Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cookin' with Cory

What shall I do?  My stand mixer spun its last breath just as the newest batch of divinity was setting into its divine twirliness!  Oh dear, what ever shall I do?

Dun dun dun dahhh!  Cory to the rescue! 

They don't call 'em drillers for nothin', amirite?? 

Divinity for all and for all a good night.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


What do you get when you mix egg whites, corn syrup, sugar...

pecans and vanilla?

Divinity!  Mmmmm... sweet enough to strip paint, but yummy, promise!

What do you get when you melt butter, sugar....

and pistachios?

Pistachio brittle!

Leftover pecans?  Mix them with butter, sugar and spices, toast lightly...

and eat!

Yes, this has zero to do with adoption, but was sure a nice way to spend a morning.  Mmmmmmmmmmmm...............

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ethical Adoptions in Ethiopia

On Dec. 6, the State Department issued this release regarding ethical adoptions in Ethiopia:

Adoption Processing at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa

December 6, 2010
The Department of State continues to be concerned about reports highlighting adoption related fraud, malfeasance, and abuse in Ethiopia, and acknowledges the concerns expressed by families over the integrity of the adoption process.  The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa actively tracks all adoption visa cases, incorporating information provided by adoption agencies and the Government of Ethiopia, to ensure that the adoption process continues to operate transparently and ethically.

The Ethiopian government requires that adoptive parents must appear at the Ethiopian federal court hearing for their adoptive child in order for the adoption to be approved.  If there are two adoptive parents but only one parent can attend the hearing, special permission from the federal court must be obtained in advance,* and the attending parent must have a power of attorney from the other.  It generally takes three weeks or more after the court date for the adoption agency to obtain the documentation necessary for an immigrant visa application, including the adopted child’s birth certificate and Ethiopian passport.  Adoptive parents can expect to wait at least one month after the court hearing for a visa interview appointment.  

Adoptive parents should be aware that in all adoption visa cases worldwide, an I-604 investigation must be completed in connection with every I-600 application.  Depending on the circumstances of the case, this investigation may take several weeks or even months to complete.  Additional information may be required to determine the facts surrounding a child’s relinquishment or abandonment and whether a child meets the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law.   The Embassy strongly recommends that adoptive parents who return to the U.S. after the court hearing not travel again to Ethiopia for the immigrant visa process until they have confirmed with their adoption agency that the Embassy has scheduled a visa interview.  Those who plan to stay in Ethiopia between the court hearing and interview should obtain Ethiopian visas in advance of travel, and ensure the validity of their visas to avoid immigration proceedings and/or significant fines.

There's more to this notice, but the gist of it is that talks continue regarding the level of ethics in Ethiopian adoptions.  What does this mean for us?  Honestly, we don't actually know.  The unknowns in adoption are killers, but here are  the two main options:
1.  Adoptions continue as they are, with certain agencies/orphanages investigated.  These groups could lose their licenses to continue adoptions in Ethiopia.  We feel certain that our agency is doing everything above-board, so this is not a particular concern for us.
2.  Ethiopia adoptions authorities could decide to become Hague-certified.  This means that adoptions will be suspended for a period of time for the country and agencies to prove their ethical procedures, participate in training, etc.  This would be an excellent move for the kiddos in-country, as it is one more step on the way to making each and every adoption as ethical as possible.  Not sure what our next move would be if this happens--at this point, we do not have a back-up plan.
There is always the possibility of Ethiopia shutting down the program completely, but with ongoing talks and the opening up of additional orphanages to adoptions, it seems like the program will not be permanently closed at this time.  This is our hope.

