Category: Ethiopian Adoption Story
Created on Thursday, 04 March 2010 09:54
12/8/2009 - Hana is doing very well. She is about 26 pounds, 32 inches, wearing 2T clothing. She has a full set of teeth. She follows instructions well, and therefore understands English very well. She enjoys many of the common foods we eat, such as Cream of Wheat, granola-type bars, chicken, potatos...but her favorite so far is corn.
We've moved to Texas, and she had her first appointment with her new pediatrician in October. Pediatrician was impressed with her health and development considering the circumstances. Overall she's very healthy. She gets URIs/colds, not too frequently (maybe she's had 3), but when she does her nose will run and she'll cough for a month!
I'd like to see her weight a tiny bit more, so we continued the Boost/Ensure up until late November. We decided to stop the supplementation because she'd feel so satisfied, she'd frequently refuse to eat at mealtimes. Since the point is to *add to* the meals (and not replace them), we cut back on the Boost. She started eating more at mealtimes...so we cut back more. It's important for her to develop good eating habits, and now that she's old enough to participate in the family mealtime, I think it's best that we allow her to develop an appetite. Now, she gets no supplementation...and she seems to have lost no weight.
Hana started preschool this fall. She's doing SO well. Her speech (as I pointed out earlier) seemed to be lagging behind. And although the ECI folks didn't think it was significant enough to warrent therapy, I'd like to see her use more words, and string two or three together in simple statements by now. So I was going to have her reevaluated in January...but now that's she's in preschool, she's doing much better. So, we'll see what her speech is like in January and decide then if she needs a reevaluation (or just private therapy via health insurance, etc).
She's done lots of fun things this year. Disneyland, travel, museums, circus, parks, water parks, birthday parties. She got Christianed, started school. She seems to still be bonding well with us. Her and Ian attend the same preschool, so they are 'friends' now (after a somewhat rocky start). Haley and Hana get along great. BUT Hana is now starting to "express herself" with screams/yells, gestures...and a few words. So when she not happy, she now can show/tell you all about it.
We're still working on counting, the ABC song, colors/shapes, body parts, and basic words. She doesn't like to 'perform' so when asked to do something...she gets all pouty-faced and would refuse to do it (that is if she thought that would get her out of performing...but it doesn't...so she does).
Emotionally she seems to be doing well. Initially, and up until as recently as last month, she seemed very uncomfortable in Mommy and Daddy's bed, not too comfortable being held cradled like a baby. She'd prefer to go to bed alone...in the dark...with the door closed. We started leaving a video in the DVD player playing on a TV in her room at bedtime - and she'd fall asleep to that. Then, we started making a big deal of the bottle at bedtime (i.e. making her ask for it, occasionally NOT giving it to her). That takes away a bit of 'distraction' and comfort...which forced her to seek comfort elsewhere.
That's where the TV and the family came into play. We'd leave the door open with the TV on...and instead of going inside of her own mind, in the dark...or sucking on a bottle as comfort...she started singing with Elmo...or standing up in the crib looking out the door. Trying to connect. Doing things, and interacting in the world outside of her own mind.
Eventually she got to the point where she didn't want to go to bed when she was not sleepy. (vs. before, she'd go to bed *anytime* and sleep 16+ hours/day if undisturbed!!). She asks for the TV. She protests the door being closed, and the room being dark. This makes us happy because...this is normal.
So, after a year of being home...and gradual titration down of the bottle/supplementation, medications...and increasing interaction (bringing her into our bedroom, and rubbing/holding/talking to her until she literally just passes out from exhaustion) has yielded a little girl that seems more at ease with affection, being in the midst of family/people, and a preference for being awake and interactive than alone in the dark. She's not quite so "awkward" in these intimate situations with family...and this is good.
I think everyone sees Hana as a true part of this family. Even Hana. However, there are times Hubby and I wonder if she's still 'unsure' or 'uncomfortable' here because of a facial expression she'll make, or a certain "awkwardness" she may display. A 'discomfort'...kinda like someone who realized they wore jeans to a black-tie affair. Nervous smile, wringing hands, darting eyes. And with discipline, being told "no," or the taking away of something she shouldn't have and trying to replace it with another object...causes her to really get upset. Immediate and loud yelling, big instant tears, and big pouty mouth with the whole poked out lip and all. This response can be illicited even with a very low whisper and a disapproving tone. Evenso, she's still very agreeable, correctable, and doesn't hold a grudge.
I realize that our emotional development may be just a bit behind (as a family) because she was so sick when she arrived. Keeping her at arms length, emotionally. The "distraction" of TB and the anti-TB meds. The focus on what she's NOT doing or able to yet do. The focus on her weight (currently she is weighs in at 24 pounds and is 32 inches)...and the attention/energy spent on just making sure she's healthy, and has the things she'll need just to survive...muchless actually thrive. Us learning about her (then learning how to subsequently deal with her)...and her us. Our expectations, our boundaries, etc. Understandably all of this "business" gets in the way of "pleausre" of bonding and fully emotionally investing/integrating in/with her, and her with us. But this is slowly (actually more slowly than I thought with a small infant...since she's actually been with us here longer than any other place in her life) resolving. But, like I said, I attribute the delay to her illnesses, and the distraction an illness serves to development in other ways.
