This Could Be Our Month!!!

This could be our month!!!! This could be the month that we finally get to see our sweet baby boy's face and hear his name! Our agency said a referral was possible this month! I get so excited every time another month passes. After school on Friday, I changed our classroom calendar to March and I got giddy! Maybe this month! And if not, we're at least another month closer. We will know some more up to date information this Tuesday on our 3 month update! Today is Sunday, so our agency is closed, but you know that when Monday morning comes my phone will be within arms length all day, every day! Although I won't start getting too jumpy yet... I'll at least wait until I hear our update news. Even still, I'm surprisingly peaceful. :)
P.S. Not sure if I like this plaid blog background. But I'm getting really sleepy and tired of playing around with it. So it will have to do for now! :)

Here's a letter I wrote to our son. I cannot wait to see that little face!

Dear Baby,
Right now, in Ethiopia, it is 5:35am. Maybe you are still sleeping. Maybe you have already greeted the new day with a smile. Right now, we’re getting ready to go to sleep. We can’t wait to know your face and know your name. I can’t wait to hear your Ethiopian name. It gives me goose bumps just thinking about it! It's already March! I can't believe it has been over 5 months since we started our journey to you! The time has gone by relatively quickly so far. This could be our special month! This could be the month forever etched on our hearts and minds! My heart aches for you, longs to be with you. I’m trying so hard to be patient, to rest on the truth that God is in control. I want to know you are safe, that you are healthy. Know baby boy, that even from afar, before we know your face, we have recognized and celebrated your precious life. You are loved; first by God, and second by us. Your life will not go unnoticed as we wait to bring you home. Most days, I feel peace. I feel settled in my heart that all is well and you will be home soon. But other times, I long so badly to hold you and smother your little face with kisses that it physically hurts. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of you. Not a day goes by that when my alarm goes off at 5:30 am that I don’t envision waking to your beautiful face and spending all day with you. I can’t wait to love you and teach you about Jesus, and love you some more, and just enjoy every moment with you. I know you will probably be scared at first…you don’t know us, haven’t seen us before, haven’t heard my heartbeat, haven’t sensed my presence. My hearts aches, even now, for those moments of fear and uncertainty that will be in your heart, now matter how little you are. But we will be there for you, for whatever comes, and however long it comes. We will not leave you. We have waited so long for you. We cannot wait to meet you face to face. Until then, I go to sleep tonight, dreaming of you, and I will wake tomorrow wishing you were right here with us. Soon baby, very soon.


A New Judge!!

I have been super busy lately... lots of things going on, teaching, grad. school started again, church life, and so on. But, when I came home from work today, I received exciting news! Another judge has been assigned to court in Ethiopia! We have been praying and praying for this! Originally, when we first started the adoption process in September of 2008, the wait time from referral (when we know who our baby is) to our court date in Ethiopia (when he is legally ours) was about 2 months. Lately, the process has slowed way down and the wait for a court date has been around 4 months!!! Whoa. We were told that if another judge was seated, it would help move court along quicker. So we've been praying and praying and praying! We received the news today that a new judge has been assigned and court should start to pick up! I am so excited for our fellow adoptive families who will probably have their little ones home sooner than expected and so excited for those of us who still wait, knowing that in the end, the process may not be quite as long as recently anticipated.
Please pray with us as we long to be through court before it closes in August for the rainy season. God is good... HE himself IS good. God is not my definition of good... He is altogether GOOD. So I sleep tonight, resting on the truth that my God is good and he is watching over our Ethiopian babe. Soon baby... very soon.


Baby Names

I love the joy my kids at school have over my adoption. They often get into conversations with me about adoption and our baby. Funny though, these conversations usually come during the times they want a "distraction" from doing their work. I definitely keep things moving in our class, but I always joyfully stop to talk adoption, and I think the kids know this now! ;) So today, during math, they wanted to know why (as one girl puts it), "They haven't given you his picture yet!" (meaning our referral). That quickly turned into, "Mrs. Oren, the very first day you bring him home, will you please promise to bring him to school!" Then, "Will you let us pick out his name?" To which I replied, "Mr. Oren and I will decide his name in the end, but I would love to hear your suggestions! We aren't 100% sure what his name will be, so we are open to your ideas." This spurred on quite the discussion and two little girls insisted on pieces of paper to write them down. Here are their ideas.

**Note: you will need to read phonetically for a few of them. Due to the list, I think they think that "Bible names" must be more spiritual than other names. My favorite spellings are Luck (Luke), Daved (David), Mich (Micah), and my absolute favorite name choice... Psalm. Haha. So random it's hilarious.

