I Dream of Purple

I have dreamt of adoption throughout this entire process... but last night's dream was different. It was abstract, to be sure, but the emotions were fresh and completely real.

I dreamt that our daughter was brought to the house to be with us - but she was blonde, looked Scandinavian, and was a toddler - she ran through the house exclaiming how happy she would be to make this her home. In spite of the social worker's calmness, I kept asking about our REAL daughter - where was she? Who was this? What had happened?

The urgency in my heart to get to our real daughter and find her - and to not accept anyone else in her place - was such a strong sensation. I woke up realizing how very much ours she already is. This baby... this actual little girl... not a theory or a hypothetical. Chosen for us - by us - and already loved by us.

Since Daniel moved rooms, the nursery has been pretty much shut off, out of sight, out of mind. Now it has become this space looming with possibilities, and almost tangibly aching to be filled. It feels deeply empty until she's here to fill the void. Our family of three is suddenly so very incomplete without her here.

Baby girl - when you look back on the process by which you came to the family, I hope you see how very much you were cherished, adored and longed for even before you arrived home. Your place has always been with us.

Now hurry up and get here already.


Word of Encouragement

I love our agency. This was sent out in place of their standard weekly newsletter... perfect timing for me (and I'm sure dozens of other waiting families as well).

Dear Ethiopia Families,

This weeks newsletter is a little different. I pray you will find it inspirational. It's written by Patricia Ward. Enjoy.

We share a lot of statistics with prospective adoptive families …. “average” wait times, “approximate” time between this and that, number of families traveling, number of children home, the list goes on and on.

We try to prepare families for all the things that could happen, good or bad, and pray that everything goes smoothly. Sometimes it works that way. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes for some reason, things are inexplicably difficult and drag on and on for what seems like forever, serving no purpose. Parents and Case Managers alike become frustrated and discouraged. If God called us to this work on behalf of His orphans in the world, why is it so hard?

When you distill all the feelings associated with international adoption, it probably comes down to two basic emotions – love and fear. Love for children you have never seen, thousands of miles away, is something that cannot be explained. Fear that it is never going to happen is probably easier to explain. A sense of helplessness, being totally out of control, is common and manifests itself in a myriad of ways.

Today, all that changed for one family and three children. A family’s adoption story that has been long and arduous, even before they applied to adopt from Ethiopia. Three children who were referred a year ago and have been tied up in the system. Then the miraculous happened, and in almost the blink of an eye it was all over and the adoption was finished. Our CWAE attorney in Addis sent the following quote that a friend had posted on their blog. I shared it with the adoptive mom when I called her with the good news. She said it was so true. I sent her the pictures of her new children with their biological mother, after court was over. She said those pictures made it all worth the wait. May these words bless your heart today.

"Waiting on God isn't to be viewed as an obstruction in they way of the plan. Waiting is an essential part of the plan. For the child of God, waiting isn't simply about what I'll receive at the end of my wait. No, waiting is much more purposeful, efficient, and practical than that. Waiting is fundamentally about what I'll become as I wait. God is using the wait to do in and through me exactly what He's promised. Through the wait He's changing me. By means of the wait He's altering the fabric of my thoughts and desires. Through the wait He's causing me to see and experience new things about Him and His kingdom. And all of this sharpens me, enabling me to be a more useful tool in His redemptive hands."

And as Steve Brown would say, “Now you think about that.” Have a blessed weekend.


The Wait. Again.

Waiting, waiting and more waiting.

Our little girl's medicals are taking a long time, but not because it's bad news. So far, she's been healthy in every test result we've seen. The holdup is the required second HIV test and the reagent necessary to administer the test.

Honestly, I didn't think that the wait AFTER receiving photos and a referral would be this hard. Since June of 2008 when we began this process, the focus has been on receiving a referral, and the wait that happens until that point. Never did I think about the wait in between seeing your child's face and actually meeting them - it's been brutal.

I know this stage will fade from memory as soon as we're past it... but for right now, it seems interminable.


Of Two Minds

My heart is so confused.

We have nine beautiful photos of a beautiful baby girl who could very well be the daughter we've been waiting for. So why am I not doing cartwheels and jumping jacks every second of the day?

My heart should be happy - instead, it's retreating. And I know it well enough to know why: It's scared. So many things could go wrong - her health... legal issues... document problems... The sea of uncertainty has quietly convinced my heart to stay unattached.

