Thursday, January 27, 2011

(Non-Adoption) Super Exciting News!

OMG, I am so dragging my sister (and Kristen, if she’s lucky) to the new example of cinematic brilliance: Mega Python vs. Gatoroid.  Or, as it really should be titled:  Tiffany vs. Debbie Gibson. 
Fellow children of the 80s: Seriously, does it get any better? 
(tap, tap)
This thing on?

Scientia Potentia Est

Or, as those crazy Latin speakers say, knowledge is power.  This is very, very true for adoption, where the unknowns seriously outweigh the knowns. The more we can mentally prepare for, the better, so we have signed up for the following classes (through our agency).  Although we have already met the required number of courses, they have all proven extremely valuable, so we look forward to many more!  Here's what we have on the docket:
Early Learning: How To Prepare Your Child for School
Introduction to Love and Logic
African-American/Ethiopian Skin and Hair Care
All Grown Up  
Moving Beyond Stereotypes
Grandparenting with a Plus (which will be attended with our parents)

Good times!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hangin' With the Big Kids

 Wow.  So this morning I took part in a 6-hour teleconference on “How do we move forward to ethically and transparently protect children, birth families and adoptive parents in Ethiopia?”, which was attended by representatives from the US embassy in Addis, the Ethiopian ambassador, adoption agencies and government officials in both Addis and Washington, DC.  Perspectives were given on the ethical nature of adoptions in Ethiopia, both strengths and weaknesses.  It sounds like certain areas are working very well, yet there are still allegations of fraud and other issues that have not resolved.  Very interesting stuff, and definitely food for thought--I’ll be digesting this for days (ha ha--see what I did there?).  The conversation did bring up tons of questions for us, and we will be speaking with our new social worker (who will see us through to the bitter end) next week, and she just arrived home from Ethiopia, so I’m sure she will have an interesting perspective. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

She's so...ummm...ferocious?

Guard dog she is not.  Frankly, the three orange tabbies strike fear in the heart of Maggie, especially Goose...

who is one scary dude.

C'mon, Goose, let me have my bed back!

It's my bed.  It's a dog bed.

Ok, ok, ok...I promise not to sniff your butt for one whole week.

Worked like a charm.

Dang, I'm good.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fun Facts

Not much new to post, as we are waiting in great anticipation for our fingerprinting date from the USCIS.  In the meantime, here is some fun trivia about Ethiopia:
·         85% of the Ethiopian workforce are farmers
·         Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee (which fits us just fine!).  It is considered extremely rude not to accept a coffee when offered one.  Whatever shall we do? 
·         Ethiopia is the only African country with its own alphabet and numbers.  The Ethiopian alphabet consists of 33 letters and 7 characters.
·         There are 13 months in the Ethiopian Calendar. The first 12 months have 30 days, the last month 6. New Year is celebrated on September 11th and they are almost eight years behind the western calendar.
·         Traditionally, parents and children do not share a last name. Most kids take their father’s first name as their last name. 
·         The Blue Nile, the chief headstream of the Nile, rises in T'ana Hayk (Lake Tana) in northwest Ethiopia.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Embassy Changes (possibly good?)

We are so very, very far away from worrying about embassy dates (we need to 1-pass immigration, 2-wait 7-12 months, 3-accept a referral. 4-wait for court, 5-go to court in Addis, and then wait for a visit to the embassy) yet, a couple of days ago it seems some promising (?) news came out of Ethiopia.  We'll take it!  Basically, what this means (to my understanding) is that folks waiting for their embassy dates (meaning they are legal parents, yet their children are in Ethiopia and they are in the US) may have a significantly shorter wait than in the past.  As wait times had grown to 3-4 months (really!) this may be very, very reassuring news moving forward.

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

January 13, 2011

The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa announces a change in its adoption visa case intake and appointment scheduling process.

