Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa is Coming to Town!

Wow, December has been a busy month! Madeline had her 11th birthday on Dec 11th. She has performed with her dance troupe for numerous community events this month which has kept us busy. Olivia is very excited for Santa to come tonight. Her first grade class made gingerbread houses in school and they turned out so cute. Claire is happy to have a 17 day break from school.

As far as the adoption goes, things have slowed down quite a bit with our agency. They only had 3 Ethiopian referrals this month. This is disappointing for us because we are about 30th in line on the infant girl list. At this rate, we don't know if we will have Ava home next Christmas. Our agency is hopeful that the referrals will increase beginning in the new year.

We want to wish all of our family and friends a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It was a very Happy Halloween at our house

October 31st was a great day! Not only did the kids have fun trick-or-treating, but we also found out our dossier was mailed to Ethiopia that day! In the "adoption world" we call that DTE (dossier to Ethiopia). Now we are officially WFR (waiting for a referral). Lots of new terms to learn along the way. It was such a great feeling to know things are moving in this process. We have officially been put on the "waiting list" for a baby girl and from what I can determine (through informal tracking), we are about 30th in line for a baby girl.

As we go along in this process, we learn more and more about the conditions and circumstances of the Ethiopian people. Right now, there is a severe shortage of formula for the orphans. Can you imagine that even happening here in the US? The problem is not that they can't afford's that they do not have it at all! Families from our agency who have been traveling recently to bring their children home have been taking over formula cans in big rubbermaid containers. The cost is quite high to transport it as extra luggage, but still cheaper than shipping it over. It definitely puts things in perspective and makes me appreciate the abundance we have in this country.

So now we begin a new phase of the adoption process and we look forward to receiving a phone call one day next summer telling us our baby daughter is waiting for us to come and get her!

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Hmmmm, the photo of our dossier paperwork didn't seem to make it into the last here it is!

Going on a road trip!

On Friday I drove to Richmond to get all of the papers certified by the state. It was nice because another lady rode with me who is also adopting from Ethiopia and she needed to get her papers certified too. So we had some nice long chats which made the ride go much faster. Everything is ready to be turned in to America World on Monday. They will get the dossier authenticated at the Embassy in DC and then it will be sent to Ethiopia on Friday, Oct. 31. Our name officially goes on the waiting list Friday. The top photo is the paperwork we are submitting for the dossier. The second photo is of me at the Secretary of Commonwealth office in Richmond holding the last piece of the paper needed for the dossier......can you see my joy?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hip Hip Hooray!

FINALLY, the anxiously awaited letter (better known as 171-H) arrived in the mail today. What a great feeling to know all of our paperwork for our dossier is now ready to be certified. On Friday, I am driving down to Richmond with another adoptive mom from our area. We will get our dossiers certified and then drop them off at America World Monday morning. If all goes well, we'll be DTE (dossier to Ethiopia) next Friday (Halloween). We are one big step closer to bringing Ava home. Once we turn in everything next week, we officially get on the agency's waiting list. Currently, the wait time for a baby girl is about 7-9 months. That seems so far away, but when I look back on how quickly these last 5 months have gone, I realize it will be here before we know it. There was a feeling of excitement in the house tonight knowing that we are finally moving ahead in this long process.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Where is that little piece of paper?

So, we are STILL waiting to receive the 171-H form from Dept of Homeland Security. We were told it could take up to 9 weeks from our fingerprint date. This Tuesday (Oct 14) will be nine weeks. I sent an email to the lady who reviews our paperwork at USCIS and have not received a response. It is very frustrating to sit here with our piles of paperwork ready to go... just waiting for one piece of paper. If I have learned anything in this process so far, it is PATIENCE! I have also sent an email to our state representative asking them to send an email or letter to this woman to check on our case. I know some other families who have taken this approach and they have received their 171-H shortly after contacting the State Representative. I am hopeful that it will arrive this week. I will then drive to Richmond to have the dossier certified by the State of Virginia and then drive all of that to America World Adoption Agency.

Duni, who was in the photo of our previous post, and who cooridinates the Ethiopia Adoption at our agency here in Virginia, will be moving with her family to Ethiopia in November. This is wonderful news because she will be working for America World over there.....making sure the paperwork is ready for the courts, overseeing the referrals, etc. So we will be seeing her again when we travel to Ethiopia next year. And hopefully it will keep the referrals and court dates running smoothly and quickly. She is such an amazing person and really pours her heart into her job.

Hopefully, my next post will be about receiving our 171-H form.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Still Waiting.......

On Aug. 12 Bruce and I went to the USCIS (Immigration office) to be fingerprinted.  Now we wait for a form called 171-H.  A letter from Homeland Security informed us the wait time for that form is taking about 9 weeks from the date we were fingerprinted.  That would put us at around mid-October.  I am being optimistic and hoping it comes any day........I run out to the mailbox everyday hoping it's there.  My neighbors will think I am a crazy woman when that form arrives because when it finally does arrive,  I will probably be standing out there jumping and screaming with joy.   That's all we need in order to send our paperwork to Ethiopia.