There is safety in distance, but there is also... distance. Deep down, I know that my cautiousness, while seemingly warranted, is nothing more than fear is disguise. I'm scared of getting hurt and having my heart broken.

How incredibly selfish.

That precious little baby is alone, in an orphanage, without family, without the comfort and parental love we take for granted every day. Her hope for a mother is now with me, and I'm emotionally unavailable for fear of losing her?

In her first few months of life, she has lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. She needs someone to have faith and be fearless for her - to take her future firmly into their heart and not give up.

So, I've decided. My first parental act towards this sweet new life will be: Hope. I will put my faith in God, and His plans for her life. She is first and foremost HIS child and He loves her more than I could ever imagine.

And so far, His plans have led her to us - it's such a beautiful story already - hope from tragedy. Beauty from sadness. And I will not allow my faithlessness and weak attempts at self-preservation to ruin or darken this miracle in the making.


Hello Referral

It happened. We got the call. Twice, actually.

I had just finished giving a tour to 13 Australian pastors at work which was apparently God's idea of irony after the defaming Australian news story that hit the world last week about our agency.

Still feeling angry at the reporter (and irrationally, all of Australia) of COURSE I would have to hang out with a bunch of Australians that day. But of course they were wonderful people, and as if to symbolize my closure, at the very end of the tour, my cell phone rang with an unknown number.

"Hello, this is Sue Kramer with Christian World Adoption."

My heart stopped. I had truly not expected this.

She continued, "I have some information I'd like to share with you... but... oh no! I just noticed the time! I have to be present at a webinar for an hour. I will call you back after that."


So for an hour we participated in the webinar with our hearts racing and stomachs churning. God's timing is perfect... the information we received during that hour was more than helpful. It contained all the answers to my uncertainties and questions regarding the ethical conduct of our agency. We trust them. By the end of the house, my heart was open and fully ready to receive the information in store.

The webinar ended. That second hand moved in slow motion. Finally, the phone rang.

It's a girl :) A sweet baby girl.

Sue gave us all the information they currently have, most of which cannot be shared anywhere until more legal steps are taken. This child is, after all, a legal citizen of Ethiopia and the agency is careful to protect her identity.

Now, we proceed to the medical approval stage, then onto applying for a court date. There are plenty of hoops still to be jumped through, but it's so exciting to finally see the face of the baby that could become ours!



We have been waiting since February. While it's normal to wait this long (and maybe longer), it starts to play mind games with you.

Somewhere about halfway through the Summer, my subconscious convinced my conscious to shift the adoption to the back burner of my brain... to try to pretend it wasn't happening. It's the classic defense mechanism - putting distance to protect yourself, and your emotions. And in truth, there were days that it didn't once cross my mind.

This wait is hard. To know that our child has probably already been born, and is this far away... it hurts my heart.

Last night I had a very vivid dream about receiving a referral. I woke up with butterflies and knots in my stomach: This adoption is real! It's happening. Even if it's 2 more months until we see our baby's photo, we ARE having a baby.

I have had my cell phone next to me all morning - just in case today's the day.

You never know :)


The Scare

When you decide to adopt from another country, you understand that there are risks involved. Maybe the scariest is our absolute lack of control over another nation's government. At a moment's notice, they can act (or not act) as they see fit.

Yesterday, I found this tidbit online:

Adoption Alert

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues
May 13, 2009

Adoptions of Abandoned Children Halted by Ethiopian Court

The Ethiopian First Instance Court has temporarily stopped accepting cases involving abandoned children from orphanages in Addis Ababa , citing concern over a recent increase in the number of abandoned children being brought for adoption. The number of abandoned children from orphanages in Addis Ababa has grown dramatically in recent months and Ethiopian authorities have become aware of possible cases of unethical practices associated with some of them.Currently neither MOWA nor the First Instance Court are accepting any abandonment case from any orphanages in Addis Ababa pending an inquiry. Please continue to monitor adoption.state.gov for updated information on Ethiopia .

My heart dropped to its knees when I read this... a hundred thoughts flooded my mind. I prayed that those children were not unethically obtained by the orphanages. One of the reasons we chose Ethiopia was the sincere need for adoptive parents and the lack of corruption in the system.

