Monday, January 28, 2008

Sometimes it's the little things.

Sometimes the little things really mean a lot. As you may know, money is a big issue when adopting. Recently, Dottie was selected to receive an award from the local VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) for teaching. She thought it was a nice honor and was surprised when they gave her a $50.00 check. She was even more surprised to learn that she had won an award for the VFW District level. This award came with another $100.00 check. A $150.00 may not seem like a whole lot in the grand scheme of everything but you have to understand that it isn't the amount, it's the fact that an unexpected gift was given to us. That unexpected gift is just one of those little things that reminds us that this is all going to work out.

Sometimes the little things remind us that people care. Earlier today I was at our monthly minister's conference (once a month the ministers in the area get together just to talk) and I shared with everyone our adoption plans. It was a great pick me up to have such an enthusiastic response from the other ministers. Later, Dottie told me that she had received a card from the other teacher's at school with a gift card to Target. The card was congratulating her for being an expectant mother. This thrilled her. Unless you have adopted you may not understand that for the adopting parents they feel just as "pregnant" as any couple who are biologically pregnant. The excitement and the expectation of being parents to a new child or children is just as real and powerful. However, a lot of people don't seem to equate "paper pregnancy" with "real" pregnancy. It's no fault of theirs, they have just never really thought about it for the most part. Of course, there is also the missing ever growing belly that reminds people that a new child is due. During the months of paper pregnancy the only thing for people to see is a pile of papers. Not very exciting. So when Dottie was acknowledged as an expectant mother, it reminded her that people knew and understood that she is a mom to be. You see sometimes it's the little things.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ethiopian Food

Last night Dottie and I had our first taste of Ethiopian food. We went to an Ethiopian restaurant in Raleigh where we met 2 other AWAA families. We had a great time and really enjoyed meeting with other families going through the whole adoption process.

Admittedly, we both were curious about Ethiopian food and wondered if we would be looking for the nearest drive thru after we left. However, we liked the food. We particularly enjoyed the wheat nuts and the sambussa (I think that is how you spell it). Dottie liked the lamb but I really liked the kay wat (spiced beef). We weren't really thrilled with the injera but you get used to it.

All in all, the food was good but the company was better.

The Wheat Nuts

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Homestudy COMPLETE!!!

We just got off the phone with our social worker and our homestudy is complete! She will be sending it off to USCIS (that's immigration) in the next couple of days and then we wait. Have you noticed that waiting is a reoccurring theme in adoption. Hopefully, we won't wait long though. Immigration should have our fingerprints back real soon if not already. Which means when they get the approved homestudy they will be able to "quickly" send us our I-171 (for those who don't know that is the supreme, almighty piece of paper that says we are allowed to bring our children into the United States). This paper is the last in a long line of official papers needed in order to send our dossier off to Ethiopia. At which time we then begin a new waiting period for our actual referral. So although we still have a ways to go we are getting there.

I forgot to mention that I had the opportunity to participate in an AWAA Spirit of Adoption Seminar last weekend. I really had a great time and believe I have a new, no, let's say an additional calling on my life. I really want to take every opportunity afforded to me to speak on behalf of adoption. I think it is a thrill to encourage and to help others with their own adoption journey. I'm not quite sure how this will be fleshed out but I look forward to exploring the possibilities.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Melissa Faye Green article in Parade Magazine

The following was an article in Parade Magazine. It is written by Melissa Faye Greene about her adopted daughter from Ethiopia.

Finding My Daughter's Roots
By Melissa Fay Greene Published: January 13, 2008

With thousands of foreign adoptions taking place in the U.S. each year, many parents want to give their children a connection to their pasts. Writer Melissa Fay Greene recently took her daughter Helen, 10, to visit her native Ethiopia.

It's been five years since my daughter left an orphanage in Addis Ababa and joined our family in Atlanta. Today Helen is a top soccer player, a flutist and the student president of her school. She has gained much, but much is in danger of being lost: her fluency in Amharic, her Ethiopian manners, her sense of her own history and culture.

As we pack for our 10-day trip to Ethiopia, I realize that I have no idea what my daughter is expecting to find there.

“I want to do lots of shopping!” Helen says.

“Addis Ababa is not exactly a shopping mecca,” I warn. “There’s no Target.” I want to ask if she remembers the orphanage or the beggars who line the streets. “I’m packing my iPod!” Helen calls.

Arriving at the airport in Ethiopia’s capital a few days later, we descend by creaky rental van into the city, where cars compete for right-of-way with herds of livestock. Unemployed, sick and handicapped people limp or lie on the sidewalks and median strips. Homeless children dash alongside the heavy traffic.

“This scares me,” Helen murmurs. “I don’t feel like I came from here.” Suddenly, a tall boy leans close to the window and moans in English, “Stomach zero.”

“Give! Mommy, give!” Helen cries.

She ransacks her backpack and finds a bag of bite-size Milky Ways. At the next stoplight, she serves a gold-wrapped candy to another barefoot boy who approaches. He examines it, smiles and requests another “for brother.” The van begins to accelerate. “He needs a candy for his brother!” Helen yells. “Please stop! Let me out!” But there is no stopping. My daughter falls against me, weeping.

