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Choosing A Placement Agency

Trying to decide which placement agency to use during your adoption journey? This blog entry will help you in that decision.

Choosing A Placement Agency

International or Domestic Adoption

International vs Domestic Adoption? Why we decided to adopt internationally.

International or Domestic Adoption

Our Trip To Ethiopia

A recap of our trip to Ethiopia. A firsthand account of a trip that would touch so many lives.

Our Trip To Ethiopia

Pathway To Citizenship

Adoption from Ethiopia was only the first step for many families. Re-adopiton and citizenship are a next step. Your pathway to both.

Pathway To Citizenship

MERKATO

:::MERKATO::: A new documentary by Sosena Solomon about the largest and oldest open air market in Ethiopia. Join Coily Embrace as a sponsor of this film.

MERKATO

Packing To Go To Ethiopia

What should you pack to take with you on your trip to Ethiopia? We have a list for you that includes supplies, medicines and other must have items.

Packing To Go To Ethiopia

Choosing Homestudy Agency

Not sure what to consider when choosing a Homestudy Agency? Here are some things to consider when you make your decision.

Choosing Homestudy Agency

Only 3.5 more weeks until court!!



Since court is closed for another few weeks...we're in "wait" mode right now. We've gotten a couple of updates...

When she arrived to Toukoul, she was 4.5 months old, weighed 7.7 pounds, was 61 cm long with a head circumference of 38.5 cm. This was back in June, during a drought. She has big bright eyes, and looked very tiny in her baby seat.

One week later...after being rehydrated and fed well in the orphanage - her weight increased to 8.2 pounds.

August 1st update (5 months old) - she measured in at 10.3 pounds!! grew one cm to a length of 62cm, and her head circumference 40cm. The updated pix showed a baby who appeared noticeably bigger...still with very bright eyes, and a little personality shining thru.

Sept 1st update (6 months old) - she's almost 12 pounds. Her length is unchanged at 62cm; her head circumference is 41cm. Still waiting for updated pix...which I've been told are delayed b/c of the Ethiopian New Year celebration (today).

This child is growing!!!
***

On this end, we're pretty much ready. We have the crib. I figured out how to fit 3 carseats across the backseat (yay!!). We have clothing in various sizes (but thinking I'm gonna have to take the newborn stuff back!!). At 12 pounds, looks like she's solidly in 3-6 months now. By mid November when we go get her...she'll likely be in 6-9 month old clothing (and she'll be almost 9 months old). Isn't that wonderful...??!!

Haley and Ian both are aware and excited. We've watched enough "Adoption Stories" on TLC to recite the script. We've networked, and now have multiple people to visit on our trip to Addis. In addition to the medical stuff I'm planning to do...we have friends...who have friends...that live in Addis Ababa!! How cool is that?

So...that's the update. Not much to do on our end...except be patient!! Oct. 7th is just 3.5 weeks away. Hope we pass court the first time...and are cleared to travel in the typical timeframe of 4-5 weeks thereafter.

But I trust that everything will continue unfolding according to the Divine Plan!!




Another Update



Got an update about Baby Sister. She's gained 2 pounds...her eyes are super bright...and she's super cute!!!
***

UPDATE (9/30/08):

Also, I'm proud to announce that I've successfully put 3 carseats in my backseat! 2 Fisherprices and one Peg Perego. The seatbelt extenders allow the kids to buckle themselves...so all is good. I'm thinking of still going for the clek oto's, however, at some point in the future. Like all the boosters...they seem to tilt too much during acute angle turns. I think a latch *plus* a booster would alleviate this issue. But for now, that project is done.

As for the crib? We got one. Ebay for just over $100 including mattress...brand new. Thanks Grandma and Grandpa for picking that up for us in your "big truck" and driving it up to us!!

So....we're all set. We have clothing, a carseat, and a crib. These items complete our pre-trip baby gear requirements.

The grass is all lush and green, now that the sprinklers are all fixed. The next door neighbor agreed to care for our doggies for the week we're gone. The backyard fence is secure and our doggies better contained. My work schedule has some time blocked off...hopefully it'll coincide with our *actual* travel!! Many of my colleagues know about our upcoming trip and adoption...and I think they'll feel bad if they make it difficult for me to do this 'project.' So I'm hoping that'll extrapolate into encouragement and support if I have to change the schedule...or alter my requested days off.

