Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Our Ethiopian Adoption Journey

I was talking to a friend last night about the process of adoption-- it's long.  Like elepant gestation long.
In summary here is our story.
  • Late 2008--We get married-- prior to marriage we talk about family-- notably our potential family.  We decide to adopt!  You know. . . "someday."

  • February 2009-- We find that we are pregnant with a honeymoon baby! 

  • November 2009-- James.  He is awesome.

  • January 2010-- We find that James' hearing loss is caused from a virus I caught during pregnancy.  This could take some time to clear before we can get the greenlight to go ahead with another pregnancy.

  • February 2010-- is now "someday?"  We start doing informational interviews with local agencies first and have some discussions around international vs domestic etc. etc.   We feel pretty fired up about this-- and committed to growing our family this way.   We also take a lot questions from family and friends about adopting with an "infant."  More on that below. We talk to said people about wait times and paperwork and no-- we are not adopting NOW-- we are starting the process now. 

  •  March 2010-- Research continues.  We decide to adopt from Ethiopia for a number of reasons.   Despite opportunities since then to change programs or explore other paths, we have decided to hold the course.  Ethiopia is an amazing place with amazing people and we felt committed to bringing that culture into our family.  From this point forward, we only searched for Ethiopian programs and found that the local agencies weren't a great fit for our family dynamic.  We choose an agency based in Seattle called WACAP. 

  • April 2010-- We start our homestudy.  In fact, because one of us is more comfortable in excel than in most forms of communication, we built a spreadsheet and decided to complete our WACAP application, Homestudy and the Ethiopian dossier at the same time.  There is a lot of duplication on these papers-- many of the documents are used for 1, 2, or all 3, so it was a kill 3 birds one stone type of thing.  We management folk would call that synergy.*   All in all, this step included 57 documents that needed to get completed-- including some lengthy ones like 2 visits with a social worker, physicals for both of us and James, letters of recommendations from friends and family, several hours of adoption training, criminal background checks and two sets of fingerprints (for two different forms.)  In a nutshell, we could also call this phase the paper chase.  

  • June 2010-- We completed our homestudy and did our initial fingerprints and applications for the government portion. 

  • July 2010-- The government has consolidated their processing centers and one of our primary applications was lost with all the documents.  Lost in the move apparently.. . . We start scurrying to repeat.  To find out  . . .

  • August 2010-- They found the original. . . but now we have two applications and the world of paper shufflers is confused by WHY we have TWO applications.

  • August 23 2010-- We officially join the wait list for the Ethiopia program!!   If my memory serves me correctly-- we are about the 50-60 th on the list for a child of either gender.  At first referrals are moving along very fast with between 5-15 a month.  We are told to expect between 4-11 months for referral.**

  • October 2010-- There are some rumblings about ET making changes to the process. 

  • November- Mar 2011-- We continue to track the rumblings but since we are near the top of the list, we start the dangerous conversations around thinking the adoption could be around the corner.   Adoptions seems to slow for our agency with several months of no new referrals.  Despite this, we still think "any day now."  I could write a book on how thinking "any day now" for multiple years will mess with your head.

  • May 2011-- We have a conversation with our agency about what to expect.  They think there will be substantial delays ongoing-- we talk about our family goals and they suggest that if we want a large family that we may want to consider either starting another program or consider a bio child while we continue to wait in ET.

  • June 2011-- Preggers.*** We decide that if we get to the top of the list we will go on hold until 6 months after the baby is on born. We were 10th on the list at the time for a boy and in the 20's for a girl.

  • Feb 2012-- Deirdre is born! Also awesome.  Still haven't moved much at all but we have a baby to keep us busy while we wait. An awesome baby.

  • May 2012-- Update our homestudy and other documentation as we are now applying as a family of FOUR!  More paperwork awesomeness. More appointments, more fingerprints muckity muck.

  • March 13- 2013-- We get the call.  We were presented with a little guy about 7 months old.  We ask some questions and accept the referral about 1 week later. 

  • May 13--2013-- We formally adopt our little guy

  • NOW-- We are waiting again!  We are hoping to go back the week after the fourth.  We are anxiously checking emails to see if we get anything from the embassy or our agency.  

* I don't know this for certain-- but I am betting Matt is now rolling his eyes with my casual use of the term 'synergy.'  Awesomely enough, they often have slight variations to them aka, notaried/ not notarized or specific form letter vs free form etc.

**Suddenly all the people who thought we were nuts for starting so early seemed to be correct. 

***Irish Catholic.

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