March 29, 2009

The "Home" Dilemma

We're constantly thankful for the good fortune in our lives. We're healthy, employed, and loved. We get to live in a village in the middle of nowhere where Ash can run around with horses and goats and chat it up with the hippies at the local coffee shop (for any South Park watchers out there "Mayor West" is a character based on our Town Mayor - just to connect some dots regarding our surroundings). Then we get to live in the city, not quite as often but we're working on that, where Ash can run around with 11 million of his closest friends and chat it up with civil rights leaders at the BBQ joint around the corner (and where there are 2 other adoptive families of Ethiopian children on our block as well as one family where the parents are native Ethiopians and THEY ONLY SPEAK AMHARIC in the home with their children - again, just to connect some dots regarding our surroundings). So which do we call "home"?

Therein lies the problem.

Eventually we need to make a decision that is going to all but solve that very question. Ash will eventually start school, which will demand our residence in one location Monday - Friday until he's 18 years old - and if that location is NOT our Village then do we sell the house? Or, if that location is not our City then do we give up our apartment share? Or, do we grasp on to both for as long as we possibly can and just let reality sort itself out? Nope, not in this case. In ANY other case that would be fine, but this one directly involves one of the biggest decisions we'll make as parents. The one that decides where Ash goes to school and spends his formative years developing his sense of self, his sense of others, and his sense of us as a family. And when I think about that I can't possibly imagine NOT shifting gears and abandoning our Village all together and heading to our City to return to being full timers. But then I consider all we'll give up ($3000 in our Village buys you a 7 acre stone home 1760's estate, $3000 in our city buys you a 2BR and if you're lucky, a functioning intercom system so that you don't have to walk down 5 flights of stairs to let the sushi delivery man in), and I'm stuck.

As much as it may look like it, this is not about our Village and our City and where WE should be. It's about where we need to plan for Ash to spend most of his time, and we're struggling with that. Diversity versus open space. A truly progressive hippie community versus access to nearly every cultural group possible. Apple picking versus subway riding. A yard with a garden versus the Union Square Farmers Market. All white with a little bit of black versus Ethiopian neighbors, and multiple Ethiopian communities within several subway stops from our "home". And it's that last one that gets me.

Wherever we eventually decide to call "home" will surely be the result of endless nights pondering one versus the other, but thankfully Ash is a few years (but JUST a few years) away from starting school so we have some time - at least a little bit - when we can simply call home "NY". If it isn't already glaringly obvious, I'm missing being a full time city rat big time and am just about ready to hang up my country mouse hat... but just when I think I've got it all sorted out I remember my hammock on the front porch, Ash picking tomatoes from our garden, and waking up to say good morning to the horsies. But honestly, right now, I'd trade all of that in a heartbeat for a 2BR walkup with a roach problem. Well, maybe the city itch hasn't gotten quite that bad, but it's getting there, and by the time Ash reaches school-age I'm afraid it's going to be one gigantic pink spot smack-dab in the middle of my forehead.

March 28, 2009

Dear Saturday,

We'd like to order another day exactly like today for Sunday, please.
Mike, Jo, Ash

March 26, 2009

Fav Foto Friday

It's school picture day!

The Dam That Divides Ethiopians

HERE is an interesting article on the Gilgel Gibe III hydroelectricity project underway in Ethiopia that will, when finished, create the second largest hydroelectricity dam in sub-Saharan Africa. It's a big deal complete with big controversy. It's going to more than double Ethiopia's current generating capacity of electricity, potentially solving the country's national energy crisis, but also stands to devastate the lives of hundreds of thousands of tribal families living in the Omo River Valley and virtually destroy Lake Turkana in Kenya which an estimated 300,000 people depend on for survival. These devastating consequences are being denied by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, however the BBC News article liked to above (and again HERE) goes to great lengths to provide a voice for the people living in the affected region, a people who stand to lose everything upon completion of this project.

If you do take a look at the complete article be sure to click on the different tabs across the top of the page and watch the videos, BBC does a great job of providing visuals to relate the full impact of this project.

March 25, 2009

Oh Right, This Is An Adoption Blog

During a conversation I had over the weekend with some friends it occurred to me that I've become completely reliant on the cuteness of my son to provide practically all of the content on this blog. Adoption in the news? Nope. Important current events in Ethiopia? Nope. New food, language, traditions, cultural activities, hair and skin care info, or sharing of experiences as a transracial family? Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, and another big fat NOPE. And it's not because none of this stuff is going on, but it's just so much easier to post a picture of my little super hero and highlight all of the fun things going on here in Toddlerville than to actually put together a thought about all "that other stuff" that is truly unique to being an adoptive family.