I've been "de-babyizing" Ian, such that he's not "a baby" anymore. Potty training, walking more and strolling less. Sleeping in his own bed, and taking off his own clothing. I'm also encouraging Haley to be more independent. She's doing her own bathing in the bath or shower. She's getting dressed, undressed, brushing teeth, cleaning up her areas (bedroom, playroom), making her own breakfast (toast, cereal, fruit). I'm really working with them on their interpersonal relations (such as no fighting, sharing, etc.) I can't imagine having them completely dependent, acting like babies, fighting, *with* a new baby coming!!

Plus, I'm completing some tasks that require some research and time...that, if not done now, will likely not be done for months. Such as dental appointments, finding appropriate extracurricular activities for the kids, signing them up....and getting into the routine. Haley has started playing golf with The First Tee, and she started music lessons. Ian, is still 2. He'll have to wait 6 months since almost every (non-mommy and me-type activity) requires the child to be 3 or 3.5 - such as T-ball or soccer.

Donations: we're still hoping for help collecting donations. Once we pass court Haley's school agreed to do a clothing drive of sorts, so that her classmates can play a part in this experience with her. Additionally we have friends who are helping us organize collections for us to take with us. Grandma is going to see if her company, UPS, will send some of the items to Addis Ababa for free (I can only imagine how difficult it'd be trying to hold on to our own luggage, plus two kids, while trying to transport excessive cargo. And with the airlines doing the nickle and dime thing, it'll probably be very expensive to check the boxes as extra "baggage."). But, I will say, after cleaning our home, doing the craigslist thing, and with the help of friends, we do have a few things that I'd be proud to take with us already. Even if we have no additional support in this area, I'm okay taking what we have...
***

What's next? Just passing court. Once that's done, we'll be able to plan some of the details of our trip.




Wha'sup?




I've been spinning 'round and 'round trying to make sure that everything I want to accomplish, is accomplished in preparing for the arrival of our newest family member.


This week's question: How are we gonna get 3 kiddos in carseats into the back seat of our car? 'cause we I refuse to buy a huge car (with these gas prices), and feel strongly that parents shouldn't be forced to. So, I'm trying to find a way to make all three carseats fit (and still allow Haley and Ian to *buckle themselves*). Additionally, I cannot contort my body and perform magic tricks in the middle of a dark parking lot trying to buckle in 3 kids. In California, it's much, much safer for the kids to ride *without* a carseat than it is to spend 5 minutes in a dark parking lot trying to buckle them into one. And I'm all about safety...

Case in point: In August 2007, a 30-year-old woman was carjacked in a mall parking garage while strapping her 2-year-old son into her black SUV. Thereafter, a mother and daughter were killed at the same mall right before Christmas using the same technique.

So, I've narrowed it down to a few different types of carseats. Narrow infant seats seem to be the Babytrend flex-loc and the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio. We got the Peg Perego on sale at Babies R Us...regularly $230, for less than $50. Brand new.

The Sunshine Kids Radian has a reputation for being safe, and one of the narrowest convertible seats out there. But, do you see that price tag? And, I'm think I'm going to bypass the convertible seat and Ian can ride in a booster. When Baby Sister outgrows the Perego, then maybe I'll consider the Radian for her.

I ordered a couple of Fisher Price Safe Voyage Booster seats (made by Britax) from Albeebaby for the low price of $29.99 (reg. $80.00) These boosters are the narrowest out there.

I got a couple of seatbelt extenders (for free) from Lexus, to make it easier to reach the buckle (afterall, they're like completely buried under the seat cushions).

And I'm trying to see if I can't get a couple of Magna Clek Otos (not the Olli because the handles make it too wide). They are Canadian, but I'm hoping that I can still try them out. Drawback - kinda expensive for a low-back booster seat. Advantage - latch system, and size.

Finding a way to make the 3 carseat thing work has been my obsession a concern for a few weeks now.