We've received her new social security card. Passport application, and Certificate of Citizenship applications have been submitted. Her post-placement 1 year SW report is upcoming next week. And with these things...her 'legal' transition is totally complete.
Health issues resolved - check
Legal issues resolved - check
Developing issues resolved - almost
Emotional issues resolved for the baby - possibly/almost
Emotional issues resolved for the family - almost
The Passport has been obtained. Social security card obtained. And today (3/4/10) the Certificate of Citizenship has been obtained.
Hana seems to be doing MUCH better with adjustment, in that she is asking for more kisses...and talking more. Not quite as 'uncomfortable' speaking up for herself, sleeping in the big bed, etc.
ECI came for a f/u visit, and determined that they should keep an eye on her because she didn't have more than 20 words (and by 2, she should have 50+). But, as of last week or so, she actually has begun putting short phrases together...which actually "catches her up" to where she's supposed to be. She knows her shapes, body parts, and follows commands well. So...I bet in a month or two, ECI will decide she's doing well afterall. Actually, they wanted to 'give her more time' (this time), but *I* persisted and 'advocated' that they don't wait another few months, but rather just start working with her now....
Anyhoo...everything is complete now. All paperwork. So...I will not be updating this page much anymore as I will integrate her story into our collective story (so check out the family site). Additionally, I will use our collective story now to compile the kids individual books.
Hope you enjoyed Hana's adoption story!! But now...it's a *family story*.
Ethiopian Facts and Figures
Life expectancy: 42 years old
Population subsisting below $2/day - close to 80%
Average births per woman: 6.14
Deaths from pregnancy/abortion related: 1 in 7
Women dying from TB is 96 per 100,000
Children dying from AIDS: 1 in 16
Percentage of AIDS cases in the world: 7%
Female genital mutilation: >80%
Women experiencing rape: 25%
Newborns dying before age one - 1 in 10
Children dying before age 5 - 1 in 6
Orphans - 4 million
Children under 5 stunted from malnutrition - >50%
for women 26.4%
High school attendance for females 8.5%
1/3/08 - Homestudy Agency (Partners for Adoption) application sent.
1/10/08 - Officially establish relationship with HS agency
1/13/08 - First Contact with our Social Worker
1/17/08 - Application to Placement Agency (Adoption Avenues)
1/17/08 - I600A form mailed to USCIS
1/17/08 - Livescan fingerprinting for HS agency
1/23/08 - Livescan again for Department of Justice for State police clearance letter for our Dossier
1/23/08 - First homestudy visit
2/1/08 - Second homestudy visit
2/21/08 - Homestudy complete
2/29/08 - Police Clearance Letter arrived from DOJ
3/3/08 - Homestudy mailed to USCIS
3/4/08 - Received our USCIS FBI fingerprinting appointment
3/11/08 - Dossier is Complete
3/11/08 - FBI fingerprinting done for USCIS
4/2/08 - I600A approved
4/9/08 - Actual I171H (approval form) in our hands
4/14/08 - Authentication of documents completed
4/14/08 - The dossier has been sent to placement agency
4/16/08 - The dossier received by the placement agency
4/21/08 - The dossier has been sent to Washington DC.
4/28/08 - I171H being sent to Addis
5/6/08 - The dossier sent to Ethiopia
5/7/08 - I171H at the embassy; case number assigned.
5/22/08 - Registration of dossier in Ethiopia complete - Officially waiting for a referral!
7/7/08 - Referral
7/23/08 - Assigned a court date of Oct 7, 2008
8/6/08 - 9/30/08 - Court Closure
10/7/08 - Court Date #1 (postponed)
11/6/08 - Court Date #2 (successful)
12/12/08 - Travel date
12/15/08 - US Embassy Appt. in Addis Ababa
12/17/08 - Visa issued for baby by US Embassy
12/20/08 - Home from Ethiopia with Hana
03/2009 - 3 month post-placement report complete
07/2009 - 6 month post-placement report complete
07/20/09 - Readoption Complete!
12/2/2009 - Certificate of Citizenship application mailed
12/2/2009 - Social Security Number/Card applied for
12/7/2009 - Social Security Card Arrives.
12/7/2009 - Passport Application sent.
12/15/2009 - 1 year post-placement visit complete.
01/15/10 - Passport Arrived; Post-placement report complete.
3/4/2010 - Certificate of Citizenship obtained. Citizenship ceremony complete.
Final Documents needed in Addis Ababa
Information for Travel and Health
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LeToukoul Orphanage - the orphanage our placement agency uses
The Process Overview
-First you decide to adopt.
-International vs. domestic
-Decide on the country.
-Find homestudy (HS) agency - needs to be licensed in your state to conduct homestudies in your area.
-Find Placement Agency - there are no California placement agencies for Ethiopia. Actually, there are only a handful licensed in Ethiopia to conduct adoptions in America. So, you have to find one of those...and establish a relationship with them.
