Monday, November 22, 2010

Kechene OTO Charm Necklace is HERE!

Nine months in the making...

The necklaces are complete, on US soil and ready for sale.
To preorder ($35), email: with Kechene in the subject line.
Note: Please feel free to repost this to your blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

This necklace was designed to assist young girls aging out of the orphanage system. (remember this post?) Supplies were shipped to the girls, who then created each necklace by hand. I had the opportunity to meet them while in Addis. What an AMAZING group of young women!

and now for the sales pitch...

Number one and most importantly...all proceeds benefit these girls and the Gladney On Their Own project (providing life skills to older girls aging out of the system) throughout Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

Number two...they're not mass produced, which gives such a special background to the project. The girls who benefit from the sale of each necklace are the same girls who assembled them (with much excitement and professionalism I might add!).

Lastly...they are very versatile depending on the recipient. I added an "E" to mine, signifying Ethiopia and wore often during our wait. I'll now be adding Niko's birthstone and probably an "N". (note the hidden messaging there with the birthstone reference, making for a great holiday gift for grandmothers, sisters, friends and mothers everywhere)

Our original plan was to create a design that reaches beyond the adoption community, making it possible to maximize the fundraising for these young women. A charm necklace seemed to work best and reach a wide audience.

Kai & I visiting the Kechene girls - xo

I was a bit nervous as Kai & I walked into the Kechene shop in Addis. None of us spoke the same language and I wanted so much to introduce myself and chat with these amazing women. They stared back at me as I oddly mimed various design motions (not easy). I then pointed to my necklace. There was a sudden burst of squeals, smiles and they were rushing forward with loads of hugs. We all began speaking at the same time as if we all now understood each other. It was very humbling and such an honor to spend time with the girls.

The On Their Own mission statement

To provide meaningful financial assistance and educational programs
to older, unadopted orphaned children served by Gladney Center for Adoption
in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America
to prepare them for a safe, self-sufficient life on their own.

from Gladney:

On Their Own provides support for the Kechene Women's Association, an organization of young women who have "aged out," of the Kechene Children's Home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

There are few opportunities for these orphaned young women once they have been released from government care. Most seek low-level service industry work in Ethiopia and Middle Eastern countries, but pay is extremely low and such work is dangerous in countries with few women’s rights and no citizenship protection. Unfortunately, many fall back on prostitution to provide for themselves.

The young women of Kechene need life-skills to navigate the world, earn a living and use money wisely. They need to learn how to set goals based on safe choices, self-sufficiency, and self-esteem. They need a future that offers a chance for a long, productive, and happy life.

Your purchase of this beautiful necklace supports life-skills programs for the Kechene Women's Association. Every dollar dedicated to On Their Own is stewarded by the Gladney Center for Adoption, a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization, to ensure the funds are invested in empowerment projects for orphaned children.

To learn more about the Kechene Women's Association and Gladney's programs for orphans around the world, please visit Gladney's website

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Our Three Month Anniversary


Three months ago today, early afternoon, Niko landed on U.S. soil at JFK with a fabulous greeting from his Uncle Scott (my brother) and his Cousin Jack (our nephew). I'm sure there are many profound things I could be saying right now about this special moment, but because we're spending 100% of our energy during all Niko-waking-moments, I'm a bit fried and at a loss for words. It's a good thing I have a gazillion photos to document these three months!

I will refrain from posting said gazillion shots and limit the assortment to the month's highlights, including HAPPY 1ST BIRTHDAY, MR. NIKO! Yes, he turned one year old this month. I'm seeing this is going to be a very busy month for us for many years to come, as the big day falls very close to Halloween.

How is it that a one year old has three birthday parties, all filled with friends and loved ones? Okay, I get the loved ones part, but how does a one year old already have friends? Impressive, I must say. I will also say I was really into the 'mommy is making cupcakes thing' and then getting a big smile from his little friend, Lilly, who greeted me at the babysitter's door with "Niko's mom...I know you made us Elmo cupcakes and I'm really excited! I love Elmo and I love Niko!"

We have THE best babysitter in the world. This is something for another post, but going back to work was a difficult time with Niko. It was much harder on us than on him. Toward the end of my maternity leave I began taking him over to play and we would both stay about 20 minutes and play with the two other children and leave together. They were so accepting of our attachment & bonding 'rules' that we were very strict to adhere to and after a few trips together, I left him for an hour as a test run (with me two buildings away at home). All went so well and has only gotten better. He now looks forward to playing there and being with his two new friends. We have our morning breakfast dates and playtime and then we walk down the sidewalk (him by himself now holding my hand). The two other mothers clued me in immediately that this will be far harder on me than it will be on him! They were SO right.

Enjoying cupcake #1 all to himself.

So, after the birthday parties, we went straight into Halloween which explains the cow costume.

Next up, the big family Thanksgiving! We followed all the rules (bending some to fit our situation), particularly the two months without large crowds or incoming traffic to the home. It worked and we're so glad we stuck to it. We're still the only ones to feed, bathe and put him to bed and will continue this for many more months. Niko has met all members who will be at Thanksgiving, but NEVER more than a few at a time. His little head is going to be spinning with all the attention and we're prepared for securing some alone time with him. I'm sure it will be needed and I'm so grateful to our family for understanding how we've handled the past three months. I know some things may seem strange at times, but in the end it's all about him, not us.
And I can say with much certainty that these 'rules' are a huge factor in how well he has adjusted to this point. That smile of his is not all due to Kai & I knowing what we're doing! It's from following his lead, taking things seriously and sometimes taking nothing seriously. I've heard it takes six months to really get in your groove. I'm just happy to report, I feel us all now wanting a groove to get into and we're making great progress. There are still ech days, but I must say they're different from that first month of ech days.

Three Months! It feels like Niko has been here forever. It really does and in the most wonderful way.
Our first winter hat & coat...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Steps, Aide and Special Mothers

It appears that part of my new normal is blogging once a month with as much crammed into a post as possible. Apologies for the info-overload, but as life continues to settle in so will my ability to ration the blogging. We can hope anyway!

STEPS: So, the big news first...our little man is walking!!! He has been pulling himself up for quite some time which led to taking a few steps here and there. And then...drumroll...on October 9th, 2010, as he was sitting on the kitchen floor banging two chopsticks together, boom. He got up, continued banging the chopsticks and took off without stopping until he made a full loop to end up back where he started. He then hurled himself forward in exhaustion and remained flat on the floor. (chopsticks were removed from hands by this point)

Nikolicious is also sleeping through the night! Last night was the fourth night in a row and I really hope I'm not jinxing it now that I've put it in writing. His crib is now his friend, which is just amazing to see. He loves playing and dancing in his room at the beginning and end of each day. Watching him now from only two short months ago is like watching a different child. He's growing each day, both physically and mentally. It's so comforting and rewarding to see his confidence, joy, content and overall excitement each day. He is truly his own little man.
Leading up to the big day, a little girl in the park asks if she can help him walk. So cute!
One of the final days in shorts. I can't believe he's outgrowing clothes already!

AIDE: If you are traveling soon and able to carry aide, please email me at tamara at newyorkdesigner dot com. If you know of anyone traveling, please pass this info along.

One of the government orphanages that Gladney families tour is Kebebe Tsehay. This place will leave you speechless. Before entering the baby house we were given a short overview. It is labeled 'the worst government orphanage in Ethiopia'. A heavy title to bear in a country already known for such poverty. We were also told that two weeks prior to our visit, they lost seven babies in one night. There are babies living with a series of illnesses that are otherwise preventable in the United States, due purely to a lack of resources.

