Every tree limb overhead seems to sit and wait, while every step you take becomes a twist of fate.
Up on the watershed, standing at the fork in the road...

If you are new to our adoption blog please take a moment to scroll down to the archives at the bottom of this page and start with July 2009 post "Watershed."


Look at what arrived today!

When the mail arrived it sounded louder than normal. It was the sound of the mailman trying to shove FIVE large envelopes into our tiny mailslot next to the front door.

All of our dossier documents returned on the same day. How's that for efficiency?!



The Blanket

J and I are deeply entrenched in training. No matter how much I thought I knew going into this adoption I am surprised almost daily by what I didn't know.

I didn't know what a Secretary of State apostille (edit - authentication!) looked like or why it was required. I didn't know that we would have to sit through 24 hours of in-person training on topics like attachment and sensory integration and brain development. I didn't know that we would have to watch the two dullest women on earth talk us through...oh at least 1,000 hours of DVD training (Because They Waited - anyone done it?) repeating the same topics we learned about in class and then take online tests. I didn't know what I didn't know.

I am not anti-process or training or even the expensive DVDs and online courses. They all exist for good reason. Just saying that I am surprised!

But despite all of the training from well trained trainers ;)
I still cull the most knowledge/true understanding from reading mothers' blogs.

This is one of my favorites by far. It really pulled together the concepts of a child's grief and loss as well as attachment in a way that I could relate to. Since I read this about a week ago I've been referring to #3 as just "baby." As in "when baby comes we need to move around the furniture" or "when baby is here we can go to the kiddie amusement park at the end of the block." J just smiles. I think he thinks I've begun to lose it a little.


When every baby is born they are given a blanket.
This blanket is supposed to be warm and soft and protective.
It usually has beautiful colors and satin edging.
It is wrapped around the baby and the baby is at peace.

Sometimes, the blanket is old.
It hasn't been washed and it is made of burlap, but it is wrapped around the baby, and even though it is a little smelly and scratchy, the baby is at peace.
The blanket for this baby has big problems.
There are big holes in it. It looks like it had satin edging once, but that has been torn away.
It may have had soft pastel colors, but it is now a dull and dirty brownish grey.
It is wrapped as best it can be around the baby, and the baby clings to it for peace.
But the baby is cold and can't get comfortable.

Now, both the baby and the blanket are dirty and smelly, but it is the baby's blanket, and baby holds on to what little comfort it knows, and tries to have peace.
Suddenly, the blanket is ripped away.
Baby cries and reaches for the blanket, but it is gone.
Baby knows it wasn't a good blanket, a warm and soft blanket, but it was baby's, and with it, baby knew the only peace that baby has ever known.

Someone has wrapped a new blanket around baby.
It has pretty satin edging and soft fleece.
It smells fresh and inviting, but baby throws it off.
That is NOT Baby's blanket. Where is baby's blanket?
Baby cries and cries as the new blanket is wrapped back around baby's body.
Baby notices warmth that baby has never felt before. This is a trick.
Yes is is warm, but IT IS NOT MINE!!!!!

Baby had better not get used to this. Baby doesn't have a warm, soft blanket.
Baby only knows the scratchy, dirty and cold blanket.
Baby kicks it away.
Baby is cold and lonely and misses the old blanket.
Baby toys with the edge of the new blanket.
Baby feels that it is soft and inviting. Baby can tell it is warm.
Maybe baby will just hold the edge of this blanket for a while.

It is not baby's blanket, but it is here, and baby is sad and needs comfort.

Someone keeps trying to wrap the whole blanket around baby, but baby still throws it off.
Baby will only hold the edge. Why won't baby take the blanket?
Can't baby see how much better this blanket is?
It is warm, it is soft. Come on, it is polar fleece!!
What is baby's problem? It is such a great blanket!!

Baby continues to reject the entire blanket, but is still holding on to the edge.
Eventually, baby can cover one arm and rub baby's face with more of the blanket, but baby stops short of wrapping up in it.
The new blanket providers have stopped trying to force baby to wrap up in the blanket, and have accepted that baby can't or won't use the whole thing, and have settled on waiting on baby.

Sometimes baby brings the blanket to them and asks them to drape it over baby's arm in just the right way so that the satin edge touches baby's face the way baby likes it.
This continues for a time and baby realizes that even though baby misses the old blanket, baby has a peace that baby has not known before.
Baby thinks it might be this new blanket.

Baby is torn. Baby misses old blanket, but old blanket didn't protect baby like new blanket does. New blanket is warm.
New blanket smells good and is so very soft.
Old blanket is gone.
One day, baby needs help with the new blanket. Baby takes it to the ones who gave it to baby and they wrap it gently around baby's shoulders.

Baby holds on tight to the blanket and baby is at peace.

My blanky. Essential as life-giving oxygen. Much beloved until peaceful retirement to the nightstand drawer in 2000 AD.



I am not...

Here are the things I'm not doing again.

I am not getting on a plane and flying to my parent's house for any kind of celebration or holiday without my child.

I am not playing, or even coming within gawking distance, of a playground without my child.

I am not going to a zoo/carnival/amusement park again without my child.

