Friday, April 29, 2011


This week, MOWA (Ministry of Women’s Affairs) in Ethiopia officially cut back to 5 referrals per day.  Timelines for adoptions will change, but our agency won’t have a good idea of what those changes will be for a while.  Court closes during the rainy season in Ethiopia (August and September) so referrals slow down and court cases cease during that time.  Our agency believes it can start rethinking timelines in late October/November, once the slowdown has taken hold, court has reopened, and families in the new timeline have been through the referral/court travel/Embassy travel process.  We are so stinkin’ far down on the list we would not be in the pool for a referral anyway—on the current timeline (which will change) the earliest would expect a referral would be January.  At this point, I’m really hoping for a referral before court closes again in June 2012, although I don't want to set us up for disappointment.  There isn’t a darned thing we can do about it  other than wait and hope that this change is not permanent and that the original timelines might not be so far off.  Referrals have still been coming in, albeit slowly, but something is certainly better than nothing.
We are expecting to cross the 60 degree mark on Sunday here in the Arctic Pacific Northwest, where we have been experiencing the coldest spring on record. So even if the news on the adoption front is rough, some warm(er), sunny weather is sure to lift our spirits. 

Ah, a wedding!

Is it possible for a bride to be more beautiful?  I don't think so--she was truly a stunner.  So in honor of lovely Kate and handsome Will (there really is no way to Brangelina their names, is there?  Wate?  Kill?  Yikes--moving right along) here are several original haikus:

A Royal Haiku
What a royal pair
A stately affair...Harry!
Please don’t  Chicken Dance!

Another Royal Haiku
Waity Katie, gone!
The world will welcome a new
Tiara wear-a
An Ode to Prince Harry
You look like more fun
Maybe you're are not the heir
At least you have hair


And in honor of WillsnKate, I made a version of the groom's cake for a work treat--a Chocolate Biscuit Cake--my first time trying it and it was really, really good!!! Mmmmm, good choice, future king!  A new favorite.

(oh, and Blogger has gotten frisky in the last couple of days, but comments should be working now--got a few emails yesterday about that)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Initial Travel Information

While it seems really, really premature, tonight we had a webinar on Initial Travel Preparation for our future trip to Ethiopia (which, as we are only a month on the waitlist, will not be for a good long while).  It was very interesting, though, to hear the advance prep for travel to Africa.  Basically, we need a bunch of shots, although as a veteran of the dreaded PIOs my reaction was pretty much:  Big, scary shots?  Meh.  Whatevs--it’s going to take a lot more than that to scare me . And Cory doesn’t have to give the shots, for which he was thankful.
Anyhoodle, it was good food for thought on things we need to start doing to get ready to be parents.  So, more research to be done on good travel clinics in the area, what our insurance will cover, etc.  We also need to figure out health insurance for our child, as our policy states that the child would be covered  “at placement”, which doesn’t really specify much in this particular situation--our child might be legally ours, but still in Africa for months (so not technically “placed”).  It’s all a bit confusing, and seems so very far away.  But I guess anything can happen in this crazy process, so we should be as ready as possible. 
Travel itself was discussed, such as the need to apply for passports and how to handle long flights (they didn’t cover the need for Bloody Marys, which I thought was a major oversight), but as my sis lives pretty far away we are used to lengthy times in the air, airports, customs, etc.    Of course, England does not equal Africa, so I’m sure we will see many stark differences. 
Not much else on the adoption front, although there have been referrals in the past couple of weeks, which is pretty exciting stuff. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Isn't she looooovely...

I added a new Ethiopian favorite to my Easter brunch this morning, sweet sanbusa turnovers (ground almond, sugar, saffron and cardamom in essentially a pie crust).  I got the recipe from an East African cooking e-newsletter I get monthly--however, I have read that dessert in Ethiopia is typically fruit or cheese, so I'm not really sure these are authentic (anyone else know?).  But, man, were they ever tasty

Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Music to our ears

The wonderful My Two Lines couple, who have recently passed court (WHOO-HOO!!) and are now awaiting their Embassy date, have recently released a wonderful CD of children's music to raise money for their children's orphanage in Ethiopia.  For the low, low price of $10.00 you can order the CD and the proceeds will go to medical and other much-needed supplies for children.  I just got mine yesterday and it's pretty incredible.  I need to order some more for the billion or so baby showers coming up this spring or summer.  Spread the news!! 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Moving Beyond Stereotypes

We took another excellent class last night called "Moving Beyond Stereotypes", delivered by one of the social workers at our agency, who is an adult transracial adoptee herself.  It was, as usual, filled with excellent information and discussion--interestingly, we were the only ones without bio children and the only ones adopting from Ethiopia at this class, which was new for us.  In fact, a couple families had their adopted children home, and were attending the class to learn strategies for dealing with particular behaviors or issues; it changed the discussion and made it pretty interesting to see how families have handled a wide variety of situations.

