Sunday, July 29, 2007

Two favorite blog moments

I realized that having spent so many hours watching other Ethiopian adoption blogs I really need to share my two favorite moments. I have spent most of my time on the Gladney Ethiopian adoption blog list given that those timelines are the most relevant for us (http://www.adoptionsbygladney.com/html/international/ethiopia/blog.html). It's amazing to me how much the personalities of the authors shine through the text and pictures. My first favorite moment is one that I cried my eyes out when seeing (not just the first time, but every time). You can find it on the Bottomly's blog - (http://bottomlysandethiopia.blogspot.com). The entry is in their archives under April 8, and it's a slideshow of them seeing their precious baby boy, Silas, for the first time. Really touching. My second favorite moment is one that I laughed out loud because it is so cute - the presentation of Christian and Ally's beautiful son (yet to be named) on July 27 at http://fromaxumtohere.blogspot.com/. Seeing families get their referrals certainly helps our own wait time go by faster, so I really appreciate all of the updates (especially all the pictures that people post while in Ethiopia, which I really hope to do when we're there), so thanks for the inspiration to start our own!

Paperwork tips...

Now that I've just gone through our adoption papers to list our timeline (see below), I realized that I have some suggestions for those of you just starting the process. Let me preface this by saying that I can already hear my family laughing at me and how "type A" I am, but I can tell you that it came in very handy during this process, so I'll take the ribbing this time!

1) A seemingly ridiulous level of organization is key. Photocopy and save EVERYTHING you compose, receive and send out (I put it all in order in a 4" 3-ring-binder). You never know when something will get lost in the shuffle. A checklist of what's written, received and notarized helped me too.

2) I would compose your letters and compile all of your request forms at the very begining. Depending on your state and your home study agency, you have no idea how these two entities will affect your wait time, so even if you think you have time, do everything that you have control over asap. For example, in Connecticut, we were able to get our CIS fingerprinting done way before our home study was ever complete, and then because I had waited to contact our home study agency (and weirdly enough, they had lots of other things going on other than our home study!), that was what we had to wait the longest for.

3) For whatever reason, both our health and life insurance companies were happy to send us proof of insurance, but would not notarize anything. Of course, they didn't tell me this when I requested it, they just seemed very eager to help. But when I received the form letter of proof of insurance and then called to find out why they weren't notarized, I was informed that they will not do that. I would suggest requesting this letter directly from your HR department or life insurance agency at the same time to cover your bases. It was REALLY annoying running to the mailbox everyday waiting for those letter only to receive something that we couldn't use.

4) Use KBS Dossier Service (especially if using Gladney)!! Kate was so helpful and saved us so much time and agony sending things to the county and state. I think her rates were more than reasonable and it was worth every penny. She knows the system. I have no idea how much she does with other agencies, but she knows exactly what Gladney needs and saved me so much time.

I think that's it for now. Please feel free to ask any questions that I didn't cover in my timeline b/c I know I was obsessed with the timing of things for a long time and these blogs were invaluable in keeping me sane (and probably saved a few phone calls to our agency asking about minute details!)



