Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Quiet Lately...

Sorry that we've been rather quiet lately. Frankly, it just gets old posting bad news after bad news. We still have not heard back from our agency with any more information. We have hope the rest of our wait won't be too much longer ("too much" being a very relative term) but we aren't pinning any hopes on February 6.

We've already received Grace's passport so expediting is super quick these days! Oh, perhaps I haven't mentioned that - we decided to take Grace with us to ET! She is super excited to go and I think it will be great for her and Abi and Hana to meet and begin to bond in quasi-neutral territory (as opposed to our very non-neutral house!) Poor Al gets left behind with Grandma, but I think she'll enjoy her time being spoiled!

So that's about it. Kind of a sorry update I know, but hopefully it won't be "too much longer" (there is that term again!) and we'll be able to post some honest-to-goodness GOOD NEWS (like in the way of TRAVEL PLANS!)

Friday, January 25, 2008

How Many Ways Can You Say No?

I don't have the emotional energy to explain. And we haven't even really been told a helluva lot. All we know is that our agency is gone far beyond dropping the ball. The just sort of threw it backwards.

There is still some government paperwork that needs to be corrected for Abi's file. This should've been done before we were filed, at the latest after our first failed date when we were told his file was triple checked. But it was not. And so we wait.

It isn't clear what happens now. We have another date (our fifth) of February 6. We don't know yet if this can be corrected before then or if it is even worth hoping it could be fixed by that time.

So we wait.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dare to be Hopeful?


Well, it sounds like the MOLSA letter did actually get done... it just didn't get to court by Monday. This was what we were told back in December as well. But I think a DIFFERENT piece of paperwork (another letter from somewhere else) was missing then. Not completely clear. The MOLSA office is newly staffed with picky people (probably good for ET adoption - bad luck for us, again).

Anyways, the problem NOW is that there was some paperwork that was not done properly when Abi was taken in by the orphanage. I guess this flew under the radar at our first court date (or the judge just didn't get past Hana in our file?) but our agency's attorney found it last week and is trying to get the orphanage to secure the proper item. So much red tape, so many players in the puzzle.

Also complicating the puzzle - a European agency was shut down for six months b/c of falsifying documents, having birth parents lie (or allegedly knowing they lied) and in general unethical behavior. On one hand this is GREAT - Ethiopia is taking very aggressive proactive steps to keep this process straight for the kids and families on both sides. ON the other hand, they are likely to be even MORE picky about paperwork ... which could very well be a problem for us right now. =(

To be completely honest, this problem with Abi's paperwork is extremely frustrating given that they should have know this was a problem long before we were filed in court, let alone in the two months since our first court date. But when I start thinking that way I just get angry.

And I don't like to be angry when I think about my kids!

So I've been taking a lot of deep breaths (and getting a little light headed... j/k) Mark is optimistic. I think he just can't bear to think that it won't happen on Friday. To be honest, I"m not too hopeful for Friday. But I am hopeful it won't be too long.

In the mean time, we were able to see some great photos of the kids!! Hadn't seen new ones in awhile! Abi has such a charming smile. He is going to be t-r-o-u-b-l-e with the ladies! And we were able to see a lot of "action" shots of Hana which was fun! She looks tiny, but nice and round - Still has a little bit of kid pudge to her. Seeing that helped - like we weren't missing EVERYTHING. We got to see her in her school uniform at her desk. SO cute!

I just can't wait to meet them. To be there. It has to be soon.

We've been waiting for them for so, so long. They've been waiting for a family even longer.

Monday, January 21, 2008

No Again.

We didn't pass. Supposedly another problem with the MOLSA letters not showing up, which just seems to be the typical excuse. We have another court date on Friday. Everyone is "confident" that we'll pass then.

I guess everyone but us.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Getting Sneaky!

Okay, as some of you noticed, we went "private." I need to get to bed as I am badly sleep deprived from a long (but fun) weekend in Indiana. But the skinny is that I am a bit blog-paranoid now. A family was blocked from adopting from ET because they were fundraising on their blog with photos of their child before they passed court.

I realize that I'm not doing either of those things. But I decided you just can't be too careful! I can't risk any nonsense at this point. So, rather than figure out exactly what I wanted to do privacy-wise, I just made it private. So, right now it is by "invite" only. If you know someone who actually reads this thing and would want an invite, just let me know!!!

Other than that, PLEASE just think happy thoughts for the court hearing that is going to take place in mere hours...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Happy Endings Do Exist

I just ran across this very special story about a wonderful little boy with special needs who finally made it to his forever home. I found it so heart warming I had to share.

