I want to talk all about it. I want you to know about the 400+ Africans from around the continent who are here to talk about family-based care. Not just lip service to family-based care but how to do it. How to assess, monitor, recruit foster parents, mobilize communities, involve the church, study the impact, reintegrate children with families, manage residential care at a higher standard for the children who aren't ready for family placement, work with the government, change policies, find resources, and prevent compassion fatigue.
The conference is a physically beautiful thing. It is a mass of people woven through with this incredibly colorful thread of women wearing their traditional clothing. Not the men. The women - they take my breath away with their pride of self, pride of place, pride of country, race, and heritage. I don't believe there is a single person working on "orph.an care" in the United States who could rival one of these women in passion for Africa's children.
But I don't know how to talk about the conference. I don't know if you are interested since this is primarily an adoption blog. I will give the conference details on my professional blog.
Here I will talk about our adoption. Because every second of every minute I participate here I have baby on my mind.
Tonight, several hundred of us went to the National Museum of Kenya for a cultural dinner. We had live performances throughout the dinner. Now, I know a lot of adoptive parents go to Ethiopia and experience the tame dance shows in the restaurants off of Bole road. But tonight it was made so obvious the difference between African dancers and singers performing nightly for tourists who have no way of comparing quality vs. half hearted effort and African dancers and singers who KNOW they are performing for and being judged by an African audience.
It was night and day difference.
There is no way to describe it.
Buzzing, throbbing, pulsating
rythm arriving out of chaos
arms swinging, hips flying, butts shaking
the glow of teeth between smiles
braids clacking and swirling
acrobats, fire, limbo, congo
red, blue, green, orange
kanga wraps, bubus, scarves, Maasai shawls and beads
HIPS, FEET, HANDS, FINGERS, TOES
Flying, laughing, joy, PRIDE
Have you ever been to a professional conference dinner where the majority of attendees are gyrating, stomping, and shaking it? (In the first 10 minutes, lights fully on, and without alcohol!)
This African celebration, and that's truly what it was, Africans celebrating Africans, lasted for 3 hours.
In the U.S. we see this kind of performance as amusement. Show. We sit in a room with white and black Americans and maintain propriety. If someone of another culture is among us we encourage group conformation and blending.
Tonight the Africans made us (the whites from American, Canada and Europe) feel welcomed, loved, and they taught us to be joyful. But it was no tourist performance.
Near the end I sat and looked around with eyes that just kept brimming up. It was awful. I had to do the wide eyed stare, don't blink, thing. I had to step outside for air.
WHO am I to take any baby or child from Africa? WHO do I think I am? Honestly. I am not being selfless or modest or humble. Hah, those of you who know me know I'm not good at the false modesty thing.
How will baby learn to dance? How will she learn to shake her hips and swing her arms and bob her head, the way that EVERY African woman in the room could do, in a way that makes her seem like a gazelle and not a stomping gorilla (which is how I would look doing the same moves)??
Who will teach her to tie up her hair in a wrap or move gracefully with her head held so high on her shoulders its like an invisible string is tying her to the sky? No American I know walks like that.
How will she learn that wide hips and high cheekbones, glowing brown or black skin, and full lips are beautiful? In America we have a sad devaluation of these characteristics.
Where will she learn pride in her national dress, how to trill her throat, and how to throw her inhibitions to the wind when music comes on?
I am not at all sure that what baby will lose by leaving Ethiopia, by leaving AFRICA, can be counterbalanced by what she will gain with us in America. No matter her medical needs.
My baby will be African but she will not grow to be one of these women with their power and pride and passion for their homeland. She just won't. She may have those feelings for Africa, because we will do our best to teach her. But learning second hand is not the same.
She will be black in a white family. African in an American world. Sitting calmly and eating baked chicken and a scoop of mashed potatos and gravy at her professional conferences when she should be dancing with abandon and celebration at every gathering, professional or not.