Adoption Timeline

  • 12/18/06 - Phone orientation with Gladney
  • 1/4/07 - Sent Gladney application request and I600A Application
  • 1/11/07 - Sent out requests for birth certificates, marriage certificates, employment letter, proof of health and life insurance, bank letter, reference letters, prepared "Why we want to adopt" and homemaker letters, financial statement. Got color pictures of our passports and gathered pictures of our family, house and yard. Sent Connecticut Criminal History report and Dept of Children & Family Background check requests.
  • 1/20/07 Sent Gladney application & fees, FBI background check, Home Study application (JFS in Bridgeport, CT). Notarized "Why we want to adopt letter", employment letter, homemaker letter, financial statement, passport copies, power of attorney.
  • 1/21/07 - Received Heidi's birth certificate
  • 1/22/07 - Received letter from USCIS saying they received our application and instructing us to have our fingerprints taken in Hartford.
  • 1/23/07 - John's physical & receipt of notarized health form
  • 1/25/07 - Received John's birth certificate
  • 1/26/07 - Received a letter stating our proof of life insurance from the insurance company, but they woudn't notarize it.
  • 1/27/07 - Received notarized bank letter
  • 1/28/07 - Received 1st notarized reference letter
  • 1/30/07 - Received Connecticut Criminal History report and Dept of Children & Family Background checks.
  • 2/1/07 - Received FBI clearance packages
  • 2/2/07 - Received a notarized letter from our insurance agent (NOT insurance company - they wouldn't do it) for proof of life insurance
  • 2/9/07 - Heidi's fingerprints taken
  • 2/10/07 - Received marriage certificate
  • 2/16/07 - Received Dept of Children and Families background check
  • 2/21/07 - First home study interview with Barbara Paris of JFS in Bridgeport, CT
  • 3/2/07 - Home study home visit
  • 3/3/07 - Received 2nd notarized reference letter
  • 3/7/07 - Final home study interview, Notarized FBI letters, received 3rd notarized reference letter, sent KBS Dossiers the first package of dossier papers.
  • 3/9/07 - Heidi's physical & receipt of notarized health form
  • 3/20/07 - Received a proof of insurance letter from our health insurance company, but since they woudn't notarize it, we just had John's firm write and notarize a letter.
  • 3/31/07 - John's fingerprints taken
  • 4/26/07 - Received redo letter of proof of life insurance (the letter dated 2/2/07 wasn't properly notarized)
  • 4/27/07 - Home study complete!
  • 5/3/07 - Officially Gladney approved!!!!
  • 5/15/07 - Received approval from USCIS (I-797C)
  • 5/17/07 - Notarized CIS Approval letter - this was the last thing we needed to do with the paperwork before the official waiting starts!
  • 5/29/07 - Dossier complete!!! Fully authenticated by the amazing Kate Sproat and sent to DC for final authentication.
  • 5/29/07 - We are OFFICIALLY WAITING!!
  • 6/8/07 - Dossier delivered to Belay, Gladey's representative in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • 7/12/07 - Scrambled to get new passport photos b/c somehow the US Embassy in Ethiopia lost them - ugh!
  • 7/21/07 - Signed and sent Gladney the PCR form (indicating how many HIV tests you require of the child before receiving a referral)
  • 8/2/07 - RECEIVED REFERRALL!!
  • 8/7/07 - Officially accepted referral
  • 8/27/07 - Official Ethiopian adoption date - SHE'S OURS!!!
  • 9/17/07 - Fly to Ethiopia
  • 9/19/07 - Meet Sophie Yordanos!
  • 9/24/07 - Forever Home
  • 12/4/07 - Adoption officially validated in Connecticut

Saturday, July 28, 2007

My first blog

Well, I didn't think that I was going to start a blog of my own, but after learning, laughing, crying and enjoying everyone else's Ethiopian adoption blogs so much, I now feel compelled to share our story as well. We have 3 wonderful biological children - Matthew (6 - 1st grade), Katie (almost 5 - kindergarten) and William (2 1/2), and as of tomorrow we are two months into our wait for a referral of a baby girl up to 18 months. We are using Gladney out of Texas and couldn't be happier with the experience so far. I think that I was a little hesitant about starting our own blog for many reasons - afraid of the weirdos in cyberspace, afraid that there is no way I could make ours as interesting/funny/touching as some of the others that I've seen, etc. But now I realize that it is just so helpful, especially for those waiting. I will certainly post a timeline b/c I think that is one of the things that I looked at the most as I prepared our documents. In general terms, we started the application early January 2007 and had everything complete by May 29. Belay, our in-country Gladney representative received our dossier on June 8 and we've been waiting for the call ever since. Unfortunately, we will probably now be waiting until at least October to travel given that we haven't gotten a referral yet, but this will be infinitely better for my brother and sister-in-law who will be staying at our house with the kids while we're gone. Given that she is pregnant with their first, I think having the older 2 in school for the week will be much easier!! Ok, I will post more later including pictures and timeline, but wanted to at least get this started!!

 Why Adopt From Ethiopa You Ask? 
One in ten children die before their first birthday• One in six children die before their fifth birthday• 44% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years old• 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition• The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years• 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world)• 720,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS alone, and there are 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia.• Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa• In the 90s the population (3%) grew faster than food production (2.2%)• Drought struck the country from 2000-2002 (first year no crops, second year no seeds, third year no animals)• Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school. 88% will never attend secondary school.• Coffee prices (Ethiopia’s only major export) fell 40-60% from 1998-2002.• Ethiopia’s doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000.• In 1993, after 30 long years of war, Eritrea broke from Ethiopia and became an independent nation leaving Ethiopia landlocked without any major seafaring ports.