Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why I love my friends

Having just returned to town from visiting family (and having a luxuuurious spa day with my sister), I texted my friend Amanda that we are on The List.  Amanda is just one of those people who always says the right thing, and this was her text back, which made me laugh (still smiling now!):

YEAH!!  You two are paper pregnant!  (it may be an elephant gestation, but still, you're paper pregnant!!!)  We need to celebrate!

I also got a beautiful, homemade pendant of Africa from our crafty friend Alayne, and it's gorgeous and keeps me feeling connected to this adoption.

And last, but definitely not least, we are added to The List by the date on which USCIS approved us, not the date we received the letter in the mail.  That date was March 25, which means we were approved on my sister's birthday--I'm normally not one for signs, but I'm choosing to see that as an excellent one!!

So we've been on the list for 5 days now....

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Wonderful, Amazing List

As things in the Ethiopia adoption program tend to change considerably the nanosecond we get the teensiest bit excited about this adoption, I will just whisper this across the ether in the hopes that the universe will not take too much notice:

We passed immigration.  We are on the Wonderful, Amazing List.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

blogging at 34,000 feet

I'm loving the new free wifi setup on planes--it's pretty entertaining to cruise the web while on a flight.  Heading out (by myself, the hubs had to hold down the fort) to the UK for my sister's birthday.  Can't wait!!  Bring me another Bloody Mary!
Happy (early) Birthday, sis!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Scrambled Legs and Achin'

So our lovely team, Scrambled Legs and Achin', successfully completed The Big Climb yesterday, which is a fundraiser for Lymphoma/Leukemia research.  We climbed 71 floors of the Columbia Tower in downtown Seattle, and our team raised $440 toward the cause.  Some larger teams with corporate support raised a heck of a lot more than that, and with over 6,000 climbers during the day, it was an excellent event all around.

Team Scrambled Legs and Achin'

And, of course, the after-climb Bloody Marys:

Sometimes it's nice to just get out of your own head, you know?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Feel-good thangs

1.  Blue Sky

2.  Brunch with good friends

3.  Pedicures with a best friend

4.  Dinner with our favorite peeps

5.  Kula pork for dinner (20th hour in the slow cooker--mmmmmmmmm)


6.  Homemade oreo cookies!! 

These things simply make the world a good, friendly, all-will-be-well kinda place.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ethiopia Adoption Processing Update

This week, the US State Department held a conference call with adoption officials from both the US and Ethiopia to outline current and future adoption processing from Ethiopia.  At this point, MOWA (the Ministry of Womens Affairs) in Ethiopia are still processing adoptions at a rate of 5 per day officially.  However, unofficially, the rate of adoption processing is closer to 20 per day.  Now, 20 is certainly better than 5, but a whole lot less than 50.  Our agency estimates that MOWA will process current cases in progress (people with referrals) over the next 2-3 months.  Beyond that is anyone's guess.

How will this affect our adoption?  We are not even on the waiting list, so this will affect it significantly.  According to the State Department:  "Calculations based on rough estimates of cases in progress (keep in mind, we are not even close to being 'a case in progress') indicate delays of one year or more." 

Working to end fraudulent cases in adoption is critical.  It is encouraging that the Ethiopian government is taking direct action to prevent fraud or illegal activities in adoption.  Having a questionable adoption would be heartbreaking and is just...unthinkable.  We absolutely support the Ethiopian government in working towards offering stable, legal and ethical adoptions, and using international adoption as a last resort.

Yet we still need to do right by our future family, and I'm not entirely sure that waiting indefinitely in a program that is undergoing significant (albeit, potentially positive) change is the best idea for us.  We have fallen in love with Ethiopia, and picture our future with an Ethiopian child.  So our hearts are breaking a little (ok, a lot) that this change is happening.  Other programs are prohibitively expensive, so we may not have a choice but to wait.  And wait. And wait.  I feel like I'm back in IVF world--making huge decisions without knowing if anything is going to work out--if MOWA says 5 a day, but they are processing 20, does that mean we should just chill and see what happens?  But there haven't been referrals in months, and it doesn't sound like there will be for months, but maybe this is just a hitch?  What to do?  We, frankly, have no idea. 

We are hopeful things will change (of course, hoping people have to give their children up makes us horrible, awful, selfish people, but that's a post for another day--or maybe not), and that the future will once again be bright and happy and full of babies!  In the meantime, I'll end this depressing post with a picture of Goose the Cat, looking pensive:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Maggie McDawg

Awww, what a nice, sweet St. Patrick's Day-themed doggie....

