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.