Tuesday, November 29, 2011

1 Month and 1 Day- DTEversary!

Although I DID remember that yesterday marked one month for our DTE date, I didn't get around to posting.  So today is our one month and one day DTE anniversary - yay! This last month has actually gone by quickly, probably because we have been immersed in the domestic process.

And because God uses timing in this adoption to remind us He's still with us on this journey, a new fun coincidence occurred: our nursery furniture was delivered yesterday, on our one month DTE date!

The bed can go from a crib to a toddler bed and even a "big kid" bed, but we decided to set up the toddler bed for now.  If the domestic adoption happens first, we will most likely be matched with a toddler or older child. 

Here's a look:

The doll on top is an Ethiopian doll, which was a birthday present from  my sister Chrissy and her family. ♥
We will put a changing pad on top of this dresser and use it as our changing table (if needed).
Ready for a toddler but easily converted for an infant or older child!
Although I haven't found the perfect spot for it yet, I also received this wall hanging from my parents (for my birthday):
Love it!
And I even managed to decorate a little and get into the Christmas spirit!

Hoping the many months ahead pass by as quickly as the first!

“The times we find ourselves having to wait on others may be the perfect opportunities to train ourselves to wait on the Lord.” ~ Joni Eareckson Tada

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Empress Taytu, a Porcupette and Many, Many Tears

Yet another busy week to discuss...

Let's begin with Thursday, which was a really great day!  My family and I went to Empress Taytu, an Ethiopian restaurant in Cleveland, to celebrate my birthday.  We even got our own "hut" which probably excited me just as much as it did my eight-year-old nephew!

The food was AMAZING! 

And I am not an adventuresome eater so I was a little nervous, especially because I REALLY wanted to love it... and I REALLY did!  

I didn't think to take that photo BEFORE we ate, so that was what was left of our dinner.  There is no silverware... instead, you just use the injera (flatbread with a spongy texture) to eat your food. You can see it was underneath our food, which is why it is missing in some places in the photo.  We were also brought plenty of "extra" though, and our "table" was all served on this tray.

After dinner we had a great dessert, which was peanut butter and sugar wrapped in injera, and following dessert, we had our first traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony!
Overall it was a great night with a great atmosphere, great food and most importantly, great people!

Now onto Friday and Saturday... 12 more hours of training for our domestic adoption.  Friday was similar to the previous weekend; we met at the agency and discussed common issues that arise when adopting through the foster care system and ways to handle this.

But Saturday we were invited to attend the First-hand Views of Adoption program in celebration of Adoption Awareness Month at Akron's Children Hospital. This would count as the first half of our training for the day. Well first let me say, this may have been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. For someone who has struggled with infertility and is also open to international adoption, domestic adoption, trans-racial adoption, infant adoption and older child adoption, this could not have been more valuable! We heard stories from EVERY angle possible, with key-note speaker Danita Harris (from News Channel 5) who also used our domestic agency.

Next I need to say that I have never cried at a public event like that... ever! Every time I thought I could get myself together, a new speaker would come up and it would start all over again. And I was not alone... I know this because I could actually HEAR everyone sniffling around me. Imagine how badly we all must have been crying. Through the training, our little group has gotten to know one another and the woman next to me said to me after, "I couldn't look at you!" Well, I couldn't look at anyone, including the speakers! What beautiful and inspiring stories though! And though everyone's story was different, they all said one thing: they've forgotten the struggle. I know one day I will be saying the same and the long wait will be a distant memory.

I am so thankful to have attended this event, and I will definitely be attending next year, no matter where I am in the process.

Finally, I want to share a book that I purchased after the event. This book was written by Vanita Oelschlager who helped fund the Oak Adoptive Health Center at Akron Children's Hospital. This book is a children's book about a baby porcupine that has to struggle to attach to a new family after losing his mother.

If you purchase a copy of the book through this website, VanitaBooks will donate all net profits to The Oak Adoptive Health Center at Akron Children’s Hospital in Akron, Ohio:

I have to admit, I could use a break, so I am certainly looking forward to my TWO-DAY work week (insert groan from all the non-teachers here)...


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Two Number Ones in Four Days

Back at the beginning, checking those "firsts" off the list!