On our tour, there were 14 adoptive parents in our group. Each parent had a baby in their arms while holding a bottle for another lying nearby in their crib. There were still babies not being tended to. On a daily basis these babies have TWO caregivers. That was until this amazing woman stepped in and was able to assist in providing 24 caregivers. Her blog describes the orphanage in great detail and I suggest reading it.

Asking what else could make an impact, I was told hand sanitizer. There was NONE. The caregivers are doing the best they can with what they have, but are treating one baby and then moving on to the next and very likely spreading disease in the process. I have secured multiple refills of hand sanitizer with their corresponding wall mounts. If you're able to drop them at Kebebe on your upcoming visit, I will ensure I wrap it in a way to avoid any leaks. One item is the size of a standard wall dispenser. Hopefully this can work out and I will continue working on this end to keep the supply coming. Each refill bag = 2,000 squirts.

SPECIAL MOTHER: Our little boy's personality continues to amaze us. As he reaches a new development stage, looks to us with such security, trudges along with such determination if he toddles over, discovers a new sound and experiences everything with such joy we continue to think of his Special Mother. I think we always will. She played the biggest role in his life prior to our care and we are forever grateful for the genuine love and guidance she provided. We know his transition to our care would not have been as productive had she not supplied him with the proper tools.

She asked for updates and photos as he grows, which we are so happy to do and recently sent our first to her with a traveling family. It was a little hard to write and show pictures of him walking, knowing she may be a little sad reading this from afar. However, I truly believe all the Special Mothers do want updates and the comfort of knowing all their little guys & girls are doing well. What a great role you all have played in the lives of our children. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

from Arghhhh!!! to Ahhhhhhhhhhh...

I didn't miss a beat during our wait for Niko; blogging each and any anniversary imaginable. The reminders on my Outlook calendar were ridiculous in number. Oh, how things have changed, gone pear-shaped, headed south...however you put it, I've become a hot mess of exhaustion since returning home seven weeks and one day ago. Wow, has it really been that long?

How sad is it that my first red flag was that of a new reminder on my calendar that I go back to work soon. WHAT? But I just got home!!! Nope. Voice in head says: Lady, you've been home seven weeks and one day and not one mention of one detail on that blog (that at one time) tied you to all the others. Nooooo! I've become the person who comes home and stops blogging. Say it ain't so.

A few anniversaries and milestones I've neglected to mention include: The Flight Home, Home One Week, Has it Really Been a Month?, The First Dr. Appt, The First (non-adoption related) Dr. Appt, Did He Just Say Ma-Ma??? and so on. You get it. So, before this post turns into a list of everything I haven't blogged about, I will simply say...This seemingly non-eventful time frame has actually been pretty jam-packed, both emotionally and physically for all three of us.

Week One - Four: the "Arrrggghhhh!!!"
Oh boy. All that prepping, reading, researching and Googling during The Wait did not fully arm me to face a nine month old in full transition mode. They tell you "sleep now, because you won't get any later". Well, what I didn't take into account is that it may not be unreasonable to be home six weeks and the first minute to myself I catch a glimpse in the mirror and ask aloud, 'how did I go downhill so fast?'. And then I wonder, (also aloud because when your audience is a nine month old day in and day out, you really begin to just let all the crazies hang out) 'did I ever conquer that jet lag?' When said nine month old wakes up every hour every night, it's quite likely the answer is a resounding no.

I should also point out that when you're in the waiting period reviewing the training videos and reading the books, you're likely doing so during a time slot you planned. Maybe it's a rainy afternoon, nothing much to do so you pick up a book. Or maybe you and your husband mark your calendars for say, next Tuesday when things calm down at work. You'll make a nice dinner, grab your journal with pen and soak up every detail of the videos during this very focused time you allotted for yourself.

Well, when the real-life 'baby with a serious moment of separation anxiety' actually occurs it's unlikely to happen when you're rested, focused, have a full stomach and your partner will most likely be at work, not sitting beside you to offer their $.02. Oh, and that journal? It will not be in arm's reach.

I don't say this to sound unappreciative, cynical or to minimize the amazing family I am so fortunate to have. I say this because I was somehow blindsided by the reality of the scenarios I read and video clips I viewed once they entered my own household.

Day two home alone once Kai returned to work, I looked at my clock and my stomach sunk when I saw it was 10:30am. WHAT? It felt like it should be at least 3:45pm. During nap time I tiptoed past Niko's bedroom to use the bathroom in our bedroom. As I turned to flush the toilet, I realized this was no longer a luxury I had. There would be no flushing toilets during naps. That's when it all poured out. I found myself, a grown woman, sobbing in the bathroom because I could no longer flush my toilet when I chose to do so. What is happening?

My body was physically sore due to Niko scratching at my legs to be held, scratching my chest once I held him and afraid to be put down. My hair, even though always in the now obligatory ponytail, was still being pulled. My face and arms were scratched because he couldn't get close enough. He would scream bloody murder if I left the couch to put away a dish. On top of this, he weighed over 23 pounds at the time and I had lost seven while traveling. I was run down and being taken over by a nine month old, both physically and mentally. Emotionally I was drained and beyond in love with this little guy.

It was after the bathroom no-flushing-sob that I pulled myself together and searched for our social worker's phone number. She did our homestudy and worked in the NY office. I told her briefly what was up and asked for help, focusing on his separation issues with me and the fact I will be returning to work at some point. At the time I felt we were moving backwards, rather than moving forward.

This was the wisest thing I did in my cloudy state. Within 24 hours, Kai and I were having a conference call with a therapist who listened and offered such wonderful advice specific to our situation. A big YAY that we actually were doing things correctly and our scenario was not an unusual one. We both exhaled after that call and took things a little more in stride moving forward. We began to look for the light at the end of the tunnel.

Week Four - Seven: the "ahhhhhh...."
Wow. Wow. Wow.
We are friends, family, buddies and everything in between. It's pure joy in the morning when I hear him beginning to wake up and I wonder what's in store for the day (in the good way). There are days when I walk by his room, hoping slightly that he'll hear me and wake up early because I can't wait to play with him. His edge is gone and so is mine. He trusts us and the first time we saw that in action, I completely melted. The fact he knows he's safe has changed everything.

So now that I've gotten back on the blog, I can't stop yapping. I better wrap it up.
In closing, I would like to say there have been many tend-to-Niko breaks since I started writing this morning. During the last break, HE TOOK THREE STEPS!!!

p.s. Good luck to all the families waiting for court dates and decisions. Now that rainy season is over and the courts have reopened, I've been thinking of you all. Sending lots of love your way!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Nikolicious

Don't you all just want to spend your day showing baby pictures to the whole world, but without being THAT parent? That's one more reason why I love this community. We love looking at baby pictures! And as I sit here feeling tired, exhilarated, accomplished and completely spent, I can upload a slew of shots from Niko's first days home and call it a (semi-legit) blog post.

the morning starts in the roundabout

and there's always dancing, clapping & snapping (attempts at)

short trip to the park; a bit skeptical of the swing

and then daddy jumped in

mommy still can't find the right shoe size, hence the socks



Monday, August 16, 2010

Niko is Home...ahhhh

his favorite toys are a wooden spoon & used envelope

no words needed

So, I did it again and let a whole load of time slip by since my last post. That's not good for anyone because it means I either have to:

a) come up with a very clever means of engaging your attention while explaining two trips to Ethiopia that covered ten days each (both packed full of lifechanging sights, sounds & emotions) or...
b) go the self-indulgent route and start typing away each detail, covering every moment of each trip in its entirety and risk boring you to death

I choose to opt out of both and simply jump into the present; with the intent of leaving little sprinkles of our two trips via captions and pictures in future posts.

Before jumping into the present though, I must mention two family matters that touched us greatly as we departed on Sunday, 8/1; fully aware of one while not knowing the other until our return. Late Saturday afternoon (7/31) our 16 month old nephew was airlifted to a local hospital for emergency care. His family was visiting my ill grandfather in PA.

