October 31, 2007


Our dossier is officially burning a hole in my pocket. All of the documents are stamped, certified, state approved, and tightly bundled in a weather proof package ready to be mailed to CHI the moment we receive our I-171H. I fee like I've been making my list and checking it twice (or three, or four, or five...) times for months! Oh wait... I HAVE! So now that everything that we can gather is gathered, what to do? Refinish floors, make a new kind of lasagna (asparagus with parmesan sauce), carve 6 pumpkins, research patterns for the baby's room, obsessively question the age of every child we see:

Me: Do you think that child is 3-5 months or more like 6-8?
Mike: Hm, does she have teeth yet?
Me: I think 6 months is when many children start teething.
Mike: Wow, so our child might already have teeth?
Me: Well what about her, she looks like she has teeth but she's walking, do you think our child will be able to walk like that when we meet him/her?
Mike: He/she will probably be too young to be walking, but maybe.
Me: Well what about that one over there, he looks to be in the 8-10 month range, right?
Mike: I was thinking more like 5-7 actually. Do you think our child will be able to sit up on their own like that one over there?

And the conversation continues! I guess now that the paper chase is (almost...come on I-171H) complete we're looking for something else to keep us busy until that fabulous day when the referral arrives. This weekend it's the floors, maybe next weekend we'll take a stab at redoing the downstairs bathroom, and then there are those windows that need to be weather proofed, and then...ok maybe it wont be so difficult to find things to do!

October 30, 2007


We will be able to make our fingerprinting appointment, as assigned, this Friday at 1:00PM. Sigh of relief is an understatement.

October 29, 2007

Dossier & The Boss

Today two major steps were completed:

1) Our dossier documents are now New York State Certified!
2) I had THE conversation with my boss!

We will need to return to the state certification office one more time once our CIS approval arrives (the I-171H form) however everything else is 100% ready to go at this point which is really really exciting. Our I-171H is in the works, and baring any roadblocks (there is one potential delay, but I'm doing my best not to focus too heavily on this as all will happen in due time...) we will receive our approval in 4-6 weeks. Hopefully less, but isn't that always the case? Also, I met a woman while waiting for my file to be reviewed who is adopting from Russia. She needed to state certify 57 documents! And I thought our 20 was a lot. We exchanged contact info and will keep each other posted on our progress!

As for the conversation with my boss, it could not have possibly gone better. She's excited, I'm excited. I'm dedicated to returning to work full time, she's very happy about that. Considering the fact that the best timeline I could provide was, "I could be traveling anytime between February and July of 2008 and even then this could change at the drop of a hat depending on the zillions of factors contributing to the process..." well, quite frankly she was a gem.

So, we'll keep our fingers crossed that these two steps forward don't result in two steps back (come on you Paula fans...) and if they do, well I suppose it's about time for another round of the patience song...

"Have patience, have patience, don't be in such a hurry. When you are impatient, you only start to worry. Remember, remember, that God is patient too, and think of all the times that others have to wait for you!"

Great Adoption Resources

Thanks to Kevin & Stacie I'm now well acquainted with The Dalai Mama's Shop, personalized gifts for a great cause. This site sells items such as baby shower cards catering to adoptive families and adoption announcements as well as postcards of scenic Ethiopia. A significant portion of the proceeds from any purchase made on her site will be donated to Adoption Advocates International's Child Sponsorship Program which raises money to send children in Ethiopia to school. Cheers to the Dalai Mama!

October 28, 2007

Too Soon

We discovered yesterday that this weekend was just a tad too soon to be shopping for Bean's first outfit. Two main reasons:

1) Bean's room isn't ready yet (we haven't bought a changing table and the floors need to be refinished and carpet purchased) so there isn't currently anywhere to put clothing, decorations etc... meaning items would just sit in bags until the above mentioned are taken care of.

2) Bean could be a boy, or a girl, 3 months old, 6 months old, 10 months old, small for his/her age or large for his/her age...who knows! Requesting an infant (0-12 months) of either gender leaves things pretty wide open to possibilities making the purchase of clothing a little tricky. That said there are some adorable items out there that would likely suit a boy or a girl in the 6-12 month age range so as soon as Bean's room is ready we'll revisit the project of purchasing the first outfit.

