She's ours!!! We are in shock. We will have to think of something very special to bring to Belay when we travel to pick her up in SEPTEMBER!! I know those of you who are waiting for a court date are wondering what is going on...here's the scoop. Lisa left me a comment on a previous post saying "I don't want to get your hopes up, but I think a judge may have seen your case while the courts were closed. Belay said the judge had asked him to come back the next day, and he was hoping that was the reason." Well I am very happy that she gave us a head's up, because I think that I would have had a heart attack if Natalie called today with the news. Basically, Natalie said that this is highly unusual, but Belay was able to find a judge that was still working to approve our case. Apparently, they need to have the birth mother at the court date if that is at all a possibility. Well at one point, an address that Sophie's birth mother had given was not correct so they were not sure that they could contact her. Recently she came back so Belay asked the judge to see our case today since the birth mother was willing to come. So, our case was approved today and she is officially ours! It looks like we will travel in mid-September. My head is swimming with all that there is to do to prepare for travel (including getting the kids settled in school starting Thursday and having family members come stay with them while we're gone). All the chaos of the next three weeks will be worth it. YIPPPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
A post to Lisa Holliday and family - THANK YOU, YOU ARE THE BEST!!! Getting little tidbits of info about Sophie, and especially pictures has made our whole week. Of course it makes us want to get our hands on her that much sooner, but if the rumor is true, and Belay was able to get to the judge, that may actually happen. I'll be sure to let everyone know as soon as I know anything. Thanks so much for the information, Lisa. I especially love hearing how many fun and loving visitors she's getting - it looks like Bennett and Camille took good care of her, so I'm sure she's missing them already. Luckily for them, they just got home forever this week. Congrats and welcome home to the Holliday family. And a million thanks again.
Well, with the last week of summer here, I thought I'd post some pictures of the family. We're having a great time and trying to squeeze every last second out before school starts on Thursday! I hope to post soon with a Sophie update. We're almost at a month since referral, so I hope to have some new measurements and pictures from Gladney. I'll be sure to add them when I can.
Well, I have a few moments to post only because John was able to bring a laptop home from work. Yesterday, my computer crashed for the third time. This time is was permanent. I was REALLY starting to get upset about it and nasty to those around me. I had just uploaded some of the best pictures I've ever had of the kids and then erased them from my camera. My outlook had ALL of my contacts (addresses, email, phone, birthdays, etc) and every single adoption document and email. I had tons of emails that I hadn't replied to and can't remember what I owe to whom. I ordered a new computer, but it will take 2 weeks to get here. I was feeling really sorry for myself (and pretty stupid since I hadn't backed any of this up for months and knew it was inevitable since it was the 3rd time and the laptop was 4 years old).
Then I looked at Sophie..... What a way to snap out of it. I mean, really, Heidi - are you kidding yourself? Look at that precious little face and all the loss she has experienced in her short 6 months on this earth. And then remember that there are nearly 5 MILLION other kids in Ethiopia alone with a similar history. I feel very fortunate to have such a wonderful family and friends that are all relatively healthy and happy and well-cared-for. I have a great life - and I realized that this TEENY inconvenience is so insignificant in the greater scheme of life. Thank you Sophie - we haven't even held you in our arms yet and you have taught us so much about patience and love. I can only hope that this is the first lesson of many that we will teach each other. We can't wait to have you home. xoxo
I guess the one good part about waiting is that we will have lots of time to figure out as many questions as we can ask about Sophie's first six months. Of course, we are certainly curious, but more importantly, we feel the need to gather as much as humanly possible to give her a better understanding of where she began her life. Our case worker was able to determine that her mother named her, which makes me very happy - there is no question now that we will keep Yordanos as her middle name. For other Gladney families out there did you ask most of your questions to your case worker and have them find things out, or did you just ask Belay things when you got there? I'm thinking of things like the religious background of Yordanos or her mother, her ethnicity, the language the mother spoke, etc. I don't want to keep pestering Natalie at Gladney, but I feel like there is so little information to give her when she's older.
On another note, Natalie did tell us that she can try to contact a family traveling soon and we can send a mini photo album over for Sophie to look at until we can go get her. So whoever gets tapped for that job, thank you so much in advance! Maybe I'm crazy, but I think it will help her to absorb our faces for the next few months. It's certainly helping me that we have a huge picture of her in the house! William keeps walking by it saying "Hi Sophie" in this really high pitched voice. It's really cute - hopefully he'll find her as cute when she's here playing with his toys!