Kai and I shifted gears asap from packing-for-Ethiopia-mode to get-to-the-hospital mode. Because the medics didn't allow parents in the helicopter, it was important the little guy had a familiar face with him at the hospital until his parents had time to drive the distance (he was being flown to our area). We stayed the evening in a local hotel, making it home the next afternoon with time to finish packing and head to the airport.

He remained hospitalized for quite some time and has since been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. He is a trooper and doing very well.

The following day while we were in flight to Addis, my grandfather passed away. He was a man who easily fit into the cast of Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation. He lived into his nineties, was one of the smartest men I've known, adored his wife and four daughters and was very proud to be adding a great-grandson to his brood. We talked often about Niko's arrival, as he was very curious about the process of international adoption. He also loved quizzing people on history and facts, (taking every opportunity to use this as a great platform for doing so!) Poppy, we love you and will miss you greatly!

So, while the family rallied around each other here for the young, the elderly and the new arrivals, Kai and I were a world away gathering our little guy, soaking him in and letting him cry his little eyes out until he knew it was okay to relax. And once he did, we all began to relax a bit and things slowly started happening. Family started happening and it continues each day. There are ups, downs and in-betweens with the only constant being the utter cuteness of Niko and the size of those cheeks!

I'll be updating more as we go and will definitely include a few powerful moments along the way. Ethiopia has a lot going on. I saw things on the first trip that will forever be ingrained in my memory. The second trip only reinforced the notion that, yes I can do something and I will. Realistically, many issues are an ongoing battle and of a large magnitude. However, there are plenty of 'situations' at hand that if simply nudged a little, can change the outcome of someone else's life. Seriously.

It was a very bittersweet return, to say the least.
p.s. future posts will be light & fluffy and continue to include silly, giggly, cooing baby shots

getting accustomed to the seat that allows mommy to shower and eat

the end of a long day

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Hello everyone. I just received a message from Tamara. She wanted me to satisfy everyone's curiosity with an update. They officailly have His passport and visa in hand and are ready to head home on Tuesday. He is everything they thought he would be, and more, much, much more!!!!! He is crawling now and pulling himself up at the kitchen table. Tamara said they can tell he is really sensing his freedom and space, and exploring it ALL, FULL SPEED!!!!!

They toured the government orphanages yesterday. It was very emotional and sad for their group to witness such need coming from these tiny babies. The group gathered bottles, diapers, etc. and began feeding, holding, rocking, and talking to the helpless little ones.

They are very sleep deprived right now.....I tried to tell her!!!!!! Tamara and Kai are relishing in the moment and thoroughly enjoying every single second of parenthood. They will be home early next week....and I for one, can't wait....I have waited for YEARS for my sister to become a mother and the moment is finally here....

I will post more as I receive phone calls, messages, and emails....Take care everyone!!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Niko and the muscle of his 22lb self (not too shabby for a 9 month old) has completely overpowered, conquered and planted his flag in what were previously two fully functioning adults.

We decided to take placement within a few hours of landing, which was Tuesday afternoon. Some suggested we wait a day to at least put a dent in our jetlag but we were too excited and agreed to same day placement. (I now lightly suggest what the others suggested to us!) Niko arrived sound asleep with us waiting in the driveway with the other (AMAZING) families who are also staying at the guesthouse, all armed with videos & cameras. He was trying to take in the new surroundings when things became a bit overwhelming for him and the tears appeared. We spent the rest of the evening in our room walking him, playing, talking, holding but nothing really helped take the fear away that still showed in his face. It was the worst feeling. He just looked so helpless and so very scared. He finally fell asleep in our arms with his bottle and continued hourly cries throughout the night.

And the middle of the chaos he woke up and was ready to ROLL!!! He was smiling and ready to play! Of course we obliged :)

Yesterday, we were all pretty out of it but things are moving in a much more positive direction. After our coffee ceremony where we met Niko's Special Mother, we all came home and took an hour nap together and later had our first bath, which went well. He's now getting wound up again (he's in FULL discovery mode) so I'm going to run but will post more later.

I'll try to do quick updates with full trip details when we return.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Off We Go!

the face that awaits us

As I write this, I'm sipping on the fabulous coffee that only Ethiopia can produce and I hear Kai in the background packing his bags. He just yelled from the bedroom that he would like the bag of diapers we're taking to the orphanage be used on the return trip solely for more coffee, as he plans to bring home as much as possible without raising a red flag at customs upon our return through JFK. Funny, because I was just thinking the same thing. I yell back, "but of course!"

After exploring, trekking and seeing the ins and outs of Addis on trip one, our return trip feels like we're returning to old friends in a way. It's hard to describe, but it's definitely on the warm & fuzzy tip. Almost like a little kid who gets homesick at camp and gets an early exit ticket home. And the best part is knowing what lies ahead on this trip. I can't begin to put it into words, so I'll stick to the logistics.

This is the hunker-down-round with the majority of our time being spent at the guest house with Niko. (that just makes me want to burst) Our plan is to take placement shortly after our Tuesday arrival, meaning someone from the staff will bring Niko to our guest house around 3pm local time on Tuesday. (possibly a little later because I think he takes a 1pm nap)

We're staying at Bejoe which offers sooo much for what a new family needs. All bedrooms have a bathroom, crib if needed, high speed internet on location, laundry, communal kitchen, livingroom, nice yard and the best part? Caregivers are on hand if you need assistance and they are familiar with all the children and the children know them from being in the Gladney care centers. What a great transition for both child and parent.

So, of course Niko's bag was packed first (ours are still works in progress). It wasn't easy packing for him. There were many calls to The Mother who offered greatly needed advice. In addition to the in-country bag, a separate bag is packed for his plane ride home.

the clothes he will wear

Long ago, I read a tip that I printed and stuffed into the "When We Travel" folder. It was from an adoptive mother who also had a long flight home. She created 10 one-gallon size Ziploc bags, each with: a not-fancy outfit (no onesies), socks and a Huggies overnight pamper. They all went in one zipped carry bag with a carry-size packet of wipes. This was in the event her baby faced the very common bout of bad-tummy, to put it mildly. It's a no-thought process now. Grab the wipes and a baggie and head to the bathroom. The new outfit goes on while the dirty one gets sealed in the Ziploc, thrown in the bag and all will get tossed upon departure.

Also packed for the plane are toys, snacks, blankets, a stuffed toy, teethers, food, bottles, formula and a carrier. We've also packed a bundle of earplugs for our neighbors sitting nearby. Another tip from a mother making this journey suggested offering earplugs to fellow passengers. She said it worked like a charm. She let them know her baby may cry (or may not) but in the event he does, this is her little bit of peace to them. All were very respectful, even offering assistance when she needed it.

the place he will dine

So, upon our return I'll let you know what really happened and how these plans all panned out in 'real life'. You can probably tell by now, I'm a bit anxious about the flight home!

Okay, so I must stop yapping now and get back to what's at hand here. We leave tomorrow and our to-list isn't getting done with me blogging and drinking my fabulous coffee! For some reason, I couldn't log onto our blog from Ethiopia on our last trip, but will try to update via Facebook. My sister may jump in again too. (thanks Man!)

The next few days and weeks are going to be ones we will forever remember. On one hand this is so very hard to get one's head around, while it also feels so natural.
I just want to stop anticipating and DO. To be with him and start this journey.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Update: File Has Been Found!!!

There have been a few heroes along our journey and today I'm adding a new one to our list and will simply refer to her as Ms. M.

