Thursday, August 30, 2007

Really honey...I have no idea how it got in the cart!

Shopping for a girl is going to be soo fun! (okay not going to already!) I was at Target, just getting the basics like dish soap and clorox cleaning wipes. I had to take a spin through the baby a baby boutique owner I always cruise the aisles and see what we might both carry. So today, I just happened to be thinking a tiny itty bitty bit about my baby girl and low and behold, the perfect crib set jumped into my cart! It was on clearance and in the colors I was planning for in the nursery...I hemmed and hawed...put it down. But darn it all if I just couldn't get out of the store without it! Even the boys chimed in with "mom, it's perfect...just buy's the only one's on sale" (boy I have raised them well...their wives will thank me someday!) So now SHE has a crib set...I am giddy with excitement. Isn't it just the sweetest???!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Light at the end of the tunnel!

At the beginning of this whole process, I was most concerned about the dossier paperwork. I am not sure why this hung over me so much, but I was stressed from the get go...anxious to get the info and get it done. It has been a piece of cake! We are just about finished, just need to get our passport pictures taken and meet with our notary. It looks like we will be officially waiting sometime next week. I cannot even tell you how excited that makes me! Once we are official, we are really on our way. Whoo Hoo!

We are in the last dog days of summer. It is definitely time for these kids of mine to head back to the hallowed halls of education! They have had a fantastic summer. Our first full summer in the new house was so wonderful. They have built whole cities in the sandbox, collected more frogs than I can count, road their bikes from dusk to dawn, played kick ball, football, baseball, dodgeball and capture the flag for hours on end, swam in the pool til they grew gills, had bon fires, camp-outs, backyard movie nights and sleepovers. It was truly a summer that dreams are made of! I can't wait for them to share all the wonder and excitement of summer with their baby sister next year!

In the mean time, we get ready for school. New pencils and jeans, shoes and notebooks. They are ready to see their friends, spend a little less time with each other :) , and grow their brains a bit more. Ben is ready for mommy only time...and all his friends at " pretty school." Today, as the air holds that hint of fall and we shop for 6 pairs of school shoes (!) I am filled with the blessing that is my life. Three great kids, a storybook home, a wonderful spouse, incredible parents (both by birth and marriage)a blissfully quiet and sweet toy boutique, and a daughter...coming to my arms soon!! God is good!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

He liked us, He really liked us!

We got the copy of our homestudy today from our SW. It was a glowing report and he finds us "exceptionally qualified" to parent an adopted child! Phew! It made it all very real, to read the report that will go to Ethiopia. I am going to have a daughter! WOW!

I got to refresh my baby skills last night. A dear friend has a 2 month old daughter who I got to practice on last night. I held her and fed her a bottle, and teared up just a little thinking of holding my own daughter in the next months. How wonderfully exciting! I can't wait for diapers, and bottles, and little tiny clothes again. And all in PINK!

Oh happy day!

Friday, August 24, 2007


So today was the day we headed to the cities to get our biometrics done. (Sounds like a strange kind of plastic surgery to me!) Biometrics are really just our fingerprints. We have already been fingerprinted locally, but in the wonderful world of adoption red tape, one must be fingerprinted by the local PD and the Department of Citizenship and Immigration. So this morning, we trekked across the cities to St. Paul and a lowly little strip mall. We over estimated the amt of traffic we would face and arrived with time to spare. After a donut and coffee at the near by Cub Foods, we headed over to the strip mall. Gathered in front of this non-descript storefront, was a small parade of nations. There was a beautiful Sudanese woman, looking a little timid and unsure. Two women from Poland, briskly talking in their native tongue, scurried back and forth from their car. A family from Russia, with 7 children in tow, all scrubbed clean and wearing their Sunday best, eagerly waited first in line. There was a sweet tiny woman from Vietnam, who delighted me with her smile and there were two other families with "adopters" written all over their faces. The crowd was friendly and pleasant for 8 in the morning. Everyone stood around, glancing at watches, checking and re-checking the paperwork in their hands. At 8am and not a moment before, the blinds flew open, the door was unlocked and our sunny morning and friendly warmth was replaced with a sense of urgency and slight confusion. We were toward the middle of the line. As families approached the front desk, they were briskly handed a clipboard, admonished for not reading their letter if they still had a cell phone, and sent to sit and wait on a hard plastic chair. Welcome to America I thought. Picture a poorly decorated DMV office, with cheaply framed pics of the President and his cronies smiling down from the wall, and nervous tension hanging in the air. We got our clipboards and took a seat. We had to fill out the basics: name, address, phone number, etc. etc. I was actually nervous! There was such a sense of "don't screw this up!" and I speak and read English fluently! My heart ached for those with such high hopes sitting next to me in these chairs, agonizing over each blank. I wanted to shout...America is really better than is the land of opportunity and a wonderful country...this is just our ugly underbelly.