***

So far Baby Girl has an adequate wardrobe (especially considering we won't know her clothing size until she arrives). We've created space in the bed room for her crib...AND I have the crib all picked out. There's actually one for sale on ebay...brand new for less than $100. I'm thinking I'll just go ahead and get it because they're normally over $200.

Once I get the bed/crib...a dresser for her stuff (because right now Baby girl's things are tucked away in Hubby's bottom drawers)...and this carseat situation worked out...I'll feel 'ready' for her arrival.

As far as the house: The sprinklers are done. The dogs are all taken care of. The fence is done and the yard secure. We've created more space in our living area by moving things around and replacing some pieces of furniture. We've had our neighbors over for coffee, and we spent hours connecting - which is always important, but even moreso when you're planning to be gone from your house for a couple of weeks. And now, our home will be okay in our absence.

***

Travel: I've actually contacted a couple of travel agencies (still deciding on which we'll use...but I think I'm pretty sure). Sister is busily collecting (as am I) medical supplies/medications. I've continued making contacts in Addis Ababa...and will continue to do so.

***

Finally, my good girl friend reminded me to begin the process of "baby sister acceptance" for Ian...who is *very* happy being Mommy's little guy!!



------------------------------------------------------
UPDATE: 12/24/08
We're home - just wanted to post the result of all of the above craziness. We did it!! 3 seats across the backseat!! :o)

Emirates out of LAX!!*



I've been doing a bit more research...and I think I've figured out our travel!!

Emirates Air starts flying non-stop to Dubai from LAX soon (they don't yet, but I think they start October 1st). By November (when we'll travel) there are flights available on this 'luxury' airline for great prices!! All we'd have to do is drive down to LA (which is way easy) and Sister can drive up from San Diego. We can go from 'home' all the way to Dubai. We've heard Dubai is a wonderful and safe city, with a hotel *in* the airport that rents by the hour...so we can rest. Then non-stop to Addis.


(On December 1st, Emirates starts flying their brand new, super big, aircrafts out of San Francisco non-stop to Dubai!! - but we'll hopefully be gone and back by then).


One stop on the total flight! And when we get off the plane after a long (long, long, long...) trip...we're essentially home! We could stay in LA with family for a few days to 'recover' and then they can drive with us back - or maybe *drive us* :o) - home!! This is a drive we do all the time...and it'll be much easier than changing planes in NYC or Washington DC...


I'm thinking that Emirates out of LAX to Addis via Dubai (non-stop) will be our itinerary.


*the picture is first class...and clearly we're not flying first class. I mean, *business class* (i.e. below first class) would cost $60,000 for us!! But isn't it beautiful?





How to get there...the flight, the airline, comfort and safety



So did you hear about the Quantas Aircraft loaded with 346 passengers...having a very dramatic landing as their plane fell apart because it was 17 years-old?

"One hour into the flight there was a big bang, then the plane started going down,"

The 346 passengers were cruising at 29,000 feet Friday when an explosive bang shook the Qantas jumbo jet. The plane descended rapidly. Oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling as debris flew through the cabin from a hole that had suddenly appeared in the floor.
The eerie scene aboard Flight QF 30, captured on a passenger's cell phone video-camera, showed a tense quiet punctuated only by a baby's cries as passengers sat with oxygen masks on their faces. The jerky footage showed a woman holding tightly to the seat in front of her as rapidly approaching land appeared through a window. Loud applause and relieved laughter went up as the plane touched down.

What they found was a stunning sight. A 9-foot-wide hole gaped at the joint where the front of the right wing attaches to the plane. Luggage from the cargo hold strained against the webbing used to keep it from shifting during a flight.

The probe into the 17-year-old aircraft was likely to be lengthy, Verdier said, and the Boeing team expects to interview the crew and examine the structure of the plane, among other things.

Union engineers — who have held several strikes this year to demand pay raises — say that safety is being compromised by low wages and overtime work.

As of December 2007, Qantas was operating 216 aircraft flying to 140 destinations in 37 countries, though in recent months it has announced it will retire some aircraft and cancel some routes — as well as cutting 1,500 jobs worldwide — due to skyrocketing fuel prices.

Consider this by Bloomberg:

Trend One: The service on your airplanes, bad as it may be, is going to get much worse.
Once upon a time these straight ladies and gay men sought to please fliers; now they treat fliers like criminals.