Ms. M is one of the many employees in one of the many feds' offices we've contacted since hearing the news last Wednesday that we may not travel to pick up our son. Turns out, Ms M is a grandmother of not one, but two, adopted grandchildren. She's in the know. She gets it. And...she's a government official in the very department we need an advocate right now. We bow down to her.

About an hour ago, we received an update from the NH office that our file has been located, is being entered into the U.S. system and will be processed to Addis within the next 24-48 hours.

Ms M,
We thank you and our family thanks you. We are forever grateful.

I am now going to bed and plan to sleep for eight *gasp* hours. Yes, I really am.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Baby!

Niko turns nine months old today. Instead of cupcakes and sweets, which will be the obvious treat for all future birthdays once his little toes touch down on U.S. soil, I spent most of yesterday with some good 'ole fashioned nuts & bolts for the immune system. We now have enough pureed mango/banana, sweet potatoes and carrots for twenty five meals.

I had hoped this would be the weekend we spent in a giddy-fog as we packed Niko's homecoming bag, our bags, some more donation items for the orphanage and ran the final errands before flying out next Sunday. As more bits came in from various sources this weekend, our odds of flying have significantly dropped. In turn, our personal efforts have spiked in equal value.

I am headed to our congressman's office this morning on my way to work. Should our file not be scanned by end of day today, I'll be heading to New Hampshire either tonight or tomorrow morning to sit in their office and await some personal attention. It was confirmed late Friday that this is where our updated file (remember the lovely Officer? This is where she sent it) is most likely sitting in the mailroom awaiting scan & upload into the National Visa Processing system. Yes, it may be a shot in the dark but we're running out of shots here and I'll take what we can get. The senator's office will also be getting involved today, as they are already in the loop and willingly offered assistance.

I must also say that we've faced zero resistance from anyone who ends up hearing our situation. Everyone is accomodating and onboard to offer whatever help they can. If the person at the front desk of this office follows suit, we may see a positive outcome after all.

To recap, once our file is scanned in the U.S. system it will be cabled (emailed) to the embassy in Addis, Ethiopia for our scheduled embassy appointment (8/5) . We're told this can take from one day to weeks to appear. We don't have weeks.

It's a risk, but at this point it's likely one of us will be flying if our scan makes it into the U.S. system but doesn't reach Ethiopia. The reason...there are still four days it COULD arrive (8/1-8/5) and if we don't get on the plane and our embassy appointment is ready to go, can you imagine the horror if the parents didn't show up???

Thanks again for everyone's support. It really does make a difference and we appreciate it. I know some of you have emailed and asked about our trip, but to be honest I don't have the time nor the energy right now to tell that story with proper attention to do it justice. I will tell it, but not until this is resolved.

Stay tuned as The Drama of The Prints continues...

On a sidenote, the blog design we've been using has changed on the backend and will be updating shortly. In the meantime, you may see some funky things in the layout.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Are You KIDDING Me???

It’s 4:30am and I’m up again, except today isn’t because of jet lag. That’s long gone.

Today I’m up because at 3:30am the double knots in the stomach came back in full force after replaying yesterday’s events in my head. I thought at this point I would be posting pictures from our trip and telling warm & fuzzy stories about how we have the most adorable, perfect son in the world. Not so.

I received a call from our caseworker mid-day yesterday. She wanted to recap all the bits of our trip and asked if I would be interested in being a guest on next week’s conference call with a Q&A style covering any pertinent details for fellow families. Absolutely!
The conversation then turned to one that involved the words...great concern you will not travel as expected.

Our CIS fingerprints have gone missing. They expired on 7/15, so the extension we filed and reprinting we did on 6/29 did not make it into the newly updated USCIS centralized computer system. Once our prints go through the state division, they are then processed through the National Visa Processing Center where they are reviewed and once given the okay, cabled through to the embassy in Ethiopia. (Our embassy date is 8/5)

Six business days remain for the above to occur and nobody has records of our prints to even start this ball rolling. The alternative? To reprint, we’re looking at an estimated two months. Embassy dates in Ethiopia are only every other Thursday. We would have to fit into the next available one, which is anyone’s guess.

This is what caused an eight minute mental breakdown in my boss’ office yesterday, which enabled me to decompress and come back in full force with proper frame of mind to be productive. (she gave the okay to work on this for as long as necessary, ending with “bring that boy home”) I gathered all necessary documents and began emailing and calling anyone who would listen that works in immigration in the U.S. Three hours in, a “live” woman answered her phone. She referred to herself as an Officer. I liked that title for what we needed right now and knew this was our woman.

I think the most productive 30 minutes of my life were spent with my Officer. She willingly engaged all resources on her end after listening to our situation and began recreating our paperwork! Much more to it, but this is the gist…if this works, our file should show in the National Visa Processing Center by Monday of next week, allowing three business days for processing before being transferred to Ethiopia. (I am purely speculating that they need three days, only because that’s what WE need to meet deadline. I’m hoping that’s reasonable.)

If this new scenario works, we will travel next Sunday, 8/1 as planned. If our file is not in Ethiopia by next Friday, we will not travel. We’ll then await word on reprinting or await the appearance of our file and then wait for a new embassy date.

I must also mention (and this is the advice part, should this happen to others) that during those three hours of scouring for officials to listen to me, I had left messages with the NJ senators’ offices. After speaking to my Officer (the one who helped) I did receive a call back from the senator’s office. They listened to our situation and advised to call back Monday if we still need assistance. My advice is to get them on the horn immediately if you see your prints lapsing in the new system, just in case you need them down the line.

I’ll end with this…a new mother recently asked me if she could ask a personal question which was, At what point in the adoption process do you have the attachment feeling of a mother/child bond? (I welcome all questions like this because it makes ME think too.)
My answer was, it’s a gradual process that grows stronger through each phase of the process. I’ve now changed it to…
Meet your son, play with him, hold him, squeeze him, have a federal judge deem you a family by law, get on a plane, leave him behind and then be told you can’t get him because a piece of paper is missing.

You’re far beyond a mother/family. It’s like this little guy has been with us forever now and someone has temporarily taken him away, not that he hasn’t arrived yet.

And on what planet do fingerprints expire?

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Highs & Cries of Trip #1

First Family Photo (Niko is mid-raspberry)

I missed you!!! Thank you to my sis for updating while we were away and thank you all for the support! I didn't realize the power of my virtual circle of friends until I had no access to you.

This post may be a bit scattered, as I'm a bit jetlagged and have only been home a few hours but am forcing myself to stay awake until this evening with hopes of making tomorrow at work a smooth transition. I'll include more details per day in future updates, but wanted to jump right in with a recap of our trip to hopefully offer some insight to the other familes who will be traveling twice. It may be a long one, but I'll try to hit the key points and move on. The focus will be on Wednesday, our court date.

It's important to note that because we were the first family to travel twice, some items here should be taken with a grain of salt because many logistics are a work in progress. For example, we were also the only family in country so cultural events did not happen and will be worked in to our second trip (other families will do cultural events on first trip; bonding on second). Also, we were appearing in court on behalf of an infant adoption. I believe the process (both court plans & Gladney plans) will vary for toddler age & above.

First bit of advice: Take the tissues ladies! I cried each day for a completely different reason; some good, some not so good.

Our Week
Monday: Arrival Day (do our own thing)
Grabbed our driver and started exploring. The sights, sounds and smells of Ethiopia are like no other. Very powerful.

