Monday, May 30, 2011

A Family of Six!

She.is.yours.

Those are the words we heard from the judge on Friday. Best words ever. It was an incredible, emotional week. Hard to put into words. Meeting sweet "M" was simply the best. She's happy, playful, outgoing. She came right to us with hugs and kisses as if she had been waiting for us a long time (which she had). We immediately were connected forever. My heart never to be the same.

She remembers her sister. She wants to come home. Leaving her was the single most difficult thing we've ever done. My heart aches for her. It was so good to come home to the kids....but she should be home too.

Now we wait for the court decree to be issued, then the next step is getting the birth certificate and passport. Then we get submitted to the Embassy and wait for clearance from them to travel. Typical time frame? 2-3 months after court approval before traveling to bring your child home. That timeline just isn't going to work for us and M. So much is out of our control, but we will do all we can to advocate her coming home as soon as possible.

For now...I pray her caregivers continue to reassure her we will be back soon.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Countdown is On

It's a little hard to believe by this time next week we will have met our daughter. I keep thinking about what the meeting will be like. She is at an orphanage where there hasn't been any parents traveling to visit their children (or that I know of) so it will be interesting how it goes. A few questions I've been asked:

Does she know you are her parents?
She has been told we are her parents and that she will come live with us eventually, but who knows what she really understands about that. She is 4 1/2 years old and has had her share of heartache. Not sure what she will be thinking. Hoping and praying it won't be difficult for her when we leave. Based on everything we've seen and heard, she is happy where she's at so we hope she won't be upset she's not leaving with us.

Does she remember Etagegn?
We don't know. They grew up together until Etta was relinquished. "M" was 3 1/2 when she last saw her sister so there is a good chance she remembers her. I believe in my heart of hearts they'll share a special bond whether they have a conscious memory of each other or not.

How long do you get to be with her on this visit?
We only get to visit her for about two hours (which I'm sure will go by like minutes). I anticipate leaving her will be one of the most difficult things I've had to do.

I am busy getting everything prepared for when we're gone. My parents will be watching the kids (thank you Mom and Dad!) and I know they'll have a great time. I on the other hand am struggling between feeling incredibly excited to be meeting "M" and anxiety over leaving my children.

Feel free to share your thoughts and prayers for safe journeys and that all goes well with sweet "M."

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Excitement Abound

We can't believe it's really happening...that we'll meet our daughter in less than two weeks. For those new to the adoption rollercoaster, so much has changed since we brought Etta home last summer. Generally speaking, we support the changes since the intent is to ensure more transparent and ethical adoptions. That said, we wish there was some recognition of our unique circumstances and that somewhere along the way, we get some level of reprieve...but we don't.

So we are required to make two trips. The first trip is to meet our daughter and then go to the High Court in Ethiopia to become the legal parents of her. I just keep picturing what it will be like to meet her...we'll drive to the south of Ethiopia to the orphanage where she currently lives and will only get to spend about 2 hours with her. We will soak up every minute. I cannot begin to think about what it will be like to leave her. It. will. suck. We are bringing her a photo album of us as well as a lovey and a book where she can listen to us tell the story (no, she won't understand a thing we are saying but she can still hear our voices).

So back to the court date...we hope to receive the court approval when we go before the judge on May 27. I say we hope because here is where uncertainty comes in. The court can only give their approval if the Ministry of Women's, Children, Youth Affairs (MOWCYA) writes the letter to the court giving their approval. We have been hearing of a huge reduction in the letters MOWCYA will be writing per day. We don't know yet whether the letter will be written in time for our court date. We are hopeful it will be, but we also know it's a possibility that we will have to wait for court approval until after we come home (we don't have to attend court again though).

So after we have court approval, we wait for the US Embassy in Ethiopia to investigate our case and give travel clearance for us to come back to Ethiopia for an interview with the Embassy. In case any of you are wondering, the Embassy's role in the adoption is to ensure each child meets the definition of an "orphan." Only then will they grant you a Visa to bring your child back into the states. In my naive days, I thought the Ethiopia courts and MOWCYA were there to ensure the child met the definition of an orphan so why did the Embassy have to investigate.

Unfortunately, some unethical agencies and practices have been found so the Embassy also plays a key role in investigating the cases. They are investigating more cases now than they did when we brought Etta home. As a result, the length of time between court and Embassy has lengthened. We are expecting it to be about 3 months before we can go back and bring "M" home. There's a chance it could be sooner, but I am gonna think end of summer so I won't be too discouraged if it's longer than a couple months.

So that's what I know. A wild ride it's been...I feel like it's actually becoming real. And we cannot wait to show sweet "M" pictures of her sister to see what she remembers of her. So much to look forward to.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Melissa Fay Greene

Love her writing. Author of There Is No Me Without You (one of my all-time favorite books). Author of the new book No Biking In the House Without A Helmet," I consider her a mentor on the adoption-front. She gave me wonderful, personal, meaningful advice when I found out about Etagegn's sister.

I'll finally get to meet her in June when she visits Seattle to promote her new book. Here is an article she wrote for CNN. It's worth your read...

Melissa Fay Greene - Article About Diversity