Trend Two: Your time will be treated as ever-less valuable. You think it's an outrage that planes are now flying more slowly to save fuel? Wait until you find yourself en route from New York to Los Angeles, and stop unexpectedly in Denver until the headwind slows.

Trend Three: Your planes will be ever-more likely to have an accident.
After all, these people who run the airlines have every expense under their microscope
***

I'm thinking I'm gonna have to choose another airline from the top 10 list:

Maybe...Emirates. "Consistently cited as one of the world's best airlines, Emirates is the largest Middle Eastern Airline. Based in Dubai, most of its flight attendants are recruited from overseas. Website: http://www.emirates.com/"

They fly from JFK and Houston to Addis via Dubai.

And domestically...you just can't beat Jetblue.

These airlines (Emirates, Southwest, Jetblue) have new planes (because they are young), great safety records...and provide the type of service that United and American Airlines have long since abandoned in favor of cheap. They give you water, food, a movie, and nice flight attendants.

I don't want peanuts and water (how is that even safe, anyway...with all the allergies out there?); nor do I want to pay for bag (just charge all tickets what's needed to cover the cost of the bags), a coke, or be weighed to see how much my ticket should be. I want to at least have the option to watch a movie. I don't want the paint on the wing to be peeling, or the hand-rail to be broken. I don't want the decor to be dated (because that makes me think that the plane is old...and the metal may fatigue and fall off at 30,000 feet)...and I don't want to be without my luggage.

These airlines should just raise their prices to cover these costs...oh,...and the cost of paying the employees (the flight attendants, pilots, the people who fix the plane, who paint the plane, who clean the plane...)


Tsk, tsk, tsk...
...I wish I were rich enough to afford a private jet!!



Our Court Date is...



October 7th.


We've been assigned a court date of October 7th!! (because the Ethiopian court closes from August 6th - September 30th). Usually baby is ready to travel about one month after passing court. So...


Hopefully we'll pass court on the first time - at which time Baby Sister is legally our daughter!!


It takes a few weeks (3-5) for her papers to be gathered (visas, passports, new birth certificates, medical clearance, etc). After that's completed, we'll have a US Embassy appointment.
That means we'll likely travel mid November (maybe home in time for Turkey Day!!)



Facts and Figures - Ethiopia


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%

Literacy 41%
for women 26.4%
High school attendance for females 8.5%

-source



Donations. Travael info. Medical services.


According to the Ethiopian Orphan Relief, Inc.

The following is a list of physical donations currently needed at the Toukoul Orphanage.
Warm Blankets
Clothing (all children's sizes, gently used or new, boys and girls)
Jackets and Sweaters
Shoes
Books for the Library (hard bound and good quality)
School Supplies (pencils, crayons, paper, note books, educational activity books, flash cards, educational games that don't require batteries)
Sports/Play Equipment (soccer balls, playground balls, frisbees, bubbles, games that don't require batteries)
Please DO NOT send the following: medicine (prescription or over the counter), medical supplies, items that require batteries, candy or stuffed animals)


Ethiopian Orphan Relief’s Blog Partner Organization: Toukoul/SOS EE

So, I think I'll do the clothing...jackets/shoes. Maybe we can get some of our places of employment to donate the supplies - paper, pencils, notebooks, etc). I think we can give a ball or two as well.

But...I'm think *clothing* will be our thing...
***

AND, I found this website that has great information about traveling to Addis Ababa via United Nations Association of the USA at Cuppertino High School here in San Francisco. They don't go to Toukoul Orphanages...but the info is great nonetheless.
***

Here are some medical services offered in Addis Ababa to Americans via the US embassy.



Where is Baby Girl now? Information about Toukoul



From: Ethiopian Orphan Relief

The Toukoul Orphanages in Addis Ababa are part of the SOS/EE network of orphanages throughout Ethiopia. Toukoul works with the following American adoption agencies:

Adoption Avenues, AFAA and Dove Adoptions.

Toukoul 1 and Toukoul 2 house and care for children from age 0-14, while proposing them for adoption when fitting. 350 children are admitted per year. Currently there's approximately 200 infants in Toukoul 1 and 2 (which is 4x their comfortable capacity). Toukoul 3 houses and cares for children less than 2 years old who are HIV +. Approximately 25 children are cared for each year.