Tuesday: The Niko Meeting!!! (one hour in a.m.) happy tears all around!
I must say, I was more intimidated and anxious to meet our son than I was to meet the judge on the following day. There are no words to describe him. He's perfect! (there's a good word) He warmed to Kai after awhile but is not a big fan of moi. I must say that I liked the way he looked to the caregivers to see if we were 'okay'. He will one day look to me the same way. I'm not worried about it and had to laugh. It means he's on track for proper attachment. However, after 18 months of waiting for this day - yes, a smile would have been nice instead of 'who is this lady & when is she leaving?' looks!!! ha! It's all good :)

Wednesday: court (9am @ Gladney office; 9:30am in court; seen at 10:15'ish)
Court is held in a nondescript room on the second level of a government office building. The waiting room is medium size with approx 10-15 folding chairs lining each wall for adopting parents and birth family members. Along one wall is a door to the judge's office which is much smaller, containing the judge's desk, a table and a few chairs. The various agencys' attorneys stand in line outside this door on behalf of their clients and are called in by the judge's assistant. On this day, there were three other agencies with about 9 families in total awaiting their court dates.
As we waited (30'ish minutes) you couldn't help feeling the tension of extreme emotions in the room; family loss & growth happening with each family's exit of the judge's room. I felt the stare of a woman who I noticed immediately upon entering the waiting room. She appeared to be a grandmother, possibly great-grandmother, of a child being relinquished. Wrapped in a worn blanket and more than worn shoes, she continued a heavy gaze my way. I connected with her and tried to offer my best "OMG woman, I want to run across this room and give you the biggest hug" smile I could muster, considering I was ready to burst into tears. She stared back, smiled and gave me the warmest, most all-knowing 'everything is okay' smile with a nod. That's what put me over the edge. I smiled back humbly with a reply nod, turned to Kai and the tears started to flow. In the background, the other families were passing with happy tears and gentle cheers, while trying to respect all others in the room.

Shortly after that we were called in front of the judge. A very nice woman who asked us the following:
1) Why did you choose to adopt?
2) Why Ethiopia?
3) What preparations have you made?
4) Have you met this child?
5) Have you told your family about your adoption?
6) Have you completed any training?
7) Do you understand this contract can not be undone once approved?
8) I AM APPROVING YOUR CONTRACT!!! (happy tears)

Dressing for Court: biz casual
I saw men in suits & ties and men without ties in nice dress pants. Kai wore a tie (not in pix but he put it on when we got there) with dress pants and no jacket.

Women had a wide range: open toed sandals with casual mid-length skirt and leggings to a skirt/jacket suit with closed toe heels. I wore a full-length cotton dress with scarf & light sweater and closed toe shoes with hair pulled back.
The key is to be respectful.

Thursday: The Niko Meeting Part II (one hour in a.m.)
This went much better. We came a little earlier this morning so we didn't cut into his much-loved naptime. I think this had a lot to do with his energy, which was great. He was a little more curious about who we were, played a little more with us, still warmer to Kai than me but today I offered to feed him the end bit of his bottle. This got me a few little pats on my arm from him as he drank. *heart melted* He is THE BEST!

Following this, we had the priviledge of delivering care packages and meeting with the kiddies of waiting families. Oh my! This was amazing! These kids are thriving, happy, full of energy and in the best possible care while waiting for their moms & dads to arrive. What a program Gladney has put in place and with such care of keeping the child first. Love it.

Friday: more exploring and working on creating Niko's life book
Gained more info into Niko's story. These children have such heartbreaking stories, it just makes the mind spin. How is this okay??? Hearing more details brought out the mama-bear and made me want to run back to the care center, squeeze him and never let go. The children are so much stronger than we can ever imagine.

Saturday: The Niko Meeting Part III (one hour in a.m.)
Wonderful!!! Again, we came earlier to avoid any naptime interference which appeared to be key. This was our best meeting yet. These times are not intended for bonding, so as not to confuse the children once we leave, so a lot of play is involved with other children around. Niko interacted with us so much with loads of smiles, bouncing, clapping, raspberries and the almighty baby-belly-laugh when Kai tickled him. I even got a few smiles from him!!! I want this kid home NOW!

So, this was our final meeting which brought on tears. However, there was so much information from the staff re: our next trip, what to prepare for, how short our turnaround is, etc that I walked out on such a high note, thinking - This was much easier than I ever expected. Maybe it was because we spent three meetings with him, not just one. Maybe it was because our embassy date was so soon that we would be back in country in 16 days. Whatever it was, we left happy - not sobbing the big ugly cry, which I expected.
However...later that evening (still feeling more excited than sad) our hotel shuttle arrived to take us to the airport. There it was. The ugly cry came in full force on the way to the airport. We had two layovers coming home and the same thing happened on each plane as we took off. I think it was knowing we were moving further away from him that did this. It was so fast & furious and then Kai would pull up a few photos of the trip and again say, this is our happy place. It helped a lot.

We even put a photo of Niko in the empty middle seat, with his seat belt securely fastened, on one leg of our trip home. :)

I think the key thing to remember is we've all been in this for 18 mos+ and it sucks beyond words to leave our child there but the positive news is that they are OURS and we are THEIRS, finally!!! You will be leaving as parents!!! And yes, three to six weeks is tough when you've met, played and hugged your baby BUT we're tough and if we can hang in there for a year & a half, we can make it three to six weeks longer.
(so she says. we'll see tomorrow.)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Good morning everyone! I just got off the phone with Tamara. She squealed into the phone, 'WE are parents! WE passed!' So, of course, I immediately took to blogging to let all of you know.

Here is the scoop: They met with the attorney this morning around 9:00 a.m. Then they went to the courthouse about 9:30 a.m. Court began at 10:00 a.m. She said it was over by 10:15 a.m. However, she said it is very emotional. The court itself goes very fast. She said there are so many poverty stricken families present that are there to turn over their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc. She said it is a very sad, humbling experience. The court itself is held in a small room. She said it is not what we would consider a courtroom here. The judge is sitting at the desk. The judge asks some questions and then gives you the verdict right then.

There were 9 families ahead of them from two different European agencies. She said they all passed as well.

Tonight Tamara and Kai are going to a different location that the driver said they will be able to have internet service, hopefully!!!!! She is going to try to blog to you all tonight specifically about the questions they ask, what to wear, etc.

Thanks for all your support you have given Tamara and Kai. She is going to be calling me back tomorrow with their return date. They are suppose to hear something by the end of the day today or tomorrow morning to let them know their embassy date.

I will let you all know next time I hear from her.....


Tamara just called me back. They received their embassy date of August 5, 2010. They return to Ethiopia on August 1, 2010 and fly back to the U.S. on August 7, 2010
They will touch down on U.S. soil as a family on August 8!!!!!! They will only be back home for about two weeks before they return to get HIM!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

An Ethiopian Update

I know so many of you are waiting on pins and needles to learn of Tamara and Kai's progress. I am her sister and have been put in charge of updating her blogworld of their progress and experiences.

I just received a phone call from Tamara in Ethiopia. They had originally set their courtdate for July 14, then it was moved to July 15, now it is back to July 14. Yep, tomorrow guys!!! It's showtime....She is suppose to call me tomorrow, following court, to give me the news. They will be meeting with the attorney at 9 am tomorrow, followed by court at 10 am (Ethiopian time). They will find out tomorrow if they pass. Because we are all very positive thinkers and envision lollipops, rainbows, and gumdrops....She will be calling to tell me they passed, along with their return date to pick HIM up. (do you see the emphasis HE already has in this family!!!)

Now, onto the best news!!!!! They met HIM today. She was so excited. She started crying just describing him to me. They were able to video their time with him. Their visit was an hour long, well, unfortunately for HIM, their hour visit went into HIS naptime. Apparently, dude digs his naps!!!! He was a little upset over missing some much needed shut-eye, but he hung in there like a trooper and spent some much needed time with Tamara and Kai. She described him as big, bouncy, alert, wonderful, and the BEST!!!!! He really took to Kai and warmed up to him more than Tamara. She said she walked with HIM for a short distance and her elbows began shaking because HE is rather.......healthy!!!!!

