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Archive for November, 2008

Delayed reaction.

Pardon me while I state the obvious, but it FINALLY has sunk in.

I have spent the past few years avoiding anything baby related.  I never let my cell phone out of sight knowing that it would be the delivery agent for our news when it came. Everyday was being lived just to pass time till we learned of our child.

Today that changed.

About halfway through a meeting this afternoon, I motioned for my cell phone.  After shuffling in panic for a few moments looking for it, I realized I must have left it on my desk.  In it’s place I grabbed my jotter which also serves as a device to keep Peanut’s pictures crisp and close.  Later in the day, I signed up for weekly updates from B@bycenter.com.  While reading about what my 7 week old should be doing right now it hit me.

We have a beautiful little boy!!  A son.  A child.  We have someone who we can show the world.  Someone else in our family to love and adore.

Even though he is not with us in person yet, Peanut has already become our son.

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I received a few questions in the comments below & some via e-mail.  Join me for some more fun Q & A!

1.  Are you going to bring a video camera?YES!  In fact, M.’s parents gifted us two of the HD Flip Mino’s.  Why two you ask?  M & I both tend to want to “hold the camera” and HATE IT when the other person tells us what to catch an image of.  Since each Flip’s has built in memory that holds 60 minutes of footage and to date I have yet to find a stand alone memory device that is compatible with this device, we wanted more than 1 hour  of video time so we got two.  If you want to learn more about this really cool device, David Pogue just reviewed it today on the NY Times (under the tech videos).  In addition to the Flips, we are going to bring our digital SLR & a hand held point and shoot which has yet to be purchased.  We have not determined if we are going to bring our iMac or not.  (I am for it & M. is against it – stay tuned while we duke that one out.) The care center does not allow cameras of any sort beyond their gate, but rest assured, the CHSFS Ethiopia staff consists of a team of videographers that film the tender moments for us.  Included here is the meeting of Peanut. (Awww…)

2.    Are you going to stay at the guest house?For our time with Peanut in Ethiopia we will be staying at the guest house.  Some pictures of the facilities are on the right sidebar under the CHSFS-Ethiopia site link.  The guest house is located in close proximity to the care center an all of our basic needs will be met there so we can spend our time getting to know our son.  Our Program Specialist asked us immediately after accepting referral about any accommodations we would need at the Guest House and arrangements are being made.  We will not know what room we are in until just before we travel. Those of you who know us, know that M. & I are rather independent people and both of us have traveled internationally before.  This is HUGE for us to accept a communal living style for a week.  We keep telling ourselves that it is for the best interest of Peanut for us to be close and connected.  Also, about halfway through the required week are in country, Peanut will transition into our care full time.  Being at the guest house will give us the resources to transition into parenthood better than one may find at a hotel.  Plus, the cost for staying at the guest house was included in our program fees so it is essentially “free” – who can beat that!

3.  Are you planning on traveling early?Yes, though we are not yet certain what we are going to do.  Our program requires us to travel for one week of time.  Before you can check into the guest house you are on your own.  Right now we think we will do a few day trips from Addis and perhaps head down to one of the lakes in the southern region which is near where Peanut is from.  We have not entirely ruled out traveling to the rock hewn churches of Lalibella in the north, but we are concerned that we will be so wrought with anticipation that we will not enjoy much travel beforehand because all we really want to do is meet our son.  Any trip suggestions from those who have traveled early are very welcome.

4.  What are you doing to learn Amharic?Oh dear Erin, I hate to tell you of this resource because I know you don’t have a similar one “down south.”  Since Mpls boasts a rather large Ethiopian adoptive community andEthiopian immigrant community, we are fortunate that the two have come together to offer language classes.  In addition to Ethiopians for Ethiopians, I have found a few online resources.  I have no benchmark to judge their effectiveness since I have not even attempted to master the alphabet yet.

5.  How big will Peanut be when he comes home? I get this question from experienced mothers???  Hello, I am the new mom with no experience!I have no idea for sure, but I did ask a few other moms whose little ones were about the same size as Peanut at referral & the answers ranged from 10 – 15 pounds.  This puts him into 3 -6 or 6 -9 clothing.  A word of caution from other parents: buy big because they will out grow things faster than you think once home & anything with attached footies can be questionable because of long Ethiopian legs!

6.  After all the waiting you have been through, do you think CHSFS did a good job at keeping you informed or at least within reason?I saved this question for last because I could go on and on and on.  If I am going to be entirely honest, I answer “yes with reservations”.  In hindsight the communication lags make some sense and CHSFS has gotten a lot better since we voiced our concerns directly to the program manager.  They now send out e-blasts with information, are consistent about updating the hot-line with actual information, and once pressed they answered all of our questions to our liking.  The reservations part of my answer pertains to the “once pressed” part above.   We were part of the CHFS-ET program growth explosion.  I think when we went on the wait list, there were around 180 families and the wait was 5 -7 months.  A year later, the newsletter states the 352 families are waiting for referral and estimated wait for referral is 12+ months.  YIKES!  Unless you are able to stop everything and restructure for the massive growth I am not certain the growing pains could be avoided.  The better answer to your question may come when I answer the question “would you use them again?” with a yes.  Even though wait times are way up right now, CHSFS has a solid record of humanitarian efforts in the country and their adoption philosophy aligns with our intent.  I adore my program specialist and my SW (CHSFS was also our home study agency).  When we were past the 6 – 9 month wait estimate and CHSFS was still quoting the wait being 6 – 9 months, my SW advocated for us to get an explanation. Most importantly, it is OBVIOUS from the info we have that Peanut is very well cared for and loved.  I guess the things that matter for us are present with CHSFS and I think they are only going to make improvements as people like M. and I make suggestions and provide our experience input.  We were fortunate to have a conference call with the program manager and that really restored our faith in the agency.  He acknowledged and addressed our concerns and grievances in a compassionate manner and provided us with additional information pertinent to our case and our wait. I guess I should only speak for our experience thus far since the most important part of our journey lies ahead, but I feel pretty confident that we are in good hands.

