Sunday, July 25, 2010

Vacation 2010 Part Three- Mt. Judah Hike

The summit of Mt. Judah had a beautiful view of Donner Lake.
The snow just melted leaving stunning wild flowers all along the hike. A lot of mule ear, snow plant, and many others that I could not identify.

We only had a small patch of snow to navigate thru. The temperature was quite warm and the snow was melting quickly.
Uncle Harry suggested this hike to us because he had heard it was so beautiful. He is recovering from a knee injury so it took us quite a bit longer that the suggested 2 hours for this 6 mile hike, but Harry pulled thru and did great! Thanks for an awesome day, Uncle Harry.
Maybe we could build a house here?
As Payton would say, "up up up up up up." (I think that translates to: "Those are really tall trees!")
The first mile of the trail is really rocky. Beware if you have bad ankles.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ethiopian Heritage and Culture Camp

As soon as we got back from vacation, we packed up our junk and headed to Ethiopian Heritage and Culture Camp. It was so nice to be surrounded by families like ours. Sometimes it is nice to be in the majority. In fact, when I dropped Payton off in the nursery to go to a seminar, I got tears in my eyes. It was the first time that he has been surrounded by people that look like him. The first time he was the majority. I 100% support diversity and think life would be really boring if we were all the same, but at the same time I also know that there is comfort in the being the majority. I am sure Payton hardly noticed at all as he bee lined it for the trains in the corner, but I did. And it was nice to share this emotion with a family sitting near us at the seminar and not be told that I am just over-sensitive to the "race issue" as I have been told by many white people in our community. While this camp has been a resource of practical advice for traveling to Addis, it is even more beneficial in the feeling of support and comfort that we have received from fellow transracial families that have rejoiced with us in our recent referral, asked to see B's pictures, and so much more. There are also a large number of Ethiopian-AMerican families that are Deaf and/or sign. So in addition to learning about ET culture, I got to brush on my signing skills and meet new friends. Love it. Here are few pics of the fun.

Playing in the pool with Daddy.
Family picture with all 4 of us (notice that we had to put a box over B's face because we cannot post a picture of him until we pass court.)
Traditional dancers at our feast.
Payton looking sooo cute in the traditional clothes that his friends Julie, Kevin and Abinet brought back from Ethiopia.
Payton with his best bud Abinet (and Abinet's dad, Kevin).

We cannot wait to go to camp next year as a family of four!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Vacation 2010 Part Two- Lake Spooner Hike

We ventured to Spooner Lake for a short hike with Payton. I think the loop around the lake was a little over 2 miles, but we really enjoyed it! The Aspens were beautiful! We also (without realizing it) stumbled across the finish of a 100 mile ultra marathon! We enjoyed cheering for the sporadic runner that passed us along the trail. The looked at us, bleary-eyed, and kept putting one foot in front of the other. Some said thank you, some nodded, others did not even look up. I did run a marathon a few years ago, so I can relate to their pain just a little. I thought 26.2 was agonizing, so I cannot fathom 100 miles... in the mountains! These people were dedicated!

King Wes :)

Payton fell asleep in the ergo during the last few minutes of the hike.

Family shot

Aspens.

Vacation 2010 Part One- Lake Tahoe

We just returned at 8 am this morning from our week of vacationing at Lake Tahoe! We are fortunate that my Aunt Sue is generous enough to let us stay at her house on the lake. The weather was wonderful and the views were spectacular. I actually prefer the lake to the beach because the pine trees provide gret shade for the pale type, like myself. And is just so awesome! We spent most of our days lakeside, but also went for an outing in Truckee and Reno, as well as hikes around Spooner Lake and Mt. Judah (near Donner Lake). More pics to come, but for now.... shots from Incline Village :)

We spent a lot of time floating in the tube! Payton usually fell asleep.

Yep, the water was a little chilly!

What a beautiful view!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Updated Timeline to Little B

DATE

ITEM

2009

Research agencies

2.11.2010

*Send email to friends requesting reference letters for home study and DOSSIER

* D and W each update 10 page autobios for home study and applications

*request D’s driving record from DMV

2.12.2010

Receive D’s notarized letter of employment

2.14.2010

Attend International Agency’s Webinar ( We are calling this our official “start” date, but we most certainly have been dreaming about our sweet one for much longer than this!)

2.15.2010

* Submit Pre-Application to International Agency (accepted!)

