Sunday, February 26, 2012

February Redeemed

February was shaping up to be a big disappointment.  No referrals had gone out in almost 4 weeks.  It had also been months since any infant girl referrals had been issued. That is until Thursday and Friday when 4 referrals went out, one of which was for an infant girl.  In the P.S. world (post slowdown), this is considered a verifiable traffic jam.       

February is also the month when our agency sent out a very candid email explaining the recent slowdown in referrals.  In summary - the U.S. Embassy and MOWA continue to raise their standards of required evidence to prove a child's legal orphan status and legal availability for adoption.  There are challenges with obtaining and verifying all the documentation needed to refer a child.  Some of these challenges are unique such as obtaining documentation in remote regions or in areas where taking records is not standard practice.  Nonetheless, all documentation must be obtained before our agency will refer a child.  Sometimes documentation is not able to be obtained and a child will not be referred.  Sometimes an individual involved in a case cannot be located and a child will not be referred.  Unless our agency is confident that a referral will pass the strict review now in place, a referral will not be issued.  However, because of the increased time and effort needed to investigate each case to ensure a child can be adopted, this means fewer children are available to be placed in any given month. 

As for timelines, it is hard to say.  Families are being told to prepare for a wait of 24 months or longer.  But really, our agency just doesn't know how long any family will wait. 

This communication cleared up a few issues.  It was an acknowledgement that the previous estimated wait time of 12-18 months from dossier submission to referral had essentially flown out the window.  No one knows if the slowdown will continue, if things will pick up, if they will become even slower.....Right now we just take it month by month. 

The communication was also an explanation by our agency that they are aware of the changes in requirements by the Embassy and they will do everything they can to ensure each referral they issue is documented and able to pass the strict review.  Yes it means fewer referrals will go out each month and that we may be waiting a very long time.  But it also increases the trust I have in our agency that they are acting ethically and in the best interests of the families they serve.  It also means our agency is acting responsibly so as not to threaten the entire program.

Too many times I see - even now- agencies that are not licensed to operate in Ethiopia but instead "umbrella" under another agency.  They promise short wait times and quick referrals.  With the scrutiny now in place this is the biggest threat to the program being able to continue.  Obviously many of these agencies will not have done the careful documentation that is needed to pass court and the Embassy.  There will be questions.  Families may or may not have the support of their agency to clear up questions.  But the more questions there are, the more records are missing or conflicting in the haste for a quick referral, the more Ethiopian adoptions are perceived as unethical and that folks plays into the hands of those who would love nothing more than to see the entire program shut down.  Quicker is not better.  For anyone.

So what does that mean for us?  I am becoming resigned to the thought that 2012 is not going to be our year.  It kind of sucks when it is only February and you come to this realization.  On the other hand, it is a bit liberating - we can plan vacations, start projects, stop hording sick no who am I kidding.  It sucks.

But I am coping.  With lots of chocolate.  Last week it was home made dark chocolate brownies.  This week it is chocolate chip cookies.  However, as Shakira would say - Hips don't lie - and mine are telling me to stop coping. 

So I will let you all cope for me.  Try this recipe found at My Baking Addiction!   

Rolo Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield: about 30 cookies


1 ½ cups unsalted butter; softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
3 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped pecans
30 Rolos; frozen at least 2 hours


1. Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed or with spoon until light and fluffy. Mix in flour, baking soda and salt. Mix in chocolate chips and pecans.
2. Measure dough using a medium cookie scoop (about 1.5 tablespoons). Roll into a ball and then flatten in the palm of your hands.
3. Place a frozen Rolo in the centers of the flattened dough balls and form dough back into a ball around the Rolo.
4. Place Rolo stuffed dough balls into the freezer for 15-20 minutes before baking.
5. On cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, place dough balls 2 inches apart.
6. Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until light brown (centers will be soft). Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Uggie who?

Uggie isn't the only cute terrier out there.  I'm pretty partial to my little one.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Our Homestudy Visit and the Drama Queens

We had our home study visit.  Everything went well.  The house was clean, we were more relaxed this time around, and we had a nice conversation with our social worker.  That is until we heard the indignant barking coming from the back door.  Followed by a loud moaning that sounded like a dying whale. 

Someone was not happy! 

To be fair, the short one in the front was the barker.  The mopey one in the back was the foghorn.  And Wilson the lab - well he just wondered why he was locked out with those two deviants.  (And by the way, they were locked out because we didn't want them to take turns sitting on our social worker's lap.) 

Good thing the social worker didn't interview them.  I can just imagine the list of complaints......locks us outside for half an hour! Not enough treats! Will not let us eat off her plate! Will not take us for walks in snow or rain storms! Leaves us alone almost everyday to go somewhere and she is gone for hours!!! Not enough belly rubs!!  The mistreatment!! The horror!!!!!!

I would like to file a complaint with the owner of this establishment.

I wish there was a Pet Swap.  You know, like Wife Swap, but with pets.  Where we switch families so we can experience a completely different life style and appreciate what we have.  I would even make it easy and switch with my next door neighbor.    She owns a chocolate lab named Penny.  She feeds her Ol Roy (apologies if that is what you feed your dog!)  She leaves her outside for days with no access to the garage or inside of the house.  Penny doesn't get much attention.  I am certain her treat pantry and toy box are not as full as ours.  And if I were a betting woman, I would say Penny does not get to sleep on the bed, a couch, or on her mom (all 3 of these spots are taken in our house on a nightly basis!).  Maybe spending a week next door would teach my kids appreciation.  Then again -it might also result in the unintentional addition of a second chocolate lab because I am certain Penny will not be running back to her owner once she sees how life is on the other side of the fence! 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Thoughts on the Wait

I came across this article  and for some reason, it spoke to me.  Especially the part about burying hope and anticipation and somehow making it through the wait.  The author in this article waited four and half years to become a mother.  Can you imagine?  

I remember when we first started this process.  We took a class - one of the classes we all have to take - and there were several other couples in the classes, but two I remember.  One was a couple who at the time had waited 24 months for a referral from Ethiopia.  The woman had no idea when she could expect a referral and she was in tears describing how hard it was to not know anything.  The other was a couple who had been waiting four years to adopt from China.  They seem shell shocked, resigned to waiting another year or two.  I remember feeling fortunate that our agency had projected only a 12 month wait.  I remember thinking, these poor people, I hope I never have to experience that.

And now........Everything has changed.  The Ethiopian program is entirely different.  I have absolutely no clue when we will receive a referral.  Our agency projects a wait of 18-24 months or longer.  We are approaching month 15.  I know we won't receive a referral in the next 3 months.  I'm doubtful we will receive one in the next 9 months.  I think we are going to fall into that "or longer" catch all category, which is probably the most accurate statement about the projected wait that our agency has made.  Because they cannot, with any degree of accuracy, tell you how long they expect your wait to be.   

So what is the plan?  To wait, of course.  I've never given up on anything that I've ever really really wanted (except George Clo*oney and only because his girlfriends get younger and younger and I am so not 28. Or single.)   I'll wait.  It will hurt.  I will cringe every time someone asks me if I am still doing that adoption thing. I will have doubts.  I will cry, I will curse, I will threaten to walk away.  But I won't.  I can't.  Inside of me, buried deep, is hope it will all work out.