Thursday, May 31, 2007

It's a Small World!

We're back from our Grandma Jo's 90th birthday water park extravaganza. Fun was had by all! We got to see aunts, uncles, and cousins that we had not seen for a very long time. Sunday, there was a big photo session and party for Grandma. For those of you wondering, she did not go down the water slides -that we know of!
(Grandma Jo with Annika, Marissa, & Jeremy 5/28/07)

On our first night at Fort Rapids, William's parents and Grandma Jo met the hotel's restaurant manager. He was an exotic man, and when asked what country he was from he says...."Ethiopia." OF COURSE!! We were so excited to meet our new friend, Yohannes, and he is so also excited for our family! He is from Ethiopia's capital city, Addis Ababa, where we will be going to get our new little one! (Susan with Yohannes 5/27/07)

We also got to eat lunch at "The Blue Nile," an Ethiopian restaurant on High Street (near Lane Avenue) in Columbus, OH. The service was MUCH faster that our local establishment! We ordered meat and vegetable sambusa since we knew Annika would eat them, Dora Wat (chicken legs and a hard boiled egg in a red pepper sauce), and Special Tibs (beef cubes with onions and peppers). It was all delicious, and we all enjoyed it!

Monday, we went to Dayton to celebrate William's mom, Marty's birthday with a cook-out! Tuesday, we went to see my Uncle John & Aunt Jane in Troy and had a pizza luau! Tuesday night, we had a spaghetti dinner at Dave & Liz's house! Wednesday, we had an 11 1/2 hour trip home.

We are glad to be home and will be back working on our homestudy and dossier items soon. It was nice to take a break and get away for a bit!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Progress Update #3

My birth certificate arrived today!!! When I requested a copy, they had to type my information onto another form since it has been SO LONG since I was born that a copy of the original birth record was not legible (William's was!). The blessed civil servant entered the wrong city for my place of birth, so I had to exchange it. They were really nice about fixing it, and I didn't have to wait as long for the exchange.

Having the fixed birth certificate in hand, we were finally able to FedEx our I-600A (orphan petition) to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services where it will stay for a long time. But, now our clock is ticking!!!!

We have most of our items ready to hand over to the social worker to begin our homestudy, but had decided earlier today to put it to bed until we get back so that we could get ready to leave for William's grandmother's 90th birthday celebration at a water park in Ohio!! What a hoot! We will get to see lots and lots of long, lost relatives and the kids are really looking forward to playing in the water with their cousins!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Progress Update #2

We are up to our necks in paperwork already! Our home study packet arrived last Friday, and William and I found some time yesterday to sit down together to wade through some of it.

Last night, I wrote my autobiography. Who knew I was so interesting? There's the time I almost got arrested...

The UPS man brought us a new toy today! We decided to save our gas money for driving to Kinko's and the 8 cents per copy and put it into a printer/scanner/copier/fax unit. We've already had to make some copies today. We're going to need to fax each and every piece of our dossier -front and back- to our family coordinator also.

Jasmine goes to see Dr. David tomorrow because everybody in the house needs to have papers.

I am waiting for my corrected birth certificate to arrive so that we can send in our I-600A (orphan petition) to USCIS.

Our passports are still in process. 4 weeks down, 6 more to go.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Happy Bagel Day!!!

Fridays still remind me of bagel day back when I worked at NCR. Every Friday morning, Steve, Howard and I would pick up Susan from the manufacturing floor and head to the NCR cafe for a bagel and a Coke (This was Atlanta after all). We would enjoy bagels and visiting with the whole KETA team.

The bagels were sold as a fund-raiser. For $1, you could get any style bagel, and a variety of toppings including cream cheese, butter, peanut butter, honey, jam, etc... I usually got a sesame bagel with plain cream cheese, Susan got a plain one with cream cheese, and Steve mixed it up with something different each time. But what really stands out was Howard's bagel. Every Week, we would ask "Howard, what do you have on your bagel?" and he would reply "Jam and cheese, Baby!" I can still hear him saying that. Inevitably, some bagel would get stuck in Howard's big, bushy mustache, and if you pointed it out to him, he would just say "I'm saving that for later."

Later, when we found out we were pregnant with Jeremy, Howard began to refer to him as "Little Howard." This is still one of Jeremy's more popular (and funny) nick-names.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Some Answers to ???s

Hi all! In addition to the three Ethiopian adoption lists we're on, our agency has a Yahoo! group for families to support one another and to ask and answer questions. Here is a good tidbit of information from 3/2/07 that answers a few questions like:

  • How are the children matched with families?
  • From where do the children come?
  • Are they healthy? Do they have AIDS?
  • Where are the children kept after they are accepted by a family?

"There is no formal waiting system in Ethiopia with lists of children to be matched with lists of families. Instead U.S. agencies in Ethiopia work with certain orphanages in Ethiopia whom they build relationships with and receive referrals from these orphanages. Basically, the matching process is through a conglomeration of people and agencies including the orphanage directors, America World's in-country staff representative, the Ministry of Women's Affairs and the Ministry of Civil and Social Affairs.

Our full-time in-country staff representative is building relationships with several orphanages, all of which are located in Addis. AWAA will also soon be working with government-based orphanages in Addis through the Ministry of Civil and Social Affairs.

Before a child is referred to a family, he or she goes through extensive medical testing, which includes HIV and Hep. C PCRs. FYI: these medicals are conducted in an international clinic, and the blood work is referred out to European clinics for results, so we do trust the medical information we're given as it is based upon Western standards. Once a child match has a clear medical, we at AWAA in VA can call the family and give them their referral, which includes a biographical sketch of the child's life (don't get your hopes up, these sketches have very limited information!) and a few child photos.