When they arrived in the room, the social worker was with them. That is standard because everything they do is to protect the children. Also in the room upon their arrival, was the physical therapist and occupational therapist. They were really glad to see these experts in the room with the children. These professionals are available to all the children in the room as they are needed.

Tamara said the one thing they were not prepared for was the drain your body takes after the visit. She said she couldn't sleep last night. She was so nervous, excited, anxious, her hands were shaking, etc. They had waited their whole lives for this moment, and it was finally here!!!! The adrenaline was pumping through their body so much. When the visit concluded and they went back to their house, they both crashed. She said they both took a nap before lunch. The emotional toll was not something either of them had prepared for. When I spoke with her, it was post nap, she sounded great....she was on cloud nine.

They will get to visit with HIM 1 hour on Thursday and 1 one on Friday. HE will not be in court due to his age. With these new laws, they are beginning to enforce some changes. Toddlers are allowed to be present in court, however, babies are not. They are also going to be limiting the visitation based on ages. Toddlers will likely have a more limited visitation than the babies.

She raved about their driver. She said they would be lost without him. I am looking forward to her phone call tomorrow.....I will keep all of you updated as I hear from Tamara. Thanks for reading. I know my verbage isn't as exciting as my sister's. She got the talent in the family!!!!

On a side note: I wanted to wish all of you the best of luck with your adoptions. I have never seen anything like what my sister has gone through. It has truly been a roller coaster ride for everyone. My heart goes out to each and every one of you. I performed natural childbirth with twins that had a combined weight of over 13 pounds....I can tell you.....That was nothing compared to what you guys go through on these adoption adventures. Best of luck to you all, hang in there....One day your family will be blogging for you while you are visiting with your child.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


We have officially checked-in for the flight of our lives!

Yes, I'm the girl who jumps on the airline's website exactly 24 hours prior to a flight in order to guarantee the best seats. You know, the seats you were unable to confirm when you purchased your tickets - like ours which landed us in a single file (duo) aisle format, one if front of the other. Well, now we have a great couples seat side-by-side where we can throw on our eyemask and plop in our earplugs and snooze away. And if that really happens, I will be one happy lady because the reality is that what I feel right now does not allow for sleep! After 18 months of waiting, it still doesn't feel like it's happening.

Considering I still have loads to do tonight, I will wrap this up with...

#1...THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! for the texts in the middle of the night and emails and wall posts and calls (and more texts) from those other waiting mamas who 'get it', to our family who jumped onboard the minute we mentioned we're adopting and continue to wait on pins & needles along side of us, to our new Gladney family who have taken Baby N under their wings until we get there and to all our friends who have rooted us along the entire way and have all somehow morphed into an entire community of newfound aunts & uncles. A final thanks goes out to the WorldWideWeb. What in the world did adopting families do prior to the internet? I can't imagine this experience being the same without the power of the internet.

#2...We had some updates today prior to our trip and it appears we are the only family in-country next week. Our court date is not the 14th, but the 15th. And the best? It is very possible we will visit Baby N THREE (3) times!!!! The final visit would be the day after court. Do you know what that means? If we pass on Thursday, 7/15 and visit him on Friday, 7/16 - he is OURS and we are HIS!!! When I mentioned a family photo earlier it didn't include a post-court date shot. That may now be the case. *happy dance*

That will also assist in minimizing the big "ugly cry" that is inevitable as we board the plane while leaving him behind. By not having our court date be the last time seeing him (across the room), things are that much better right now. This is such a pleasant surprise and something I hope sticks for all families coming through. I was dreading seeing him in court without hanging with him, followed by our departure.

#3...We're hoping to have internet service and plan to update. If we're dropping a package for you, your kiddie should have it by Wed 7/14 and if all goes well with our tech side of things, we'll have photos for you all and video. The video may be sent when we return, unless it's something I can easily master and magically put together with our internet at hand.

So, to recap:

Tomorrow - 6pm flight to Cairo & hang for the weekend
Monday - arrive Addis
Tuesday - our first Baby N sighting
Thursday - COURT DATE
Saturday - midnight flight out and begin working our way back to NYC

Off to finish last minute details.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Here We Come, Baby N!

In nine days we'll have our first family photo!!!

Well, kind of. We still have to pass court on 7/14 to officially be considered a "family" on paper but nonetheless, all three of us will be in the same room next Tuesday, 7/13 and we will be snapping away. The following day we'll appear in court, hopefully pass and then be issued our embassy date. That's the date we'll return to Ethiopia (early/mid August) to bring our son home.

Since passing our first court date (6/30), it seems things have been moving at warp speed with things to prepare, lists to check off and of course the holiday weekend. One thing I'm experiencing though that I wanted to pass on to waiting families is the sense of completeness you will feel. I can't help but contribute the agony of waiting for this day to happen and knowing you're done with it that makes it that much more complete. The ups & downs of this roller coaster over the past 1+ years gains so much momentum as you near court date that it does quite a job on one's sanity at times.

One thing that hit me when our caseworker called was, I can take the tags off now!

We have a nursery packed full of goodies; all with their store tags firmly in place. In the back of my mind, I couldn't go to the level of permanancy that requires one to remove the tags before putting the clothes away. What if something happened? Would I be jinxing something? How could we ever handle this if something fell through for some bizarre reason in the final hour? Well, I'm over that now and with scissors in hand...there will not be one tag remaining in Baby N's nursery when I'm done! It's happening and all the weight we've carried around for the past months, that only got heavier toward the end, is gone.

If you're waiting, just know that there is an end in sight and all the crazies will soon make sense! If you're a reader of this blog and not an adopting parent, you may have no idea what I'm referring to. If you're an AP, I'm sure you get it. We're all crazies together on some level :)


Our bags are packed - three in total:
Bags One & Two: humanitarian aide
Bag Three: our clothes, care packages (which we'll drop with waiting families' children) and a small package for Baby N

Word of advice on air travel:
Read the fine print and follow up if any leg of your flight involves EgyptAir as a codeshare partner. A long story (one that has taken many hours of my time over the past FOUR days) but I'll make it short...
EgyptAir does not have to honor their portion of your booking, in either price or actual ticketing. In addition, this messaging is quite cryptic, even for a fairly well-traveled customer to notice.
This isn't to dissuade anyone from using the airline, but to help avoid the same thing from happening to someone else. We were less than seven days from travel and realized our flight that we booked in June, was missing the EgyptAir leg and was never ticketed on their end. Not fun. Thanks to an amazing and very professional supervisor at Continental, who has seen this before, we are all sorted and on our way via Continental and Ethiopian Airlines.

We're headed to Cairo on Thursday for an eventful weekend of exploring before heading to Addis on Monday where we will most certainly be on pins and needles in anticipation of meeting Baby N on Tuesday. I get all jittery just thinking about it!

In a few hours, we're headed to my brothers for some pool, heat and bbq'ing fun.
Happy July 4th all!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


One down. One to go.

Thank you all for your amazing support over the past few days! We felt it :)
at work, but will write more later.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Two More Days

The clock is now officially ticking in my head.
I think I've reached the point of being aware of each hour ticking by in descending order from 48. The morning brings the biggest rush because 6-8 of them pass by while I snooze.

5am, Sunday morning: woken sharply by the sensation of a colony of butterflies nose-diving into and out of my belly at the speed of light. Waking to such a whirlwind is not fun, especially on a Sunday.

It has now hit me that Wed., 6/30 is THE day. Since being told we have two court dates, my focus has been on 7/14 (the one WE attend if 6/30 goes well). As of Sunday, things have turned 180 degrees. There is so much riding on 6/30 that it makes my head hurt if I think about it too much, so I'm not.