Another article came out today, outlining additional ideas of the future of Ethiopian adoptions.  He actually refers to the process as the "baby pipeline"--yikes and dang.  I wish, very strongly wish, that some of these articles would include agencies that are doing the ethical thing every single time and families that will only accept (to the best of their abilities) ethical adoptions.  Adoptive parents never, ever want their child to question whether their adoption was legal and morally the right decision.
Wait times seem to have grown in the small time that we have been working on our adoption.  Not really sure what this means, or if it means anything at all.  So at this point, we are just trucking along and hoping against hope that adoptions continue, that wait times do not increase exponentially, and that discussions of ethical adoptions also continue to be productive. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bring Your Dog To Work Day

(I fear this is becoming a Dawg Blawg)
My workplace is extremely dog-friendly--I think it's a Seattle thing.  Knowing how intelligent Maggie is, and always needing an extra mind and mutt-like work ethic, I enlisted her for the day.  She assured me she would be of assistance...

...put on her snazziest scarf, and headed in.

She recognized the client needs immediately, and sprang into action...

setting the keyboard ablaze …

applying for grants like her life depended on it...

and just generally rocking the workplace.  How am I ever going to get my job done without this level of efficiency?

Excellent work, M-Diddy!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store

So yesterday was, well, just pretty crappy.  But today was wonderful.  We went to Leavenworth, which is not only the name of the prison where Michael Vick was held, but also a charming German-themed village in the heart of the Cascades.  It was blizzardy, beautiful and just generally getting it's Christmas on.  Very Who-Ville.  The snow was coming down pretty hard in huge, wet flakes and the atmosphere was festive. 

At 4:45 (keep in mind, it's dark at 4:30 here) a group of children walked down the center of town singing "Silent Night", and each building lit up as they passed.  Kitschy-cutesie, yes.  But everyone was into it, the feeling was one of goodwill and community, and was just what we needed.  Maggie was a very good girl, who let all of the children pet her, and was rewarded with a kiddie bratwurst which she promptly inhaled.  A lovely day!

Friday, December 10, 2010

“You’re so lucky you didn’t have to go through pregnancy!  Stretchmarks are the worst!” 
“You want my kids?   Oh, the days of sleeping in!  Are you sure you want kids?  They’re a ton of work.”
Ouch, that smarts.
“You’re adopting?  Ohhh, you  know what’s going to happen now! “
OK, now, them’s fightin’ words.  And all in one day.  Dang.
After three years of infertility, I’ve heard it all and really, truly don’t think I’m all that sensitive to the typical comments  (yes, I’m more than aware that not having a baby increases my chances of cervical cancer, but thanks for bringing it up….again! A vacation will cure infertility?  Wow, thanks for your unsolicited advice!  A fertility doctor, you say?  I’ve been seeing the local vet, but maybe a fertility doctor will do the trick!)  This blog is not about the negatives, but it’s just been One of Those Days, and just have to say…..I am continually surprised by the insensitivity of those around us.  And it’s Friday. And I’m tired. 
And I am eternally grateful for those who stand behind us as we face the uncertain future, with support, love and excitement for our future family.  In fact, I am more grateful for you every day.
So thanks.  We couldn’t do this without you.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hey, baby, you authenticated?

Best pick-up line ever!  No?  Hmmm… well, we officially are authenticated by the Secretaries of State for Washington, Montana and California.  Very exciting—that is another huge step out of the way.  The authenticated documents come with official looking covers on them, and the notary actually used a bit of water on some docs to smudge the signatures—making sure they are real, as copies can be pretty deceiving these days.  This weekend, among other things, we are going to be attending a Kwanzaa party at the agency and writing our letter to the Ethiopian adoption authorities asking for them to approve us for adoption.  The letter has me seriously stumped—I mean, how in the world can we express how much we want to be parents?  Think I’ll be googling that one before attempting to write it!
We attended an excellent class this weekend on adopting a child 0-3 years old.  It was one of the best courses yet, and that is saying a lot.  The teacher (who has adopted 4 children, now grown) covered everything from nuts-and-bolts paperwork information to how to handle race and privacy issues down the road.  It was a really, really good class and we are looking forward to many more!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Morning Haikus

So I'm in a haiku-kinda mood (a short poem following a 5-7-5 syllable format), so hear ya'll go:

An Ode to Adoption:

Will the paperwork
this mountain of paperwork
make us a family?