We proceeded to the next step and turned over our clipboard. Being the chipper and polite people we are, we had struck up a conversation with the people next to us, which earned a slight frown from the woman processing our papers. Next we moved to another set of plastic chairs and waited for our number to be called. There was this underlying sense that I had done something wrong, not that I was completing the steps in the process to do something so right! We were quickly called to step up to the fingerprint machine. By 8:10, the woman taking the prints was already complaining it was going to be a long day, and although I thought I had broken through her tough shell and politely conversed with her, she wasn't about to crack a smile. It made me wonder if she realized how important her job was...helping to pave the way for people to achieve their dreams of adoption, citizenship, a green card...I'm sure rolling people's fingers across a scanner all day lacks a certain fun factor :) but what a great opportunity to meet so many diverse people with such a wide variety of stories and smiles.

When we were done, we were handed an evaluation card to fill out. Was the process quick...yes. Was the staff courteous...kind of. Was the facility clean..yes. Any suggestions? A smile goes a long way to ease a nervous heart.

So we are now done with another step of the process. That much closer to bring baby home. I celebrate each step of the process with a small purchase for the baby so on the way home, we picked up a baby name book... pretty fun to be searching those girl names! Anyone want to weigh in on the name Elia??? That is my current #1!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Playing the Numbers Game

There is a lot of speculation in the Ethiopia Adoption community right now. In Ethiopia, the courts close during the rainy season. Our agency ceases giving referrals during this time. It is just about time for referrals to start back up again and everyone is playing the numbers game! It is a fun and nerve racking game all at the same time! The latest numbers floating around are that there are 100 families on the waiting list at our agency. They expect to start giving out 25-30 referrals a month sometime in the next few days or weeks. We are just about done with the dossier prep (thanks to my most fabulous paper-chasing hubby) and hope to be on that list in a matter of 1-2 weeks. So doing the math (yes, not my best subject) we could have a referral by Dec-Jan and travel in March! Holy Moly! Now here is the down side to this game...things in international adoption can change on a dime. We chose Ethiopia partly because it is a very stable program...none the less...what is true at this moment, may not hold true in a month or two. But oh how exciting to stew the possibilities. From the start, my gut has said she will come home to us in March (good things always happen to us in March!) So I am putting my hat in the numbers game and for today...saying referral by Jan, sweet baby girl in my arms by March!

Feel free to toss your own hat in the ring! I love a little speculation!

Monday, August 20, 2007

I Got Mail!

"Welcome to the Ethiopia Program" Those wonderful words greeted me at noon today when I checked my e-mail. Finally, the dossier checklist is here! It doesn't even look too bad to accomplish. Eric and I have already divided it up and hope to have it conquered before he heads back to school next week. I can't wait to be officially waiting. We head to the cities on Fri morning for our FBI fingerprint appointments. Such a wild and strange process.

I'll keep you posted on our continued progress! Yeah!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Great Unknown

It 's a cold and rainy day in MN. It makes me long for fall and the wonderful flow of routine, predictability, and weeks that fly by. Not that I want these days to pass too quickly. There is something so magical about watching your children grow. Josh can eat us out of house and home, Zach still needs mommy time, and Ben is that little sponge that soaks in everything (especially all the things you don't want him to soak up!) But I do love the routine of fall. For someone who thrives on change, the start of school always feels ripe with new beginnings and possibilities. I wonder where my daughter is right now. Is she born? Is she growing? How soon will I know her? At the moment I am remarkably relaxed about timing. It could be that my mind is all over the place on many other topics...or it is just that peace I feel about this whole thing. She will come when the time is right for all us.