I am sad tonight. I wish I could have smiled and laughed and clapped and enjoyed. But I could not come up with any reason that any child, even the poorest of the poor, should be removed from Africa. Americans have a lot to learn about truly living and loving from Africans.
I have this growing understanding that we are about to receive SO much more than we are about to give.
Did a little shopping. Found a puzzle of Africa for baby.
I'll be in Kenya at the 1st Afri.can Conf.erence on Fam.ily-based Care from the 25th-1st.
It will be an amazing conference! www.anppcan.org/node/45
All of the presenters are from African organizations working to preserve family in the face of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Attendees are coming from child protection and development groups around the world. I have been organizing 3 partner organizations as well as some of our core working group members' attendance and presentation. It's been crazy. Middle of the night phone calls to talk to people across the world. The presentation is far from done right now but I should have a day or two to wrap it up when I get there.
From the 1st-4th my colleague and I are going to Victoria Falls in Zambia. We're going to spoil ourselves at a Lodge and Spa right next to the falls, take a one day safari into Chobe, Botswana, and swim in the Devil's pool at the top of the falls. It will be incredible!
From the night of the 4th-7th we are going to be in Choma, Zambia writing the story of a little church here in the U.S. that partners with a church and organization caring for 250 orphaned children in community member's homes. It is a great example of the work being done by church partnerships to ensure that no child has to grow up in an orphanage. We'll be doing photography, interviews, and appreciative inquiry.
We spend the 7th night back in Nairobi and then will be in Nukuru, Kenya from the 8th-11th. We'll do another case study in this community studying a much larger church-church partnership and the work they do caring for orphans in the community. It will highlight a children's center, education program and a lot more.
Then I will be in Addis from the 11th-early morning on the 16th. My time there is already filling up. I have 3 letters to deliver to kids waiting for their adoptive parents. Instructions to photograph 3 babies matched with families here. All of the AAI homes to visit. A presentation at an international school. Dinner with one friend. And volunteering at the drop-in center that we help to support with 2 other friends who are spending the year in Addis.
Everything is ready to go. I got the Black*berry. Of course it took us until 4pm yesterday to make the new phone decision and I spent most of last night at a hockey game trying to figure out the features. So you can text me on the phone at my normal cell number. But please don't call!! The roaming rates are ridiculous.
Last night we went to an Aval.anche pre-season game and had box seats. Now I never want to sit in the "normal" seats ever again! The box has tv. The box has internet. The box has a bathroom!!! It was heaven. Defintely improved the game.
In adoption news, the fingerprinting took all of 20 minutes to get there and 5 minutes to do it. Then our police records check arrived. So today J will photocopy our dossier and send it in to AAI. I expect that they will send it on to Ethiopia for final approval sometime in the next couple of weeks. One thing to clarify - if we have a referral by the time I'm in Addis that would be great for visiting him/her. But we can't bring baby home until we pass court and get a visa, and on and on. There is a long list that happens after the referral.
Next time you read this blog I hope you'll get to see baby animal pictures!
Thanks for reading and for your comments. Ana, I do remember Cassidy kissing Pablo's toes! And Holly and Korana I know you two were some of our friends who actually prayed for Cassidy through her Addison's Disease diagnosis. What good friends you have been.
I started this blog thinking it would just be a way to get some of my fervor for the adoption out and into the world - somewhere away from my mind and constant running thoughts.
But I see now that it has been so much more than that. It has reconnected me to some of you and brought me others that I never would have had without the blog!
I am so thankful for your thoughts and prayers and wishes and fun memories. For your playing along with my baby name game as seriously as you know I'd want you to. And for you mommy bloggers who comment on my posts even when you don't have to just because you know how important comments are!
There are some readers, I know now, that are lurking here. And that is fine. Welcome.
This post is for a group of you who I know my mom has been inviting, informing, and asking for prayers from. Here's a post to make your day and renew your faith in miracles.
