Monday, December 31, 2012


I slept badly Thursday night, waking often, and finally rose in the grey predawn to shower and do last minute luggage checks.  I was intensely nauseous, finally succumbing a few times and accepting jc's offer of half an anxiolytic. jc walked me to the streetcar with my suitcase.  I thought we'd missed it until he pointed out that it comes down a different street for the first run of the day.  It was cool but dry, and I was glad I'd worn my long Patagonia fleece and a hat.  I dozed through the Red Line train to the airport. I arrived 15 minutes early, set my alarm, and slept deeply on the airport floor, waking with the alarm to another bout of nausea, mercifully the last.

My Oromo friend soon arrived, looking dashing out of work uniform, with the suitcase of donations for the school in his hometown.  He walked me through check-in, where I found that my bags would have to be rechecked in Frankfurt, but at least there were no baggage fees. Then we had coffee together, and my latte and my stomach decided to make peace.

I boarded the commuter, had a row to myself, and slept all the way to Vancouver.  My layover was just long enough for a snack and a failed attempt to access the internet, and we were off.  10 hours to Germany, and lose half a day. My seatmate was a gentlemanly Somali Ethiopian. We chatted briefly, exchanged lunch items, and spent a pleasant enough flight. I spent an hour pacing and stretching midway through before putting an audiobook of Alice in Wonderland on the headphones and being soothed into a pleasant sleep.

We arrived in Frankfurt to find that we had to take a bus from our landing position on the apron to the terminal.  The overcrowded, SRO bus wove its way through the bowels of the airport for a nauseating lifetime before unceremoniously dumping us in what seemed like a random location.  After several attempts at finding the correct baggage claim, we finally found our bags.  I must have mistakenly exited security only to find that I couldn't recheck my bags until 3 hours before departure, so I had a very long 12 hour layover ahead with 50 pounds of baggage in tow.  After realizing how exhausting it was to lug it all around, I found the nearest bench next to the nearest bathroom to the Ethiopian ticket counter, parked my bags, spread out my fleece coat, covered myself with a scarf, and slept the day away.  Soon it was time to check in.

By the time I got on Ehtiopian airways I had worked out some tricks for sleeping on a plane, was a little less exhausted overall, and the 6 hours flew by pretty quickly. Before I knew it I was in Addis, going down the steps to stand in the long visa line, then the shorter money exchange line, no line for baggage, medium line for customs, with no problems and amid the sea of faces was the foster home driver, holding my name in big black letters on white paper.  He rang the Oromo contacts on his mobile, they took the bag and we were off.

I stepped out of the airport and saw Africa in all its glory in the morning light. Misty hills and a certain quality to the air. I drank in the sights as we drove through town: Africa, still so familiar to me, though I've been away all these years.  Africa has held a special place in my heart since my Kenya trip in 1995, and I'm so glad to be back; but the greatest joy of all is knowing that from Africa I will soon receive the best gift of my life: one of her sons, and mine.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Solstice Surprise

Our baby photo updates were a day late this week. I waited for them all day Thursday, but they didn't come until Friday. I decided to email our director and ask about any progress on a court date, and his reply was: "WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? I ALREADY SENT IT!"

Sure enough, waiting in my trash folder was our court date: January 2, 2013. I immediately flew into a tizzy, started shaking uncontrollably, jumped out of bed, and began searching Kayak for a flight. Managed pretty well for the last minute.

I started packing my bags today, and I have a bunch of forms to fill out and notarize on Monday, but I'm finally on my way to meet our baby!


Monday, December 17, 2012

Only Good News

It seems like too long since I've had any good news. I'm anxious and I cry too easily. I have no tolerance for the lady bringing her Australian shepherd on the streetcar, even after she explains that it's training to be a service dog. Or for the guy who sprints up and leaps through the door ahead of me. Even the guy I live with is sometimes too noisy, or messy, or just hard to tolerate in general.

None of them did anything to deserve my ire, not really; I'm just tired of waiting. This week it will be two months that our boy has been in the foster home- waiting for us, though he doesn't know it. I'm very glad to see his picture each week, getting taller and healthier, growing more hair. I'm just waiting for a court date, so at least I can go meet him.  Seem less like a crazy lady carrying around pictures of a beautiful boy she's never seen, pretending he's her son.