For example, take yesterday's daycare pickup. The door to his classroom was closed but there's a window where I can peak in and see everyone playing. Ash was happily engrossed in a stacking/tubular marble toy when I decided to get his attention through the window by waving wildly and flashing him my big mommy smile. When I opened the door his face immediately turned from smiling and happy to crying and shaking as though he was really frightened. He ran to me and nuzzled his teary cheeks into my neck and just repeated "mommy mommy mommy". I was completely perplexed (and squeezing him a bit tighter than usual) because he pretty much stopped crying at dropoffs and pickups at daycare MONTHS ago so this was odd. But then when I thought about it, and referenced a few of our adoption attachment resources at home and on the web, it really wasn't that odd. I was too over the top, my actions created too big of a moment and sent his little mind twirling around the thought that if I was this anxious to pick him up then maybe there was a chance I wouldn't have picked him up at all. Being picked up from daycare by mommy and daddy is supposed to be a given, a norm, it will ALWAYS HAPPEN. But yesterday I made it seem as though there was something different going on - and he freaked.

Now, I understand that similar instances can also happen with biological children, but in our case it happened with our adopted son so that's currently the only scenario I can speak to. Also, despite the similarities between attachment in biological and adoptive families there are significant differences as well. Certain things or awareness's are heightened, in ways difficult to understand and due to circumstances nearly impossible to fathom. So, I relearned my lesson and today I will be approaching his classroom with the calm and ease he likes to see, the kind that reassures him that there's nothing fishy going on - I'm just there to pick him up and bring him home. The "home" he's grown to know and be comfortable with for 9 1/2 of his 22 1/2 month life.

This blog is about our journey, inclusive of family building, traveling, learning, failing, scrambling, and of course, cute pictures. And occasionally, the sharing of a moment where mommy loses her head and unintentionally freaks out her boy because she forgot adoption attachment rule #421 on page 63 of that crazy huge Adoption Guide we were supposed to have committed to memory by now but instead have spent our time reading the NY Times. Damn. I'm not sure if any video, book, or website could've prevented yesterday's meltdown, but I can say with almost absolute certainty that it will probably happen again. Double damn.

We now return to our regular scheduled programming of Cute Pictures.

Wordless Wednesday

March 21, 2009

Date Days

Warning, this is going to be a completely self indulgent post full of evidence that Ash is the most perfect child in the entire universe. But I'm not writing to flaunt, I promise. I'm writing out of pure anticipation that I will need to read this post from time to time as a reminder of his truly good natured soul whenever he decides to take a break from being perfect. You know, a piece of evidence to talk me off the ledge when he's simultaneously launching his dinner plate across the restaurant floor and leaking green gooey fluid out of both pant legs. Those times are when rereading this post will be helpful.

On to his perfectness...

Dad's working all weekend so I've deemed Saturday and Sunday "Mommy Ashton Date Days". We started with a stroll through Central Park where he pointed and said "what's that" to everything we passed. He's gotten so curious, wants to know what absolutely everything around him is called. Then we shared a hot dog and pretzel on a park bench where a very generous man who was just randomly walking through the park handing out free balloons to children stopped by to gift Ash not one, not two, but THREE balloons! It was like Christmas in March. Next we headed into the Central Park Zoo where we saw fishies and penguins and bears and monkeys and seals and colorful birds and turtles - again, kind of like Christmas in March. Our date day lunch was enjoyed at Landmarc, delicious mushroom and pea risotto for me, english muffin pizza for the boy. We even had an actual conversation reviewing all of the animal names we saw, not one crayon, book, or toy necessary - just mom and Ash chatting over lunch.

Finally we got back on the subway to head back to Brooklyn and thus commenced 30 of my most proud moments ever. Ashton honestly spent the entire time giggling, playing, chatting it up with his fellow Brooklynites, asking (and then repeating, repeatedly) everyone's names, high fiving anyone who would smile at him, they were honestly 30 of the best minutes on Earth. He single handedly turned a ridiculously crowded A train stock full of straphagers pissed off at the MTA for delays, reroutings, and subway stations that smell like poo into a car full of smiling happy giggling adults absolutely enamored with the perfect little boy hell bent on entertaining them.

