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