An Ode to Tripper The Cat

In slumber hear sounds
cat vomit hairball somewhere
doggie midnight snack

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Home Visit, Check!

Done!  One more (major) thing to check off the list.  The home visit was everything we expected: stressful, long and somewhat (well, very) invasive.  However, the social worker is clearly completely on our side, is acting as our advocate, and feels that she can support our decision to be adoptive parents wholeheartedly.  At the end she said that she has no reservations or concerns moving forward, not that we were particularly concerned, but still----phew!.  Our homestudy, which is soon to be a legal document and used to apply for immigration (the last step before being added to The List), should be ready in the next 8 weeks.  In the meantime, we are going to work on our dossier and enjoy the holiday season.  We have felt very under the gun to get stuff done and out, so it's kind of nice to know that we can't move anything along any faster right now.  So we will do little things here and there, and get the dossier done, done, done. 
We have a full-day class this weekend on adopting a baby and a Kwanzaa party at the agency the following Friday.  Hopefully we will continue to meet other adoptive families and learn more about the process. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mi casa es su casa....

Oh, the anxiety!! Our homestudy is tomorrow, and, of course, I am completely freaked out about it.  Cory is far more zen-like in his approach so at least one of us is calm(ish).  I, however, have decided that something is going to go terribly wrong--this whole experience has been pretty smooth, so the other shoe has to drop at some point, right?  And for some reason I have convinced myself that the problem is Maggie, our 11-year-old furbaby.  She is known as the Photoshopped Dog (my sister's nickname), as she has a spaniel face, a lab body and toothpick legs, with large ballbearing google eyes that generally point in opposite directions.  She’s a beaut, let me tell you.  As she is regularly beaten up by our cats I don't know why I am convinced that she is going to leap into action, Cujo-style, and disembowel the social worker, but there you have it.  If you haven't met Maggie yet, here is a picture: 

She had a long day of hiking and digging trenches in our campground, and was tired and cold.  This picture just screams fatherly love, doesn't it?  Someone get this man a baby, and make it snappy!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ice, Ice, Baby!

So our home visit is officially canceled.  It is actually beautiful outside, but around 20 degrees with several inches of snow on the ground.  We are rescheduled for next Tuesday morning.  Argh. 
On the plus side, we are both home and safe right now.  The roads are very, very dangerous, and many people who went to work yesterday were stuck for 10+ hours on the freeways.  Yikes! 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Oh, the weather outside is frightful....

It's snowing here.....a lot. 

Will the home visit be canceled?  Probably, but we are holding out hope that the ice on the roads will magically vanish before tomorrow.  In the event we are on for the visit, I made some chocolate chip pumpkin bread this morning (yes, I had an official Snow Day!  Can't complain about that!).


Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Challenge For You, Dear Friends

I challenge any of you to have a house cleaner than ours is right now, pre-home visit.  Seriously, this place is absolutely spotless and pet-fur-free, and that is no easy feat!  Our wonderful, amazing cousins (and, of course, good friends) braved the snow (yes, snow) to help with the cleaning efforts, so we were done lickety-split.  So here's a shout-out to them--thanks again, guys!!  We couldn't have done it without yout! 

Cory also steam cleaned our disgusting carpets so they are (sort of) white again without obvious cat-barf stains, and everyone got baths.  Poor Maggie...

And, of course, she needed a blow-dry, although she kept trying to eat the air out of the hose....

To prepare for the home visit, we were told to relax (yeah, right), not clean in excess (again, yeah right) and make the place "homey".  So here's a question--is this too kissy-kissy?