In the meantime we're hoping we're not getting too far ahead of ourselves. Our fingerprinting appointment is this Friday which is the last step we need to take to get our CIS approval which is the last document we need to complete our dossier. At that point it will be pretty much out of our hands. The wait times, however, seem to be increasing lately with 3-5 months being more realistic than our originally hoped for 1-3 months. Still, we can't help but think that if we receive a referral in 5 months (which is still realistic) - Bean could very likely already be born! It's amazing how it's possible to love someone so much before ever even meeting them.

October 26, 2007

The Baby's Room: Post #1 of Many

It's so hard to know when it's "time" to start doing things like decorating the baby's room, buying clothes, and organizing your home so that it's fit for a child when you're paper preggers. When we start the home study? Complete the home study? Apply to CIS? Complete the dossier? Or do we wait until the dossier is officially in Ethiopia? Well, we've decided this weekend is the time for us, which just happens to be in none of the stages listed above rather the "our fingerprinting appointment is next week and it's time to get the baby's room ready!" stage. Never question the logistics of a waiting mommy... it's just time.

The first step was to schedule an appointment to have the hard wood floors refinished on the second floor of our house where the bedrooms are. The genius who owned our home prior to us decided to paint the walls with bright colors without protecting the floors, and then just covered them up with bright colored carpeting which we promptly removed when we moved in. Needless to say the floors are gorgeous but look a bit like a Jackson Pollock painting only 50% complete. Our appointment to have them refinished is next Saturday! In the meantime we plan on finalizing the room decor and maybe even purchasing our very first outfit for Bean. This will need to be a special purchase, but we may have something in mind...pictures to follow!

October 25, 2007

AKA: The Boys

This is Bode, one of our two highly cherished and highly spoiled cats. I'll introduce you to Bridger later. Today we discussed getting started to work on Bean's room and if I know my cats they're going to sense that something is up with the entrance of one new piece of furniture...the crib! We adopted our cats through a fabulous organization called Kitty Kind. Bridger entered our lives Spring of 2002 and is now about 7 years old and Bode joined us Spring of 2003 and is now about 6 years old. I say "about" because both were supposedly around 2 1/2 at the time of their adoption, however all of the kitties waiting for homes seemed to have the 2 1/2 year "estimated age" listed on their id's as well. Curious. Anyhow, both of our boys came to us with very developed personalities.

Bridger was dropped off at Kitty Kind by an elderly woman who no longer had the means to care for him. Bode was found by Kitty Kind in a condemned building in Brooklyn along with 40 other malnourished cats. You can imagine how their former lives impacted their personalities - Bridger is trusting and will let you carry him anywhere whereas Bode is quite a bit more hesitant with who he trusts, but once you've made his "OK" list he's hard to get rid of! In their own ways they both love to cuddle and play and hunt and be curious. I have a feeling our attention is going to shift a little once Bean arrives, or maybe it has already... Yesterday I found Bridger sleeping on top of our Adoptive Families magazine - I think he may have been trying to tell us something!

October 24, 2007

Fingerprinting Appointment Set!

Okay okay, I've tried really hard not to title each post with a ! at the end, but all of the updates at this point are so unbelievably exciting that I just can't help it. Today we received our appointments for fingerprinting with CIS which will complete our CIS application and result in our CIS approval - the last piece needed to complete our dossier. We're set to be fingerprinted on Friday, November 2nd at 1:00PM. Once that is complete we'll receive our CIS approval (the I-171H form) and shortly after will send everything off to CHI at which point it will be officially out of our hands. I'm so excited that our fingerprinting date is set and was received so quickly - only about a week after we sent in the application! If things continue to go as smoothly as they have been our dossier will definitely be in Ethiopia by the holidays. YEAH!

County Certified!

As of yesterday afternoon all of our dossier documents (with the exception of our CIS approval) have been county certified. Three of the four were a breeze and took 10-15 minutes of painless administration and the fourth (New York County, surprise surprise) took two hours but is now done! Everything is all set to take to the state for their final stamp of approval as soon as our I-171H arrives. Remaining steps you ask?