I flew to Texas on Thursday for my mom's surprise birthday party. As I waited to board the plane it was as if every happy mother and her beautiful child had congregated at my gate. I watched them juggle the strollers and carseats, the diaper bag, the thrown pacifier and I felt like a piece of my own body was missing. It was very hollow. I have been feeling like that a lot lately. Like a body part has been misplaced...

I've read a lot of blogs. And it seems like there is a moment that every woman hits where she feels angry at waiting. This usually leads to lashing out and generally grumpy and unsatisfied blogs. You can always tell when someone is there at that point!

But I have been waiting for ten years. Patiently and sometimes not so patiently, helping my husband get to this point and time in life-time for family.
And in the meantime my entire career has revolved around little needy children whom I can't do anything personally for.
Foster care social work - only for masochists really. What was I thinking??
Alternative care/development work - always ends with me in a foreign country needing to bring home another animal to replace the dozens of children I can't bring home.

I don't think I'm angry, just done. SO done. And it is funny to me that here we are, finally finally on the same page, and now I have to wait some more. Who knows how long? I keep getting asked the timeframe on this adoption and I have absolutely no clue how to answer those questions. Not a clue. Christmas? In my dreams. Easter? Starting to feel unlikely. I have to admit that there are a lot of blogs out there that make me feel so discouraged. The waiting families, the TB testing, the paperwork problems, the court system, sick kids. The happy endings make me cry but I always think, great for them-never actually going to be me.

I want to decorate a nursery and buy kid's clothes and toys. I want to look forward to holidays and family gatherings. I want to have answers and timelines. This is such an uncomfortable place to be in. And I know everyone goes through it. No need to even comment on this post. I know I know, everyone has been there. But wow, it sure does suck. (Not my best writing tonight I admit.)



nothing new under the sun

Nothing new to report here.

We are waiting for the homestudy to be written and signed and sealed.

But we did send off our out of state documents to get authenticated at their respective Se.cretary of State offices.

Is it just me? This step in the adoption was the most difficult so far.
Like a 6th grade math challenge...
If 6 notarized documents are sent to 5 separate states in 5 separate envelopes
and 2 of these documents must be sent first to the county clerk's office - but then must be first returned to me
and 5 envelopes were self-addressed and stamped
Will all dossier documents actually get correctly authenticated and arrive back at our house sometime in the next millenia?

I have been blog stalking Julie and Steven to check on their homecoming.
I will admit, I don't even know Julie in person. But she was one of the first people to comment on my blog and welcome me to the adoption community.

Now I am a shamless lurker on their website and am dying to know how the family is adjusting since they got home from Ethiopia on Saturday.



Lessons Learned

Here are a few of the many lessons learned from our homestudy process:

1. Coffee, small bladder, cold fan blowing, 3 hour intense interview/conversation are a combo not to be recommended.

2. It is ok with our social worker if our child is slightly fluffy due to floating dog hair that just cannot be erased from our home. Despite much vaccuuming and mopping prior to her arrival 2 giant dog hair..what to call them?... mating dustballs? rolled right across our living room floor during our interview. What can you do...

3. Jeremy may cry (and when I say cry in reference to J he wants me to clarify that these would be silent, very subtle, manly tears, not to be counted in several - probably just one or two) when we meet our child (or after since I know we are not supposed to cry and terrify the child during the first meeting.) I was claiming that he would be the rock of calm when we first meet him/her and then he admitted he might fall apart. (insert small awww)

4. We didn't need the process to validate this but we sure do love and care for and respect each other. It was fun to talk about it. It was fun to talk about why we'd be good parents. Why we think we are funny and flexible. Maybe every family should do the homestudy process. It is good for the heart.

So in case you haven't deduced this, we finished the homestudy.

And we are done with the majority of the paperwork.

We have dossier authentication left and then the wait for the I600a approval.

I am leaving for Africa (for work) in September and building in a stop over in Addis Ababa at the end of the trip (sometime in October.) It is very optimistic. It is very glass is half-full type of planning... (if you are reading this for the first time please remember that we are matching with a waiting child and hopefully not waiting a long time for referral.)

Many factors are out of our control. But if for no other reason to stop over I will get to spend time with this little guy - our sponsored child - and all of the other CHE kids again.

And of course I can continue on my quest to learn to not just eat, but enjoy, injera. We went out to dinner with some new adoption friends this week and I did pretty well! Definitely getting better with the Ethiopian food. Have I mentioned that Jeremy loves it, would like to wrap up the entire thing and eat it like a giant burrito and is planning to have daddy/child dinners out without me? Sometimes even someone you've known half a lifetime can surprise you.

I keep wanting to post this link but haven't had the perfect opportunity to do it. Here is a link to an article about orphan care in Tanzania. Some of you may like it, others may not. But I think it is an awesome demonstration of the power of creativity in the face of overwhelmingly bad odds and statistics.



News Finally

We got the news today. Little T is not meant to be ours.

I think we're handling it well. We prepared ourselves for the possibility over the last two weeks. Preparation didn't make it less sad to take her photo off of the refridgerator tonight. But I know that being able to see that sweet little face every day helped us to move more quickly through the paperwork, inspired us to daydream about having a little girl running through the house, and made it easier for us to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Or the big brown eyes at the end of the paperwork...