And, while we're on the topics of names, we are totally open to suggestions! So please, bring them on!! We have a running list of about 10 names... a few we really like, but haven't settled on one yet. This past Saturday we went out to eat at the Macaroni Grill and they have paper down as the table cloths and provide crayons. We had a fun time writing all the different names we like on the table, trying them out with "Oren", writing them in print and cursive, and all different colors. It was quite fun. Our waitress was a little confused. I asked her if she liked to read what people write on their tables. She said yes. Then with a questioning tone she said, "Looks like baby names?" and I said yep... a baby boy! She looked at me very confused. I'm a pretty small person and if I was pregnant, I had to be very early, but if I was that early, how could I know it was a boy?! Obviously we told her of our adoption and then it all made sense. :) I'm willing to bet though that after we left she was wondering about some of the names we listed. We like less common names and there were quite a few on there, as well as some funny names we were just joking around with. This was one moment I wish I had a cell phone camera to take a picture of our lovely table name design. It was pretty cool! :) But really, we'd love to hear what names you like!
**too bad this cutie doesn't have brown skin. hehe**


The Process Update

Wow, this is hard. What a process. We are so ready to add to our family. So ready to have the son God has picked out for us. We still move ahead... bold and confident.

Another friend we've met during this process received devastating news. Their baby girl died in Ethiopia. It breaks my heart and tears fill my eyes, even writing that. There have been a few precious babies who have met Jesus in the last several months. It's hard to understand, hard to understand how God is working. Jon and I are going through a study together on 1st and 2nd Peter and wow.. those trials? hope? It's all coming together, but not quite in the easiest of ways.

Most days, I have a deep seated peace that fills my heart, knowing that it will happen... our baby will come home, in God's perfect timing. But of course, our humanness gets in the way some days and we want things to move in what we feel is our perfect timing.

This is the general run down of the adoption process:
  • Dossier (paperwork) gets sent to Ethiopia & you get on the waiting list; then
  • Referral- they call you with the baby that will be yours. You get pictures, medical/family history, etc.; then
  • Court- a worker from our agency represents us in court. Hopefully you pass the 1st time. This means you are now the legal parents of your baby; then
  • Travel- once you pass court, you travel 4-6 weeks later to bring your baby home.
Right now we are in the waiting stage for our referral. Currently, due to many different factors, the time between referral and court date has gotten VERY long...about 4 months. This means, that if we get our referral in March or April, and nothing changes in the court timeline, we could be looking at the end of the year before our baby is home. That is due to the Ethiopian courts closing from mid August until the beginning of October. So if we don't get through court before the August closing, we have to wait until they re-open for a court date. How hard it will be to wait those extra months, already knowing who our baby is, and watching him grow up through pictures. So the thing heavy on our hearts right now??? The legal system: please pray for another judge. If they can get another judge into court within the month, we could see the system start to move again, and we might have a chance of getting through.

The director of our agency took a last minute trip to Ethiopia to check things out, make improvements, and see what is going on with court being so slow. (Court is what needs to move in order for all these babies to get home to their families). Even though we were told possibly the beginning of March for a referral (when we find out who our baby is), we are leaning our minds towards April (which seems to be more in line with other families timelines). So anyway, here's the message we received from our director who just returned from her trip to Ethiopia. The colored text has been added by me to explain things).

The trip was very productive. I'll summarize here and give more info later:

Baby Care: Many improvements were already underway and it has been very helpful to have volunteers available to watch and make suggestions. (As of last weekend, there are currently 70 babies at the orphanage). Charts are being kept for each baby with feeding monitored. Diapers are being changed more frequently. We are in the process of hiring two new nurses and will have a nurse on duty around the clock. Twenty two laundry and baby workers have been added since the first of the year and their training is being monitored. We have had advice and suggestions from a number of professionals, both local and adoptive parents and are very grateful for their help.

Toddler Care: I think I mentioned that our toddler population has grown and we realized that they needed more space and more stimulation. We have identified a large compound with a large old house and a huge outdoor area. We are thinking of moving the Opportunity House and the older toddlers to this compound. There is space to separate the children but they can participate in some activities, such as music, together and it would be a nice environment for all of them.

Legal (This is what I will be referring to as "court" once we receive our referral):

I met with Samson yesterday (Samson is AAI's legal representative and works with every case that is heard in court. We signed over power of attorney to him in our dossier). He said that the Ministry of Woman's Affiars (MOWA) is getting clearer as to what they want for each case. (Recently, several families haven't been passing court the first time due to a missing document from MOWA). They held a training about 10 days ago that Samson and two other staff attended. The hope is that there will be more consistency so cases presented will have everything needed to pass court the first time. Samson said that the Network of adoption program managers met with the Ministry of Justice recently and they have promised an additional judge. Samson believes the new judge will be in place within a month which should mean a shorter wait for court dates. (This will hopefully make the wait time from referral to court date about 2 and a half months instead of 4 months).

Guest House: The current Ritmo Guest House has not met the needs of many families, especially those with older children who stayed their with their adopting parents. Gail has identified a new and lovely home with a yard and landscaping, that is actually closer to Layla House than the Ritmo. It has five large bedrooms, a huge living room and is bright and airy. There are several large rooms behind the house where the older babies will be cared for. This should be available for families in March. The old Ritmo will be closed and the new Ritmo will be used for Computer Lab, sponsorship office, and will have two small rooms which can be used for volunteers or overflow families if needed.