WE GOT OUR INVITATION TO GET FINGERPRINTED!!!!!!!!
In a turn of events never before seen in the international adoption community (at least that is what they told us at training today) it took only 5 days for our homestudy to be sent (not received-SENT) to US.CIS, processed, and for us to receive our invitation back to be fingerprinted. Tuesday - Saturday of this week.
Since I leave on Thursday and will be gone almost a month we basically thought this would be out of the question. And that the dossier and US.CIS clearance would have to wait until I got back. (Not a huge amount of time in real time but in adoption time it is an extra month's wait.) But I know that there are some prayerful women reading along, who haven't made themselves publicly known, and I'm going to give credit where credit is due.
So. Where do we stand?
Today we finished our last required training for the state of Colorado.
24 hours of in person training - done. 10 hours of online training (x2 since we changed agencies and AAI had different requirements) - done.
Homestudy approved, finalized, sent to the international placing agency - done.
Received and completed all but the Denver police record check for our dossier (did not realize we had to send in this paperwork and it will take 5-10 days) - so, semi-done.
Sent I600A, received invite for fingerprinting which we will do on Tuesday, to receive final US.CIS approval to adopt approximately 4 weeks later - done.
Vaccinations - done.
We basically have everything but the referral of a child. But that is ok. I know it will happen.
These last few days have been rough. I have been really sick from my yellow fever vaccination so work, preparation for travel, and adoption paperwork have all taken a backseat to laying on the couch shivering and sipping cranberry/grape juice courtesy of my sweet husband.
Feeling much better today. Empowered to get it all finished before Thursday morning.
I probably won't post again before I leave but I will try to post from Kenya.
There is one final request I have. (Hmm, I can't guarantee it will be a last request in this whole adoption thing, but it is a final request for now.)
Could you just pray us into a referral by the week of October 11-15th?
We have the owl lovey ready. We have a soft plastic baby photo book with pictures of us and the house prepared. We have a box of Chee.rios packed (thanks for those last two ideas Jill!) We have two baby/toddler toys that it took us, oh, at least an hour, to choose from the baby toy aisle at Tar*get. (BTW, is it just me or is Tar*get baby aisle incredibly overwhelming? We went in with the goal of 1 or 2 baby/toddler appropriate toys and ended up glazed eyed, drooling, finding ourselves comparing the toy that makes bell music when shaken to the toy that blinks lights when shaken - what??!! Is this what I can expect? Basically we had absolutely no idea and I am thinking this is just the beginning. What's going to happen when we have to hit the diaper aisle? I have heard horror stories about the diaper aisle.) So. I am going armed with all of this in a big ziplock bag. I can ignore it all until I get to Addis on the night of the 11th. But then...it would be really nice to be able to use it.
It may be asking a lot. I don't know. I'm just not willing to say that I'm asking too much when it comes to this adoption. I have waited. Maybe not the same waiting as others but I have waited a long time in a different way. And we have prayed. And we find ourselves on the same page. And we have followed the signs and stuck to the path even when it looked really really hard.
Can we have this last thing? If it can be prayed into existence then I ask you to pray. If she/he is there waiting anyway can we just know who he/she is by October 11th? Not asking for prayers or wishes for bio family to die or any crisis to occur that makes this easier just for us. Just - if baby is waiting let us be matched by October 15th at the latest.
Ok, I have put the big ASK out there. I've decided it is not too much to ask.
Much love to you all and thank you for joining me here.
Maybe my next post will be of baby animals which are seriously the next best thing to human babies. I'm going to try to visit a rehab home for baby animals in Nairobi before the conference starts.
Here's to optimism,
Cassidy has good naturedly flown to Alaska. And Texas. And Washington, DC.
12 week old Cassidy jumped in a huge lake and tried to join (in her mind save) J windboarding.
Now on to the adoption news.