The financial piece of this journey is causing a little gut check right now. We had a grand plan for how we were going to finance this. The demands that are life got in the way a brakes, a few crucial house projects, a slow summer at the now it is time to get a little more creative, pull some money from a stone! But again, I really have a peace about it. It will work. God wouldn't place this in our hearts and open all these doors for it not to work. Faith, hope and love, these things abide!

On other notes, the store may be in for some big changes. There is an opportunity knocking and as always, I just can't let a knock be unanswered. My heart prays for guidance, and sensibility! It would all make the wait for a daughter fly by because my mind would be incredibly occupied! Life is never dull.

I am off... to listen to the rain, enjoy jeans and a warm blanket in August, pull money from a stone, and dream a bigger dream. Ahhh life is good.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Watched e-mail never produces!

It is rather pathetic when your tummy does a little flip every time you hear the "you've got mail" chime on the computer! And I''m not even waiting for a referral yet! Unfortunately, most of the little chimes have only signaled an ad for viagra!

On Friday, our social worked told us that he would send our info to the Ethiopia desk and they would then e-mail us the dossier paperwork. This is the last step until we can be officially waiting for this sweet girl of ours. I am anxious to get this list in hand so Eric can do much of the running and gathering of signatures before school starts and we go headlong into the craziness of fall. I also really want to have my name on "The List" will feel like that moment when the line on the pregnancy test turns turning back...all systems on the way!

But alas, I must wait, and check my email at least every 5 minutes!! oops...just heard another go check it out!

Friday, August 10, 2007


We crossed the next hurdle! We were approved by our social worker. It was an easy meeting and we had the chance to talk about the Ethiopia program and the orphanage at length. I was so excited and so ready to hop on a plane today!

Being the ever hopeful planner, I asked if he thought we might have her by spring of next year. He said there are a lot of people ahead of us and that the wait will be long, but we will probably have her by late spring or early summer. I was really hoping for her arrival in about March...but it sound like the wait might be a bit longer. Ah yes, another lesson in patience, my best subject...not!

Next step is getting the Dossier paperwork from the Ethiopia desk, then getting that in and starting the real wait. I am hoping we are "official" by September 15 at the latest! We'll see how lofty my goal is!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Putting out the welcome mat...

So a man is coming to my house to see if it is fit for children and to see if I am a fit parent. I know my house is fit for kids...this house was made for kids (literally, it was orig. an orphanage!) and I know I am a good parent, I have 3 great kids to prove why am I so cranky and nervous as I get ready to welcome this semi stranger into my world??? What will he look at? Will Ben burst out with his latest phrase of "Holy Crap!"? Will the huge hole in our foundation be a deterent (see for details on this chapter!) Will we sit at the table or the couches? Should I make brownies or cookies?

Such silly things to ponder, when half a world away, a mother is pregnant and facing the decision of whether to parent her child, or place her for adoption. Is she sick, did she eat tonight? Does she have a roof over her head? Is she warm enough? That is the slippery slope in this whole process. While I complain about waiting and paper work and having to clean my big old house, the woman who is growing the daughter we will eventually share, is faced with decisions I cannot even imagine having to make.

So as I clean my house tonight, taking the next step on this journey, I ask God to bless us; this mother that is growing our daughter; the daughter that will leave the arms of the mother that gives her life, and travel half way around the world to my waiting arms; and me, who already feels blessed beyond measure to hold the hope of her in my heart.

and just for good measure...pray that Ben is well behaved, the dogs don't embarass me, he doesn't look in my closet, and no bats fly our of our belfry. :)

I'll update you all tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The long and winding road (with NO Shortcuts!!)

Okay, so a number of you have asked for a little better look at the map we are following for this journey.

We attended the initial adoption meeting in January. After some more thought, research, and prayer, we sent in our initial application to Children's Home Society and Family Services in the Twin Cities. This was the first step that said, "Hey, we're interested in adoption and want to learn more". Once they received this (and the first of many fees:), they sent us a BIG packet full of background check info, reference letter requests, finger print requests etc. We had to get 3 references who vouched for our sanity and ability to parent. Our MD had to sign off on the status of our health and that of the boys. We had to have a notary sign several things , and we got to go to the jail to be fingerprinted! We gathered all of that up and Eric dropped it off in the cities (with another check!) So by March 24th, our application materials were all in. CHSFS then got to do our background checks and make sure we were who we said we were. (Ask Eric about his involvement in illegal guns sometime! Funny story!) Finally the middle of May we heard that we passed and it was time to come to the pre-adoption classes.