After we receive a family's acceptance letter, our in-country staff representative will begin working toward finalizing a family's adoption and then the family will travel to pick up the child shortly thereafter. Eventually, AWAA might use the transition home system that several U.S. agencies use to house children whom have been accepted by a family but are waiting on court finalization. Because our program is so new, for now we intend to keep the children in their respective orphanages until a family travels to pick up the child."

We know that there are probably lots more questions! Please, feel free to ask them through the comments on this blog, email us, or call.

Later! Susan & William

Monday, May 14, 2007

Progess Update #1

Today, we received out dossier preparation package and were assigned a family coordinator. We have a lot of papers to collect and get notarized at the local, state, and federal levels!

  • birth certificates
  • marriage certificate
  • employment verification
  • proof of health insurance for adopted child
  • proof of life insurance
  • 3 letters of reference
  • copies of passports
  • I-171H (permission to bring an orphan into the US)
  • financial statement
  • photos of the house
  • photos of the family
  • police reports
  • physical examinations
  • letter requesting a child
  • agency recommendation
  • etc...

AND then, there's the home study!

Don't let anybody ever tell you that adoption was the easy way to add to the family! Our other children didn't involve *any* paperwork!

This will so be worth it! I can't wait to get it together!


Friday, May 11, 2007

Our Baby's Parents

I keep thinking and praying for our baby's parents. I don't even know if he is born yet, but we do know that something really bad is happening in their lives for them to have to give up their son. How heartbreaking that must be. Please, pray for God's peace and comfort for them.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Going Out for Ethiopian Food

Thursday after we got the news that our application had been accepted by America World, we decided to celebrate by going out for Ethiopian food.

We went to Abbysinia which isn't too far away in Raleigh near NC State. None of us had ever eaten Ethiopian food before, so this was an adventure!

We asked our server, Sampson, for advice, and he suggested the vegetarian combination and the Kay Wat. We also added two of the sambusa as an appetizer.

We waited forever for the food because it was made fresh. The sambusa were delicious! They were fillo-looking pastries stuffed with lentils or beef that had been cooked with onions and peppers, and then it was fried. So, of course, it was good!

Our main course came on a huge, round platter. Around the outside of the platter were collards, cracked yellow peas, cabbage, salad, and split lentils. In the middle of the circle, Sampson dumped a bowl of prime rib cubes that had stewed in a red pepper sauce with "Ethiopian spices."

We did not get silverware. We were served huge sourdough pancakes called "injera." We tore pieces of the pancake off and grabbed bites of the food with it. It had a very interesting flavor to it -almost vinegary to me. The kids enjoyed squishing it in their hands because it was spongy and stretchy. Annika stuffed a bite of it into her mouth on our way out of the restaurant. When we got home, she ran to the garbage and spit a wad of injera out of her mouth. She didn't like it, so she didn't want to eat it! (But she held it in her mouth for 10 minutes!)

They had no chocolate cake.


Saturday, May 5, 2007

The BIG News!!

We'd like to catch you up on what has been going on in our lives lately. In October of last year, Susan and I began to consider the blessings of adoption. We are now at a point where we need to share the news and give you a little history on our story.

We began praying, discussing, and researching adoption at that point. In Early march, still uncertain if adoption was right for us, we went to an adoption seminar to get better acquainted with the adoption process. After that, Susan and I felt an even stronger pull at our hearts to adopt.

It became clear that the first major decision was which country. We prayed for guidance and continued our research. The internet has an overwhelming amount of information about adoption. Through this and the information gathered at the seminar, we realized that there is no shortage of people waiting to be chosen by birth mothers to parent healthy, home-grown babies. The US foster care system is not an acceptable risk for us right now due to the uncertainty of keeping the child placed with our family, health issues (mental and physical), and visitation rights of the child's parents. We were feeling strongly drawn to international adoption. We really want to adopt a child who is truly an orphan, and whose life would possibly be saved by adoption.

One night after lots of research and while listening to the Daily Audio Bible podcast, Susan prayed that God would reveal something to her in His word the next day. We were both feeling some frustration that with we knew about adoption we still didn't know where or IF we should adopt.

The next day, April 18, Susan was listening to the Bible podcast when the word "Ethiopia" caught her attention. She was startled back from the distractions and listened again to the passage from Psalms 87 which mentioned Ethiopia. Then she re-played the reading from the New Testament which was from Luke. It was Jesus telling the parable of the talents. A king goes on a journey and leaves money (talents) with his servants. One servant invested the ten talents and got ten more. The servant with five talents invested and made five more. The servant with one talent buried it and made no money. When the king returned, he praised the first two and cursed the third for not even earning interest on the one talent. (Luke 19:1-27)

When Susan and I discussed this, it was clear to both of us that God was speaking clearly to us through His word. To us, the story of the talents confirmed that we should invest in God's kingdom by adopting someone. The reference to Ethiopia was more than a coincidence. In other translations, Ethiopia is called "Kush." While other countries like China, Haiti, Korea, and even the United States do not appear anywhere in the Bible, we knew that God used the Bible podcast to speak to us. It's touching, scary, and exciting to get such clear direction for the Lord.

We have been accepted by America Word Adoption Associates into their Ethiopia program as of Thursday, May 3, 2007!

Our hope is that you will support and pray for us as we add to our family through adoption, and that your life will be blessed from this also!

Love, William & Susan