I feel like I did, years ago, hoping to become pregnant. Hoping in vain each month that my period would stay away. Sometimes it was late, but it never stayed away, and a perverse voice in my mind tries to convince me that this wait is the same.

I have to beat that voice.

This is not the same. Courts move slowly. Paperwork takes time. People miss appointments, and they have to be postponed. It takes time. But it doesn't take forever, and it will happen. This time next year I will have presents under a Christmas tree, strung with lights. Perhaps I'll take a photo of my son there, and send it to everyone I know.  It will happen.

And I probably won't be any saner then than I am now.  I'll probably find something to worry about, something to make me cry, something that isn't perfect.  I won't remember this though; or only with a vague chuckle. 

Because I have only good news to look forward to now.  It's just a matter of time.


Monday, December 03, 2012


It's been 33 days since we were submitted to Ethiopian adoption court, a process that is estimated to take 2 weeks, and we're still waiting. That means that I'm back to refreshing my email every 10 minutes and taking 3 hours to fall asleep at night.

However, I showed up for my wax this morning, and my wonderful aesthetician Katy had a baby gift waiting for me! Thank You Katy!! You made my day!

Perhaps I will be more patient today now.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Over the past few days I've breathed a big sigh of relief, but there is plenty more waiting to do. The next thing is to move Mamush to the agency's foster home, where he will receive better care, and to get a court date, so I can go meet him!

The name he was given is a generic boy orphan name, so we've been running ideas for a name as well.  Baby clothes have taken on a new face. It's now stripes and motorcycles and boats and trains and trucks.

And next for me: a plane!


Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Little Boy - Mamush

I had invented this crazy idea that our referral would come on a Monday morning in September. So I woke up every Monday and refreshed my inbox every 2 minutes, not just of the morning, but all day. It never came. I got depressed. I drove jc crazy. I cried. I ate way too much ice cream and put cheese on everything. September ended.

Yesterday I took my Firefly and rode into Washington and along the Columbia river in the warm sun and the light breeze, delighting in its light speed and responsiveness. I looked out over the river at the gulls on the sandbar and the yellowing leaves on the autumn trees before turning around and heading for home.

At mile 17 I stopped for lunch. I carefully leaned the Firefly up against the table and prepared to anoint my favorite crunchy taco with fire sauce, idly swiping the password into my smart phone to check my messages as I did so. As my email blinked open the single word "Referral" flashed before my eyes in letters the size of the presidents on Mt. Rushmore. I wondered what I was possibly going to do with that taco. I nearly stopped breathing. I called, texted, and emailed jc. Then I inhaled and opened a screen full of 19 attachments that were nearly illegible on the tiny screen, sorting through until I came to a picture of our beautiful boy.


Thursday, September 27, 2012


I'm still quietly waiting away here. While I wait, I'm whittling away at preparations.  We took the train to IKEA and got a rocker this week.  I had forgotten how much I love to rock, but can't wait to have a baby in my lap.  After coming home from Goodwill Outlet with baby things this weekend, I inventoried my stock of unisex clothing, and it's starting to look pretty complete.  I've been including kid's books on my forays now and am building a decent shelf full.

The really exciting news for me, though, is that I met a waiting moms group for coffee yesterday.  I really enjoyed the time with others who understand precisely and even share the frustration of this time.  It was nice to see pictures of two new referrals - beautiful little boys - and share the joy of moms who have been waiting well over a year.  Planning to see them again in October.


Thursday, September 13, 2012


Dossier received by agency lawyer in Addis. Relief.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Since the last post, I tracked the package to Addis almost right away and have been waiting and waiting for it to be delivered.  It seems that between the month-long holiday and the New Year things are not working very well.  I can't be sure whether FedEx or the lawyer are holding up delivery, but the dossier has just been sitting there now for a week and a half.  I finally emailed our director about it yesterday, and he said it was very strange.  Yes indeed.

Perhaps the dossier will be filed in country in September...


Sunday, September 02, 2012


I am thrilled like a child to follow the FedEx tracking on the dossier.  While I was sleeping today after midnight shift it made it from Memphis to Dubai.