PAC (Pre Adoption Classes) were held the end of June for 2 intense days. We met in small and large groups with other families beginning the journey to their children. It was fun to talk with others who understood what we were talking about. All the info was a bit overwhelming, but by the end of the two days we were ready to get on the plane to Addis right then! After PAC, we were given an 18 question homework packet for both Eric and I to fill out. It covered a huge range of topics from our own childhood experiences to how we parent now to our kids personalities. It was a great part of the adventure and although a bit daunting, really helped me to realize how committed I am to this whole process and how God's been planting these seeds since I was a little girl. (I did learn that I have had 13 careers since graduation! Yieks!!)

Once the homework was complete, we sent it off and then were contacted by our social worker. We set up a time to meet with him for 3 hours in July. Very strange to sit and talk about yourselves for 3 hours, but it was interesting and even kind of fun in a bizarre "toot your own horn" kind of way! After that meeting, we set up a time for him to come to our house, meet the kids and get a sense of who we are at home. And that brings us to this week! He will be coming in on Friday afternoon to meet the kids and talk to us a bunch more about the Ethiopia program.

After that, he types up his report and then we get the next big packet of papers to notarize, sign, and gather (called the Dossier) this is what goes to the Ethiopian gov't. Once that is all done, (I think it should take about 2-3 weeks) we send that in ( with a little more money!) and then we are officially waiting! Right now the wait is about 5-9 months for an infant girl age 0-12 months. We will receive her picture and medical info first and then once we accept the referral, we wait about 8-12 weeks for her to process though the court system and then get the notice to travel! We will spend a week in Addis Ababa, the capital city. (I'll write more about the trip another day!) It is a long, long process, but worth every moment...because the gift at the end is worth the wait! Best case scenario, she'll come home in March or April!

Stay tuned for more pics of the house, the boys and the loot stash we have started for this little girl!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Always an Adventure

Well, I have taken the plunge and decided to start a blog. I am doing this for a few reasons. First, to keep friends and family up to date on our journey to our daughter, but also for all those taking a similar journey. I have learned so much from the blogs I have read on adoption, and in a strange cyberspace kind of way, feel connected to this family of adoption bloggers! So I thought I would join in on the conversation. You who know me, know I like to get my 2 cents in!

So, our little family of 5 has begun a most incredible adventure. We are blessed with our three boys, (my sweetpeas) and wouldn't trade them for the world. But our family isn't complete. We have so much more love to give and in all honesty, this mommy needs to parent a daughter. Being done with pregnancy, and realizing the world is full of children who need families, I think we can say God placed adoption in our hearts.

As all good adventures with God at the helm go, this journey has already had some interesting twists and turns. When the idea of adoption was just a seed in my soul, I was sure our daughter would be Asian. Maybe it was because that is what was familiar, or what was expected. As we began to read and Eric warmed to the idea, an Asian child was still our plan. God had a different plan. As we attended the information meeting at our agency, I picked up the Ethiopia flier. "I know this isn't where she is, but I am all for information" I said to myself. God smiled.

As the months passed and we learned a little more, the doors to the Asian countries started closing. The reasons where varied, but the doors were closed. I felt the hope of a daughter slipping away. Then God smiled again. The Ethiopia brochure lay open in the basket in the bathroom (you know that is where the the best reading happens!) A number of different experiences led us to believe that maybe this daughter of ours was in Africa...maybe she was in Ethiopia. From the recently adopted boy in our choir to an Oprah special...God was telling us just where she is. And so begins our journey.

I have such a peace about the whole process. (Okay peace does not necessarily mean patience!) I know that my daughter will come from Africa. I know that as I hold her in my arms, I will also embrace her culture and the country that is sharing her with me. We will change the fabric of our family for generations...we are no longer just your typical Scandinavian midwesterners...we are a multicultural family.

So come along on this journey with me. No doubt I will ramble and misspell some key words, :) but I write from my heart...and smile as the seed planted in my soul blossoms into my sunshine!