Isn't she simply darling?


Oh, no!!

Laser Leprechaun Dog!!  Aaaghh!  My eyes!  My eyes!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Getting a feel of the sitch

Today we went to a scheduled class on African-American/Ethiopian skin and hair care.  I know I claim every class as "the best evah!" but I think this one actually was one of the best, as the two very knowledgable women holding the course (in their salon) had excellent advice on tools and products, and I think will be the perfect resource for us in the future.  But the more important reason we went was to get a feeling from other adoptive parents on their thoughts on the future of the program, as well as face-to-face contact with agency staff.  And we really didn't come away with anything new: everyone is sad at delays, not sure if they are the right choice to clear up adoption issues in Ethiopia, and worried for the future.  We are still not sure what is going to happen; the ramifications of the decision by the Ethiopian government are not clear just yet.  Time will tell.  Some more (unsubstantiated, but commonly discussed so probably true) rumors:
*The Minister of MOWA has been removed from his position.
*New employees are in place in the international adoption program at MOWA
*Those employees will issue 5 new letters per day (down from 40) for the next 8 days
*After that, a new plan will be drafted/distributed
Once again, don't hold me to these rumors--the truth will remain to be seen.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Thank you

We've received tons of support and lovely, warm emails and calls about the current adoption situation.  Just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone. 
Still not sure what the future brings.  Frustrated, panicked, upset, but knowing that somehow we will get where we need to be.
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It's Official - State Dept Notice

Government of Ethiopia Plans Major Slow-Down in Adoption Processing

Citing the need to work on quality and focus on more important strategic issues, the Government of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA)  will reduce to a maximum of five the number of adoption cases it processes per day, effective March 10, 2011.  Under Ethiopian adoption procedures, MOWCYA approves every match between prospective adoptive parents and an Ethiopian child before that case can be forwarded for a court hearing.  The U.S. Embassy is working with Ethiopian government officials and adoption agencies to learn more about this change in procedures.  We will continue to share information as it becomes available.

Given MOWCYA's current caseload, the U.S. Embassy anticipates that this change could result in an overall decline in case processing of some 90 percent.  If this change is implemented as proposed, we expect, that parents who have begun the process of adopting from Ethiopia but have not yet been matched with a child could experience significant delays.  It is not clear if this change in procedures would have any significant impact on cases in which MOWCYA has already approved matches. 

Prospective adoptive parents should remain in close contact with their adoption service provider to obtain updates on individual cases.

The Embassy's Adoptions Unit can be reached at

Please continue to monitor for updated information as it becomes available.

March 9, 2011

We are on a rollercoaster

In this moment, we are in the screaming descent, where your stomach drops and you pray it will end soon, whether in a loop or another hill or a turn.  The Adoption Rollercoaster.  This is the dealio at the moment:  Ethiopia has cut 90% of all adoptions starting March 10.  This is to make sure that each and every adoption is legit, and that children are being adopted that are legal orphans. 

What does this mean for us?  No idea.  Could be a twist, a turn, a loop, a hill, another descent, or we could be coming to a screeching halt.

At the moment, the State Department has not issued a statement, nor has our agency.  My personal conversation with our agency has indicated that they truly think this is a temporary change, to give the Ethiopian government some breathing room to catch up on cases.  They are not anticipating wait times increasing.   I'm not sure how that is possible, but I also don't see the Big Picture.  At this time, our agency is trying to glean more information out of the Ethiopian authorities, so that they can give their clients updated information as soon as possible. 

We do not have a back up plan.  This is the back up plan.  So we wait and see. 

Monday, March 7, 2011


So the amazing blogger Claudia at My Fascinating Life, an intelligent and wonderful blog about her experience bringing home two beautiful adopted twins from Ethiopia, challenged the adoption blogging community to write about their experiences and expectations of attachment issues in adoption. 

Attachment is a probably the single most important issue facing adoptive parents, as adopted children have always, every single time, experienced significant loss.  How, then, can they be expected to accept a new family as their own, without questioning whether their new parents will leave them, treat them well, provide for them, love them unconditionally, and, well, be their parents forever?  I mean, our dog gets stressed when we leave, so how can we expect our future child to accept us unquestioningly?  Simply put, we can't and won't.

So what do we do?  How do we handle the introduction of our child to a whole new life?  It isn't lost on us, not for one second, that our child will have lost a biological family, their unique stories, language, culture, foods, smells and belongings, however limited those might be. Their loss is unimaginable. 