As of January 24, 2011, adoption service providers (ASPs) may bring all cases ready for Embassy appointments to the consular section on a weekly basis (this is a change from the previous biweekly schedule).  Once the Embassy receives an adoption case, screens it, and determines that the case is complete and ready for interview, the Embassy will inform the ASP via email.  The ASP, working together with adoptive families, will then select a date for the immigrant visa interview.  This new procedure may reduce the wait time for an Embassy appointment in many cases.

Adoptive parents should be aware that in all adoption visa cases worldwide, an I-604 (Determination on Child for Adoption, sometimes referred to as “orphan investigation”) must be completed in connection with every I-600 application to ensure that the true facts surrounding a child’s relinquishment or abandonment are stated and that the child meets the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law.  Depending on the circumstances of the case, this investigation may take up to several weeks or even months to complete before a case is determined to be ready for an immigrant visa interview.   Note that the final decision on the case is made after the adoption visa interview.

Adoptive parents and adoption agencies are reminded that the Embassy does not guarantee an appointment date until the screening and investigation process is complete.  Families should not travel until their agency has received affirmative confirmation that the case is ready for interview, which the Embassy will provide no sooner than 48 hours after case submission.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

We are good people, I swear. Really. Promise.

Think that would convince an immigration officer to let us adopt a baby?  No?  Well, our papers were sent to the USCIS today (whooo-hooo!) so our bank records, background checks, fingerprinting, references, etc etc etc will speak for itself.  This is the last step before being added to The List, which is incredibly, incredibly exciting!  Onward and upward!
And time to start obsessively checking our mail.....

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Homestudy Approval

Our homestudy is approved by the Ethiopia team at WACAP, as well as the higher-up powers-that-be at the agency, which means we are now officially part of the Ethiopia Adoption Program.  Boo-yeah!  Next up:  Immigration.  Soon (hopefully today?) WACAP will forward our homestudy documents to United States Citizen and Immigration Services, who will send us an appointment for fingerprinting.  Once we are approved to adopt a child internationally by USCIS, we will be on The List.  This all seems so painfully slow, but I know when all is said and done the waiting game will be a distant memory.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Good, The Bad, The Indecisive

The Good:  Our homestudy document is done!!  We received a copy of it and made edits.  The document will now be forwarded to Immigration, who will (hopefully) approve the bundle of papers coming their way.  We will be sent a fingerprinting appointment date and time.  Once Immigration has approved us (and come on, who wouldn’t, right?) we will be added to The List and begin the long, arduous wait for a referral.
The Bad:  Fraud investigations continue in Ethiopia.  While the Ethiopian and US governments are working very closely to monitor and reform processes to ensure that each and every adoption is ethical, concerns still exist.  We are 100% sure that WACAP is above-board in every aspect of their adoptions, but, sadly, this is simply not the case for all agencies operating in Ethiopia. 
The Indecisive:  What will happen to Ethiopian adoptions?  We really just don’t know.  Our agency is aware that changes to processes may be coming, but are not sure of what those will be.  Referrals are very, very slow right now, which may be an indicator of things to come, and may not.  Just don’t know.  So, in light of impending changes, we have decided to raise the age of child we will be adopting to up to 2 years old.  We would love, love, love to have the baby/infant experience, but it just doesn’t seem particularly realistic at this time.  We hope things even out soon for everyone involved, and are still committed to the program and agency. 
One more hoop successfully jumped through!  Come on, Immigration!!!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Merriest of Merry Olde England

We had a lovely trip to the UK--the whole fam made it into Heathrow from our respective cities, and as Mother Nature was having a massive hissy fit, this was no easy feat.  On the adoption front, nothing much to report, just waiting (waiting, waiting, waiting) on our homestudy document to be completed, which was promised to us this week.  Once official, we will begin immigration processing, which is the last step before being added to The List.  So instead of exciting adoption news, here are some pics of our trip:

In front of the Bath Abbey

 Having a Minerva hot chocolate--isn't Cory oh-so-gentlemanly, daaahhhling?

A lovely little pub for lunch
Bustling downtown Bath