Tomorrow we start our day at 8:30am at the immigration office by updating our fingerprints. I later have two work-events after 6pm which are sure to keep me busy and take me straight into the Wednesday workday which is where I will be in meetings most of the morning. So, in theory, I really only have about 20 minutes to wait for this call.

Yes, I wish it worked like that. I've packed my schedule to the brim through Wed. and have a massage scheduled for Thursday. Whatever the outcome, I'm certain a massage will be in order by then.

I'm really curious to see how this goes. As one of the first families with two court dates, will MOWA (Ministry of Women's Affairs) and the courts be overly meticulous with our file, likely causing a delay? or is there the outside possibility that's already occured because of the new laws, making these final steps continue to move forward with no delays? There is no way to know and that's what makes me resort back makes my head hurt if I think about it too much, so I'm not.

What I will happily think about...
A mom who is currently in Ethiopia and who has visited Baby N multiple times, informed us that his favorite thing right now is bouncing in the jumper! You know, those things that clamp onto a doorway? HA! For some reason I couldn't stop laughing when I heard that, thinking how wonderful it is that he has a jumper. We're getting one asap for him and may pick up a second to take with us when we travel to leave at the care center. If he's getting this much joy from it, then we must pass this along so other kiddies can do the same.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

In Six Days...

...we will know if it's time to begin the end of our journey.

Next Wednesday afternoon, say 4pm'ish, I will most likely be very annoying to be around. I'll either be:

a) yapping non-stop with much excitement about meeting Baby N and how much there is to do even though we've had 18 months to prepare or...
b) Bitter Betsy will rear her ugly head

Wed., 6/30 will be a similar scene at work to many days in the past, with phone glued to hand awaiting that magical "817" to appear with news of our next life changing moment. Isn't it crazy? On Wednesday, Belay (in-country rep) will be notifying our caseworker (in TX) with the results of our first court date. If MOWA issued a favorable opinion on our file, we will leave on 7/8 and begin our journey to Baby N for our second court date (7/14) in Ethiopia. If they issue an unfavorable opinion, our agency will let us know what our next step is and approximate wait time.

Pending Baby N's schedule that day, (HA! isn't it great he has a schedule?) we're anticipating a little one-on-one time with him the day before court. We could actually be sitting in the same room with him in 19 days!!! WHOA! The thought of that gives me goosebumps. I really need to compose myself when I see him or he'll have an image of a squealing crazy lady cemented in his head, only to find out she's his mother. Oh my, that's not good.

For those not familiar...under the previous law when families traveled only once, they were traveling AFTER they had passed court, meaning their children were legally theirs. Baby N will not legally be our child on the first visit which means he will remain in the care center while we're in-country and our visit will be limited.

Because of this new structure, I spoke with our caseworker about taking packages for other families and meeting their children on their behalf. During our wait, we've had the luxury of receiving photos, videos and personal updates of Baby N through the generosity of so many traveling families as they bring home their own children. They've also transported our Ziploc baggies of goodies; delivery little pjs, blankets, photo albums, stuffed animals and even audio of us reading to him.

One mother who delivered a package for us described these updates as 'salve for a waiting mom's heart'. Perfect description. We want to ensure we're passing this along when we travel and were comforted to know that even with limited time in the care centers, we'll be able to make it work. If you are waiting and would like us to take a Ziploc goodie bag to your kiddo, email me the following:

Baby's Name
Which Care Center
Pix of Baby
Your Name & Blog Name
email to: nydshop at gmail dot com

I'll get back to you with my shipping address.

In closing, I'm sending a huge congrats to those families who recently received their referrals! Your feet will not hit the ground for at least two weeks. I'm also sending positive vibes to those awaiting court dates. Hoping the recent movement continues with court and we see more families get through before rainy season.
Thinking of you all...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What Lies Ahead

look at these cheeks!

We're still in a whirlwind since receiving our court date. What a surprise this is! Of course I expected to be excited but never to this extent. I thought our court date call would resemble that of our caseworker holding a little flag and waving us through to the next stage. Oh, it's SO much more! Because of the new two trip law, we are going to MEET HIM in a matter of weeks. WOW!!!

Remember those monthly updates we receive that I mentioned being a little bittersweet recently? Well, we received one yesterday and I think that's what made it all fit so perfectly. Seeing his little tufts of hair coming in and what his new habits are...they're all a part of our very near future - in person. I can't wait!

So, the dirt that everyone wants to know...what lies ahead for two-trip families.

I have no idea if the itinerary we were given is agency-specific or applies to all those operating in Ethiopia. This is simply what we'll be doing over the next few weeks.

We were issued two court dates: 6/30 and 7/14.
  • 6/30: MOWA's date to review our file and hopefully issue a favorable opinion. The lapse in time between 6/30 and 7/14 allows some padding for MOWA to gather any additional paperwork or details, should they require it. This (hopefully) ensures all is in order by the time we travel and appear in court on 7/14.

  • 7/14: Our day to appear in court (IF the above occurs in a timely manner).

  • 7/12-7/19: approx dates in-country for trip #1

  • mid-late August: approx timeframe for trip #2 for U.S. Embassy appt and bring home Baby N

We're advised to hold off on purchasing airline tickets until MOWA gives us the final okay on 6/30. Should they need additional time to review our file, say their opinion doesn't come until 7/5, we would most likely still have our 7/14 court date. However, should they close unexpectedly or simply need more time on our file, we would forfeit our 7/14 court date and await a reissue.

Once our adoption is approved and finalized in the Ethiopian courts, we're anticipating a return to pick up our little boy 3-6 weeks later. During this time his court decree, passport, birth certificate and other required travel & immigration docs will be processed. It is required to have all this in order upon our return for our U.S. Embassy appointment in Ethiopia. That trip will also be approximately seven days in-country, solely focused on bonding with our son.

Beause I am convinced to have been a travel agent in a past life, I will most likely be moving forward with purchasing our tickets once I find the perfect deal. Many times a change fee is more cost effective than a new purchase only days before departure. We'll see.

p.s. Did I mention that 6/30 is my grandfather's birthday? Hoping for good stuff.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Court Date!

We're a two-trip family with a court date (7/14)! *Happy Dance*

I'm bursting with excitement and have no idea how I'll sleep tonight. There is movement folks!

Yes, movement for all the other families who now fall under the new law and will travel twice. It's happening and I can't wait to see more court date announcements!

I will post more tomorrow. In the meantime, we'll be falling asleep with big grins and thanking each of you for the amazing support while we waited (and waited) for this next step.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

80 Days

80 days ago we saw a picture of our son for the first time. Absolutely speechless.

We're headed out of town tomorrow. I wanted to write a full post before leaving but my to-do list is ever growing and has yet to be touched.

Wishing everyone a great weekend!
2:30pm EST Sat: USA v England

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Slow Dance

My ladies-from-the-80s are sure to have at least one flashback moment of awkwardly going around and around in mindnumbing circles while your mind fast-forwards to thoughts of friends, your weekend plans, the next shopping trip or maybe just wondering - Will this dreadful dance ever end?

So, I've created a face for this wait for a court date and it's that of a big, boring slow dance. As I do the small talk and the fake smiles during this dance, with various update versions of 'no news is good news', my mind decides it needs a little more action and has moved forward with a self-created proactive approach. This slow dance is a little too monotonous for my liking and overall, quite the bore.

My proactive approach begins with heeding one's own advice. As I wonder what advice I would give to someone else in this pending stage, it would without a doubt be get busy. Get busy with all things that normally end up on the back burner. Take a deep look and try to envision the little crumbs of spare time in your very near future and...