Other SOS/EE programs include a Vocational Training and Production Center for youth over 14 years old (children live in foster families, attend school and receive job training to help bring them financial independence), Aware Program (sponsors children and families, including job training for mothers and Kindergarten for children), Cereal Production Farm (admits youth after Vocational Training), Horticultural Farm (admits youth after Vocational Training) and the Garage (admits youth after Vocational Training).

SOS/EE also includes 18 satellite orphanages around Ethiopia that each house approximately 50 children who are in the process of being admitted to the main Toukoul orphanages in Addis Ababa. Children usually stay in these satellite orphanages for 3-4 weeks before being transferred to Addis Ababa. HIV + children over the age of 2 currently remain in the satellite orphanages, pending completion of the new, larger Toukoul 3.

***

From Road to Ethiopia

When Ives and Jaqueline Ferez, two french citizens arrived in Ethiopia in 1983, they witnessed the terrible death of parents and children because of drought and famine. After helping in a catholic orphanage before it was destroyed in a fire, the decided to help the children in their own home but they soon were overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problems affecting the country.

In 1990 they founded Toukoul orphanage, first as a small nursery to take care of 50 kids from 0 to 5 years of age, while slowly expanding to provide care to older children as well.

Today the orphanage is well organized in three different buildings: the main one or Toukoul 1 has two wards. Ward A is where the babies and little children are and it also has a kitchen and infirmary. There is another building, or ward B, where the older children up to 14 years old live, separated in three groups according to their age. Children 7 years and older attend school.

The second building or Toukoul 2 is located at about 500 meters from the main building and is a rented facility that is used to receive children from all over the country. Here the first medical check ups are done and also treatments are given if necessary. If the new child is healthy and doesn’t have any contagious disease, then the boy or girl is moved to Toukoul 1.

The third building or Toukoul 3 is located at approximately 2 km and here is where all the babies HIV positive under 2 years old are located, where they get the care they need and if after a while their condition is reverted, as sometimes happens, they are sent to Toukoul 1 to be adopted.

The orphanage takes very good care of the children, giving them not only food and education, but also lots of love and affection, and everything is precisely scheduled to keep things running smoothly. In Toukoul work nurses, baby sitters (24 hour service for the babies), pediatricians and maintenance personnel. The orphanage is funded by several french associations and other beneficiaries.

If you want to see an aerial view of Toukoul Orphanage these are the coordinates you need to copy in Google Earth:
9° 1′9.21"N
38°48′24.34"E

And the videos are in my sidebar.



Waiting and preparing...



No news yet on the court date, but based on the comment St. Clair left (i.e. that she's with Adoption Avenues, accepted her referrals on June 13th, and just got a court date for October 3rd) it seems unlikley that our court date will come before hers. So I'm betting our court date will be sometime mid October...and baby ready to travel mid November.


Baby is almost 5 months now, and 8 pounds. So, in November she'll be 9 months old...and she'll likely weigh about 11-12 pounds if she gains weight now that she's eating regularly. That means her clothes size is 3-6 months (newborn clothes go up to 8 pounds, 3 months about 12 pounds, 6 months up to 15-16 pounds). So I've purchased some adorable infant clothing in sizes ranging from 3 months - 18 months (mostly 3-6 months and 6-9 months).

We've been busily 'fixing' up our home and creating more space. Haley's like "Mommy, we're getting everything new..." Not quite 'everything', but we *are* trying to complete some long-standing projects...both in preparation for Baby Sister, but also in preparation for a 10-12 day trip away from the house. Such as sprinkler installation, and updating the doggies vaccinations and securing the yard so they don't get out (just in case they start to get restless in our absence).

I've started assembling our medical travel pack.

Ian's wonderful daycare family has graciously 'saved' a spot for Baby Sister (so both kids can be together).

We've recruited at least one other recently adoptive family to hand down their baby daughter's stuff to us rather than simply throw it away.

I've started thinking about what to bring as donations to the orphanage. I wonder if we should bring clothing. I wonder if I could simply pack a box of the kids clothes that no longer fit...and donate those? Would they be offended if I brought used shoes? Should I get something for the adults taking care of the kids?