It makes me even more anxious for our happy ending - or rather, happy beginning!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My Kiddos Are Cuties

Six days people! That's right - only 6 more days of this torture! Our third "official" court date is in 6 days and I'll be darned if I'm going to believe this isn't "it" for us. It's just got to be!

This month has been MUCH harder waiting than it was for our 2nd date. Then, I had the holidays to distract me and whatnot. But I received an email from a friend yesterday (who is in ET picking up her lovely daughter) with news on my kiddos that just might carry me through the week! See the excerpt below:

I wanted to send you a quick note on your kids. Hana and Abenezer are so cute and sweet. Abenezer seems very detail oriented-while all the other kids were crowding around me to take their pictures, he was off doing his own thing, very intent on picking up something in the dirt (I couldn't figure out what)!!! Hana is very cute, of course, and also seems to have her own little personality that is friendly but also does her own thing. I saw her bunk bed and the pictures of you are on her wall. Today I went to their school, WWO Academy. You really should ask to go while you are here. If you ask them anything, they will set it up for you--meeting family members, going to the clinic, going to the school, etc. They really are very accommodating. Hana goes to the WWO academy as well, and she was wearing the CUTEST uniform--you'll see!! :) Abenezer is also super cute as you know and looks great--none of these kids look like they are missing any meals. :) Things are great here. We had such a great time at her school today and the kids sang songs that I recorded--not just Amharic songs but also 5 little monkeys jumping on the bed, which is EXTREMELY cute with their accents and hand motions. :)

How awesome is that??? THANKS SO MUCH!!!!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Labels

African? American? African American? Habesha?

We are a nation, a culture, a society of labels. Sometimes the desire to label has a positive origin - to acknowledge and celebrate our differences. Sometimes labels come from very negative places. Sometimes labels are used to be "politically correct" in form, but not so much in substance...

However, labels are tricky, often much too over or under inclusive. We've already had some interesting conversations with various people on this subject. For example, one woman asked me (very politely) something along the lines of "oh, they are from Ethiopia, does that mean they are African American?" I think she was genuinely trying to politely ask if my children are black. And I certainly didn't sense any negativity in the question.

But it was interesting - because my children are in fact black.

But they are not African American.

Right now, they are simply African! Or more specifically Ethiopian (or Habesha, the Amharic word for Ethiopian). Hopefully, they will also soon be legally ours and when we get through the mountains of red tape, they will eventually also be American citizens.

I am aware that our society will view them as "African Americans", but it isn't fair to say that my kids will necessarily identify with African-American culture. They have their own, which we will try our best to preserve and offer to them however we can. I think it is important that they learn about African-American history, MLK, Rosa Parks, celebrate Black History Month, etc because that is something as AMERICANS we should all be doing. That is party of MY history, and a part of the U.S.'s history that has heavily influenced or society today.

This article was published in Adoptive Families and is about an adoptive mom that works at the agency we are using. I thought she summed up her thoughts on the subject very thoughtfully and respectfully.

This is a very hot button topic for many and I'm certainly not wishing to offend any one. And I think that all of this will be a learn-as-we-go process. But I certainly think twice now any time I attempt to use any sort of a label...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

PEPFAR - President Bush's Surprising Legacy

"I have set before you life and death, ... therefore, choose life."
Deuteronomy 30:19

Like much of the country, I am not a huge fan of our current President. However, I have to say that I was ignorant of the extent of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR for short. This article from the NY Times provides a good summary of the plan, including a brief history. Some of the highlights of the article include:
* Roughly 1.4 million AIDS patients have received lifesaving medicine paid for with American dollars, up from 50,000 before the initiative.
* Announced in 2003, the plan called for $15 billion for AIDS prevention, treatment and care, concentrating on 15 hard-hit nations in Africa and the Caribbean. An enthusiastic Congress has already approved $19 billion.
* President Bush is pressing for a new five-year commitment of $30 billion.
* Despite the effort, there are still 33 million people living with H.I.V., and the United Nations estimates that there were 1.7 million new infections in 2007 in sub-Saharan Africa alone. Critics, including John Kerry, are particularly incensed by the requirement that one-third of the prevention funds be spent teaching abstinence, despite a lack of scientific consensus that such programs reduce the spread of H.I.V.
* In Haiti, about 13,000 patients are now receiving anti-retroviral drugs. That is only half the estimated 26,000 who need them, but far more than the 100 being treated five years ago.
* In Uganda, 110,000 people are under treatment, and 2 million have H.I.V. tests each year, up from 10,000 treated and 400,000 tested before. The money comes mostly from Pepfar, but also from a United Nations fund to which the United States contributes.
As this is a cause very near and dear to my heart, it is so exciting to be a nation that is pursuing some real progress! Citing as being the "most lasting bipartisan accomplishment of the Bush presidency," I certainly hope that PEPFAR does in fact survive, and thrive, after the 2008 elections and beyond...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

