Saturday, January 31, 2009

Final Home Study Visit

Holly came to our house last night to complete the Home Study visits. We gave her a tour of our home and showed her where the baby's room will be. The discussion was mostly about our childhoods and how we were raised. Then we talked about what we look forward to about being parents, how we will discipline, and the values that we want to instill in our family. We finished up with a family assessment checklist to verify that Holly has covered all the information with us. Her goal is to submit the Home Study report to the directer of Intercountry Adoption at Bethany this coming week. It will take them a week or so to review it and then she will send it to the national office in Michigan. Once it is approved in the national office we will officially be in the waiting period for a referral! Holly said she will call us with the specific date, so of course I will post that when we hear. :-) We are still waiting on Ryan's criminal history check to arrive from Pennsylvania and he has one more book to read. Then we will be able to submit all of the paperwork to Bethany and focus on completing the Dossier. Our goal is to complete the Dossier in the next two weeks. I want to take a minute to say thank you to Ryan for his hard work with all of the reading and paperwork. He is also in the process of finishing our basement and I know that he is sacrificing time to work down there to get the reading and internet course done. :-) I Love You Ryan!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

AIDS Crisis in Africa

I just finished reading a book called, There is No Me, Without You. It tells the story of a woman, Haregewoin Teferra, living in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia who, in the year 2000, begins opening her home to orphans who have no other place to go. Before she knows it, families stricken by the AIDS pandemic are coming to her home daily to leave their children in her care. In her heart she can not say, No. By September of 2005 she is housing about 80 orphans ranging from infants to 14 years of age in two different compounds; about 30 of the children are HIV positive. The end of the book shares encouraging stories of families who have adopted children from her orphanage. I learned so much from reading this book and here are some of the shocking statistics that I read:

- " In 2005, Ethiopia had 1,563,000 AIDS orphans, the second-highest concentration of such children in the world; and 4,414,000 orphans from all causes, the second-highest number in the world."

-"HIV/AIDS in children generally takes one of two paths. 80 percent of children infected in infancy will die before they reach the age of two. The remaining 20 percent may reach their 8th birthday."

-"At least 30 million Africans are expected to die from AIDS in the next twenty years."

-"The cost of fighting the AIDS pandemic in the 1990's with brand-name drugs was estimated at $3 billion a year. The drugs were not expensive, the patents were. The patented drugs cost $15,000 per patient per year although production cost was closer to $200. Though the U.S. government subsidized the cost of Americans, Africans governments were too poor to do the same." (doesn't that make you sick that it costs so much)

So I hope you are thinking, "How can I help?" I have put some links down below to some websites where you can help get involved. Ryan and I sponsor a child from South Africa through Horizon International. I hope you will take some time to get involved.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Second meeting with Holly

We met with Holly to work on our Homestudy again this morning. She asked us how we were coming along with all of the paperwork and what we learned from the internet course and books we have read so far. Then we began our discussion of our marriage. She asked us how we met, what attracted us to one another, what we each thought are the best and hardest parts about marriage, how we deal with conflict, and why we want to start our family throught adoption. It was fun to reminisce about our college days, but tough to talk about these past 18 months. Reflecting back, we are very thankful to see how we have grown closer together through the trials. Our next meeting will be at our house this Friday evening. That will most likely be our last meeting together. Holly will have our homestudy written soon after and then it is up to us to finish gathering all of the paperwork. We feel blessed to have such a diligent caseworker! Thank you for your continued prayers!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Dance of Attachment

This evening, Ryan and I attended an Educational workshop offered through Bethany. The topic was on attachment - the affectionate bond between two individuals that endures through time to join one another emotionally. The speaker was Pat Johnston, an award winning author, adoption educator, and mother of three adopted children. She shared her attachment struggles with her youngest child. They adopted her when she was ten weeks old and previously she had been in two very different foster homes. She gave us a list of practical tips to help transition from the orphange in Ethiopia to suburbia in America.:-) Even for a young infant, the transition can be quite dramatic. I think an important, but difficult, tip that we learned was that Ryan and I should be the only ones to hold the child for the first two weeks home. This will help the child to know that we are his/her primary caregivers. (But that doesn't mean that family and friends can't visit. :-) This leads to the two key elements in attachment - stability and consistency. When I heard that this evening, I immediately thought of beginning each kindergarten year as a teacher. The first few weeks are critical for the students to be able to adjust and feel safe so my main goals are to develop stablility and consistency in the classroom. She reminded us to be patient because with infants, a rough estimate of how long the attachment process can take is to take how many months they have not been with you, and double it.

Update on Adoption paperwork and requirements:

I have finished the 8hr internet course and have read one book. Ryan has also read one book and is working his way through the internet course. We've both had our medical exams and have ordered our birth certificates and marriage license. (Thank you, mom, for picking up our marriage license at the courthouse!) We are excited to meet with Holly again this Saturday to continue the work on the Home Study. It is so encouraging to see it all coming together and to know that each completed step gets us that much closer to welcoming our child into our family!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

First Home Study Meeting

We met with Holly, our case specialist, today. She is wonderful and we are so excited that she will be helping us through this process. First she shared with us what we will expect when we go to Addis Ababa to meet our child. The name of the orphanage that Bethany works with is called Galgulla (not sure of the spelling). When we receive and accept a referral, our child will be moved from the orphanage into the Bethany Foster Care Center. Holly said the children are well taken care of and the caregivers will give us lots of important information about our child. We will get to visit our child for a couple of hours each day for the first 2-3 days we are there. Then we will be able to take our child back to our hotel with us. One of the last few days we will be in the Embassy finalizing the adoption. We will be there for about 7-8 days.

She also reviewed with us the procedures and guidelines for completing our Home Study. We will meet with her the next two Saturdays, and then she will be ready to write our Home Study. We are required to attend a couple of educational workshops offered through Bethany, complete an eight hour internet course, and each read three books. We have a lot to do in these next 2 - 3 weeks, but we are up for the challenge. The best news we heard today was that as soon as our Home Study and Dossier are completed, we should only have about a 6 - 8 month wait for a referral!! This will be our motivation! After we receive the referral, we will have to wait for the court date in Ethiopia to be assigned (about 2-3 months) and then our travel plans will be finalized. We will travel about two weeks after the court date. :-)

While we will be completing the requirements for the Home Study, we will also be working on obtaining documents for our Dossier. In the mail today, we received the Ethiopian Dossier Packet that lists these documents. Needless to say, we have a lot that we will be working on in the next 3-4 weeks. Please pray for us to prioritize our time and take each step of this process one day at a time.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

From the beginning...

When Ryan and I married four and a half years ago, we had planned for adoption to be a part of our family; however, we did not expect it to happen so soon. A year and a half ago, we decided to begin trying for a family. Well, we've learned life does not always turn out the way you plan it. After two miscarriages and lots of prayer, we decided to attend an adoption informational meeting last October. At the meeting we heard a couple share their experience of adopting a two year old boy from Ethiopia. Listening to their story deeply touched both of our hearts and in December we submitted our formal application to adopt from Ethiopia.

So here we are in the beginning of this adventure that God has called us to. We are working on completing lots of paperwork and we're excited to meet with our case specialist for the first time next Saturday, January 17th. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to use this blog as a tool to keep you updated on developments throughout our adoption process.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and future." ~ Jeremiah 29:11