June 12, 2007

Fine Nights

We tend to spend as many nights as possible in New Paltz with the occasional night in NYC when work or a special event require it. However there are those times when you just need to be in NYC. This week is one of those times. With hubby away on work for 4 days I decided that I would bring the cats with me into the city for the week. 4 days of city living, which I do occasionally miss, with my cats as company just in case the last minute notice isn't enough to schedule nights out with friends. I got lucky and was able to spend last night out with colleagues and tomorrow with my best gal pal enjoying retail therapy leaving just tonight to come up with something to do. Not a hard problem. When you live in a city with endless delivery options (and healthy ones at that) and have the company of cats and cable tv it's just not that hard to occupy yourself. The Chinese place is actually called "tofu" although they do serve meat dishes also. Black mushrooms and snow peas in spicy sauce...mmm. New Zealand sauvignon blanc...double mmm. Sage oil infused VT cheddar cheese with reduced fat triscuits... mmm.

I'm still learning, and likely will be for some time, what makes us tick when we're living in the city vs when we're in the country. Both seem to make us very happy, tho we crave them differently and have very different expectations of our time spent in either. Our larger cat, Bridger, couldn't care less - I think. As long as he has multiple windows to stare out of with plenty of action happening on the other side of them he is plenty entertained. The small cat, Bode, is fine as long as I'm nearby. Period. This is really making me out to miss the city isn't it...not the intention, I assure you, but also not necessarily a negative result of the post. I think we've (I've) just spent so much time thinking about our pending adoption that a week of something familiar, city living, is turning out to be somewhat of a "vacation from thought" or perhaps just the opposite, more of a perspective gaining time to reflect and compare how our lives have evolved over the past 8 months.

A pregnant woman got on the subway with me on my way home tonight. She must have been in her late 30's at least, and I wondered who would give up their seat so that she could sit down comfortably (ha) for the ride. Another mother sitting next to her teenage son got up and gestured for the pregnant woman to take her seat, which she happily did. I'm not sure why the mother didn't use this opportunity to teach her son that subway seats should be given to pregnant, elderly, with child, and various other groups by having him relinquish his seat, but at least she attempted to teach by example. When we bring our child back from Ethiopia, WHEN, oh wow. When we bring our child back from Ethiopia, wow I can't even finish the sentence - I'm so excited. WHEN.

June 8, 2007

Adoption, First Email!

You wouldn't think that a simple email indicating that a package has been received could be the source for such a massive PHEW. But it was. Today I got an email from CHI (Children's Hope International) saying that they received our application for the Ethiopia program and that they would be contacting us shortly. CONTACTING US SHORTLY! YEAH! I realize that there is a long way to go from here to having a child with us in our home, but this was the first confirmed step towards that goal. And I love it. I hope that they accept us in to the program, and even more I hope they do so prior to our trip to Europe in two weeks. What a lovely thing that would be to celebrate. Maybe I should start the CIS paperwork myself just to keep things rolling... I know they recommend waiting for the home study before going ahead with these things, but I can hardly wait I'm so excited. Wow the next 7-18 months are going to be hard!

June 7, 2007

Adoption, Stages Defined

The Steps:
Choose an agency (1 month to ages)
Choose a country program (1 month to ages)
Participate in a home study (3 months)
Gather all documents necessary for dossier (3-6 months)
Submit dossier to country
Wait for referral (0-30 months)
Accept referral
Travel to pick up your child (1-6 months)

The Documents:
Agency Power of Attorney
Letter stating reason for adopting from Ethiopia
Photos of applicants and home (6-10)
CIS approval
Home Study with Agency License
Employment Letters
Financial Statement
Birth Certificates
Marriage Certificate
Medical Letter
Police Letter
Three signed reference letters from non-relatives
Letter of Obligation/Post Placement - Family
Letter of Commitment/Post Placement SW
Passport ID pages
Copy of dossier

The Cost:
We're trying not to focus too heavily on this part, as a worse case scenario we can take out a loan. We're estimating that the costs A-Z will be around $20,000. There is a $10,900 tax credit that we will qualify for which will help, but my guess is that the cost is the primary reason why many people don't adopt. All of the costs involved are justified though, I mean you're "closing" on a child! People pay thousands of dollars just in legal and agency fees when closing on a house so it should be expected that transferring a child not only from one family to another, but from one country to another, will incur significant costs. This is yet another reason to use a non profit adoption agency as a portion of their fee goes towards supporting their efforts in the countries they work with. It's all worth it.