* W physical, blood work, urinalysis, HIV and TB test

2.16.2010

*D physical, blood work, urinalysis, HIV and TB test

2.17.2010

*W TB test read

*W makes copies of 2007, 2008, and 2009 1040s, insurance cards and insurance policy coverage of children placed for adoption for home study, applications, and dossier

2.18.2010

*D TB test read

*W goes to Sheriffs Office for local criminal clearance

2.22.2010

* receive W’s notarized letter of employment

* mail request for authenticated birth certificates for D and W and authenticated marriage certificate

2.23.2010

*Receive first notarized reference letter for Dossier and reference letter for home study agency J from Becky

2.25.2010

*mail International Agency formal application along with 10 signed and/or notarized policy documents, autobios, first agency fees, pictures and training certificates

*receive confirmation from int.agency to start on dossier

*mail Home Study Agency formal application with many required documents for home study, including social services clearance

*mail request for three authenticated copies for international agency power of attorney

*CELEBRATORY DINNER

2.26.2010

*mail passport renewal for D

*arrange for notary to go to docs office

*international agency coordinator switched due to job change

3.01.02

*speak with agency and confirm receipt of application, E (social worker from before) *thinks* she will be able to do our home study (cross fingers)

3.02.2010

*receive authenticated copies of international agency power of attorney

*pick up W and D notarized letters for doctor office (first set not valid wrong date, scramble to get second notary because our doctor is going out of the country

*international agency coordinator switch–again

3.03.10

*receive second dossier and home study reference in the mail from Erin

*write letter to bank requesting credit verification

3.9.2010

*travel two hours to home study agency for intake interview (three hours)

*take pictures of Mr. P with domestic coordinator (where his adoption story began J)

*sign fire safety, immunization agreement, and release forms

3.10.2010

*attempt to obtain FBI prints (jail to busy)

*go to city police department to obtain prints (and PRAY they clear) D’s pinky finger never scanned correctly on LiveScan

*as we walk out of police department we receive email on Wes’ blackberry from our international agency indicating that the Ethiopian Government has decided that all families must be present at both court and embassy date thus requiring families to travel TWICE

*we all our agency to talk through this change

*overnight our fingerprints to our home study agency along with fire emergency plans and house blueprint, copies of Mr. P’s adoption decree and birth cert, and our dogs vaccination records

3.11.2010

*Ethiopia rescinds travel announcement

*Drop off Mr.P’s medical clearance forms for home study agency

3.12.2010

*Ethiopia re-issues travel announcement L

3.14.2010

ONE MONTH WAITING (to be officially waiting)

3.15.2010

*officially withdraw from International Agency’s Ethiopia Program (we feel that this new requirement will not allow D to spend enough time at home during critical attachment period as additional travel will use up both FMLA time and financial resources.)

*international agency agrees to refund 60% of agency fees

*VERY sad day for us as we feel we are the ones abandoning a child

*decide to continue with home study process and pursue domestic adoption

*contact Mr. P’s placement agency to discuss possibility of using them again. They have several first moms waiting for adoptive families. They suggest a 2 month wait period once home study is approved.

*call home study agency to switch file from international to domestic

*tentatively set up home visits with social worker for April 1

3.18.2010

*drop-off physical forms with D and W doctor office

*local friend announces they just received referral from Ethiopia of a little boy Mr. P’s age! WooHoo!

3.20.2010

*set up account with JustLoveCoffee.com/BabyKK to raise funds for adoption! We need to raise about $15,000.

*Plan for Garage/Yard Sale on April 3rd to raise funds

3.21.2010

*re-order W’s driving record (misplaced the first one…oops!)

*picked up physical forms from doctors office

3.25.2010

*D and W certified birth certs. arrive in mail

*certified marriage cert. arrives in mail

*W driving record arrives in mail

*D’s passport arrives in mail

*notices in mail from W’s old company informing us that W has Approx. $4,000 in an account we did not know about! What a blessing!

3.26.2010

*receive email notice from international agency stating that ET has indefinitely suspended “travel twice” policy

*find W’s driving record in a National Geographic magazine at my school…oops J

*call home study and international agencies to see if we can switch back – they say ok

*officially return to international adoption

*spend several hours reorganizing dossier papers J

3.28.2010

*get 8 passport photos each for dossier (all that remains is our bank letter, dossier affidavit, and petition to adopt… and the biggie… the home study.. then we will officially be waiting :) . My goal is to mail our dossier, sans home study, by next week! WooHoo!