Then at 8 o'clock on the nose he kissed me goodnight and tipped over in his big boy bed where, as long as karma is on a roll, he'll sleep blissfully until 9:00AM tomorrow. As for me, as soon as the delivery guy arrives with my sushi my day will officially be complete, and dad promised mom some time to go get a mani/pedi tomorrow when he gets home so I don't really need to wait until the end of Sunday to say this weekend rocked.

March 20, 2009

Carpe Diem

Let's face it, 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave time and the virtual nonexistence of affordable, quality, and convenient daycare isn't exactly a recipe for success for parents trying to figure out what to do with Peanut while they're at work. Yet this conundrum doesn't seem to be gaining any ground despite the fact that a household with a working mother is no longer a "new" image. Woman have been increasingly joining the work force for years, and the need for a more family friendly workplace has also been increasing for years. This isn't anything new. It's also never been a political priority, until now. The article linked to below explores the idea of avoiding class and gender cliches in a new generation where the current administration is actually prioritizing the real-life needs of middle and working-class families. It's from the Opinion section, so it is indeed this woman's opinion, but I found a certain inspirational quality to it - a "huh, you're right, we do need to get off our arses and Carpe Diem" kind of moment.

New York Times, Opinion
Judith Warner: Families to Care About
By Judith Warner
Published: March 19, 2009

March 19, 2009

Three, Tres, Trois, Sost (Updated)

That's right, I currently hold in my hand 3 US Passports. Stamped, sealed, delivered. Contrary to what the County Clerk told me, which was that all of Ash's Ethiopian documents would be returned to me along with his new passport, they indeed were not. I will be following up with this. They will return those documents to me, right? Sure, they're no longer necessary now that we have his NY/US documents, but I want the ET documents, if even just for sentimental value. They belong to us, and should've been in the envelope along with his passport. Maybe they'll just be arriving separately today... I hate to complain in the midst of a joyous occasion, but I am really bummed that they took his ET Birth Certificate, Passport, and Adoption Papers. Really bummed.

UPDATE: His ET documents came in the mail today. Phew.

March 17, 2009

Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better

I swear that song must be rolling through Ash's head full time. You're on the potty? I want to be on the potty! You don't have socks on? I don't want socks on! You're eating with chopsticks? I want to eat with chopsticks! You're loading XXX Dragon Fire Hot Sauce onto your dinner? You had better shake some of that stuff onto my plate woman...

Seriously, he's turned into a copy cat to beat all copy cats, and as much as I love that this usually means he's exploring new things, unfortunately it also sometimes results in messy frustration. You know the kind, when a toddler goes beyond being the squirmy kind of frustrated and moves on to the messy kind, which almost always involves tossing something sticky, spicy, and/or stinky in as many directions as possible. Yum.

Case in point: The chopstick dilemma

We love sushi so tend to frequent Japanese restaurants. The only "problem" is that Ash's tendency to want to do everything EXACTLY as we do means he tries to eat his miso soup with the special spoon and pickup his sweet potato sushi with chopsticks. This is made even more necessary when the sushi chef hand delivers Ashton the special chopsticks which he's made just for him. He uses a paper/rubber band combo that keeps the ends together so that the chopsticks act like tweezers which helps, but we're still definitely in the "practice makes perfect" stage of this endeavor. This inevitably begins an hour long struggle to keep all of his soup from sliding off the spoon into his lap and somehow balance each bite on his chopsticks just long enough to actually take a bite. This is quickly made even more difficult as he discovers the various "dips" on the table that he insists on dipping each bite in first, thereby introducing yet another obstacle between the food and his stomach. Sometimes the food makes it to his mouth, sometimes not, but the scene always ends up sounding something like this:

Mommy: Hey Ash, look at Mommy, Mommy's eating with her hands!
Ash: (Looking at me quizzically) Mommy? Hands?
Mommy: Yeah, and look at Daddy, Daddy's eating with his hands too! Let's all eat with our hands!
Ash: (Noticeably relieved that he can stop trying to figure out how to turn his sticks into a fork) Ashton? Hands?

And then we all proceed to eat our dinner with our hands while mommy remorse's the fact that she just discouraged her child from mastering a task for the sole purpose of reducing mess at the dinner table. Later that night Daddy puts Mommy in timeout where she can think about what she's done.