-Fill out out the I600A application for advance processing of orphan petition. Accompanying this application you'll need: birth/marriage certificates, proof of employment, proof of health insurance coverage for an adopted child, and of course a fee.
-Complete the homestudy - consisting of interviews, lots of papers, letters from friends, fingerprinting with child abuse index check, and an actual inspection of your home.
-Send completed homestudy to USCIS to complete the I600A application - and wait for FBI fingerprinting appointment.
-If the USCIS approves you, you get the I171H form (after the fingerprinting and review of the documents)
In the meantime...
-Completion of the dossier - papers that are required to go to the Ethiopian Government for referral of an orphan. (including the I171H form).
-Notarize the papers you've collected for the dossier. These papers include a positive homestudy report and a state police clearance letter.
-Then take/send the notarized papers to Sacramento for Authentication (where they verify the authenticity of the notary stamp and signatures, and in doing so places the Great State Seal on the documents).
-Then send Dossier with a notarized copy of the I171H (the I600A approval) to the Placement agency.
-Be sure the I171H form goes to the US Embassy in Addis so you can get a case number.
-The Placement agency overnight sends the papers to Washington DC for Federal Authentication - this is where our federal government authenticates the Great State Seal....by placing the Great Seal of the United States on the documents. This is hand carried by an Agency representative in Washington DC.
-Then, the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington DC, recognizing the US Seal, accepts the documents. They are sent back to the Placement Agency, who then sends them to Ethiopia.
-Once Ethiopia has our documents they will be legalized, registered, translated - then we will then be eligible to get a referral.
-A referral - where they send you pictures and information about a child that you've been matched with based on the criteria you specified in your homestudy.
*Get travel ready during this time:
Decide whether or not you want to travel
Get Passports if necessary (the passport must be valid for at least 6 months post planned return date). Also get your children passports - both parents must be present.
Vaccinations and consultation with travel clinic.
Of course gather needed supplies and people.
Plan travel details: Hotel, flight, etc.
-Get a Ethiopian Court date where your placement agency has a lawyer with power of attorney go and represent your family.
-Get an US Embassy (in Addis Ababa) appointment date.
-Travel to go get child.
For the Placement Agency - Dossier
*all most of the documents need to be notarized: see here
Contracts and fees
Introduction letter to Ethiopina Government
Family registration form
Letter to the orphanage Toukoul
Letter to the Ethiopian Government
Financial information form
Letter from Bank
Letters of reference x2
Letters from Employer
Birth certificates for parents
Deed to home
Power of attorney
Passport photos (2 of each parent)
Ethiopian Program List
Homestudy agency license
Obligation of homestudy agency to do post-placement reports
State Criminal Clearance Letter
USCIS approval I171H form
Things to gather for Homestudy Agency
Contracts and fees signed
Establish Fedex account
Autobiographies - before first homestudy visit
Authorization to release information form
Authorization for release of information form
Medical reports for each parent
Medical reports for each member of household, including kids
Reference letters (4)
Copy of financial statement to be used in dossier
Federal income tax 1040 form last 3 years
Personal information sheet
Family photo and family of parents
Copy of birth certificates
Copy of passports
Copy of marriage certificate
HIPPA Authorization forms (ability to transfer medical info)
School performance report for each kid
Completion of education courses - book, test, online courses
Deed to our home
Criminal record statement
Explanation of incident
Certifed Court documents of the incident
Information needed to send with I600A form to USCIS
Obtaining the State Police Clearance Letter In California
Refer to this website - Office of the Attorney General DOJ. Take note of the far right hand column about half-way down - the information about "Visa/Immigration and Foreign Adoptions".
Download this form, as instructed.
Fill it out using this guideline.
Find a Livescan facility to get your fingerprints done (this is a separate livescan from the one you do for your homestudy agency; and they cannot 'save' fingerprints on the computer, so you have to do it twice, and pay twice).
They will mail you a printout to your home - no criminal record may take 1 day. Yes criminal record? Took 35 days for us.
Once the printout arrived, looking very unofficial, I called DOJ. Of course I got the run around as most of the automated pre-recorded messages are not very helpful - so I left a message. But there is one person who was tremendously helpful: (916) 227-3807, her name is Lena. She said she'd mail us a letter, on letterhead with a seal.
Two days later, a letter arrived - on letterhead with a Seal impression and signature. Attached to the letter is a printout (the same printout they initially mailed to us san the letter).
So, after getting the print-out, we had to call Lena and have her subsequently mail us the 'letter.'
See this post for more details.
Dossier - a legal set of documents
Apostille - legalization of a document for international use under the terms of the 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents
Authentication - authentication of public official signatures on documents to be used outside the United States of America. The country of destination determines whether the authentication is an Apostille or Certification (basically legalization of a document for international use in a country *not* apart of the Hague Convention).
I600A - Application for advance processing of orphan petition
I171H - Approval of the I600A
Placement agency - Agency licensed to operate adoption procedures in a foreign country
Homestudy agency - Agency licensed in your state to do homestudies for your area.