1) Receive our appointment from CIS for our fingerprinting (necessary before the CIS approval can be processed)
2) Receive our CIS approval
3) Bring all documents to NY State for State Certification
4) Send everything to CHI!

October 23, 2007

Every Step Counts

My husband wanted me to hold off on this post until ALL of our documents had been certified but that's not going to happen until this afternoon and I'm excited so here is my small update...

Yesterday we had our documents certified in two of the four counties we need to receive certification from. The Ulster County and Westchester County documents are all set to be state certified! I also checked our bank account online and saw that CIS cashed our check for the I-600A application so it must be in the processing stages! This afternoon we're going to go to the two remaining counties, Kings (Brooklyn) and New York (Manhattan), and then head to the NY Secretary of State office to have everything state certified. We'll need to have the CIS approval form county and state certified as well, but we thought getting all of the other documents completely taken care of while we wait for our approval will help speed things up once it finally arrives - that and it gives us something to do while we wait. It's not that we're impatient, we're just REALLY excited!

October 21, 2007

Crazy Beautiful Organization

Now that we've completed the paper chase we're in waiting mode for our CIS approval. And what better way to spend our time than hyper-crazy organizing our dossier documents so that they're spot-on-ready for state certification once our CIS approval arrives! We're now into multiple weather-proof folders, four contain the county specific documents (all of our dossier documents need to be notarized then county certified then state certified all in the county and state where the original notarization occurred) and one final weather-proof folder for the state level certification.

Our marriage license and birth certificates are all set because they don't originate from NY (we were both born in MN and got married in MT) so these are the first documents to move to the state level certification folder, but the others are soon to follow! Is there a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than researching and printing county and state government office information and then printing and organizing detailed cover letters to be placed in weather proof folders? Well, watching the Vikings whoop the Cowboys would be nice too - here's to holding out hope for the home team!

The Babymobile

Today we brought home the babymobile. We are now proud owners of two cars for the first time ever. We love and frequently take advantage of public transportation and lived sans-auto for our first two years living in NY. Since then, however, the demands of our jobs, family, and geographic location have brought on increased demand of travel-by-auto, necessitating the purchase of car #1 four years ago and now car #2 today. Not to mention the fact that we felt guilty transporting our cats in car #1 making the purchase of our babymobile pretty inevitable. And it's a Subaru! We can't wait to equip our new ride with a child car seat!

October 20, 2007

Paper Preggers

If you search the word "preggers" on Wikipedia you'll be automatically redirected to the definition for pregnancy. However, if instead of going directly to Wikipedia you opt to first Google "preggers" you're given the option to continue on to Urban Dictionary where much more interesting definitions await. The possible definitions range from "a slang word for pregnant" to "a term used by both Upper and Lower class British Citizens while talking to friends to claim that their life long partner is pregnant." There are slightly less than positive definitions as well, but when you're searching a database titled "Urban Definitions" I suppose that's to be expected.

When women are pregnant they cautiously await the third month of pregnancy when the chances of miscarriage decrease significantly. It is then when they begin talking, planning, sharing, and becoming openly excited about their life changing event - and are officially, preggers. Not that they weren't excited during the first three months (I imagine anyone looking back at their friend's first months of pregnancy would attest to the fact that a beaming glow became present despite the news not yet having been made public) but there is something about being in the IT'S NOW PUBLIC phase that makes everything that much more real. They're preggers, and it's public.

For adoptive families there isn't a defined time when we "should" go public with news of our adoption. Month #3 could be when an application is received or could be when an application is filed or could be when nothing is happening at all because one of the many processes are, well, in process. The term "paper pregnancy" is often used to define an adoption, so when are adoptive families officially "paper preggers"?

While still mindfull of potential obsticles we are now considering ourselves to be paper preggers. The paper chase is over. We're now only awaiting approval from CIS and mere days after that is received our dossier will be sent to Ethiopia when our long awaited child will be officially matched - to us. We had better begin preparing the baby's room, we're paper preggers!