March 16, 2009

I See You

We converted Ash's crib to a toddler bed yesterday. CONVINCED Ash would get up in the middle of his first night in a big boy bed and figure out how to open a window and jump to the trees, I found myself staring at the baby monitor nonstop. So, despite the fabulous fact that he slept beautifully for 11 full hours I, in turn, not so much. The good news? After a brief 4 week coffee-free stint I came to my senses and rejoined the race, so at least the morning greeted me properly - in java form. The new goal? Beat my husband to the last cup in the pot.

Now that Ash has proven he's into the big boy bed (and now that we've installed FBI spy quality surveillance cameras strategically around his room) I'm fairly convinced I'll have fewer son-jumping-to-the-trees nightmares and should sleep a bit more soundly. Ok, they might not exactly be FBI spy quality, and "they" might be just "one", and that "one" might be the same video monitor we've been using since he came home, but now it's nailed to the ceiling so that we have more of a holistic room view, and I've always wanted to be a spy so now's my chance and I'm running with it. Well, that or we've just officially entered a stage of parenting some would refer to as extreme paranoia and overprotective smuggling, but I prefer to think of it as an opportunity to enjoy a regression to my younger spy-like days while promoting safety in the home. It's a two in one recipe really where everyone benefits. Just call me Agent #5.

So, my 22 month old is now in a big boy bed, I'm back to being well caffeinated, and in the event I ever find myself unemployed I have a potential career as a spy making sure the toddlers of the world don't fall victim to the ever growing desire to jump to the trees. I'm sure there's money in that somewhere... If not I could always look into a career in profession run-on-sentence writing.

March 15, 2009

Days Like This

Before my husband was my husband we lived, studied, and traveled together in South America. We lived with a host family in Buenos Aires, Argentina, studied at the Universidad de Belgrano, and arranged our class schedule so that our first was at 11AM Monday and our last ended by 3PM Wednesday. Needless to say we were almost always on a bus to somewhere by 4PM Wednesday for a long weekend. Be it to a new city in Argentina or somewhere just across the border in Chile, Bolivia, Uruguay, or Brazil we reveled in the fact that we were actually getting University credits for pretty much traveling full time. Not to mention the 2 months before classes started and 2 months after they ended that we spent on buses, in 4X4's and in airplanes with livestock exploring the areas of South America not quite reachable via bus for a long weekend. Life was good.

We loved Buenos Aires and like most expats had our favorite hangouts where we just felt at home. One such hangout was Beckett, named for Nobel Prize winning poet Samuel Beckett. We loved stopping by for their fabulous cheese plate, the delicious Argentine stout they served by the litre, and their constant playing of Van Morrison. Without a doubt each time we'd walk in we'd have our cheese plate and mugs placed on the table and not a moment later Days Like This would come sounding from the speakers, warming our hearts with music as delicious as the beer and cheese we nibbled, all while planning our next route to somewhere. To this day we can't hear Days Like This without wanting to pack our passports, a toothbrush, and a wine key (and nowadays some diapers) and hop on our next route to somewhere.

Today felt like the days at Beckett and the music of Van Morrison, when you're not quite "home" but can't imagine being anywhere better for that moment, just plotting your next route to somewhere.

When its not always raining therell be days like this
When theres no one complaining therell be days like this
When everything falls into place like the flick of a switch
Well my mama told me therell be days like this
~Van Morrison

March 14, 2009

The Elmo Effect

We took Ash to see Sesame Street Live, Elmo Makes Music and in a nutshell, he loved it. He stood, he sang, he pointed, he danced. And when he figured out that children were allowed to walk to the front of the stage for their own little tots-only Boogie Town, he promptly looked at mommy, began pushing his hands towards me (meaning GO AWAY mommy) and said, "Mommy, MOOOS (move), Mommy, MOOOS!" and then ran to the front to get his groove on. That was the last we saw of him until later in the evening when we found him trying to hail a cab with his Elmo balloon. That is, his TEN DOLLAR Elmo ballon.

The morning after was pretty par for course, he awoke requesting "Elmo, blue juice" instead of "Mommy, milk" and we took him to breakfast for some pancakes. Or, butter and maple syrup with the ocassional pancake tossed in depending on how you look at it. You could say today's Saturday brunch didn't exactly resemble the type of brunch posted about below, but trust me, it was as NY as it gets, just giving the Big Apple a bit of Big Bird flair.

