I-171H from US Immigration, you submit your Dossier to the Ethiopian government, where it has to be translated into Amharic. The Dossier includes the following, which all have to be notarized and state certified...
- adoption approval from adoption agency
- a letter to the Ethiopian government explaining our intent to adopt
- birth certificates
- marriage license
- our homestudy report
- international placement agency license
- criminal clearance reports
- employment verification
- medical exams
- a financial letter from our bank
- tax returns for the past three years
- proof of medical insurance for ourselves and our adopted child
- three reference letters
- power of attorney
- post adoption agreement
- 8 passport photos
- I-171-H from the US Immigration Services
5. Now, you just wait for referral, which could take 5 - 6 months
6. Referral of your child - this is where we will receive a photo and any medical history available on the child that we have been matched with. After reviewing the information and speaking with an International Adoption Pediatric Specialist, we will decide whether or not to accept the referral or wait for another.
7. Upon acceptance of a referral, we will have to wait to pass court in Ethiopia, which I am not sure how long it will take. I think a month or two.
8. Upon passing court, we will then travel to Ethiopia to pick up our baby. We will most likely be in Ethiopia approximately five days, so complete travel time will be approximately nine or ten days.
So, where are we in this whole process? We are between step two and three. Our homestudy is complete, but we are having to make a few changes to it, before it is notarized. I am hoping that we will receive the notarized copies by the end of this week, which means we will be able to send our application to Immigration Services. At that point, we could wait up to six weeks to be fingerprinted and receive our report back, before we can submit our Dossier.
If that all happens according to schedule, we could be on the waitlist sometime in early to mid September, which means we could have a referral by February or March, and traveling in April or May of 2010. However, anything can change at anytime that can either move us ahead of schedule or behind. At this point, I am trying not to get my hopes up about anything, and trying to be realistic that it could be even longer than expected.
Before I forget, we are requesting a little boy under 12 months of age. That is all we know at this point, but I can't help but think he is growing in an Ethiopian woman's belly at this time. Robbie even thinks he could be born already. Either way, please pray for him. Pray that he is as healthy as possible, given the circumstances, and that he is getting enough nutrition to grow and develop. Pray that God gives him comfort and peace while he waits for us to come get him. Pray for his biological mother, as she is probably having to make the hardest decision of her life, and finally, please pray for our current family as we are all about to experience a huge adjustment in our lives. Thanks so much for your prayers and continued support through all of this!!
Thursday, July 16, 2009
According to unicef.org,
- Ethiopia counts one of the largest populations of orphans in the world: 13 per cent of children throughout the country are missing one or both parents. This represents an estimated 4.6 million children – 800,000 of whom were orphaned by HIV/AIDS.
and according to orphan.childrenshope.net
- The average annual income in Ethiopia is $1,000 compared to $43,800 in the U.S.- The average life expectancy is 49 years compared to 78 years in the U.S.- Access to Safe Water is 22% compared to 100% in the U.S.- Adequate Sanitation is 6% compared to 100% in the U.S.- The under 5 years old mortality rate is 92 deaths/1000 live births, compared to 6.4 deaths/1000 live births in the U.S.
UNBELIEVABLE!! That makes you realize how truly blessed we are.
Our social worker also told us that another advantage of adopting from Ethiopia is that they do not have an alcohol or drug problem there, so we do not have to worry about fetal alcohol syndrom like we would in the U.S. or other countries. Another thing I am finding out, is there is actually quite a few people around San Antonio that already have or are currently in the process of adopting from Ethiopia, so that will provide for some excellent resources along the road. It will also give our child the opportunity to get to know other children who have also been adopted from Ethiopia.
We are obviously very excited about our decision, but we still have a long way to go. I will inform you of the adoption process and how far along we are in the next post. Thanks to all of you for your support!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
For those of you who don't know us, Robbie and I have always had adoption in our hearts. We have discussed it on several occasions over the years, but up to this point, for whatever reason, the timing was never right. Finally, in May of this year, we officially decided that it was time.
Although we have always really wanted to adopt internationally, we had strong concerns about taking Paige with us to a potential third world country, and leaving her out of this very important step in the process was not an option for our family. Because of this concern, we briefly began investigating domestic adoption, however, Robbie seemed a little less excited that we were not adopting internationally. Therefore, after I discussed with our social worker and other people who have adopted internationally, I became more comfortable with the travel involved and now we couldn't imagine it any other way. As an added bonus to picking up the newest addition to our family, we also believe this experience will be very good for Paige, not only will it expose her to life outside of her "bubble" but it will help open all of our eyes to exactly how blessed we are.
This being said, we have decided to adopt a little boy from Africa!! Why Africa??? Check back later this week to find out...