October 18, 2007

The First "All Clear"

This week has been extremely exciting! On Monday we submitted our application to CIS and their approval is the last document we need for our dossier to be complete. While we wait our adoption agency, CHI, requested that we fax them copies of our dossier documents just to make sure that everything is in line and set for when the CIS approval arrives. They gave us the "ALL CLEAR!" today! So far this week we've received two fantastic confirmations:

- Our application arrived to CIS on Tuesday morning at 7AM and is now being processed (hopefully we'll receive approval in 4-6 weeks)

- CHI received copies of our dossier documents and confirmed that they are now officially correct and complete! (less the CIS approval which is on it's way)

My entirely optimistic side tells me we'll be traveling to be united with Baby Bean in 4 months. My more realistic side keeps reminding me it will be more like 6-8 months... In any case we're ecstatic!

October 15, 2007

Just Happy

We're finally in the next phase and are one step closer to the "waiting for a referral" stage. Happiness is.

One Step Closer

Sweet sweet entrance to the next step...

Today we picked up three notarized copies of our home study from CHI and sent in the I-600A application to USCIS. We’ve been told that it will take anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks for USCIS to send us the approval form, I-171H, which will then complete our dossier. The optimist in me says we’ll receive the I-171H in mid-November, state certify everything before Thanksgiving, and mail everything to CHI by December 1st. Based on this timeline our dossier could realistically be in Ethiopia by Christmas and a referral could be received as early as February! That’s the optimist. The slightly slower and somewhat more realistic (have patience) timeline has the I-171H to us mid-December which pushes everything back about a month meaning March would be the earliest realistic time to receive our referral. We prefer to be optimists.

In addition to officially entering the next stage in our journey, today we learned a very important lesson: Grandmothers are very excited when a new grandchild is on the way so any and all email updates must be VERY carefully worded… The moment we put our USCIS application in the mail we sent our mothers an email heavy with international adoption lingo to share the great news. I wrote that we could realistically have our state certified dossier to CHI by early December so that it could travel to Ethiopia by Christmas. This in itself is a very exciting and seemingly harmless update, however if you interpret “it could travel to Ethiopia by Christmas” as “we could travel to Ethiopia by Christmas” you can imagine the confusion that would ensue. Within moments I received two emails, one voicemail, and a text message (from my younger sister who didn’t even receive the original email but who my mom knows could text me and receive an instant response) inquiring if we were actually going to be picking up our child by this Christmas. We may have caused several minor heart attacks prior to clarifying that we were referring to the dossier traveling to Ethiopia in December, not us, (although how fantastic would that be!) but it was kind of fun to hear, read, and see the excitement created by a mere inference that we would be picking up Baby Bean by Christmas. Now that would be a Christmas gift!

The funny thing is that although our lovely mothers misunderstood the specifics of the timeline, in reality it could be just a month or two later. Traveling by Christmas would be a miracle, but traveling by Valentines Day is definitely within the realm of possibility. We were going to wait until our paper pregnancy was in the official “waiting for a referral” stage before beginning to plan the baby’s room but now that we’re just 4-8 weeks out of that stage we’re starting to reconsider. Might be kind of fun to go baby shopping this week.

Oh, and the Vikings beat Chicago yesterday so perhaps the first item on the shopping list should be something purple.

October 4, 2007


I found this recipe on Recipe Zaar which uses teff as the main ingredient for injera. The cookbook that I have has multiple injera recipes and suggests alternatives to teff such as wheat flour or rice flour if the chef doesn't have access to teff. I would much rather prepare injera the traditional way using teff but I have yet to see where I might be able to buy it - although I would be amazed if I didn't find an entire block of grocery stores somewhere in NYC that carried not only teff, but many other ingredients specific to Ethiopian cuisine as well. Now that I think of it we'll probably be able to be discerning as to where we purchase our teff... I do love NYC.

What is teff? According to the Exploratorium's "The Science of Cooking" area teff is "a tiny, round grain that flourishes in the highlands of Ethiopia. While teff is very nutritious, it contains practically no gluten. This makes teff ill-suited for making raised bread, however injera still takes advantage of the special properties of yeast. A short period of fermentation gives it an airy, bubbly texture, and also a slightly sour taste."