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Fire away!

M. and I have been overwhelmed with the love and support that is coming from everywhere right now.  We have some amazing people in our lives and we are so fortunate that Peanut will have you all for guidance as he grows into a strong, intelligent, and compassionate man.  I have placed his picture into my antique locket and I wear it daily.  It brings me a sense of relief and inspiration to stare at the little oval cut out of his heart shaped face and big baby feet with those crazy wiggly toes.

Over the course of the past few days we have gotten many, many questions.  I hope to answer or at least address them all for you, so I am giving you the opportunity to ask away.  I will start with a few of the basics below.

1.  When are you able to go and get him? We *hope* we will be able to travel in February.  The estimated wait to travel is between 12 -16 weeks from referral.  This part is currently out of our control.  Heck, has any part of this been in our control??  Before we can go and get him we have to be assigned a court date, clear court (court legally declares him our son), receive a copy of his birth certificate, and be assigned a travel date.

2.  How will you manage the wait to go and get him? One of the joys of not being pregnant is that you can consume alcohol.  What, you think I am kidding??  OK, it may be a toss up between alcohol & peanut m&m’s.  I will also be finishing all the knit items I have now declared part of his wardrobe.  Work. The nursery needs to be set up. Work. I need to master Amharic.  Work. Sleep. Work. Spend money on myself.  Work. Watch every piece of footage that includes President Elect Obama (this still makes me giddy).  Read parenting books. You get the picture, I will try to stay busy.

3.  Are you going to keep his name? Heck yeah, that IS his name.  No questions asked.  I could not change my Cabbage Patch doll’s name back in kindergarden (umm, it was JOYCE  – who names a doll Joyce??), so why would anyone assume I would be able to change the oh-so-fitting name that belongs to my child.  As I said before, his name means “gift.”  His name is also Hadiyan, representative of one of Ethiopia’s many ethnic tribes.  When my Oromo co-workers hear of or see his name a few have identified it as Hadiyan before I inform them so.  Even though I am his mother, I could not take this away from him.

4.  Where is he right now? Currently Peanut is in Addis Ababa at the CHSFS-ET Care Center.  He is being cared for by some wonderful nannies who are providing excellent care and lots of love.  Prior to arriving in Addis Ababa, Peanut was at a care center located in Hossana, the administrative capital of the Hadiyan Zone.

5.  Are you able to send him new clothes? I get this one a lot. For those of you who have not seen his photo, he is wearing a boyish outfit that is obviously a little large for his 6 pound body.  He will grow into those clothes people.  He is little right now.  But yes, we are sending him some boyishly appropriate outfits that are suited for his wee little body.

6.  Where are the pictures & what is his name? No pictures & no name until we clear court.  Period.  This is on the advice of our adoption agency and we are not ones to break the rules – especially when it comes to our kid.

7.  What do you know about his family? Any information regarding his adoption case and background remains out of the realm of discussion on a public blog.  I absolutely understand the curiosity and respect it. People ask not out of judgment but rather out of concern, compassion, and a desire to understand what had to be a very difficult decision.  For his sake I respect and honor that this is his story to learn before others know of it and it remains his to share when and if he is ready.  That being said, don’t be afraid to ask me questions.  I will definitely answer many & most questions, but if there is something I choose to not answer don’t be offended.

So, what else do you want to know?  Ask away below or e-mail me if you are comment shy.  I know I have at least a dozen readers who are interested in ethiopian adoption so your questions are also helping them learn about the process.

Thanks again to all for your love and support.  Peanut already has a huge fan club. We are saving all of your kind words and responses for him to read through later in his life.

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Worth the wait

After 5 years of trying to add to our family, I am overjoyed and honored to annouce our sweet little boy.

His name means “gift,” which is quite fitting since he was born on our wedding anniversary.  Our little one is just shy of 6 weeks of age and at one month weighed in at 6 pounds 7 ounces and measured 19 inches long.

We could not be happier.  We are already in love with him, yes, silly and almost impossible, but true.

I have so many thoughts and observations and even some funny moments to mention, but that will all be commited to word over the next few months while we wait for him to join our family in person.

For now, let me just say once again, I have a son.

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I sent M. a text tonight.  He was teaching so I knew he would not get it until class was over but hopefully before he stopped at the grocery store.  The message read:

pls get canned tomatoes

Simple, right?  Well, he thought it said:

getting canned tomorrow

HUGE difference.

Since our referral paperwork is most likely being worked on right now (!) I believe this was adequate proof that it is better to have two sets of ears on the phone when we get that call.  Better yet, I will continue to get the updates and I will not text them to him

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Yes we did.

Rosa sat so that Martin could walk.
Martin walked so that Barack could run.
Barack ran so that my children might fly.

It is no secret I cast my vote for Barack Obama yesterday.  I was also fortunate enough to vote for a Jewish man, a Muslim woman, and a Muslim man.

I am honored and privileged to be represented by political candidates who demonstrate my politics and represent diversity.

This is a great nation.

One of great opportunity.  My children will indeed fly.

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