Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Celebrating Differently

For a while I was concerned that Terry wasn't as excited about the adoption as I was. After all the hard work of filling out paperwork, getting our life notarized, writing out checks and completing the homestudy, we got an awesome email that said, "Congratulations! You are officially waiting for a referral!!" I called Terry right away and told him. On my way home, I stopped at BN and bought a card with a super cute baby on the front. It said, "Let the Wonders Begin..." I began watching the CHSFS forum more closely, watching our name move up on the list, and thought it would be good to start this blog. All of my activities seemed uninteresting to Terry. Soon, I inquired as to his "unexcitement".

"I am very excited about the adoption," he said, "we're just celebrating differently." And it then occurred to me that he was perfectly right. Terry has been studying Amharic, the "official" language of Ethiopia, listening to words over and over while he remodels the bathroom. As soon as we are done with the bathroom, we can start on the nursery. Sometimes we don't see, or don't understand, how other people celebrate moments in their lives. While my journey has been more public-- blogging, paraticipating on the forum, counting down the days-- Terry's has been more private, studying the new language and getting the house done so that we can create our baby's room.

On Valentine's Day, Terry surprised me with two beautiful scrapbook pages that he created himself. He took so much time to design these permanent momento's for our baby's lifebook. One page has the card I gave him on Officially Waiting Day, and the other page has the first "congratulations" card we got from our good friends J and MK. We spent Valentine's evening at Archiver's perusing the different papers, velums, stickers, buttons, and decorations for the baby lifebook. It was one of the first activities (besides that darn paperwork!) that we did together in celebration of our baby's arrival. It was such a fun evening and gave us time to reflect together.

So I learned a valuable lesson a couple of weeks ago... we celebrate all of the moments in our lives differently. While these things are important, it is also important that we make moments together to recognize this phenomenal change in our lives. From this point forward, I believe we'll be finding more of those moments...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Living

There comes a point in life when you watch those closest to you near their end and yet experience the process of bringing new life into the world. We have reached the age when our grandparents have passed away and we begin to look at our parents with different eyes, jumping when the phone rings after 10:00 pm, hoping it's not the worst news. Opposingly, we wait for the phone to ring during the day that tells us we are the lucky parents of a beautiful baby.

During the last week, a very good friend of ours discovered her mother was suffering from the end stages of pancreatic cancer; another friend has a father slipping away from her as he disappears into Alzheimer's. SJ's mother is a charming, wonderful, soft-hearted woman, not yet retired and young. We support her daughter as she struggles with the realities of her mother's painful suffering, confusion about why this would happen, and questioning the fairness of it all. FW's father is an adorable, soft-spoken man who paid rapt attention to the women's basketball game last week, but stumbled when thinking about where the bathroom was and how to get back. We stand with FW as she watches her loving father slowly stumble away from her.

It is difficult to watch friends suffer, question, and struggle with realities of life, illness. Tragedy adequately describes their experiences. We walk beside them, holding hands, offering shoulders, crying sympathetic tears, all the while knowing that someday we will be in their shoes. We will have them to stand beside us, as we stand beside them, and be grateful to have someone who has gone before us, experiencing the unimaginable, offering advice for how to cope... or continue on. It is during these times that we most poignantly discover what life is about: our families of choice, loving and supporting, and living life as you dream. As we stand beside our friends, we wait for a most joyous event in ours... an ironic set of events has been set into motion: suffering and joy, fading and shining, sobbing and laughing. This will be a year of greatest sadness and greatest joy.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

PS

I noticed that people were not able to post comments if they didn't have an account! Oops! Sorry! I have fixed this now so that anyone can post to this blog.

So, Why Ethiopia?

Good Question! Why Ethiopia? It's hard to know why a person feels pulled towards one thing of another. As you know, Terry and I are fairly analytical folk. While it was kind of a no-brainer to go with CHSFS for us, the country decision was quite another. Fortunately, CHSFS makes things easy for us by providing a spreadsheet containing all of the normal questions:

1) Age of child at referral
2) How long of a wait for referral?
3) How old do prospective parents need to be?
4) What are the country's exclusion criteria?
5) How much does it cost?

Unfortunately, due to my medical conditions (Meniere's, Endometriosis), I do not qualify to adopt from quite a few countries, including all of the Asian countries such as China, Korea, and Thailand. Also, Terry and I were quite interested in receiving an infant as young as possible. As a new international adoption country, Ethiopia offered the most flexibility in ages of children, and also offered a very short waiting time for a referral. Of course, we also had to consider expense in our mix.

Ethiopia afforded us the best options for international adoption. We are able to request an infant as young as possible and the travel time is relatively short. We expect to be in Ethiopia for approximately 1 week, but would like to travel for longer. Ethiopia has a remarkably rich history, including a claim of having the Ark of the Covenant in its possession. Ethiopia has perhaps the highest number of individual languages of any country on the planet, some of the oldest rock hewn churches in the world, a diversity of religions and ethnicities, and is one of few countries that has never been colonized. Our child's biological heritage is rich in history and experience and we look forward to sharing this with them throughout their life.

Many have also asked why we do not adopt domestically; "There are so many children here who need families". While it is true there are many children available in the United States to adopt out of foster care, Terry and I did not feel well positioned to care for a child who would come to us with numerous psychological and/or physical needs. Additionally, since this may be our only child, it was important for me to have a child from infancy. While domestic infant adoption takes roughly as long as international adoption, we also are not pleased with the laws governing domestic adoption, nor were we convinced that open-adoption is good solution. CHSFS only offers open-adoptions for domestic infants.

It cannot go without saying that this was a difficult decision to make. However, be assured that much thought has gone into our journey into adoption and we are excited about what the next months will gift to us.

Addis Ababa Time