UNICEF estimates that 4.6 million Ethiopian children have lost one or both parents, many to HIV/AIDS. Tens of thousands of street children forage in the capital; hundreds more live underground in sewers and tunnels. Some find shelter at orphanages like the one we visit on Helen’s first day back in Ethiopia.

When we arrive, the orphan girls surround Helen. They want to examine her watch and purse, peer through her camera and try her headphones. Then they all sit down for a chat despite Helen’s protests that she can’t really understand what the girls are saying. She does discern that they all need shoes: pink Crocs just like hers. With my permission, she leads an expedition beyond the orphanage gates to a kiosk, where she purchases 30 pairs of fake Crocs for 11 birr (about $1.50) each.

Over the course of our visit, Helen falls in love. Each morning, 3-year-old Binyam runs to her, squats and makes a fierce smile. She lifts and carries him for hours.

“We have to adopt him,” Helen whispers one day as he naps. “He needs me.”

“I know, sweetheart,” I say, “but we can’t. Maybe when you’re a grown-up, you’ll come back to Ethiopia to adopt.”

She shakes her head. Tears start to roll. “Binyam will be too old then.”

In happier moments, Helen soaks up Ethiopia. She understands more Amharic every day. She claps at dance performances and races up the field in soccer games at the orphanage. She sits at attention beside the van window, holding birr in one hand, candy in the other. If beggars don’t approach the car when we stop, Helen taps on the glass to catch their attention.

Before our trip, Helen’s dreams of adult life included Olympic competition, a modeling career and the practice of medicine. Now she says, “I’m coming back when I’m older to build a beautiful shelter for the beggars, with teachers and doctors and pretty bedrooms.”

Helen did enjoy shopping in Addis Ababa, but not for herself. When she looks to the future, it’s with thoughts of how she will make life better for others. And when she sobs inconsolably on our last day, it is for the orphanage girls and for Binyam—sweet children with histories like her own, but with futures that look far less promising.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Homestudy nearing end!

We received our homestudy draft from our social worker and are now reviewing it for any corrections. So far everything looks good. So hopefully tomorrow we'll have that sent back to our social worker and then another time of waiting begins. Hey I just realized Dottie needs to go get her second Hep A/B shot. I get to wait a couple of more weeks!

This has nothing to do with adoption but I had to share a few pictures from my lasting camping trip. There was a warm front that came through and the weather was just too perfect to not go and spend the night under the stars. I went to Stone Mountain State Park here in North Carolina. It was wonderful. Other than a couple of rock climbers, the park rangers and tons of deer, I had the park all to myself. It was great! Stone Mountain State Park is an amazingly beautiful park. The main feature, Stone Mountain, is quite a wonder to behold for sure. I'm sure there are larger granite domes in the world but when added to the shear beauty of the rest of the park nestled right along the Blue Ridge, well, it is definitely worth the trip. Anyway, here are the pictures:

"Stone Mountain"

"View of Stone Mt. from Cedar Rock"

A cool tree on Wolf Rock (by the way I got lost on Wolf Rock but that's another story).

I thought my Mother-in-Law would like this pic.

During this trip I saw 4 different waterfalls. Including the 200 foot Stone Mt. Falls which included taking nearly 200 stairs from top to bottom. But personally I liked these falls the best. This is Widows Falls. It may not be the most spectacular of falls but I thought it just looked cool.
I have nearly 180 more pics but I think this gives you a little look at why I loved this park.

Monday, January 7, 2008


I just got off the phone with our social worker and we should have a copy of our homestudy to review in the next few days! Yea! We're one step closer on our dossier....we can almost apply for grants - Yea!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Fingerprinting is done!!! Dottie and I made our way to Charlotte this morning and after killing some time eating lunch (we were a wee bit early -ok 2 hours early) we went and got our fingerprints done. The process was very easy and only took about 20 minutes total. When we were finished we both had this strange feeling. It all just seemed too easy. We were sure that getting this done (and dealing with the government) would be a lot more difficult. Everything went real well though. Even finding the place was really simple. Now, we wait again as we wait for our immigration approval.

We wanted someone to take our picture in front of the door but no one going in spoke english. So here is our self portrait. Two goobers celebrating an adoption milestone.

Fingerprints, homestudy paperwork and fees.

Well, tomorrow (or much later today as it is now past midnight) Dottie and I will be making a trip to Charlotte to get our fingerprints done for the Department of Homeland Security. All week Dottie has been trying to convince me that she can't help do the dishes because it dries out her hands and she doesn't want to mess up her fingerprinting. So after we are done she is doing the dishes!

Also, we have mailed off the final (I hope) paperwork needed for our homestudy. We thought that in doing this it would also be wise to pay for the homestudy. So we did. One little tidbit on paying for adoptions. Be smart and put it on a credit card that rewards you (obviously, pay the card in a timely manner in order to not gain interest). We figure by the time it is all said and done we will have earned a weeks stay at a nice hotel.

Better get to bed - would hate to sleep late and miss our fingerprinting appointment.