Yes, the title is "E for Ethiopia"--a wonderful kids' book--just laying, you know, just casually laying out on the nightstand in the future nursery.  Too much?  We can't decide.  Not that we're overthinking things or anything.  :-)

In other news, this week we attended a class called "A Sort of Life", which gives an overview of a child's life in an orphanage.  The title itself made me pretty sad, and the class was very insightful into the challenges of life inside an instituton. One interesting fact--for every three months of life in an orphanage, a child loses one month of development across the board.  Yikes.  The class leader has adopted four children at all ages and from different cultural backgrounds, and has a tremendous amount of insight into this issue.   We are loving the classes for their excellent information, and also for the opportunity to meet other adoptive families. 

Yesterday, we checked another huge task off of our list.  As Ethiopia does not recognize American notaries, we need to have certain documents authenticated by the Secretary of State.  So yesterday, we finally received all of the pertinent documents, and finished writing ones we need to submit, had them notarized, and put them into the mail to the Secs of State for Washington, Montana (Cory birth certificate) and California (my birth certificate).  It's scary to let these documents out of our sight, as they are originals and a huge pain to get hold of, so hopefully things will go along smoothly and we will get them back in the next couple of weeks.  Phew!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Conspicuous Family

In the distant, murky future, when this adoption rollercoaster is complete, we will be a very conspicuous family.  This weekend we took part in a webinar that outlined strategies for handling some of the difficulties in having an obvious transracial adoption as part of our family.  The class gave specific examples of the most common questions and comments, including:
*Why was he given up for adoption?
*What happened to his real parents?
*Are you his real mom/dad?
*Does it feel good to have saved this child?
*How much did he cost?

and, our personal favorite (drum roll, please):

*Couldn't you get a white baby?


Now, we are certainly learning to steel ourselves for curious looks and innocent-ish comments, but some of these questions seem pretty unreal.  I truly can't imagine anyone asking the last question, but it was included in the webinar for a reason.  The class gave strong strategies for dealing with each question, using humor, information or conversation-ending comments, and when to use each.  The old Miss Manners question "Why do you ask?" was their fallback response in the event of surprising or extra-rude questions.  It was definitely food for thought, and something we will be discussing for years to come.  We have been told by adoptive parents that havng time to practice our answers before our child is completely aware of the situation is invaluable, which is comforting. 

Tuesday we take a class on attachment, which is also a crucial area for any adoptive parents.  Looking forward to that one, too!

And, of course, all the cleaning...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Home Is Where the Cat Fur Is

Our home visit is scheduled!!  Tuesday, November 23rd is the big, scary day--whut whut!  Let the cleaning begin.  We really don't know what to do to prepare, other than "make things homey"--whatever that means! 

This weekend we are taking a class called "The Conspicuous Family", which should be pretty interesting stuff.  Next week we have a one-night class on attachment issues for adoptive children, which is an area we feel the least prepared for, so the earlier we can start getting information, the better.  Then the home visit--whew!--a lot of heavy adoption events in a short period of time, but hey, that's just how we roll. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

WACAP Weekend

Yesterday and today we attended WACAP Weekend, which is a required training through our adoption agency.  The first day was mostly nuts and bolts adoption info, such as where the orphanage is in Addis, how the referral process works and health concerns for adopted children.  The second day was all about adopting older children.  While we are interested in adopting a younger child, we figured that knowledge is power so it couldn't hurt to take part.  It was an excellent class, and we learned a ton.  The most important part of the weekend for us, however, was connecting with other adoptive parents, many of whom are adopting from Ethiopia. We also met our homestudy social worker; hopefully we will get the home visit date scheduled soon so we can begin deep cleaning every  inch of the condo :-)  Overall, we were very, very impressed by the knowledge and insight of the WACAP staff, which was encouraging for our future adoption roller coaster.  We have another training next week (on attachment issues), and later in the month, a webinar on "The Conspicuous Family" and a full-day program on adopting young children and babies.  This training makes the process somehow more real, and we are looking forward to every opportunity to connect with WACAP staff and other adoptive parents.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Howl-oween!!

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Halloween weekend! Yes, we dressed Maggie in a lovely bumblebee outfit.  Don't think she particularly enjoyed it, but we thought she looked just adorable. 

She's usually a bit more dignified.  Parents can be soooo embarrassing. 