My Thoughts of Late

"What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do.
The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful."
-Mother Teresa
What a challenge:
To wake up every day and think, what small thing can I do today to make this world just a little bit better before I hit the pillow again.
Did I educate someone? Give someone hope? Make a child smile?
What can I do today? This week? In 2008? During my lifetime?
We're all here for a reason, a purpose - its my challenge now to figure out mine.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Perspective

It is certainly easy for me (and I imagine most people) to get so caught up in my little lift - what is bring ME down. But sometimes I really just need to make an effort to step back and keep others who are truly suffering in my thoughts and prayers.

To all those suffering in Kenya - I hope for a resolution soon.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Expectations

"Life is so constructed that an event does not, cannot,
will not, match the expectation."
Charlotte Bronte

I just wanted to say thank you everyone for your well-wishes and support during this difficult waiting time. Without getting too much into it, it seems that there was some miscommunication and our case was not actually heard at all on 12/27 or 1/1. So the 21st of January will be our third court date (although it's a bit more complicated than that). Which still TOTALLY SUCKS since it is a full 2 months after our first court date, which was much longer in being assigned than we'd hoped.

I think a lot of my anger, hurt, frustration, sadness, etc is because of what my expectations were. I'm not willing to say that I had unrealistic expectations - Mark and I tried to be conservative based on recent history of other cases in similar situations and what we were being told at the time by our agency. The problem is that there is just so much that can ... well, change. The best laid plans of mice and men right? So even though you try and set up conservative expectations and estimates, there is just no telling what might happen - international adoption is an unpredicable beast.

Were some of these delays preventable? I think most definately. But a more important question is - regardless of the delays, are things still being conducted ethically and is the focus still on our kids, trying to get them home as soon as possible? As long as I can answer yes to that question, I can keep my sanity.

Perhaps after all this we have at least learned to expect nothing - there are no guaranties and you are kidding yourself if you think otherwise (and if an agency or anyone else starts making promises, you better run in the other direction).

I can just hope and pray that it will all work out when the time is "right". And hope and pray that the "right" time is very, very soon. Because my faith is starting to wear thin. =(

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Losing Hope

I spoke too soon. We just heard - our case was rescheduled for January 21st. No information as to why. I can't take this any more. It just isn't fair.

Another Day Without News

Since it is already after 9:30 p.m. in Addis, I assume we will (once again) get no news today. I'm so tired of this nonsense. I'm holding onto a small shread of hope that we'll hear something in the next hour ... but not much.

Waiting with My Coffee ... oh, and Welcome 2008!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone survived the big party night last night!

We stayed home (yes, we are old). This past weekend was such a whirlwind that a nice quiet movie night was just fine with me. I didn't really feel much like celebrating yet anyways.

Yesterday we [finally] heard back from our agency. We still don't know what happened when our rep went to court on the 27th exactly, but we were given [our fourth] court date - today! It is currently about 10 a.m. here, making it 6 p.m. in ET. So, whatever happened, has happened. So, I'm just waiting with my coffee, trying to get some work done that I should've done yesterday (and needs to be done before tomorrow) ... waiting for news!

I'm feeling guarded, but optimistic. I can't think of what could possibly still be wrong with our case/file that we wouldn't pass today. Supposedly the missing MOLSA letter was obtained last week and everything else was already in order. However, I can't help but think if that was true then why wouldn't we have just passed last week? I know another family did... But analyzing it doesn't change it. So I try (try being the operative word) not to analyze too much.

And I can't help but be financially frustrated. Because no matter what happens today, we have lost the ability to take the adoption tax credit for 2007. Which means we have to wait another 15 months or so. And I'm not a heartless person - that doesn't even enter my stratosphere of feelings about not having my kids yet. But in this guarded, practical position that I must sit in and wait, how do you not consider the financial impact? This ended up being a pretty pricey mistake for us. We had really counted on that extra help for a new(er) van this year - one that would fit us all (including the dogs). So that's out of the picture. And it is easier for me to sit and focus on that nonsense than to really stop and think about how hard its been not having the kids home (or news of when they will be home) throughout this holiday season...

So, I sit with my coffee (obviously ignoring my work) and ramble... and wait. Please, please, please, keep your fingers crossed for good news!!!!! (and that we actually HEAR said news today!)