I tracked down a tutorial for a yoga skirt last night.  I used to have one of these that I wore constantly. I need some long skirts for Addis, so I am delighted to have a sewing project for myself.  I will hit the big fabric store tomorrow.

Yesterday we were passing our favorite uber-expensive baby boutique, Posh, when jc noticed a high chair at their sidewalk sale.  He was impressed with its safety, so we bought it, and for half price.  It makes me happy to have him pick something out for the baby.

I'm on my way to the pharmacy right now to pick up the pills for my typhoid immunization.  Lots of things are happening. I'm excited.


Friday, August 31, 2012

Tugging at the Bit

 Well, I seem to have difficulty slowing myself down.  The crib came. I had fun putting it together and fitting it in the nook under the loft bed.  I bought a few baby books and some other odds and ends.

 Today I made myself sew something non-baby.  I finished the dining room chair cushions that I started 7 years ago.  Most satisfying project I've completed in a while.

Now, I'm ready for the referral.  Holding my breath every time I open an email.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Begin Baby Shopping

With paperwork done for now, I've read a few parenting books and started to prepare. I ordered a crib with mattress and bedding online. I was only researching, but the sale price seemed too good to miss. I can't wait for it to come now, so I can put it together.

I went yard sale shopping today on the bike. I covered 18 miles and stopped at a lot of sales. I spent $10 and wound up with a pannier half full of baby clothes, mostly onesies. They're all laundered and put away now.

Next big purchase is a rocking chair, but plenty of time left for everything.


Monday, August 20, 2012


I received a notice today that USCIS forwarded our child's immigration pre-approval to the US Embassy in Addis Ababa.  That news makes me very happy.  In fact, I hugged jc so much that he said, "that hurts" and made me stop!  :)

It's nice to relax a little after submitting the dossier and start reading some more serious adoption books.  We're told to anticipate a child under a year old, so I'm refining my focus a bit.  I read a pretty serious book on toddler adoption, focusing on attachment, and it's nice to know that I might not have some of those issues to worry about!

We've got plenty more hills to climb, but for now; let's enjoy that wonderful coast at the top of the first really big one.  Drink some Gatorade, eat a power bar, and soak in the sun and cooling breeze.


Thursday, August 16, 2012


On this very exciting day I personally delivered the dossier to the agency and very gladly wrote the biggest check in my life.

I'm told to expect a referral in about a month, and court some time this year, possibly even October.

R@du's advice was, "Start saving diaper coupons."

I feel we've finally made concrete progress; now I can't wait for the fun stuff to start!


Wednesday, August 08, 2012


Finally received the good, white letter from USCIS!  Notarized a copy and sent the whole dossier to Salem for state certification immediately!  I can hardly contain my excitement.  Here's to dossier submission next week!


Monday, July 30, 2012

Home study submitted (again) part two

Submitted second revision of the home study.



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

reqest for evidence, part two

I won't deny that I got a sinking feeling in my gut when I opened my mailbox after arriving home from a great week with my sister to find another pink letter from USCIS. 

*You never want a pink letter from USCIS.*

I did abort my plans to go out for coffee and a cryptic crossword, go straight home, scan the letter, email it, order the document they asked for, and breathe deeply.

I will patiently wait some more.


Monday, July 09, 2012

Home Study Submitted (again)

I'm just back from picking up the revised homestudy and mailing it off priority mail.  Second fingerprint appointment (for John) is Thursday.  Fingers crossed that we can pass this hurdle and be ready to submit within the month.  Ethiopia will almost certainly be closed for rainy season by the time we submit, but R@du told me we'll be placed in order for processing by the date they receive our dossier.  I go back and forth between expecting to wait about another year and being really excited by the way things are still progressing despite a few glitches.

I'm off to West Virginia next week to visit Robin and her daughter.  Next summer vacation with my own!


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Request for Evidence

I unlocked the mailbox today, hoping to find my USCIS approval, and was surprised by a different letter from Immigration.  They've requested an updated home study due to "missing or not properly worded" elements.  This seems like it should be simple to resolve, but it took the agency longer to get me the original home study copies after it was completed than it took to do it.  Just when I thought paperwork would be ready to submit next week, I feel like we're back to the beginning...