These were the major issues that needed attention and I think we are moving in good directions in all of them. We have a wonderful group of volunteers and Ivy and the teachers are doing an outstanding job. We appreciate the support of the adoptive parents as we continue to provide in the best way that we can for the children and the adoptive parents.

I leave for home tonight. I arrive very late Thursday night and don't expect to spend much time in the office on Friday. I am sorry I have been unable to answer email the last couple of days, but I'll get to you as soon as I can.

So that's the current news on our adoption. Sorry if it's very confusing. We are still trying to nail down exactly what happens at each stage. Again, please continue to pray for the babies. That God heals those who are sick, and keeps the healthy from getting sick. Pray that another judge comes and court moves quicker so babies come home quicker! But until then, we wait...


2 Months on the Waiting List!

Vocabulary Refreshers :)
Referral- The time when they call us with who our baby boy is! We will finally see his face and hear his name! SOOOOOO exciting!
Dossier- Our massive mound of paperwork approving us as adoptive parents. This got sent to Ethiopia on December 3, 2008 and was the day we officially got on the waiting list. 

I called today for our 2 month update! I didn't get to talk with Merrily (the director) because she is in Ethiopia and will be back in the office next week. I was told not to expect a referral in February, but maybe the beginning of March! So that is way fun! One more month!!! (maybe). But honestly, I'm not even setting my heart on it. I've heard of people who were told "this week" and it ended up being 3 weeks later! But I've also heard of people who were told not for 4-6 weeks and they were called back that day! I asked about how many families are on the list for boys ahead of us and she said they don't give out numbers because they change so much (people switch gender requests, people come off holds, etc). I'd still rather have a general number to work with though. They are still doing referrals of boys for families whose dossiers were sent in September, and referrals of girls for families who dossiers were sent in August. Referrals slowed for awhile due to the overcrowding issues at the orphanage and such. But they said several more referrals will be going out next week when Merrily gets back. They wouldn't tell me roughly how many dossiers were sent in October and November though. Argh. It could be 5, it could be 20. Who knows!  I also got no answer about what they thought our chances of getting through court before the rainy season was. I was bummed about that. But hopefully with the news of another judge supposedly taking seat within a month, maybe we have a good chance! They said I could call again next week to talk with the director and see if they have anymore info for us.

Until then, please keep praying!
  • For our son: that he will stay healthy (there are many sick babies at the orphanage and several in the hospital).
  • For a quick referral
  • That another judge will take seat this month
  • That we will get a quick court date and pass before the rainy season


Peach, Coffee, & Hot Chocolate

I'm so sorry for the sparse postings lately. It has been a very crazy last couple weeks and I wasn't feeling any good posts. ;) Nothing specifically new on the adoption referral end... just waiting (and trying to not think that maybe the waiting will be less than we anticipated). This Wednesday starts our 3rd month of waiting! I will call AAI Wednesday for our update and to see how things are moving along. Who knows. Maybe we'll be pleasantly surprised.

This has been a fun year of teaching in regards to our adoption. I teach 1st and 2nd grade at a classical school. All of my students are caucasian, except for one beautiful biracial little girl. It's been really neat to watch my students start to open their eyes up to a world that is way bigger than our school and their neighborhood. It all started back in the fall, even before we announced our adoption. I like to read a lot of multicultural books to my students and we started coming across things that were "different" than the way they see things and hear things. And, one day, we came across a Chinese name on a math paper. One of my students said, "That's weird!" That of course spurred a continuing conversation (still going on to this day), that it's not weird, it's different. We talked about how if they went to school in China they would be the ones with names that stood out. We've had these conversations about many different cultural things on many different days, and I must say it's fun to see them starting to "get it." I even hear them saying it to each other, "it's not weird, just different!"

Here's another thing that happened frequently. Every time the kids were coloring a picture and coloring in someone's skin color, they would say things like, "Hey, can you pass the skin color? (i.e. peach)." After hearing this several times, I finally talked through the skin color thing. I had everyone take out all their colored pencils (which come in many shades of every color) and roll up their sleeves. I said, "We're going to see which colored pencil matches our skin color." At the end of this activity, we found that every person in our class (even all of those who were caucasian), had a different skin color, and to their surprise, no one actually matched the peach! I concluded this little activity by explaining that we shouldn't call the peach crayon "skin color" because not everyone in the world has that color skin. With much excitement they quickly went to their desks and made up all new names for their crayons including things like, coffee, hot chocolate, and cookie dough!

It has been so sweet to see their growing understanding of how people are different. Without my prompting or encouragement, when the kids are coloring, they are now including pictures with kids of all different skin colors, especially brown. ;) However, they don't quite understand that Abraham in the Bible, a jewish patriarch, is not African American. They have been doing things like this, without looking for recognition from me or others. They do it as if it's always been a natural inclination. Even the pictures they draw me tend to have people with brown skin. Here's one of the pictures my girls colored for me. An African ballerina. So sweet.