The one thing I came away with was that we have really been focused on paperwork, home visits, immigration, changes in the program, etc, etc, etc.  Now that the paperwork piece is behind us for a stretch, we really have time to focus on, well, parenting.  We certainly talk about it a lot, have taken a variety of courses on subjects related to adoption, but haven't (as much as I hate to admit this) cracked open the three huge books we have on transracial adoption issues, but now it's time.  So a new goal to add to enjoying our paperchase-free lifestyle is to delve into the research and really start preparing for the future on a more personal level.  Parenting the Internationally Adopted Child, watch out, you're first!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mahalo nui loa

Just wanted to send a shout-out to my cousins, who are currently relaxing and having fun in sunny, warm Hawaii (emphasis on warm-- it snowed here again this morning--gah) who sent me pictures of their children sending a flower out to sea to have the Hawaiian gods smile on our adoption.  Both Cory and I got the slightest bit teary, and just wanted to say, again, a big huge mahalo nui loa (thank you very much) to all of you who are pulling for us. It means more than we can say.
So this is not the picture they sent, but one for fellow Seattle-ites to drool over (hope you can see it-- if not, it's the most wonderful beach in the world.  I want to be there right now):

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mad Skillz

Ah, those made poetry skills--it must be genetic, particularly on the maternal side.  My mother's cousin, Judy (does that me her my cousin-once-removed?  Twice-removed?) follows this blog from the arctic zone of North Dakota, and sent us a wonderful limerick as a congratulations on getting on The List.  This, clearly, is where I get my oh-so-incredible haiku abilities:

There once was a pair from Seattle
Involved in a great paper battle
Who clawed through the mist
And finally got on "the list"...
May the 'baby gears' continue to rattle!

LOVE IT!  Thanks so much, (Aunt) (Cousin) Judy!!!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Counting Down...

Wow.  As I read my daily blogroll to catch up on everyone's adoption processes (and other sites, of course), I am more and more horrified about what this impending shutdown will do to adoption cases.  I never thought I would say this, but thank goodness we are not caught in the middle of it all.  We in the peanut gallery of The List, and for that, in this moment, I am grateful.

Right now, I am thankful that:
*Our fingerprinting is doneWe received our approval notice in the mail.
*We aren't waiting on renewing passports.
*We aren't waiting on travel visas.
*We aren't waiting on Embassy dates in Addis, while our child sits in an orphanage.
*We aren't waiting on American re-adoption dates.
*I'm sure there is far more the government does once a referral is under way...we aren't exactly in that stage yet!

This shutdown will affect a lot of folks in pretty difficult ways.  For adoption, things always seem tenuous and unpredictable, and this whole thing just throws a serious wrench in the already overworked system.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Snow. No, really.

It snowed here this morning. 
No problem, I'll wait as you wipe off your computer screen where you undoubtedly spit your coffee before yelling, “It SNOWED?  Jiminy Christmas, it’s APRIL!!”  
No, really.  It snowed this morning.  Maggie’s back was covered in snow and ice pellets when we came in from our morning walk.  I wore my snow hat and Cory’s enormous wool jacket.  And ski gloves. 
It freaking snowed.  In April. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Latest Call

Well, that was interesting.  As I was working and half-listening to the USCIS conference call on Ethiopian adoptions, and it was pretty informative (at least, the parts I heard).  Actually, for me, this call was a bit more heartening than the one in January, as I felt it was more procedures-based.  This call dealt with one particular issue facing USCIS:
Procedure as it stands now (for those of you not adopting):
This is the procedure for a perfect world. Lots of families get caught at the court stage, but let’s pretend this world is filled with rainbows and bunnies:
·         A child gets referred to a family.
·         The family (eventually) goes to Ethiopia, meets the child, and goes to court.
·         The family passes court.
·         The family is now legally responsible for the child.  They are the legal parents.
·         The family goes back to the US to wait for the US Embassy in Addis Ababa to process the child’s visa and US passport.
·         The US Embassy re-investigates each and every case, to determine if the paperwork is accurate and the child qualifies as an orphan.
·         The family returns to Ethiopia, takes custody of the child. 
·         The family goes to the Embassy, has an interview, gets the child’s documents.
·         The family, including child, fly back to US.
See where the problem lies? 
The child has been legally adopted after court, but before USCIS investigates the case.  So what if:
·         The US Embassy uncovers fraudulent paperwork?
·         The child was illegally relinquished?
·         The child, at the end of the day, does not qualify as an orphan? 
I’ve asked that question before, and no one really knew the answer.  It actually hasn’t happened yet, that a child was adopted by a family, only to have the adoption overturned by the Embassy.  It was still very, very concerning for us.  During the call today, USCIS stated that they are going to change the practice so that they investigate all cases before they go to court.  Of course, this will happen after a referral is made, so we could have a referral, but not actually end up adopting the child (I don't see this necessarily happening, but I guess it is a possibility).  This will happen in the “near future”.  I don’t really know what this means, and have a feeling it will mean longer waits and more referral denials, but overall, it seems like a good idea.  Not sure how it will shake out at the end of the day.  We will see.  I’m curious about the process in other countries, as the US is not the only country adopting children from Ethiopia by a long shot.
Other interesting notes:
·         The vast majority of cases are not found to be fraudulent.  While some cases required investigation, no children were returned to birth families.
·         Wait times were discussed a tad—they will vary and will be lengthy.  Gah. 
·         What can Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs ) do to help?  The answer was, basically, choose a good Adoption Services Provider.  How to really know who is ethical?  That’s another head-scratcher.  One comment was that “PAPs take more time choosing a plumber than an adoption agency.”  I would strongly disagree with that!
·         It was stated that most folks on the call felt that 5 cases a day is not enough.  This movement to working through cases before the case goes to court may be a move to increase numbers, as it may weed out bad referrals in advance.   
·         It was stated that it may be possible, as the investigation is already complete, that the process may move back to one visit in Ethiopia, as the Embassy may be able to process visa, birth certs and visas very quickly.  I'm not holding my breath - time will tell on that one.