Tuesday, June 05, 2012


One of the hardest things about school papers used to always be the title.  I would turn in a perfectly respectable essay or short story or theme paper with no idea what to call it.  I know exactly what to call this, and I also know that it's part one in "Variations on a Theme".  The first few months of waiting had their challenges, but there was usually something concrete to do.  I exhausted the to-do list a while ago; now there's nothing but read travel guides and blogs and message boards.  All that pointless obsession doubtless leads to worry.

I woke up today, after 10 hours sleep, groggy and with a stiff neck. Crunchy granola raisin bran and a slice of cold pizza didn't help; but somewhere in the middle of loading the dishwasher so I could find enough counter space to make tea I started to wake up enough to think about what's bothering me.

Our agency has been moving incredibly fast after dossier submission.  I'm already busy trying to see if the Scholar's Wife and my Mother can go to Addis with me.  This dream of having a child could be a reality so soon.  Am I ready for it?

The biggest event in my life lately revolved around catching the train at 5:50am so I could ride my bike 104 miles in a day and trying not to get carsick on the bus trip home.  I'm signing up for 20 years of non-stop obligation based on the fluttering of some mothering instinct in my stomach.  Someone once told me that you're never ready for marriage.  You learn as you go along.  Maybe it's that way with children.  Sounds like a terribly irresponsible way to approach a major life-change, but maybe it's the way all of life goes.

Some people have praised me for riding a few centuries, and I brushed it off.  You just get on your bike and pedal, and even when you're tired and hurting, you just keep going until you reach the finish.  Last time I stopped and cried twice.  Then I got back on my bike and finished. 

Am I ready to be a parent?  Of course not.  I've got more long rides and hill training to do before it's even time to start.  But I know I'm willing to give what's required.  That's the start.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Moving Forward

It seems like I've been waiting for the home study forever.  I thought it was done about 6 weeks ago, then I had to wait for revisions, signatures, notary, and finally longer than it seemed should have been necessary for delivery.  But here we are.  I mailed it to USCIS today.  This should be the biggest remaining step before the dossier is ready to send.  I estimate that it should take around a month. 

The only other remaining task is to have all documents state certified, which will take less time to complete than the immigration pre-approval.

I'm keeping my hands busy with crocheting a blanket for Robin in the meantime.  I've got 8 and a half skeins of yarn to go before the third week of July.

Now to wait some more...


Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Two Months In

It's hard to believe that we've only been working on this for a little over two months.  I have an appointment to sign the home study tomorrow, then it needs to be sent to USCIS so we can get our I-600A.  That will take a month or so.  Then we get our documents state certified and the dossier is ready to go.

In the meantime, I've finished the afghan and I'm reading a novel.  I need to work on the Amharic.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Net Worth

Oh Geez.  Call from the home study social worker tonight, when I thought it was already done. Ugh.  I don't have enough net worth.  Criminy.  There's plenty of net worth; it just doesn't show up on paper for this "single woman".  Bugger.  Why didn't I know this a month ago?

Now to fix it.


Addendum:  This was such a huge mountain-out-of-a-molehill event that it doesn't even deserve its own follow-up post.  It certainly didn't merit bourbon and a pint of Chubby Hubby.  Added the life insurance.  My mistake. Home study done.  Move on!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Weaving a Family - Untangling Race and Adoption by Barbara Katz Rothman

Rothman is a sociologist who writes from a combined personal and professional perspective.  She is a white Jewish woman who adopts an African-American infant midway through raising her two biological children with her husband.

She makes the point that biological race is constructed, but goes on to say that it still exists socially, so we have to deal with it.  One of her major points is that a black child has to learn to be black in America, because even those raised in white families tend to assimilate into black communities as adults.  The other is that a black child needs to learn about race because she will always have black appearance and its attendant difficulties.

I like Rothman's perspective much better than the previous authors.  Her concerns about race are more practical than ideological.  I like practical.  She spends a whole chapter talking about how important doing black hair properly is, even though this is far from a how-to manual.  I would have to reread this a few times to absorb many of the ideas she talks about.

My favorite moment from the book is the description of international, multicultural Passover Seder.  It's a perfect summation of the kind of heartfelt assimilation drives Rothman's view of the world.