As I mentioned in an earlier post injera serves as an edible utensil for Ethiopian cuisine. One large circular piece of injera is placed on the serving tray and then the various entrees are placed in scoops on top of the injera. An additional basket of injera is served on the side so that diners can break it apart and scoop up their entree of choice. The meal is officially finished when the piece of injera that was placed on top of the serving plate is gone. This is often the most tasty of the injera served during a meal because it has had a chance to soak up all of the flavors of the entrees throughout the meal and is the last to be enjoyed.

October 3, 2007

Have Patience

My husband and I are very proactive people, so when we researched the international adoption process and it listed 3-6 months as the typical paperwork gathering period we assumed we would be in the 3 month group. We're now in month #3 and have yet to send in the CIS paperwork for our I-600A form. The process all makes sense, the time periods all seem correct, but I just wish our dossier would be scheduled to arrive in Ethiopia this month, but that doesn't look at all possible right now. We're waiting for the final home study document from CHI so that we can send it to CIS, and then once CIS comes through with an approval (6-8 weeks) everything can be sent to the US Secretary of State and then finally off to Ethiopia. It seems like an eternity.

"Have patience, have patience, don't be in such a hurry. When you are impatient, you only start to worry. Remember, remember, that God is patient too, and think of all the times that others have to wait for you!"

My mom rocks. She is The Queen of shower songs, morning songs, and THE patience song.

October 1, 2007

Weekend With Family

We returned to NYC this morning after a fantastic four days with our family in Minnesota. It was so wonderful, in fact, that both of us spent several serious moments this morning contemplating reasons to stay for another day or two that wouldn't conflict with work. Unfortunately duty called and our weekend had to come to an end bright and early Monday morning with our MSP to JFK flight.

This was the first time that both Mike and I were in MN at the same time since we began the adoption process so as you can imagine there was much to discuss. The questions ranged from "We were hoping you would arrive with your child this weekend!" to "What names are you considering?" to "What is a dossier?" Of course we would have loved to have been able to reply to comment #1 with a solid "We did, he/she is right here!" but alas the reality of the adoption process is that of patience and waiting. As for the other questions, answering them out loud to family for the first time only lengthened the discussion and brought on other questions! It's amazing how different the most logical thoughts sound when you're saying them out loud to your mother instead of just thinking about them quietly to yourself.

Specific things that came up had to do with the color/design scheme of Baby Bean's room, his/her name, where we're at in the adoption process, and finally general Ethiopia related questions having to do with history and geography. In general our responses were as follows:
1) We have an amazing crib thanks to an amazing community of artists always willing to exchange one art form for another. In this case this meant amazing portraits of a father and his children in exchange for a crib custom designed by the father.
2) We like Lyric, Hattie, William, and Wylie.
3) We just finished the home study and will be sending in our form I-600A to CIS this week. Once we receive this approval (6-8 weeks) we will be in the final certification stage and then onto sending our dossier to Ethiopia. The current wait time for a referral at that point is 3-9 months.
4) Ethiopia is an amazing country rich with history and culture and there are so many books that detail the trials and successes of both Ethiopia the country as well as Africa the continent. Google Ethiopia - I promise you'll come up with something interesting!

I'll end on a quick summary of our mini-vacation in MN with family this past weekend. We started by having dinner with the moms (my husband and I are fortunate to have mothers who have developed a strong friendship) and enjoyed a night out with just the four of us. This was followed by breakfast with our child's Godmother, Phoenix, who sheds amazing amounts of enthusiasm, hope, knowledge, and love on the adoption process. I then took off for a ride with my dad on his Harley, simply put - priceless. The weekend continued with multiple family meals and gatherings and was topped off with tickets to the Vikings vs Packers game where my sisters and I, our husbands, and my dad, witnessed Favre history. It actually did hurt a little to type that, I'm a tried and true Vikings fan. Nothing can top an afternoon with dad and his two favorite teams battling it out on the field though, even if my team did lose. Baby Bean will eventually have to select an NFL team to support and I'll support little Bean no matter what - as long as he/she is a Vikings fan.