It's just humiliating to be dressed up as a bee.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rah rah, IRS!

We are loving the IRS tonight--that's a new one, huh?  They actually sent our docs pretty darned quickly, which is awesome as it is the last document we need for our homestudy!!  YAHOO!!  So I'm sending in those docs tomorrow, and hopefully we can get our home visit on the books.  Not looking forward to that one little bit, I must say, but it's one more enormous hoop to jump through in this adventure. 

We are now connected to the WACAP message boards, and it's fascinating to see questions and answers of those who are much farther along in the process than us, especially those getting ready to travel.  It seems just so far away; it's almost more of a theoretical idea, that we will travel to Africa (twice).  Yet there are people, right now, who have pictures of their babies and are packing clothes, formula and diapers, finalizing their airline tickets and researching where to get their morning coffee (a lot of ET adoptive families are from Seattle :-)  It's so incredibly encouraging and just makes us want to celebrate each little step along the way, including finishing our homestudy documents.  Bring on the champagne!

Monday, October 25, 2010

And Deliciousness Ensued...

I've decided to expand my culinary horizons and create some traditional Ethiopian dishes.  Last night I made doro wat, a yummy chicken stew using berbere, a blend of spices essential to Ethiopian cuisine.  Berbere is pretty spicy, but added a ton of flavor--this is our new favorite meal for a cold and rainy day!  And yes, there are hard-boiled eggs in the stew--Cory was in heaven!  Really easy and really yummy, and hopefully will be a little taste of home for our future baby.

 Oh, and the comments section is now active. 

Doro Wat

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Food for Thought

Tonight we took part in a webinar on nutritional deficiencies typically found in internationally adopted children.  It was really interesting, and I frantically took notes only to find out in the end (thank goodness!!) that a recorded version of the webinar is available to us for a month.  Phew!!  There is a high likelihood that the child referred to us will have some malnourishment issues, so this was an informative and useful training.  The doc who presented covered everything from supplements to feeding picky toddlers to what to ask the caretakers before taking our child home.  Great session--looking forward to many more!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

We had a lovely fall weekend--dinner with friends (ribs! mmmmmm) and worked hard on adoption paperwork--we are almost, almost done!  Tomorrow we send in medical information, pay stubs, a parenting resource plan, etc, etc, etc.  Of course, we missed one dinky page of our 2009 tax returns when copying them last year, so are waiting for the IRS to send us a new copy.  Yes, we are waiting on the IRS to move forward with our homestudy--and at risk of getting audited, that's all I'm going to say about that :-)  Anyway, as far as I can tell, that's the only thing left, so we are moving at lightning speed so far.  We take our first adoption class in two weeks, and can have our home visit after that is done.  We are really looking forward to the class, as I'm sure it will clarify a lot of questions we have about the process.
More to come!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sambusa, Sega Tibs, Shiro Wot, Oh My!

So last night it was pouring and chilly (I write as if it's a novelty in Seattle), and neither of us were in a cookin' kinda mood, so I headed to Habesha, a lovely restaurant in downtown Seattle, for an Ethiopian takeout meal.  Ethiopian food is eaten with injera, a steamed bread, instead of silverware, is highly flavored and pretty darned spicy.  Here's what we had--I did take pictures but, as I discovered I am definitely not a food stylist, my pics made the food look like dog vomit.  I promise, however, that it was delectable. 
Missir Sambusa:  Pastry rolls filled with lentils, green peppers, garlic, onion and tons of spices. 
Sega Tibs:  Cubes of beef sauteed with spices, onion and tomatoes
Kike:  Split yellow peas with onions, garlic and turmeric  (I think my teeth are permanently stained yellow from the amount of turmeric in this one!)


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Holy Paperwork, Batman!!