Over the weekend, we attended our first training session at the agency.  We attended Friday 6-10 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.  We really learned a lot and the woman running the sessions was excellent!  She was able to answer any question we had.  About 25 prospective adoptive parents attended, including those pursuing private infant adoption, public adoption, foster to adopt and foster care.  What helped us learn even more was having a woman in class who had been adopted herself, as well as another woman who had three siblings that were internationally adopted.  It was neat to have all of the different perspectives!

One of my favorite activities helped us to assess the diversity in our lives.  We had a clear, plastic cup and different colored beads; each bead represented a difference race and we were to put the correct bead in as she would ask a question like, "What race is your doctor?"  "What race are the majority of your friends?" and many more.  At the end, we looked at our cups. Some were multi-colored, while some (like ours) looked solid white with a couple hints of color peaking through.  This was certainly an eye-opener.  We can't expect that not to affect a child of a different race.  We feel most confident that our church is diverse and even our neighborhood and school system, but it wouldn't hurt to be more aware of this when we do complete our adoption.

The other "first" we checked off the list was our first home study visit. This time we were pretty calm and didn't feel as anxious.  We knew what to expect and really felt comfortable just being ourselves.  We also found out we needed to redo our BCI/FBI checks and our fire inspection.  I called the fire chief today, who couldn't be nicer, and after explaining my request, he said, "Didn't we just do this?"  Uh... yes sir, we did... He is so sweet though and was very understanding and willing to come to our home again this week.  I was also able to get a new BCI/FBI check when I got my new license (since I am 29 now!) and renewed my plates.  There is actually a DMV in the same building as the training we have to attend this weekend, so Sean can get his BCI/FBI check on our lunch break Saturday.  Then the paperwork part should be done.  Our next home study visit will be December 6th.  Who knows?  This home study could be complete by the end of the year.  I don't think I could've imagined all we'd accomplish over the last seven months.  Hopefully it will bring good news within the coming year.

And hopefully my next birthday will be celebrated with a little one (or two)!  A girl can dream ya know...

Birthday Cake | Free Pictures

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Starting all over, once we have finished!

A super-cute card from my parents ♥
Our paperwork has landed!  Our agency provided us with the FedEx tracking number and it was delivered to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Thursday, November 3rd.  Now there truly is nothing else to do but wait...

Except start the paperwork all over again...


Let me explain... 

Sean and I have decided to adopt domestically.

In an IDEAL world, we would get a referral for siblings from Ethiopia, BUT we also need to be practical. What we have learned so far on this journey is that we need to have faith, and we need to be accepting of uncertainty, but we also need to be realistic and practical. The practicality is what led us to first discuss domestic adoption. After looking at some websites that have waiting children in foster care (in the U.S.) and discussing this, we decided that this is the other adoption we would like to pursue at some point in the future; this would also be best financially (there's that practicality again).

Then, after more discussing and realizing our hearts had been opened to this, we also realized that it would make sense for us to complete the domestic home study now. There have been significant delays in the Ethiopian process, as well as extended wait times, and it seems logical for us to prepare for this. If we get a referral from Ethiopia before or soon after the domestic process is complete, we will still have our domestic home study ready for our next adoption and will just need to update it. If we were to adopt domestically first, we would change our Ethiopian request to one child 0-36 months and continue to wait.  There simply needs to be six months between placements.

Our agency calls this a concurrent adoption and we were approved last week. Once our domestic home study is complete, we will see where we are in the Ethiopian process and go from there. Our request for Ethiopia is a little different than most, since we are also requesting siblings with such a broad age range, so this referral wait time is unpredictable. The wait time for one child, however, is more predictable, and others in our program (through a yahoo chat group) have recently been warning us to settle in for a long wait.

I really cannot get a sense of the wait times for the domestic program. We have chosen to adopt from the foster care system and our informational packet explained that a referral for a child 0-8 is less common because those children are generally adopted by their foster parents. When I spoke with a representative from our new agency, she said it will simply lengthen the wait time but gave me no idea as to what that wait time might be! I am hoping that once we begin the home study and speak with our social worker, we can get a better grasp on all of this; at that point we can make our final decision about our request.

Although the paperwork for this adoption is MUCH less and the cost cannot compare, we do have to complete the home study just as before and attend 36 hours of training. We begin next weekend: Saturday 6-10 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.!

And so it begins, again...

Overall, I am not sure where this all will lead but I am excited to be on this journey!

I also know God is in control and that is all the comfort I need:
Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD--with the first of them and with the last--I am he.
Isaiah 41:4