*receive email from social worker confirming April 1 and April 15 home study interviews

3.29.2010

*compose petition and affidavit for dossier

* get home study policy documents, petition, affidavit, 1040s, and insurance verification notarized

*mail notarized affidavit to state for certification

3.31.2010

*mail remaining home study documents including:

-Fee Schedule

-Service Plan and Agreement

-Guardianship Agreement

-W, D, and Mr. P’s physical (agency form)

-W, D, and Mr. P’s medical report with doctor signature

-financial statement

- monthly expense form

-copies of pay stubs

-W’s driving record

-Last recommendation letter (Erin)

-Home study Fee

*Email notice from international agency that travel twice policy WILL go into effect beginning Mid-May

4.01.2010

*travel two hours to agency office for home study interviews

4.02.2010

*notarized bank verification for dossier arrives in mail

*A dear friend, Anita Walter Cooper, provides ORIGINAL WATERCOLOR PAINTING in custom frame to auction off to raise funds towards our adoption.

4.03.2010

*hold yard sale to try and raise funds towards our adoption!

*God provides again! $890 received in donations towards our adoption expenses! PTL!

4.05.2010

*call home study agency to check on prints and clearances.. they have not been mailed?! Caseworker mails them immediately.

4.07.2010

*Certified affidavit arrives in mail! Last piece we needed!

4.08.2010

*make 2 copies of dossier

*mail dossier to agency!

4.09.2010

*agency says dossier looks good!

4.14.2010

*TWO MONTHS WAITING (to be officially waiting)

*FBI and State Clearances are back! Our fingerprints cleared!

4.15.2010

*last home study home visit and interviews

*social worker interviews Becky as reference

*social worker hopes to complete home study within TWO weeks! Hopefully we will have a waitlist number by the first week of MAY…and then we can really be waiting!

4.16.2010

*News from agency: they are officially working with two new orphanages AND ET govt says at least one parent must travel for both COURT and EMBASSY dates starting May 9th.

5.14.2010

*THREE MONTHS WAITING! Home study STILL not finished!!!! Ugh!

5.16.2010

Realize that we did not mail the $750 authentication fee with our dossier to agency- insert another check into mail.

Insert numerous phone calls and emails trying to get home study completed J

5.28.2010

* Oops- D updates physical. More blood drawn, dossier paper notarized, mail overnight to agency.

6.14.2010

*Finally- Home study is done! We have numbers!

Infant Boy: #37

Infant Girl:#59

Toddler Boy:#7

Toddler Girl:#23

Siblings:#22

6.21.2010

Dossier en route to DC for authentication

6.28.2010

Dossier en route to Ethiopia! A little piece of us is in the same country as our sweet one!

7.5.2010

*Waitlist movement! IB #36, IG#58, TB #7, TG #23, Sibs #21

*Email from coordinator: Possible good news…

7.8.2010

*Referral Day! See B’s face for the first time while sitting in P.anera! He is beautiful!

*Waitlist Movement: IB #35, IG#57, TB #0, TG #22, Sibs #21

*Mail I600A with certified check, notarized home study, original birth certs, and marriage cert

7.9.2010

*send B’s medical records to pediatrician for review

7.14.2010

*Officially accept B’s referral

*Mail acceptance letter

*FIVE MONTHS WAITING

7.17.2010

*Receive new pics of B! Love it!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Little K is now Little B!

The past few months have really taken a toll on our family- switchings jobs, health stuff, family stuff, adoption stuff, two year old stuff - the specifics of which are really too intimate for this forum, but just in general they were hard months. And I think all three of us felt the stress of life particularly hard over the last month. Finally, we are here in Lake Tahoe enjoying a much needed vacation, processing some of the "stuff" that has claimed so much of our energy over the last few months, and living this week with no agenda and no time schedule. In fact, our goal was originally to climb to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite. We cancelled the reservations. We barely trained and knew that physically we just would not be able to make it but also because we knew that we could save the money for our (now) imminent trips to Ethiopia. And that is what this post is all about. Our son. No, not the almost two year old that decorated the restaurant tonite with whales, globs of mashed potatoes, three spoons, and a spilled glass of water. Although we do love him A LOT, this post is about our OTHER son. The one at our agency's care center in Addis Ababa that does not know we exist. That's right folks, we got our REFERRAL! Little K has a name!

I want so badly to show the world his beautiful face, share his name, and most of all I want to hold him in my arms. Unfortunately, I cannot do any of those things until we pass court in Ethiopia. What I can tell you is that he a beautiful 3 year old boy. His skin is a smooth chocolate color and perfectly even, his eyes are a deep brown a slope slightly downward, he has a little button nose, his ears stick out just a little (his head is shaved), and his lips are petite. We have spent hours zooming in on the four pictures we have of him, studying each picture, memorizing everything about him. If you see us in person we can show you his picture, but nothing can be published on the internet. Oh, is he cute. Somehow I have been blessed with two of the cutest children on the planet.