So, interesting call.  A lot to process.  Curious what others thought.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's Even More Official Now

Well, shoot.

The US State Department just issued this statement, that yes, adoptions from Ethiopia will significantly slow down.  We certainly were aware of this, although I think everyone was hoping for a change of heart.  It sounds like that will not be the case. 

What does this mean?  Right now, it means that anyone processed after March 8 (we weren't even on the waiting list then) will be processed very slowly.  Rumor has it that the time from referral to court could increase to a year.  I cannot even imagine having a referral for our child and knowing they are in an orphanage for an additional year, while paperwork trickles through. 

Tomorrow we have a 3-hour conference call with the State Department.  My assumption is that the news will be the same as this.  Hopefully some clarity on times to court will become clear. 

I was hoping that from this point on, I would simply bore you all with pictures of Maggie and the cats.  I hope for a nice, boring, predictable life sooner rather than later.


Monday, April 4, 2011

How the numbers stack up

Today I had a conversation with our social worker about the Wonderful, Amazing List, and here’s how it shakes out.  The List is very fluid, as families can change their request at any point.  Some may put an adoption on hold for any number of reasons, including job loss or pregnancy, while others simply have a change in what will fit their family the best.  We are open to kiddos 0-24 months, either gender, or sibs up to 48 months.  This is really, really general, as about 75% of families want infant girls (at this particular point in time--things change daily).  So we are on multiple lists at any given point--sibs, singletons, infants, toddlers, boys, girls, yadda yadda yadda. Our social worker threw out some numbers (and they were far lower than I expected), but it's all a bit confusing when you don't have The List in front of you.

Truth be told, I don’t really know what any of it means.  Ethiopian adoptions are slowing down, and the future is unclear.  Our social worker seemed very confident that the slowdowns are not permanent, but a means to an end to have fewer fraudulent cases.  It’s a head-scratcher to me, but hey, whadda I know?
So my personal goal over the next year or so is to not obsessively watch the message boards for those who have been matched with kiddos.    Not to mentally count down referrals in front of us, because, honestly, I’m not sure many more are coming through anytime soon (and that’s from our agency, not my own paranoia), and how depressing would that be?  We are trying—really, really hard—to make the next months fun and interesting, including learning to scuba dive, trips to California and Montana, hitting a few national parks, a trip to Savannah, another to Hawaii, and just generally enjoying summer (when it finally freaking arrives here, but that’s a rant for another day). 
So at the end of the day, we are on The List, there are tons of people before us who have been waiting a heckuva lot longer, and things are moving slowly.  But we are on The List.  And that’s a darned good feeling.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Some people are so creative...

I found this adoption fundraiser on another blog, and think these shirts are just too cute for words.  So I'm posting their site here, check out the goods!!  I'm so impressed--between general Etsy merchandise and the amazing adoption fundraising efforts on various blogging sites, people's creativity just never ceases to amaze me.  I ordered the "Heathered Blue" shirt--eventually Mother Nature will decide to turn off the darn sprinklers here in the Northwest and bring us some sunshine!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Haiku/Beautiful Email Messages

We are one week in
to a very long, long wait.
Another beer, please.

And this, for your listening pleasure (An Ode to Goose and Tripper)

Milk jug tops are the
very best hockey pucks for
midnight dog taunting


And the best ever, an email from my friend Kristen, who is a super fabulous artsy-craftsy sort (and works for the wonderful Chronicle Books--check them out!)--how amazing is this? 

Isn't that gorgeous???