Strategies exist to assist children in adaptation to a new family.  We are in the process of researching all of the different ways to make attachment smooth and workable for everyone.  I hope to have the wonderful luxury of staying home for a while, which will (hopefully) help.  We can't say at this point what the plan will be, as we are so, so far from having an actual baby in the house.  When the time comes, however, we will be as prepared as possible, even if the plan changes once our child comes home.

I think a primary challenge as we move forward with a little one at home will be that we have never parented before, so how will we know what is an attachment issue and what is just normal two-year-old behavior?  If our child decides sleeping or eating is for the birds, is that just normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill testing or something more?  Most of my friends and family have children, all of whom have had their challenges, whether sleeping, eating, having special needs or other issues.  I doubt many of our friends have thought to themselves, as their baby wakes for the 10th time that night, "Clearly my baby actually misses his/her biological mother, clearly wants her, hates me, and knows, deep down, that I am not his/her real mother!".  Have no doubt, however, I will think that, and probably often. 

So the question in the end may be, whose issues are really at play in attachment: mine, ours, the baby's or all three?  I read through the rest of the attachment blogs (located here - go to the bottom if you want to check them out) and each story is completely different.  Which just goes to show, there is no correct path, no perfect way of ensuring attachment, no gold star for the family that has no attachment issues whatsoever, because most do.  Kids are human, and have different needs and experiences.  Adults are human, and have had different experiences leading to adoption.  Somehow, hopefully (hopefully!  hopefully!) we will figure it out.  There will be bumps in the road, no doubt.  Blogs like Claudia's help us feel not so alone in this journey, and a bit more prepared for the challenges that inherently lie with adoption.  And blogs like hers also show the love and beautiful, wonderful families that can be created through adoption, and makes the future seem that much brighter.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

What a nice weekend!

We spent the weekend with my parents who came to town for an early birthday celebration, and we had a fabulous dinner at Il Fornaio in Seattle:

Thanks, guys!  We had a great time!  Can't wait to see you again soon!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pestering is the plan

So I posted to our agency message boards about our latest setback, and the response has overwhelmingly been that other PAPs were told 90-120 days, and the average has been 30-60.  So I feel a lot, lot better.  It still could be 4 months, but I've decided to be Ms. Squeaky Wheel and just start pestering, at least once per week, until we know something.  And I'm so, so glad it's Friday!!  Maggie accompanied me to work today and I think she could find a new career as a therapy dog for crazy-stressed PAPs. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Revising Expectations

So the infertility/adoption struggle is nothing if not a true exercise in constantly revising your expectations for the future.  Once you get away from the "Honey, let's start a family, k?" stage, it all, well, it gets really, really complicated.  We understood the process of paperwork/homestudy/immigration would be 3-4 months.  Total.  From beginning to end.  In other words, we entirely expected to be on the Wonderful List right now

It just doesn't pay to be optimistic. 

Just heard from immigration on the processing of our fingerprints.  The average wait time is...

120 days.

Yes, 4 months from now we may hear something about our approval notice.  As in, June.  We started the process in September.  We will have waited 10 months just to be added to a list that is growing indefinitely.

And we will likely be in our 40s when we have little ones.  I'm not joking.  And it's really hard to reconcile that.

I think it's time to get a hobby.  Or buy more cats.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fingerprints, check! (updated)

We finally had our fingerprinting appointment this morning, so another (huge) task checked off the list.  Phew!  Traffic was far more horrible than usual, so we got there about one minute before our appointment time, and sprinted on in to meet….security.  Which, of course, we hadn’t considered.  Cory had allll kinds of tools on him, plus steel-toed boots and a metal plate in his arm.  The tools are now the prized possessions of the security folks, and he was wanded a few times (ok, get your mind out of the gutter) but we made it in on time, swept on through, got fingerprinted (biometrically, very cool) and are finished!  We should hear in the next 90 days if we are approved, and then we are on the Wonderful, Amazing List. And the real wait begins.
Things in Ethiopia are pretty touch and go right now.  Referrals still really aren’t coming in, although the agency is confident they will very soon.  The number of adoptions processed per day has dropped dramatically, so we are expecting a much longer wait than the 8-10 months as are now quoted.  However, for the moment, we just really want to be on The List.  
And now we are one step closer.
It's official that we are going to be waiting, oh, forever to build a family.  MOWA (Ministry of Women's Affairs) is officially dropping adoption processing from 40 per day to.......5.  Yikes.  Will it take 8 times longer to receive a referral?  No doubt.  Talk about a rollercoaster--the best day and the worst day all in one!  Good times.