Then I worried about our own adoption. "Inquiries" and "investigations" sounded like they could take months... or years. What would happen if everything was put on hold for years? We don't want to switch countries - we still believe our baby is in Ethiopia. Would we just wait and update our paperwork when the time was ready?

I emailed our case manager, who responded very quickly with possibly the most reassuring email I had ever read. The orphanages CWA works with are not affected by this court closure. She also shed some light on the situation - allegedly, one police officer submitted paperwork for 16 abandonment cases in one day. Until they can figure out if he was just catching up on his paperwork (or if this points to illegal practices) the orphanages in question were put on hold.

We are relieved, but are praying this gets resolved quickly. There are parents around the world who already have accepted referrals and now will be waiting indefinitely for the process to continue. And in the event that there IS something unethical happening, I worry that the entire system would be shut down for investigation. Guatemala has been shut down for nearly a year.

God remains in control of our adoption, and we believe he has been there every step of the way, guiding each and every move we've made. There is comfort in believing that if our worst fears are realized, God is still at the helm, weaving our family together through his divine timing and wisdom. He still knows better.


Mother to Mother

Today is Mother's Day.

Daniel made me a sweet card and gift at preschool, and I am more in love with that little man that I ever imagined possible.

But on my mind all day was the baby who doesn't know I'm their mom yet. I keep thinking about that sweet little life, and the difficulties she is undoubtedly facing right now. Even more present in my thoughts has been that baby's birth mother and the situation she is in - one that will soon end in relinquishing her baby for adoption. For her, this isn't a happy Mother's Day.

We are committed to honoring the place of the birth mother in our baby's life. Regardless of circumstance or reason for adoption, our baby's mother is the one God charged with bringing this new life into the world. She is the foundation of our child's genetic, cultural and geographical roots. She is the one our baby will instinctively long for, even without comprehension. But her decision to let nurture make up for nature will mean that her baby will become ours. As close as if the decision had been biological. And as that baby grows up, we will not shy away from talking about her or her place in our child's life story, however awkward and difficult it may be at times.

Today more than ever, I wish I could meet her. I wish I could hug her and comfort her. I wish I could pray with her and tell her how much I think about her. I wish I could change her situation so that this baby could stay in her arms. I wish I could convey the indescribably huge impact her decision will have on our family.

And I wish I could wish her a happy Mother's Day, from one mother to another.


I Dream of Adoption

Really, I do. Every night I dream vividly, in color, and I clearly remember them each morning. Lately, my dreams have been peppered with adoption references - sometimes metaphoric and sometimes crystal clear.

Last night, I dreamt that I received an email from our case manager that said: "Your expected date to receive a referral is approximately August 1st, 2009." Strange. Hopefully it's sooner.

The night before, I dreamt we were adopting two little girls, and in the dream we didn't know if they were Vietnamese or Korean. But they were 3 and 5 years old. I met the birthmom, who fell apart crying in my arms and a bunch of us prayed with her, and hugged her. The mom also passed me a note that said "You have a lovely home, but I don't feel a peace about you adopting the girls." Nice.

It's funny how the theme of adoption is just present in all levels of my consciousness... awake or not.


Moving On Up...

We are slowly but surely moving our way up the wait list. We started at #6 for siblings, and #12 for an infant girl (on Feb. 18th) and as of today (April 2nd) we are #3 for siblings, and #8 for an infant girl. At this rate I'm guessing May or June for a referral?

There is so much to do in the meantime... books to read, adoption groups to join, thank you notes to send, photo sessions to finish editing... but it still feels like a "wait". Which is frustrating given the number of orphans in Ethiopia who need a loving home immediately. I guess that's what red tape and bureaucracy do to the international adoption process... along with providing a reliable and safe system where kids don't get mistreated. I guess I'd prefer the wait over the knowledge that the system is corrupt.

Now I'm off to cruise through amazon.com for a good book on taking care of black skin and hair! Apparently there's a whole other world out there on the other side of the Walgreens aisle. Here I come...!


Did you know...?

So. Now we're waiting. The documents shipped to Ethiopia a few days ago, and we have a few (or more) months ahead of us.

Instead of letting myself grow restless and impatient, I have decided to find a more positive outlet for my energy: Research! It's time to learn all kinds of stuff about Ethiopia.