Adoption, Early Stages

My husband and I married with plans of adopting internationally. We've been constant in our view that we were privileged in many ways growing up and would like to offer the same opportunities to a child who may not otherwise have them. That and there are just so many children out there who need a loving family. But for now exciting news - we've begun the adoption process! The first step was to research adoption agencies which inevitably leads into the next step which is selecting a country program. We attended several informational meetings, all for non-profit agencies, and exhausted Google. We decided early on that we would like to adopt through a non-profit agency as most of these have invested teams based in the countries they work with providing humanitarian aid to the children left behind. Also the idea of somebody making a profit while millions of children wait in orphanages just didn't seem right.

Of all of the meetings we attended and research we did, Children's Hope International stood out as by far the most knowledgeable and passionate agency. They have dedicated staff in each country, provide huge amounts of aid to the communities, are informed of the issues relevant to each country, and overall seem to have a real heart for the operation. Needless to say this was obviously not the case with at least one other agency we met with - which will go unnamed as they are still trying to do a good thing so don't deserve to be mentioned negatively. The next step, program selection. We have always intended to adopt a child from Latin America. Perhaps Guatemala or Colombia. My undergraduate degree is in Spanish Language & Literature and my husband and I have traveled extensively through Central & South America. These experiences have given us a specific passion for the children of these countries.

Enter...obstacles. Guatemala is not currently Hague compliant, and Columbia's greatest need is for adoptive families for older children. Hague is basically an international convention that mandates certain parameters for international adoption. The US has never participated in The Hague but is implementing it this year which means all of the countries our citizens adopt from also need to be compliant. So, if we rush through our paperwork and somehow attain a referral and travel to Guatemala before the end of 2007 (when the US expects to have fully implemented the Hague) then we could very well find ourselves in a situation where half of the expenses have been paid out to the Guatemala program and all of a sudden we need to start from scratch with a new country. That, and the main reason Guatemala is needing to implement the Hague asap is due to speculation of huge humanitarian violations in the adoption process - child trafficking and other horrific scenarios. I just couldn't live wondering if the child we adopted was somehow forced from his/her biological family just to fill a "market demand" for young children in the US. As first time parents we would love our first child to be younger than two years old, which doesn't really fit the profile need in Columbia, so we moved on with our research.

Ethiopia. Here there is a case of extreme need for adoptive families (estimated 5 million + children waiting), a country rich in culture and history, and younger children in need of homes due to recent politically and environmentally induced strife. Infants of AIDS victims and/or warfare and/or famine. We've only visited Africa once and it was to Morocco, but we loved it and have always planned to return to other countries and explore. After doing a little more research, meeting two adorable Ethiopian twins, and having the same passionate feeling enter our conversations that we have about Latin American children we decided that we were meant to pursue the Ethiopia program. Yesterday I sent in the application via FedEx and received confirmation today that it arrived. Although there aren't any reasons to turn us down I'm still nervous. We don't have a criminal history, both of us are healthy with no history of illness, we're financially stable, have two huge humanitarian hearts, love children, have traveled extensively, and really really really want this. They can't say no, right? Mind you, this application is just the one that officially puts us at the beginning of the process.

The next steps will be to gather all of the necessary documents and participate in the home study. We're hoping we can get going on this as soon as we return from a vacation in Europe, but being the compulsive type that I am I have already sent away for several of the documents such as birth certificate, marriage license, etc... So now we wait. Children's Hope International, Ethiopia program, potential referral in as little as 6 months...I'm so excited. Of course we need to be very patient as 6 months could easily turn in to 18, but it will be worth it.