1. clean the closets, fix the chip on the bookcase, sort & donate unused items that are taking up valuable space, paint that wall the color you love (not necessarily the one that blends), get the A/C tuned, filters changed, put those lingering photos in books with proper labels and on & on. You see where I'm going with this.

2. cooking/recipes
I've started hording recipes that appear to give me more time to play with Baby N when I get home from work and less time focusing on dinner. Kai has been the lucky (*sarcasm*) recipient of my finds. And yes, some have been followed by a quick pizza delivery. But I must say, this is the time to be trying out the new stuff.

3. gym/exercise
a) for the obvious health benefits and...
b) I'm totally serious I can carry this guy around!!!! I was told once that I have 'Rolling Stone arms'. I'm not sure what that means, but it does paint a fairly accurate picture. I'm not a huge fan of the gym but I have ventured into a pretty good place right now and am building up the arms and back strength. The first thing traveling families reference when they report back is Baby N's shockingly large frame. I have taken this report seriously and will be ready :)

4. babybook/lifebook
BN's babybook arrived a couple of weeks ago and with each agency update, we've begun filling in the blanks. Loving this task! I've yet to begin a life book, but am having fun in the planning stage and researching others' ideas online.

5. packing lists for two trips
This is the fun part because it's a task directly related to bringing BN home! and yes, it includes Excel spreadsheets. :)

6. letter
I'm writing a private letter to BN that I'll share with him when he's much older.

7. daycare
We've researched daycare centers in our area, which I think I mentioned awhile ago. This is a great thing to do if you live in an area with various options. It's something that needs to be done if you plan on working and it also relates directly to your child, making you feel a strong sense of accomplishment and a little closer to him/her/them.

8. read
There isn't enough time to read everything out there that I feel I should. I see various books suggested through different sites and also from what others are reading and I want to read them all! Will I be a little more prepared with each book I read? Who knows??? I do know it's a very productive way to pass the time.

I can't think of any moment in my life that created a complete an undetermined halt of action. As we await a phone call that brings things back into motion, I think...What an opportunity this is to clean life's house! If I was ever the organized fool before, watch out now. No nook or cranny is off limits while I go round and round in this slow dance.

Feel free to add your own tips. I would love to add more to my list and I'm sure others would too.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Speculative Living

It's the analytical, hypothetical and very-much-assumed stage. Simply put, I've fallen into the abyss of theory.

Because now that I know what Baby N looks like at seven months old, that man who just bumped into me at the Union Square market is most definitely what Baby N will look like when he's in his early 30s. Yes, I see the similarity in the cheeks and the smile.

And the woman on the train who allowed her little boy to stand up in his seat while she was so fully engrossed in her novel? That will NOT be happening on my watch! and the mouth on his little sister!!! Are you kidding me? Baby N will utter nothing by lovely little oos and ahhs....forever. ha!

As I walked to the train this morning, I followed a father walking his son to school. They were engaged in a deep conversation as the little boy made little catch-up steps and wiggled just right to keep his backpack from falling off one shoulder. Awwww....this is where it's all going down. The father & son time will be what he looks forward to at the beginning of each day.

Then come the 'nexts'. This weekend, Kai and I celebrated an awesome seventh anniversary (16 years including dating!) that included a bike rental and a romantical, fun-filled afternoon ride along the promenade on the Hudson river. Much of the ride was spent chatting about next year at this time and the little tot-seat that will be plopped on the back of one of our bikes. We decided whomever has the smoothest ride will be the one in charge of this tot-seat, considering it will be carrying some pretty valuable cargo!

Another 'next' was, of course, when Mother's Day rolled around and how we'll be spending it next year. We're now discussing this Father's Day and next. As big soccer fans, we're welcoming the new Red Bull's stadium and are psyched to have scored tickets to some upcoming Euro teams coming to town. I don't think I was done checking out when we were already speculating on the appropriate age for Baby N to attend his first game. Is next Father's Day too soon? No, I'm sure it will be fine if we bring the right amount of snacks and sun protection - and so went the conversation. It was as if he was already home and in need of a bag for a field trip at school the next day; certainly not a soccer game that may or may not be happening in the summer of 2011.

It seems once the referral comes in and you have an image of little feet, a face and the smile that you know was smiled just for YOU, that you've just been warranted the right to speculate. Who knows what the timeframe will be at this point, but odds are with every holiday and major family event in 2010, that Baby N will be in the mix of it all when it rolls around in 2011.

I say speculate away and the bigger the imagination, the more fun!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Retail Therapy

Mama needs a new pair 'o shoes...and the sparklier, the better!

So, it appears in honor of Baby N's seven month birthday on Wednesday, I subconsciously wriggled a gift out of it for myself. At lunch, I decided to take a long walk and mysteriously found myself standing in front of the most wonderful display of shoes with a little voice in my head bellowing: "Do it. Do it." So I did.

Other mothers-in-waiting will back me up on this...on some weird level you feel closer to your baby when you buy little things for them. Doing this occasionally is wonderful but it's not ideal if you already have a nursery stocked full of items from amazing friends & family. I also find it to be a very temporary solution, sometimes even making the wait worse when I have to put the item away in this ever looming nursery that screams, "Come on folks, let's get going!" (am I losing it if I think our nursery is speaking to us?)

Back to the shoes...they're the injection of lightness & fun needed right now. Things can become heavy in IA - as more birthdays pass, updates loudly pronouncing your child's growth while not with you, saving furiously for two trips, awaiting another call that holds the next clue to your journey and on & on.

Yup, these sparkly shoes are in order and I recommend it for all of you. I can't decide if they're fabulous for their Bowie'ish glam or so beyond tacky, like something one would find in the bottom of a thrift store bin. I do like that they resemble a little party for your feet and that's exactly the look I'm going for right now, so I've decided they are simply perfect.

Next week is a BIG one! There are five Gladney families with court dates on Tues, 6/1 and at least three more on Fri., 6/4. Sending prayers, crossing fingers & sending positive vibes and thoughts to all of you! Come on MOWA!!!

I also believe our lovely Heidi is returning from Ethiopia this week with the twins! YAY!!!!

Happy Memorial Weekend to all!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ma & Pa Gittens

Who doesn't love Little House on the Prairie?

one who is first or among the earliest in any field of inquiry, enterprise, or progress –noun
to take part in the beginnings of - verb

When your head is so deeply buried in something, it's hard to see anything objectively from the outside looking in. So, when a handful of various friends, family and supporters have referred to us as 'pioneers' I would simply look at them with a quizzical look. Well, now I get it.

As one of the first families proceeding under the newly enacted Ethiopian International Adoption laws (effective 5/9/10) we now see that our recent lull was directly related to being one of these so-called pioneer families. So, while I was pulling my hair out as others flew by us on the wait list (including a family who received their referral on the same day as us, who are now in-country picking up their child) our files were being brought up to speed to meet these new requirements.

Since receiving an update yesterday and gaining some insight into our case, I feel our heads are no longer buried and we can look at our situation as others do. You see, our paperwork WAS submitted to court. However, it was denied because the court requested further documentation specific to our case that wasn't a requirement under the previous law. It has now been produced and our file will be submitted to court over the week to request a court date. Now why couldn't I have simply recognized that we ARE among the pioneers and will most likely face a delay here or there due to the new policies in place? Well, because what I'm realizing is that when it's your baby at the other end of this - there will be no reasoning or rationale!

So, now that we're in the loop and know what is expected for the next step, we're exhaling a little bit. It's very possible we'll experience further blips, as the courts are becoming more rigorous under the new laws, but we'll deal with that later if we need to. Right now our focus is receiving a court date and crossing our fingers that it's before rainy season.

And in the true spirit of saving the best for last...

Happy Birthday Baby N!!!!
Sending loads of hugs & kisses on your 7 month birthday and a big squeeze to those humungo cheeks!