Here we go... we'll start with the basics...

1. Ethiopia is called the "cradle of humanity". There are 14 discovered human and "pre-human" fossils in the world... and 10 are from Ethiopia. Lots of people believe that the human species originated in Ethiopia. All kinds of evolutionary-based debate surrounds the issue, but regardless, Ethiopia is established as one of the most history-rich nations in the world.

2. "Lucy" is one of those recently discovered fossils... she was found in 1974 and is estimated to be 3.2 million years old. She is loosely considered an ancestor of humans - and again, the controversy swirls. But here's the fun part... she was named that because the archeologists who found her were fond of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". How cool is that! (There's another Ethiopian skeleton that was more recently discovered and is 3.3 million years old... "Selam".)

3. Their annual calendar could be my favorite bit of Ethiopian trivia. They retain the "Julian" calendar, where each year has twelve 30-day months, and a thirteenth month of five or six days. Their calendar is almost EIGHT YEARS behind the Gregorian calendar... so right now in Ethiopia, it is 2001. The year 2002 will begin on September 11, 2009.

4. Ethiopia is widely considered the birthplace of coffee - specifically the forests of the Kaffa region. In fact, the word coffee in Ethiopia is "bun" or "buna", so the phrase "coffee bean" is very likely a poor anglicized interpretation of "Kaffa Bun". I'm looking forward to trying Ethiopian coffee...! It's the drink used to honor guests in the house, and coffee ceremonies are used as get-togethers for friends and neighbors.

Well, that's enough to get you started. I'll keep up the research and post again soon!


A Community Event

Today, we said good-bye to the pile of paperwork we've been constructing for nearly 6 months.

"The Wait" has officially begun.

We double and triple-checked the packet for errors, certain we had missed something. It felt strange to put the forms into an envelope, out of sight. We have been living and breathing this documentation for so long - in a strange way, these papers have come to represent our child. It's hard to "let them go" out of reach - away from the safe blue adoption binder that has become their home.

I went to the bank to get our final money order (this time for the Ethiopian Embassy) and convinced the tellers to let me take a photo of them. I have worked with two of them on everything involving the adoption. They ask about the baby, and I share updates each time I go in.

After the bank, I drove out of my way to the FedEx by the church - there is one clerk who has helped me with each adoption-related mailing and I wanted her to be the one who sent the final paperwork. As I was waiting in line at FedEx, I struck up conversation with a family I recognized from church. Although virtually strangers, we ended the conversation in hugs and tears of excitement. Another couple nearby overhead me and began talking about THEIR adoption nearly 45 years ago, and how proud they are of their adopted daughter and all of her children. The clerk was thrilled to see me, and pulled me aside to confide that there were problems with her Visa and she'd have to return to England before we'd be home with the baby. With tears in her eyes, she said she'd never forget us and was honored that she was able to partner with us during this process.

It is amazing how the mere topic of adoption turns the smallest errand into a community event. People love to hear the stories and are eager to participate via encouragement, advice, or just kind words.

And from the perspective of an adoptive parent, all of those things are always relished and very much needed.

When our child does finally make it home, it will be the result of the collective prayers and diligent work of a community. Now that's a homecoming to be proud of.


USA Says "OK"

We got the official "go ahead" from our agency (dossier is ready!) AND our country (our I-600 was approved). It's always nice when your country is ok with what you're doing. :)

We will mail our documents immediately to Washington DC, then to Ethiopia! Everything is moving right along. It's a little scary, actually. We're quickly approaching the "hypothetical meets reality" stage... kind of like a State Farm commercial. "I'm there."

In other news, I had the strangest dream last night. It wasn't my first dream about our adopted child but it was definitely my most vivid. In the dream Daniel was a little bit older, and we were living in what appeared to be a modified version of our current house. Our second child was a little girl - a tiny bundle of energy who was crawling at warp speed all over the place! In fact, I was having to jog to keep up. She wore purple, was named Lily, and her hair was tied up in lots of small ponytails. What I remember most though was her smile - it was brilliant! Lily had endless energy and was fearless. In fact, in the dream I commented to Fernando about how adventurous she was - unlike Daniel who tends to be very cautious when trying new things. Lily was a dare-devil!

It was a beautiful dream - I'm curious to see how much of that turns out to be prophetic and how much was just last night's dinner!