Today we went to a seminar in Arlington, VA called "Ethiostork".  It's designed to educate us about Ethiopia and the adoption process.  The great thing about it was that the woman who spoke was also the Coordinator of Ethiopia adoptions for our agency (America World).  So she will be very involved with our referral.  She was born in Ethiopia and has lived here for 17 years.  Her mother runs an orphanage in Ethiopia which is connected with our it was cool to meet her and be able to ask her questions.  The photo is of us with Duni today at the seminar.  We also were able to meet about 5 other families who live in the area and are adopting from Ethiopia.  The kids were troopers and sat through the presentation and then we all ate a traditional Ethiopian meal.....our first introduction to their food.  We had mixed reactions from the kids, but they did try everything.  We asked them what they liked about the seminar and Claire said jokingly  "I liked the Ethiopian Coke"  which was actually just regular Coke!!!  We did learn some interesting stuff about Ethiopian holidays, their government, how to incorporate foods & traditions into our lives so that our child will grow up with a sense of pride about where she was born. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Great Times in CA and Homestudy Finished!

This has a been an action-packed month!  We traveled to California over the 4th to visit our friends and was good to see everyone.  As you can see from the photo, Madeline and Olivia are in heaven being with their friends (they miss them so much).

Our homestudy was officially finished yesterday!  That is a big piece of the adoption paperwork.  It will be sent to the Department of Homeland Security (immigration) and we will hopefully receive the required form (171-H) in the next 2 months.  Virginia is notoriously slow in getting those 171-H documents out.  Once we get that.......all of our dossier paperwork gets notarized and authenticated by the state and finally gets sent to Ethiopia.  

Last Saturday we went to a picnic where we met about 10 families from our area who have adopted Ethiopian children.  It was an amazing experience!  One family had 12 kids (6 bio and 6 adopted).  All of the kids had such a great time and we learned so much about the process and adjustments once the children are home.  

We are off to Baltimore this weekend for a short trip.  We haven't ever been there before, so we are going to a baseball game at Camden Yards, visiting the aquarium, and touring the  Inner Harbor. The Orioles are playing the Anaheim Angels.......think we'll have to cheer for the Angels!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Exciting week!

Well, (sigh of relief) , we completed two of the home-study interviews and it went well (at least I think so). Our social worker is great and really made everyone feel at ease.  She probably knows more about us now than most of our friends and family!!!  It really was nothing to stress over.....I can say that now that it's over :)  While we are off visiting friends and family in California, she'll be writing up the report.  Then we meet back with her on July 17th to review the report and then it gets sent for review (which can take 10-12 weeks) at which point we will receive a form called an I-171 that will allow us to bring the baby back into the US when it's time.  Whew!  So many steps to go thru.  But for the most part, the home-study it coming to a close and we will then start gathering paperwork for our dossier.  If all goes well, I am hoping we get everything on it way to Ethiopia in September......but much of it is out of our control, so we wait (and wait and wait)!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Moving Right Along

Our home study coordinator has scheduled our two in-home interviews for Friday (June27) and Tuesday (July1).  Say a little prayer that everyone will be on their best behavior!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Blogs of other families

These are some blog links of other families who have adopted from Ethiopia through our agency (AWAA).  I have added them to the Adoption Links and Blogs section on the right side of the blog. The first one is a family that lives in our town (Kidd family).  Watch the makes you cry it is so touching!  The second and third links are families that recently returned from Ethiopia and the last one is of a family that will be going over this summer to bring their daughter home.  Just gives you a look at what we will be experiencing next year.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

We're Cleared!

We received an email from our homestudy coordinator that all of our clearances have come back (FBI and State).  So now we can start the in-home interviews! Each little step in the process feels like we are getting closer to bringing Ava home!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Why Adopt from Ethiopia

  • One in six children die before their fifth birthday
  • 44% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years old
  • 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition
  • The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years
  • 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world)
  • 720,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS alone, and there are 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia
  • Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa
  • In the 90's the population (3%) grew faster than food production (2.2%)
  • Drought struck the country from 200-2002 (first year no crops, second year no seeds, third year no animals)
  • Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school.  88% will never attend secondary school
  • Coffee prices (Ethiopia's only major export) fell 40-60% from 1998-2202
  • Ethiopia's doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000
  • In 1993, after 30 long years of war, Eritrea broke from Ethiopia and became an independent nation leaving Ethiopia landlocked without any major seafaring ports.

Monday, June 9, 2008

June 9, 2008

This is our first entry in our blog!  Since so many people have asked how things are going with the adoption, I decided to jump into the new millenium and create a blog to update friends and family on our life with the girls and updates on the adoption process.  Keep in mind that all I usually do is surf the net and do email, so this blog will be a work -in -progress project. I have read so many other families' blogs from our adoption agency that I felt like I had to join and be a part of it.