We got our "Adoption Toolkit" in the mail, which outlines the many, many documents we need for the homestudy.  Overwhelmed, much?  It's just a crazy amount of paperwork, tax returns, life insurance verification, etc, etc, etc.  We also will complete several loooooong documents in which we decide our guardianship plans, what the worst case scenario for our adopted child would be, what resources we have in place, etc, etc, etc.   At the end of the day, however, we decided that it's actually a really good conversation for expectant parents of any kind to have.  Nothing like getting your worst fears out on the table early in the process, right?  Anywho, this is the list (about a third of the paperwork--whooo-hooo!!) that we are sending in tomorrow:
*Molly's Autobiography
*Cory's Autobiography
*Tax Returns for past two years
*Additional Autobiographical Statements
*Financial Statements
*Cash Flow Analysis
*Guardianship Plans
*Release of Information
*Education Verification
*Family Health Insurance Plan for Adoption
*Cory's Birth Cert
*Molly's Birth Cert
*Marriage Cert
*Divorce Decree
*Background Check Forms

Wow.  I mean, really, wow.  But hey, we are on our way, right? 

More to come....

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


We are so happy you’ve joined us on our journey to parenthood! As hopeful as we were, and as hard as the road was, we are breathing a sigh of that the infertility process is over and are moving on to a new and exciting adventure.  We are hopeful that the road to adoption will not be too bumpy and will result in the creation of our family.  Addis Ababa, here we come!
In case you were wondering, here are the Ethiopian adoption basics:
1.        Pre-application:  We just received approval from our adoption agency (WACAP) to begin the adoption process, which was reason enough to bring out the champagne!  Not too early to celebrate, right?
Step one, complete!!  Yahoo!!
1.       Next:  The Dreaded Homestudy:  During this phase of our adoption, we gather every document we’ve ever touched in our lives, write a biography, fill out a resource plan, have physicals, increase our life insurance, etc, etc. Once the homestudy documents are complete, our case manager from the agency will come to our home and give it the white glove test.  Just kidding! (We hope!)  This  visit is just to make sure that our home is safe and appropriate, and to meet us in person.  The homestudy process takes roughly 3 months, which we are beginning now.

2.       The Dossier:  Once the homestudy is complete, we begin our dossier, which is another packet of documents that are sent to Ethiopia.  I understand that some of these documents are similar to the homestudy requirements, so we are going to try to kill two birds with one stone and order doubles of everything.  The dossier process takes roughly 2 months.

3.       Immigration:  Once our dossier is complete, we wait for an appointment to be fingerprinted.  Once fingerprinting is complete and Immigration gives us the green light, we are on The Wonderful, Amazing List!!

4.       The Wonderful , Amazing List:  Once a family is added to The List, they are officially in line to receive a referral for a child from Ethiopia.  We are waiting for a 1-12 month old child, either a boy or a girl.  Because we have not designated a desired sex, we will very likely be referred a boy.  The current wait time for a healthy baby boy is 7-12 months. 

5.       The Referral:  This is the call all adoptive parents wait dream about.  Once a referral is made to us, we receive medical information and any history that is known about the child.  If we accept the referral, we get ready to travel!  If we do not accept a referral, we stay at the top of The List and wait for the next referral. 

6.       Pack Your Bags!:  Once a referral is accepted, we start getting ready to travel.  For an Ethiopian adoption, two trips are required to Addis Ababa.  The first is to go to court to become legal parents of the child.  The second trip is to take the child home.  This is a new process, as before June 2010 only one trip was required and the courts are closed in August and September.  As it is so very new, we aren’t really sure how it’s going to work out – we know some folks going ahead of us so they will pave the way (thanks, guys!).  Wait times between the referral and the first trip is 8-12 weeks.  Between the two trips, the wait time is 5-8 weeks. 

7.       Come home, breathe a sigh of relief, and start our lives a family!!
This is a very simplified version of upcoming events, but hopefully everything will go smoothly and in the next 18 months or so we will have a little one to call our own!! 
More updates are coming soon.  Once again, thank you to everyone for your support over the last couple of years and in the upcoming roller coaster!
Much love,
Molly and Cory