I think I've selected a travel agency.

I've sent the agency the last check (which was due when the referral is accepted).

I've informed my work that I'll need some time off...'but I'm not sure when exactly.' They were way cool...and said they'd help in whatever way they can. I'm realizing that lots of the partners travel to 3rd world countries and volunteer, or otherwise collect medical supplies and send them to various countries in need.

Hubby informed his work too, but as an employee, he gets FMLA, paternity leave, sick days, vacation, etc...so there was no problem there.

And Sister has gotten all her vaccinations and updated passport. She has notified her job of this planned trip...and is super excited to actually be planning a trip to Africa!!

Basically...we just getting ready...


...and waiting for a court date.



da...da...da...daaaaaa - We got a referral!!! :o)




For a beautiful 4.5 month old little girl...with big brown eyes...and soft (looking) curly hair...

It's been somewhat like a project, this adoption process. Gather this, send that, double-check this...fee for that, etc. etc...

...until today.

It's so amazing, the shift in my mind. This "project" went from being a series of 'things to do' and an 'idea', to our actual CHILD. When I look at her (looking at me), needing a home...needing ME...
...I feel as though, TRULY, she is already my child.

Very, very unexpected...but very, very real. I suddenly feel like...my child (and I have children so I know the feeling a mother feels when she looks at a picture of her child) is 'out there' and I feel a connection to her...

...that's such a great thing!!

Next step - getting a court date!!




Vaccinations complete.


So our vaccinations are complete. Hubby got both the last 'accelerated' HepA/HepB and MMR today. (apparently he only needed 3 HepA/B and MMR *can* be given at the same time).




We convinced her....




Sister agreed to come with us!! Yay!!

Now we feel...we have everything we need!!

Thanks Sis!








Vaccine count...and update



Vaccine count:

Haley - in addition to all of her 'normal' childhood vax; got Hep A and typhoid (6/16)


I got - Hep A and typhoid (6/16) PLUS polio booster and MMR titers drawn today (7/1)


Hubby - has gotten Hep A and Hep B (accelerated, so 2 of each so far); Tdap; polio booster; and typhoid (6/16). He went back and got the second HepA and HepB combo shot (6/23). Had MMR titers drawn that indicated he only "borderline immune", so in early/mid August he will get MMR booster (since his 3rd HepA/HepB is due late July, and MMR should not be given within a month or so of HepA/HepB so that immunity will be maximized).


Ian - will get his typhoid and Hep A after we get a referral and subsequent court date (probably right around the time hubby is getting his MMR). Vax should be given at least a month before travel, and this will give us adequate time while still allowing him to avoid too much early exposure of multiple vaccinations.


Update: So I've continued my 'research' regarding vaccinations and the developing brain, immune system, etc. I'm kinda thinking that vaccinations are overrated...and I don't think I'll risk the adverse rxn of the vaccine with the low likelihood that we'll get something our bodies can't handle. So, I'm not getting Ian Hep A or typhoid (Hep A is pretty benign in kids and typhoid vaccine isn't that effective). He's gotten the first part of our crazy American vaccination schedule...
...and for now, that's enough.


So I'm done; Haley's done; Ian's done; and perhaps dad...well, I'll let him decide.
Check out this website and book.





Thoughts about travel prep



The Sheraton Addis Ababa

I just finished reading Christie's blog:

Wow. I'm so happy to hear her honesty. Hearing her story will hopefully help me prepare that much better.

For example...we're pretty sold on staying at the Hilton/Sheraton. With her/their experience with power outages, cold water, boredom, and insects....

...Not to mention our personal feelings of safety (like in case of civil unrest, or whatever). Being at a major hotel is safer for foreigners than out in the 'community.' I can't get Hotel Rwanda out of my mind.

I'm certainly bringing just about every piece of medical equipment, treatment, medication, that I can think of...including my otoscope, stethescope, tongue depressors...gloves.