The NY Brunch

As I noted a while back, and come to think of it have probably noted several times a while back, a wee bit longer, and way back when, I love brunch. And to clarify, NY brunch. Because nothing beats the Saturday and Sunday afternoon laziness that is dining on carb-filled endless champagne prix fixe meals. Brunch in New York is an institution. To quote an article I'll link to below, just imagine brunch if "the D.J.’s arrived eight hours early and the bartenders served French toast." Yup, it's that good.

Now, we're not exactly in the "hand over $750 on magnums of Dom" crowd, and I certainly couldn't do the article justice by attempting my own summary, so I simply suggest you read it and discover the joy that is NY brunch for yourself. One tidbit of temptation to allure the uncertain, one of the main NY brunch spots discussed in the article is Merkato 55 - Marcus Samuelsson's latest venture. Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit. Marcus Samuelsson, the Ethiopian born son of his Swedish adoptive parents. Curious? Read on...

Published: March 15, 2009
It may be Saturday afternoon, and the nation may be battling a recession, but you’d never know it from the way the bubbly flows at two dance party brunches in Manhattan’s meatpacking district.

There. All better. The fact that I spent Friday night date night with my toddler at Sesame Street Live, Elmo Makes Music is now balanced by the fact that I'm still a NY Bruncher. All better. Please Gods, no Elmo dreams tonight... see you at brunch tomorrow!

March 13, 2009

Fav Foto Friday

Blog Union 2009

The Blog Union is an annual "union" of fellow Ethiopian Adoptive Families that have built relationships through their blogs. The first annual Blog Union took place last year and was hosted by Drew & Carey in Los Angeles California. There were over 40 families from all over the United States who attended and judging by D&C's pictures it was definitely an amazing experience for all. Back then we had recently returned home from Ethiopia and were still adjusting to life as 3 so were unable to attend. But, this year we plan to take advantage of the current airfare deals and head to Chicago this summer for Ethiopian Blog Union 2009! If you haven't heard about this yet, or have heard rumblings and would like to learn more, go to and register to join to access the full details of dates, location, activities, etc... For security purposes there are a few stipulations in place for joining the Meetup Group: You must have a blog, you must be adopting from Ethiopia and/or have adopted from Ethiopia, and if you're in the adoption process you must be officially waiting (had background checks, fingerprints, etc.). Also, if you register to join please post a picture as part of your Meetup Profile so that the organizer (Mrs. B) can keep track of who is who!

So, anyone out there planning on joining us? See you in Chicago!

March 12, 2009

The Spring Itch

Nope, not poison ivy, chicken pox, or even mosquitoes. I'm talking about the GOOD spring itches. The itch for sunny 60 degree days, doing everything OUTSIDE, and picking up and going to somewhere newer and warmer where the primary language isn't English. Those kinds of itches. The past few weeks we've been able to test the waters of springlike weather and enjoy playtime in the sandbox and doing art projects on the patio. Pictures of one such project are posted below, which involved 5 tubes of glitter paint, an almost 2 year old, and 2 cats who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. But alas, the patches of weather that have been warm enough to enjoy such activities have been few and far between. We have grilled a couple of times but again, I wouldn't say we're in full-on grilling mode just yet.

But there is one itch that has it's date stamp for being "fully scratched" in the very near future. In just a few short weeks we'll be carefree and fancy-free wandering the streets of Barcelona, exploring the trails of the Pyrenees, strolling barefoot in the sands of the Mediterranean's Costa Blanca, and soaking up the history of 1st century Roman ruins in Tarragona that help makeup nearly 40 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Spain. Did I say a few short weeks? Make that several sure to be very looooong weeks the more I think about it. But, to add a little icing to the already sure to be delicious cake that is spring, by the time we get back from our trip NY will be drenched in blooming yellow forsythia and you can bet Ash will have learned the words "grill" and "BBQ".

This time last year we were a few weeks away from seeing Ash's face for the first time, and now this time this year we're a few weeks away from taking him across the ocean, again, and just a few more weeks after that we'll finally being the mom and dad he's known the longest. Don't get me wrong, we absolutely cherish the fact that he was able to spend 11 months in the loving arms of his birth mother and 2 months in the care of House of Hope, but May 3rd will mark the beginning of our 12th month together (and two days away from Ash's 2nd birthday!) and you can bet your bottom this forever family will be celebrating. I'd say a trip to Spain is a pretty good way to kick of a month long celebration - bring on the April showers and May flowers!