It's hard to remember when these guys were 6 months old, but here they are (Matthew top, Katie middle, William bottom). Time flies so fast as they grow. I can only hope that our wait time until November will fly too. I can't wait to get more pictures of Sophie.
There are a few Gladney families traveling to Ethiopia this month and next to pick up their precious babies, so I have resorted to flat out begging for any pictures that they can get while they are there - and for any of you that haven't been personally begged, here is my plea! I will also settle for any stories of how she's doing, how she's interacting with the other kids, etc.
Another family just got their referral for 6 month old twin girls (born just a week after Sophie) and their big brother (who is 2). Its so nice even seeing pictures of other kids that are in the Gladney home with her (and I'm sure there are a few more referrals coming before we go get her). The boy (Josiah Abel) looks like he will certainly keep the babies smiling!
Introducing Sophie Yordanos Daileader! First of all, the "facts". Her full Ethiopian name is Yordanos Ayele and her estimated birthday is February 7, 2007 (a day before William's 2nd birthday), making her 6 months old. Yordanos means Jordan, for the Jordan river, which forms the boundary between Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Jordan, and flows south from Syria to the Dead Sea. It is mentioned in the Bible as the place of Jesus' baptism. I am trying to find out whether her mother named her or her original orphanage. If her mother named her, we will definitely keep Yordanos as her middle name. Otherwise, we may find another Amheric name that means something special.
The whole process of getting a referral was absolutely crazy. Before I get off on a tangent, I want to say thank you, thank you especially Natalie and Belay, both with Gladney, for bringing us to Yordanos as fast as humanly possible. We had lots of questions and they were both so patient with us. There was a period of a few hours that we thought that we could get her through the Ethiopian courts before they closed (which unexpectedly happened yesterday), and we really appreciate all of the running around and staying up late they did to try to facilitate that. Unfortunately, we were not able to officially adopt her before the rainy season, so now we'll pray that the courts reopen by September 25 as expected (or earlier) and that everything goes smoothly in court so that we can go get her in late October/early November.
So here's the story - I went to the Gap Wednesday specifically to buy (PRODUCT)RED shirts for the whole family (including the new baby-to-be). For those of you who don't already know this, (RED) was started by Bono and others to raise awareness and money to help women and children affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa to produce (PRODUCT)RED branded products and use part of the proceeds of these products to buy AIDS medications. I was very happy with my purchases and decided to wear my shirt on Thursday. It has now become my lucky shirt because at 11:30 Thursday morning, Natalie called from Gladney to give us our referral for Yordanos and to give us all of her information and the two pictures you see above. Luckily, John was in town, so we were able to have a conference call with Natalie and hear and see all of the information at the same time. As her referral reads, "she is a pretty little girl with beautiful, big eyes and a cute round nose. She is very playful and happy and loves to be held. When you hold her and play with her, she is very engaged and interactive." She sounds like a great sleeper and pretty good eater (we'll certainly beef her up in this house).
We had chosen a pediatrician that specializes in international adoptions in NYC to review the pre-adoption medical reports that we received. I called the office at noon on Thursday and we had her initial assessment of the medical report to us by midnight! I was shocked that she could do it so quickly (not because we received very much medical information, but more because this is a woman in very high demand and we were lucky that she was even in the country today). We finally spoke to her over the phone this afternoon and officially accepted her referral.
I have decided to post pictures of our other three kids at about 6 months (but I'm having trouble getting the pics in, so that will have to wait - aarrgghh). We hope to have a smiling picture of Sophie soon, so that will be easier to compare. The few people that have seen her picture and know our kids think that she actually looks like them. I have thought that about several families, so I wonder if Gladney doesn't try to find similar facial characteristics? I think she shares their cute button nose and is so beautiful that I don't really care who she looks like, we just can't wait until she's really, truly ours!!
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.
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
We are a family of six living in Connecticut. We brought our youngest daughter home from Ethiopia in September 2007 and have not stopped thinking about how we can help improve the lives of the amazing Ethiopian people since. We are so lucky to have met an ever-growing community of Ethiopian adoptive families that have given their hearts and souls back to Ethiopia. We look forward to sharing this journey back to Ethiopia with you and hope that you can help us help Ethiopia Smile!