This is B's referral story...

Last Monday we received an email from our coordinator that there was good news coming. I just thought she meant that some referrals were on the way or that Ethiopia was changing some laws in our favor... more general stuff for all waiting families, not a referral for us since we were number 7. Well, at 630 the phone rang and it was the agency's number. Our coordinator was returning a phone call about some questions I had regarding the filing of our I600-A. After answering those questions, she said she had some other good news. There were 10 toddler boys that needed home... do the math. We were number 7... they had 10 boys that needed homes. My heart jumped!!!! She said that it was likely we could get a referral within the week but all the boys were between 3-5 and we had said 2 or younger. We spent that night thinking and praying and emailed her in the morning to tell her we were open to a referral of a three year old. She called us later on Tuesday to say that she was not sure that the medicals would be in this week so we may not have a referral after all. Then Thursday at noon the phone rang again. It was Crystal, our coordinator, and she had a referral for us. Wes and I agreed to wait to open the referral email until we were together, so we met at B.arnes and N.oble to open the email. For whatever reason the internet would not connect so we ran next door to P.anera and there we saw our son's face for the very first time. We were in love.

In addition to his photo, we received a little information about his birth family (just as with Payton, I am not/will not share much of this part of B's story as it is his alone to share) as well as his health and development records. On Friday we took the medical records to our pediatrician (who happened to be leaving for Africa the next morning). Our pediatrician is wonderful and talked us through the little information we had and the bottom line is that he is a pretty healthy little kid! Praise God. Of course his health is important, but I also really wanted to know more about B (I will refer to him our oldest son as B from here on out.... his name starts with a B and we plan to keep his Sidamic name). I want to know what he likes to eat? What makes him laugh? if he is an introvert like me or an extrovert like his little brother, Payton? Does he feel lonely? Does he play with the other kids? I want to know B. I quickly put out a plea to our agency's yahoo forum asking for info from families that recently traveled if they saw the cute little boy at the care center with a kuntcho (his hair style -- a shaved head with a puff in the front). I clung to the words of each email that came back- because they offered me details about my son. They saw B, they heard him laugh. Their emails said things like:

"he has a huge, beautiful smile! he wouldn't give us a big smile for the other photos though he was clearly fighting it in an stubborn kinda way LOL. I remember him clearly cuz of the ALOHA shirt he was wearing and his cute hair puff :) I didn't observe too closely, but 3-4 makes sense. He seemed to fit right in and go along with the crowd of children playing"

"He really enjoyed the merry-go-round and bubbles. He is a gem!"

Oh how I loved reading this AND we got a picture of his smile. He looks so different from the referral photo which was taken about a month ago when he arrived at the care center. I can't wait for more reports from the families traveling this week!

We called our coordinator on the 14th to let her know that we officially accepted the referral.

I am sure that many of your are wondering where we go from here. The journey is FAR from over.

1. We need to get our i171-H from immigration. This could take up to three months and we cannot get a court date without this piece of paper.
2. The courts are closed in Ethiopia from August 9 until late September so the VERY earliest we could have a court date would be October.
3. We pass the first court date- the birth family must show and all of his documents be in order.
4. We travel to Ethiopia for our second court date (est. two weeks after the first court date).
5. Assuming we pass, we return to Ethiopia for the embassy date 6-8 weeks after the second court date. Best case scenario, B is home in December.

For those of you that are the praying type, here are our specific requests:

1. The our immigration fingerprints are good round one and that the paper work goes through quickly.
2. That we pass all of courts dates the first time.
3. That B feels the Father's love and comfort as he waits on his family to arrive.
4. For Payton to adjust to life as a little brother.
5. For B's health and emotional healing- that he stays healthy and strong and remains resilient through the tough life challenges he has experienced.
6. For funds. Traveling to Ethiopia twice will be quite costly and we still have to pay the country fee.
7. For patience and faith for Wes and I as we WAIT.

We are once again at the place in the adoption journey that humbles us. We have to be trusting in our heavenly Father. We must have faith. We have zero control over any situation in the process from here to B's arrival home. For a type A, control freak like myself, this is a tough place to be, but I am so thankful I am here!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Where did the accent come from?

Payton developed a British accent this week. He demonstrates by saying "'ello" in this video. He also does his little joke at then end. For whatever reason, he thinks it sooo funny to say "me nun" when I ask to count to three.

.