First "Rolling right along":
1. Yesterday I was in mid gigantic complaint to J that our dossier packet hadn't arrived from AAI yet and it had passed the promised two week mark when...it was hand delivered via priority mail. It was pretty funny since I was seriously flopping onto the couch and moaning and groaning about how it was never going to arrive before I leave for Africa, etc etc (J was trying his best to act interested and sympathetic.)
The dossier packet from AAI is a little different from the WACAP packet. Much much more specific with templates for every letter and form. But I am hoping we can still just use all of the documents we've already gathered and had notarized and authenticated.
2. I just got an email from our homestudy social worker saying that our homestudy was returned to her from the state and has been...well whatever they do to it at the state level. Stamped? She is sending it to US.CIS today here in Denver. Which means it will arrive at the office tomorrow. Which means that they have exactly one week to process the form and our checks and send us a letter saying we can come on in anytime for fingerprints. This is BIG folks. Very big! This is the last piece of the dossier that we don't control. After our fingerprints are run the US gov't will issue a form approving us to adopt a child from overseas. CO tends to run quickly on this and they don't give a specific fingerprinting date so as long as we get that letter before I leave on the 24th we can get it done!
If not, our entire dossier will be held up and not get turned in until after I get home in mid October.
Now on to "waiting for the boyfriend to call":
Obviously I don't have a boyfriend.
But I did in college. And I remember that growing anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach I get when I know the phone should ring but it just isn't.
Now with the cell phone I can hear it chirp from any room in the house telling me I have a message. It is torturous highs and lows running to it to see if it is AAI.
I am actually really looking forward to being out of the country for a nice long break from paperwork, phone calls, nervous waiting, and obsessive emails.
But for now I am waiting to see if AAI will call about the little girl that may or may not go on the special needs list. They said they will only call if the tests are done and conclusive that she is special needs. So for now I wait and if I haven't heard by next Thursday then I guess I have my answer.
That's all folks!!
My second set of questions is about the carrier:
I found this afropuff doll in an airport store in Seattle and fell instantly in love. It seems so rare to find a brown doll. Am I right about this? Maybe I haven't been looking before.
The brand is blabla if you want to look at their site. I showed Jeremy and we agreed that these are the cutest stuffed toys ever made. I love the little jungle animals.
But a boy and his doll? We'll see. We applied for a girl but I refuse to be totally closed to a boy. You just never know who is in store for us. So we haven't decorated yet or bought much of anything. And owl lovey is appropriate for either sex. But this doll stole my heart. And if we get a boy and he loves his doll then so be it!
Nothing interesting to report on the adoption. Waiting for our dossier papers from AAI to arrive so we can sign them and get them authenicated in Colorado. They should have arrived yesterday.
Since there is no exciting news I'll post on the boy name. Which is so good it does deserve a post all of its own!
drum roll here.......
Kayin: pronounced KAI een or Kai IHN, we aren't sure yet. Different people say different things so it will be on the list to discuss while in Ethiopia next month.
Meaning: Amharic for long-awaited child.
This was originally our first choice for a girl name because we thought it was prounounced Kay-in. But then we were definitively told it was a boy name in Amharic and pronounced with Kai at the beginning. So lucky for us for two reasons.
1. My favorite boy nickname from almost all cultures is Kai. There exists, in almost every language, a boy name that can be transformed into Kai. Or Ky. When we considered adopting from Thailand boy name #1 was Kyet. In some places Malakai or Malachi is popular. Anyway, you get my point.
2. How great is that meaning? The perfect fit.
We will have Cox as the last name. Several friends from other countries have asked. So, yes, the name has to go well with Cox. Please go ahead and pair some of your favorite baby names with Cox and laugh a little to yourselves. We do it all the time. Our goal is simple. We just don't want the kid to sound like a porn star. Am I asking too much?
I see my "we have babies" combined with baby names posts over the weekend has stimulated much excitement. Thanks for the emails and comments.