March 8, 2009

Titles Of The Times

A sampling of features in today's NY Times:

*Generation OMG
*Appeal of the Dollar Adds to the Pain of Ailing Nations
*Multiple Identities Can Be a Good Thing: Living In - Fort Greene, Brooklyn
*Looking for Bottom in N.Y. Real Estate

I Love reading the New York Times, especially on Sundays. Today's read, however, left me with a bit of an unnerved feeling. Generation OMG says that today's high school and college students will be the most negatively affected by the current depression, facing up to 10 years of stagnant income. Then Appeal of the Dollar Adds to the Pain of Ailing Nations speaks to the dire situations in pretty much every country outside the US. Sure things are pretty bad here right now, but that also means that areas that were already in rough times have been catapulted into the most frieghtening form of dire. Then hopes are lifted in Multiple Identities Can Be a Good Thing as our very own little neighborhood in Brooklyn is spotlighted as "Brooklyn’s latest culinary mecca, bewitching foodies with hip, minimalist restaurants" and as a "bastion of African-American pride and culture, a historic home to a vibrant community of black families" as well as "the artistic center of the borough". Not bad.

But then I read on to Looking for Bottom in N.Y. Real Estate to find that housing values in NYC have already dropped on average 25% and many think this could rise to as much as 40% in the very near future. Depending on your status this article could be taken several different ways, two that come to mind are:
"We just bought our $1M 1BR last year and it's already lowered in value to $750K!" (Experts suggest it will take upwards of 9 years to recover this loss)
"Where do I sign?"

On the upside, it looks like our dollar will travel quite a bit further in Spain than it did the last time we were there, but at who's expense? And on another upside it looks like our Brooklyn neighborhood is enjoying a period of true community, yet silmultaneously housing prices are plumeting to 40% of recent values. My generation pulled the long straw. We're sons and daughters of the sons and daughters of the Great Depression, so in theory we were raised by those who watched this happen once before, and in theory passed down tidbits of knowledge that would teach the next generation about how to achieve while in survival mode.

Thankfully, we don't yet feel like we're in survival mode, but I do know way too many who have been in it's depths for months already, and it looks like it sucks.

(Insert positive uplifting comment here...)

Training Unders

We haven't 100% committed to it yet, but we're fairly certain that we're going to embark on a potty training escapade over a weekend sometime soon. We've chosen Hanna Anderson's "Training Unders in Organic Cotton" as our training brief of choice, and his first pairs from Grandma arrived today which kind of lit a fire under someone's arse and got us thinking maybe we should go beyond the occasional potty visit and move on to an effort to be fully trained. The Hanna Unders come highly recommended on the message boards, just enough absorption to avoid puddles but not so much that he wont feel he's wet. And they're SO DARN CUTE. Wish us luck!

March 7, 2009

When Celebration Is In Order...

We celebrate! First off, thanks for all the well wishes. So many of you out there know the ins and outs and ups and downs of this process probably more than you'd like to at this point, and your comments always provide a refreshing breath to any day when we're just not certain how everything is going to play out. Thanks.

So on to the celebration. We started with a late lunch where Ash indulged in some BBQ. Well, BBQ sauce that is...

Then, after deciding which apron he wanted to wear (he had to try on all 3 before deciding which one suited him best) Ash dove head first into making his first batch of homemade ravioli.

He ate a nice amount of the ricotta/motz/sage/sausage filling before it actually became filling, had a BLAST playing with the dough as we slowly turned it into ravioli noodles (as far as he was concerned it was just beige colored playdough that he was allowed to eat...) and not once did he get his fingers stuck in the pasta machine, a feat in and of itself. The result was a semi-delicious (we have a few things to learn about past making) organic chicken sausage and cheese ravioli topped with a butter, shallot, sage, and asparagus sauce. Ok, it was a bit more than just semi-delicious, I'm just bummed that I didn't get the noodles thin enough so they were a bit thick and chewy for my Italian blood (which is actually Italian-in-law blood, I inherited the Italian gene through my husband's family and have been a die hard saucy sauce lover of a great Tuscan with a constant craving for more garlic ever since).

Toss in a boy who insists on jiving to the music all throughout dinner, a scrumptious Tuscan, and a big piece of paper on prominent display with a title that starts with "The State of NY hereby certifies..." and you pretty much have all of the ingredients for one of those nights that you never want to see end. Quite a way to start a weekend. Cheers!

March 6, 2009

Smiles All Around!