I'm bringing cortisporin otic (antibiotic ear drops), erythromycin (antibacterial eye ointment); hydrogen peroxide (and maybe even laceration repair material). Cold/flu medication, allergy medication, oral antibiotics (to cover pneumonia and other upper respiratory bacterial infections) for us and all children. Nausea medication, good ol' American (full of fat/preservatives/crap) cookies and crackers. I'm bringing lice/scabies medication for everyone. I wonder if I can bring IV hydration stuff?? Hmmm....

...and really, just preparing to be self-sufficient while there (i.e. hire our own drivers); plan our own itinerary (as we do when we plan trips to anywhere). The Amex concierge has been very helpful so far...so we'll certainly utilize this service for this trip.

I'm actually hoping to *convince* someone to go with us...like my sister-in-law :o) - just in case you're reading this!! That way we can leave Haley and Ian at the hotel when we go out to do some of the business stuff. Then me and her can leave Dad and Ian at the hotel while we go out and see a bit more of the City (cuz dad and son are the type who'd rather stay pool-side eating cotton candy watching Direct TV/football on the laptop). We'll have an extra pair of (nurse) hands with us. And any doctor will tell you how very valuable it is to have a good nurse at your side. ;o) - have I convinced you yet Sister?





Still waiting...



...sometimes I think to myself that perhaps there's a little girl there waiting at the orphanage - just waiting to become eligible for adoption...and when she does, we'll get her referred to us. :o)

Other times, I feel that perhaps we've been forgotten. That little girls have come and gone, and our file is...being overlooked. :o(

***

Hubby received his second round of vax (polio cannot be given with MMR - apparently).



The Vax



So...we went today to get our first round of vaccinations!


I got the typhoid and the first Hep A (the typhoid shot is good for 2 years); they think Hep A is good for 6 months, then a booster at 6 months offers lifetime immunity.

Hubby got: Tdap (tetanus, diptheria, and acellular pertussis); Hep A, Hep B (combo shot); typoid; and polio booster; then had MMR titers drawn (Tdap is every 10 years; Hep B is very similar to Hep A in that immunity is adequate after the first shot, but wanes with time so boosters are necessary for a certian portion of the population. In order to "cover" everyone it is recommended that Hep B is done as a series. Most adults only require one polio booster in their lifetime...so it's good for quite awhile).

Haley got typhoid and Hep A.

Since Ian is younger, we decided to hold out a bit longer...
...just in case the newest medical research to be published in tomorrow's medical journal does indeed find an association between vaccines and autism. We want our little guy to be as old as possible...just in case.

So next week, hubby has to get Hep A/B combo number 2, and I'll have to check whether or not me and Haley (and Ian) will need 2 Hep A shots. I think I may get the polio booster if I can't find records of my titer.

Let me tell you...my right shoulder muscle (deltoid) where Hep A shot was given, is very, very sore right now. And Haley (being a bit dramatic) is *really* nursing her little thigh.

And hubby's Tdap site is the most sore....
***

We purchased a few more items for "baby sister" this week. A few onesies, a dress, and some PJs.




No new news...still waiting.


No news yet...
..but congratulations to Alicia on her first referral!! Her timeline, and our timeline are very close. Hopefully our referral will arrive soon.

So far we've purchased a few blankets. We've been saving our money, exploring travel options, and (at this stage) mentally planning for a new baby.

I wonder how old she'll be. I wonder how big she'll be.

Haley is super excited. This weekend past we had the opportunity to meet another great family who recently adopted a little girl from Ethiopia, using our agency. We asked lots of questions, saw photographs and videos, and Haley had the chance to 'play big sister' to a baby girl. I think we've made some new friends....

So we wait. We're not quite ready...
...but we could get ready real quick if need be.

We would love to go to Addis this summer...




Waiting for Referral - dossier translated, legalized and registered



Our dossier has made it thru the Ethiopian process, where it was translated, legalized, and registered.


We are now officially waiting for a referral!!


Expected wait time is about 3-4 months. Hopefully it'll be sooner...especially since 'baby girl' is out there in the midst of a drought. Haley's like "mommy, we have to go get her *today*" Maybe we'll have a referral (that we can/will accept) within the next *couple* of months.