By the way, I've noticed that a lot of you choose to email me privately in general but I just want to say that I read the comment section a LOT, love the comments, and am more than happy to get your thoughts in either format. (Ok, maybe more heavy thoughts by email, but everything cheerful can go on the blog!)
So today I am running around in a chicken with its head cut off sort of way trying to get ready to work from Seattle for the next few days. I leave in a couple of hours and because yesterday was Labor Day of course everything was closed and I couldn't get anything done.
Blah blah blah that is all I see when I look at this post so far.
The BIG News now!
It was a little anticlimatic but still exciting to me. I know those of you who have waited will know exactly what I mean.
AAI called me bright and early (before 9am their time!) to discuss the different special needs we are open to. They have two (ok, so two isn't really "some" in my opinion-I was hoping for 10!) infants with special needs. One has a condition that we are not at all prepared for or open to. But the other one has a suspected heart problem which is something we would be fine with (with more information of course.)
That's it. That's all you get folks. They have to do a lot of tests to see if she can be placed on the healthy infant list or should go to a "special needs" family. Which I suppose we are first in line to be since they called us!
Immediately afterwards I got two fantastic emails.
Email 1: Our homestudy was sent to the state today to be approved. After that it can go to US.CIS so they can invite us to get fingerprinted. Please please keep praying with me, crossing your fingers, whatever, that we can do this before the 24th. Colorado US.CIS moves extremely fast. Sometimes just a week or two!
Email 2: The AAI coordinator for the specific special need that we applied for, that you almost all know about but which I am not yet prepared to mention by name on the blog, emailed to say that we are #4 on the list. NUMBER FOUR!!! That is it!!! And the people ahead of us "mostly are open to older children and siblings as well as infants and toddlers so you may move up quickly"!
Have I used enough exclamation points? This is all good news to leave Denver on and it is actually welcome that I'll be so busy these next few days. I won't even have time to think about it. (But you know I will at least a little.)
I feel like I should write a caveat here that is very important. Just because we are moving quickly, hopefully, towards an actual referral of a child, doesn't mean we are about to get the child, in person, anytime soon. It is hard. AAI tends to refer children early but asks that you be ok waiting even up to 9 months before traveling to get the child. This is because the process of having the dossier approved in Ethiopia, waiting for court dates, receiving visa waivers, and collecting documentation to prove to the court that the child has no relatives able/willing to care for him/her is a very long and involved process. I can't even pretend to know what they go through on the other end as far as legal paperwork.
Additionally, our "specific special need" involves some extra paperwork that will definitely add a delay. If you are curious and want more information I'd be happy to share about the special need by email. Just shoot me an email or facebook me.
Whew, ok, have to do a million other things now. But just feeling a great glow and confidence that we chose the right agency in the end.
Keep those baby name thoughts coming. I'm open to others if you know of any good Amharic names and want to share.
Separate post on the boy name as there has been a lot of requests for it!
We changed agencies. I won't go into the details and I do still think WACAP is a great agency. But after losing little T they just never communicated with us again. It was bizarre and painful and made us wonder if they were having this type of communication gap now how would it be with them down the road. So now that the time is here to submit our homestudy (tomorrow!!) we're glad to have changed to AAI (Adoption Advocates International.) And I feel at peace. It is much easier not to be looking at a little face and panicking about how "behind" we are. Now we are just going to wait for a referral.
So since paperwork and panic are winding down here I've been spending a lot of time on other women's blogs. I've read a lot! And I've toughed up a little. Less tears overall.
But this one got me. I hope you'll read it too. I reminds me of how important it will be for us to find our child's birth family - what is left of it. No matter the cost or time involved.
- Me. Us. She.
- J and I have been married for almost 15 years. We have shared many adventures and a lot of watershed moments. In 2009 I began blogging and in 2010 we adopted our daughter from Ethiopia. In March of 2012 we began the process to adopt a little boy from Haiti. This blog follows the many twists and turns on the road to our two children and beyond.
- ► 2010 (106)
- ▼ September (11)