We now have TWO certified NY Adoption Decrees (Ash was a superstar and the Judge just couldn't say no...) and a signed receipt from the County Clerk that Ashton's passport will arrive in approximately 2 weeks. His NY Birth Certificate should arrive around that time as well, so the only task left on the docket is to take the adoption decree and his passport or birth certificate (whichever arrives first) to apply for his SSN.

There's a bottle of Perrier Jouet in the fridge with our name on it, and for our celebration dinner we're making homemade ravioli!

On Our Way To Permanence

Today at 11:30AM we'll meet with a NY Surrogate Court Judge who fill finalize our adoption. Who knows what paperwork we'll walk away with but at least it will all eventually show up, sometime, somewhere. The picture below was taken in Ethiopia the day of our US Embassy appointment when Ash's IR4 Visa was approved and we were given clearance to bring him back to the US with us as our son. Sometime later today a picture will be taken of the 3 of us, all of us US citizens, all of us as permanent as permanent gets.

March 5, 2009

Finalizing the Finalization, Almost

One day I'm going to stop complaining about paperwork, but today is definitely not that day. I was under the impression that we'd walk away from this Friday's court appointment will all of the evidence in the world that we'd need to move forward immediately with Ash's passport and SSN applications, and that shortly therafter his NY Birth Certificate would arrive in the mail.

Nope. I'm so naive.

I called the County Surrogate Court today to confirm that we'll get the NY Adoption Decree at our court appointment this Friday so that we can then apply for Ash's passport immediately following. I had already spoken to the Passport and Social Security Agencies earlier in the day to confirm all of the forms and paperwork we'll need to have with us to fill out the applications, so this was just the final call to make sure we're covered. The NY Adoption Decree is the one unifying form among all of the applications, it's needed to apply for anything and everything because it will be the only document we have with his new name, currently our papers show Wondemu Michael but after Friday he'll be Ashton Wondemu. She was a very nice woman and I believe had the best of intentions to help me and answer my questions, but here's how the conversation went:

Me: Hi, I was informed by my lawyer that we'll get the NY Adoption Decree at our court appointment this Friday and am just calling to confirm this is the case because we'd like to apply for our son's passport immediately following the meeting and the decree is necessary for this.

Her: Oh, well we don't do that. The decree is given to your lawyer, but it doesn't say anything about giving it to the parents.

Me: Oh, hmm, ok. Well, I spoke with the County Clerk's office this morning to confirm the paperwork we need to bring in to apply for his passport and she said that they will need the NY Adoption Decree. How will I be able to provide them with this? Will my lawyer give it to me after the Judge has given it to her?

Her: Well, I can't speak for your lawyer dear, but maybe the Judge will approve creating a second document so that you can apply for his passport, but you'll have to ask the Judge that on Friday and then he'll let me know if I should do this for you. Or maybe we'll just send it directly to the Passport Agency, in a signed sealed envelope.

Me: Oh, hmm, ok. Well, I spoke with the Social Security Administration as well as they will also need the NY Adoption Decree in order to accept his application for a SSN. Will I be able to retreive the one sent to the Passport Agency so that I can then send it to the SS Agency?

Her: Well, maybe the Judge would be ok with me creating two additional decrees for you instead of just one. Or maybe we'll just send both directly to the two agencies for you. You'll have to ask the Judge on Friday dear, it's all up to him.

Me: Oh, hmm, ok. Thanks for your help. Click.'s a revised possible road map to the final finalization of our process. Yes, he will still be a US Citizen as of Friday and in theory we'll still be able to apply for his passport on Friday and eventually his SSN, there's just a bit more paperwork and processing involved than I was expecting.

Friday, March 6th: Finalize the adoption in NY Surrogate Court. Maybe get the NY Adoption Decree from the Judge, maybe get it from our lawyer, or maybe have it sent directly to the Passport and SS Agencies. Walk across the hall to the Passport Agency and provide the following to apply for his passport:
*Form DS 11 (application for passport)
*NY Adoption Decree (somehow...)
*ET Adoption Decree (we gave this to the court for the readoption, hopefully they'll give it back to us on Friday)
*ET Passport with IR4 Visa and I-551 Stamp (got this, the I-551 stamp is evidenced on his Visa, which expired in December, but they said that shouldn't matter)
*Express Mail Stamp (so that we get his passport before we leave for Spain in April)

Approximately 2 weeks later we'll get his passport in the mail, and approximately 2-3 weeks later we should get his NY Birth Certificate in the mail (which we don't need to apply for but will be automatically ordered for us by the Judge on Friday).