Per US Dept of State Intercountry Adoption website
11 steps total - we are awaiting Step 5 (the referral)

Step One - Prospective adoptive parents must take or send all of the required documents already certified and authenticated, to the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C. for additional authentication. Once the Embassy has completed its authentication, the completed packet is returned to the adoptive parents/agency. Then it's should be mailed to:

Ministry Of Women’s Affairs (MOWA)
Children and Youth Affairs Office, Adoption Team (CYAO)
P.O. Box 1293
Addis Ababa
Ethiopia

MOWA reviews the documents for completeness and creates a dossier on the adoptive parents.
The documents have to be translated.

Step Two - The parents’ dossier is taken to the Claims and Authentication Section of the Protocol Office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia to be authenticated (legalized).

Step Three - The parents’ dossier is returned to CYAO. CYAO will then affix a summary sheet, on which will be noted items such as court decisions, background data on the adopted child or children, and the names of Adoption Committee members who will complete the form at a later date.

Step Four - CYAO submits the parents’ dossier to the Adoption Committee for review and approval to adopt. Only if all the members of the committee agree, and sign the recommendation, is the request approved.

Step Five - Once the Committee has approved the parents’ dossier, a child is selected and referred to the prospective parents to adopt, according to the parents’ preferences for age and sex. The child selected must have its own dossier at MOWA. That dossier describes the child, the child's history, how the child came to be an orphan, and who has legal guardianship of the child. Once a referral is made, the prospective adoptive parent may accept or refuse the referral.





Drought and Starvation





Ethiopian Millions 'Hunger Risk' (via BBC News) in today's news 5/20/08

Six million children in Ethiopia are at risk of acute malnutrition following the failure of rains, the UN children's agency, Unicef, has warned.

More than 60,000 children in two Ethiopian regions require immediate specialist feeding just to survive, Unicef says.

The situation is expected to worsen in the next few months as crops fail.

Aid agencies in Ethiopia say they are short of funds as donors concentrate on the emergencies in China and Burma....


Ethiopia: At Least 3 Million Ethiopians Now Need Food Aid - UN Relief Wing

Some 3.2 million people are now in urgent need of food aid in Ethiopia because of the continued drought in the African country, up from 2.2 million just one month ago, according to the United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)...

...The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) warns that as many as 6 million children under the age of five are at risk of acute malnutrition....



***
Likely multiple factors at play here: global climate changes/drought; high price of fuel/oil because of...well, we'll refrain from political discussion in this blog; and unequal distribution of wealth worldwide (but, again, we'll leave politics out of this).

Anyway, if everyone helped someone...the world would be a bit better, don'cha think? We hope to change the world for (at least) one child.





A Case Number



Yesterday we received a letter from the United States Department of State National Visa Center in New Hampshire. It explained that the letter was to serve as notification that our petition (I171H) has been forwarded to US Embassy in Addis Ababa...and was given a case number (provided). So, when we get to Addis everything should be ready for our interview (and subsequent issuing of the appropriate visas).





Haley's Passport has arrived!!




Super quick turn-around time...again!!

One week and one day.




Our dossier is on it's way to Ethiopia



So, the DC authentication process is complete...

...and it's on it's way to Ethiopia. Yay.

Once there, it has to go thru translation, legalization, and registration. This takes about 3 weeks. After this...we'll be eligible for a referral.



Passport renewal application for our big girl is in....




So, I was doing some reading (actually I was just skimming the literature that accompanied Ian's passport...you know, those little pieces of paper that fall out of the envelope that we typically promptly throw away?) Well, on my way to the trash can...I decided I should at least *look* at the stuff...


...and it said that some (?many) countries will require a passport that's valid for at least 6 months post trip.



Really?



I didn't think you could even renew your passport until within about 6 months of it's expiration. But...apparently...according to this piece of paper...I was mistaken.



So I pulled out everyone's passport to check out the expiration. Well, kids have to renew every 5 years...so Haley's was due to expire in April . That may be cutting it kinda close. And if it turns out we travel later than we thought...we'll be scrambling to renew the passport expeditiously. Rather than do that...



....we applied for a passport renewal for Haley today. It was the same price as Ian's...required a copy of the birth certificate and the old passport; new pictures, and an application. We all had to go together. And the expected time is 4-6 weeks.


note: had we known the above info, i would have just renewed Haley's passport when we applied for Ian's.