I just hope the other family loves and adores her as much as we would have. I am torn about whether or not I hope she pops up in the blog community. I am sort of peeking around at blogs but haven't learned much so far.

We had a really long homestudy interview today. The one where we each get interviewed individually about our families of origin. Have I mentioned that I love our social worker? She is great and made it so easy and fun. Last interview is on Friday and then we're done!



Waiting to Know

Colorado requires FIVE homevisits to complete the homestudy! That's why my friends and family have been hearing about "the homestudy" for what seems like forever.

For everyone who has asked what a homestudy is here is my best explanation. The state of Colorado and the Ethiopian Adoption Authorities need a document that describes our home, our relationship, our family dynamics, our health, our financial status, and our ability to parent. Our local social worker will write this document for us, it will get notarized, it will be approved by the state, by our international agency and then get translated and sent to Ethiopia.

So during the five visits we talk - guided talks. I actually love it.
This week we sat on the back porch basking in the sun, drinking coffee, eating fruit and muffins, and talking. It is part interview, part therapy, part chat with a friend. I think even J enjoyed himself.

That is the good news.

Now the reality check.
The reason my posts have been so bipolar sounding.

Jeremy and I made the ultimate error in waiting child (read special needs) international adoption. (Why didn't anyone warn us ahead of time?!)

Almost a month ago now we chose a child from a waiting child photo listing. I knew the second I saw her and read her story. I actually emailed the placing agency immediately and said that we wanted her before talking to J. I just knew. I called my mom. We spent hours discussing every tiny wonderful detail of her face and daydreaming about tiny chubby hands and soft curls.

A few days later J and I printed all of her photos and medical information and sat together examining them. We said, this might be it. We looked around the yard and could see her playing there. We discussed building a playhouse. We knew there were risks, both health and legal, involved during the wait, but we held hands and decided we would jump in with our whole hearts. And then I began completing paperwork like mad!

Our agency warned us that they would accept one other interested family since our homestudy wasn't finished yet, but after a week had gone by we began to hope that we were in the clear.

Ten days later another family came forward for her. A family that has an approved homestudy and approved clearance to adopt from the US.CIS. Basically they are entirely ready and just needed a child, a court date, and plane tickets.

We took the little one's photo off the fridge. We put the little dress somewhere we couldn't see it every time we walked past the place it had been hanging. The giddy-panic came to an end and a little fog settled in. The really bad week of July 26th settled in. We adjusted our thinking and accepted that this other family was ready to travel and she would be home soon - a good thing for her.

I did not blog about it. I pretended to be gracious about it. There were no tears and no fighting it.

But here we are, another 11 days later, and "the other family" has not formally accepted her referral. The delay, whether it is theirs or the agency's, means that there is no way they can get through court before it closes at the end of this month.

When court in Ethiopia reopens on October 6th we will be paper ready - same as the other family.

It is so hard to see this happening and wonder what their delay could mean. Are they unsure? It is hard to know how to pray the right prayer. Here is the prayer I have decided on - and it just reverberates off of me day and night - "God give this little girl the right family for her. Only you can see all the possibilities and know what she will need from parents. Give her the right family."

We put the photo back on the fridge but I don't stand frozen gazing at it every day anymore.
I am trying to simultaneously steal my heart for the news and keep moving forward in faith that maybe, you just never know...

That is the adoption update. Our dossier documents are almost finished and ready to be authenticated at the Secretary of State. Our homestudy draft will be ready during the last week of the month. Our parenting resource plan has been written. Our 10 hours of online training are done. We are attending our 2nd day long in-person adoption training this Saturday. Come Oct. 6th we will be ready.

I struggled with deciding whether or not to post about this situation. But I thought it was really disingenuous to keep posting about everything else under the sun but not the one most important thing we are dealing with right now.



would you give a child to these people?

There is a really fun blogger who used to post this question, sarcastically I think, with a new photo every week or so.

This weekend we staged a little photo shoot - complete with outfit changes - for our Ethiopian dossier.
But today when I looked at the photos I realized that our choice of photographers may not have been entirely wise - sorry mom and dad.
I am pretty sure the Ethiopian adoption authorities request photos so they can sit around and laugh at us. Must make a nice break in the monotony. Maybe we should send them some of these from the reject file.

Nothing says Give us a child quite like uncomfortable staged hugging by a river, confused stares around woodworking machinery, and staged driveway scooter rides right?

In all reality we probably should be providing photos of: Amanda working on the computer, watching reality tv, and obsessively reading adoption books while eating tootsie rolls on the couch. Jeremy taking out the garbage, hitting hockey pucks in the driveway, and testing his blood sugar.
Ah, we're a fun lot.
We conveniently cut our dogs, their cozy beds, overflowing basket of toys, expensive raw dog food, and fancy bungee leashes out of all photos. Nothing says we're weird Americans like showcasing our dogs as substitute children. (Which they are of course.)
Ok - so would you give a child to these people?!


About Me

My photo
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.