March 23rd: In theory we'll have his passport and NY Adoption Decree back at this point and will be able to bring them to the Social Security Administration to apply for his SSN. To this appointment we'll bring the following:
*Form SS5 (application for SSN)
*NY Adoption Decree
*US Passport and/or NY Birth Certificate

Then approximately who knows how long later his social security card will arrive in the mail. Hopefully before April 15th so that we can file our taxes with his SSN, but if not we covered our bases and filed for a Tax ID for Ash which would be sufficient for us to file our taxes this year. For this form we had to provide the following:
*Form W-7A (application for Tax ID for Pending Adoptions)
*Copy of ET Passport, IR4 Visa/I-551 Stamp
*Copy of ET Birth Certificate
*Copy of ET Adoption Decree naming us as his parents
(PS, if we do have his SSN by April 15th then our W-7A is invalid and we'll have to update our taxes accordingly so we're not 100% sure if we're going to send in the W-7A until the last minute if it looks like we wont have his SSN in time.)

April 2nd: We leave for Spain, hopefully with his US Passport, probably with his NY Birth Certificate, not yet with his SSN but definitely ready for a vacation.

I imagine this is how he'll look once we've waded through the sea of official documents, paperwork, and forms and we're finally on our way to the airport.

March 3, 2009


Yikes. Way too long ago the folks over at Moe Better finally went coco and officially popped. They think we over here at The Journey are fabulous and tagged us as AbFab! (Adoption Blog Fab) Thanks guys, however unworthy we may be we're still honored to be listed among the greats and will take the seat proudly while continuing to obsess over each of your daily shenanigans.

So, here's the deal.

You must pass the award on to 5 others who write blogs that you deem fabulous. You must list 5 of your fabulous addictions. You must also copy and paste the rules and the instructions in the post. On your post acknowledging receipt of the award, you must link back to the person who bestowed it upon you.

Now - down to business:

5 Fabulous Bloggers:

Well, here's the story. I'm really late in posting this and am pretty sure most of my favorite bloggers have already been tagged. So, in an effort to refrain from duping tags I'd like to make a general shout out to the entire adoption blogging community, all of whom I deem AbFab. Reading your stories, hearing your triumphs, feeling my chest literally cave in at the sight of posts titled "lost referral" or "court date rescheduled, 4th times a charm?" and then sharing in the eventual happiness we all feel when the screen flashes the post titled "Leaving on a Jet Plane!" I just can't thank you all enough for allowing us to be a virtual part of your lives. Thank you. If for some reason you haven't been the recipient of AbFab yet, please consider yourself tagged.

And now on to my 5 Fabulous Addictions:

1. Caffeine. Two weeks ago this would have said Coffee, but I can proudly proclaim that I am officially starting week #3 sans the bean juice and am somehow maintaining a relative existence on tea. One day this might read Decaf Tea, but we're taking things in baby steps. You know how it goes.
2. Planning. I make a plan for everything and have events mapped out in my mind regardless of how big or little they may be. Presentations, meetings, phone calls, weekends, Tuesdays, dinner parties, travels (though I do lighten up quite a bit in this case, as long as I have the general transport/geography/timing mapped out), grocery shopping, bath night, you name it I've made a plan for it. And I never write them down, so although I often look as though I'm staring into space it's a pretty safe bet that I'm just trying to remember the coordinates of the moment.
3. Spontaneity. I have a hard time planning anything more than a month out and love just picking up and going somewhere or doing something with very little notice. Maybe this is due to my inability to actually write down my plans leaving me dependent on the limited memory available in my poor little noggin. I will say I'm queen of rearranging plans when a certain someone finds out he has to travel for work 24 hours before we're supposed to get on a plane as a family to somewhere across the ocean, although this could be more difficult given the change in addiction #1. There might need to be a buna exception to the no coffee rule when addiction #3 is in action.
4. Christmas, and pretty much any other event that requires large family gatherings, festive celebrations, and family traditions both old and new.
5. Sunday New York Times (in bed) followed by champagne brunch at Il Violino and a stroll through Central Park. You might consider this addiction kicked as it hasn't happened since May of 2008, but I'm gearing up for a resurgence this Spring. The Italian owner at Il Violino looks (and acts) exactly like Ash's coolest-of-cool Uncle Tommy so I have a feeling we'll be just as well received now that we're 3 as we were way back when we were 2.