Monday, August 30, 2010

Two, Soon to be Three

Well the cat is out of the bag so to speak with our parents and siblings so I feel free to talk about our plans to expand our family. We are officially in the process of adopting another little person from Ethiopia. We started the paperwork process earlier in the summer. While we are still not finished, our home study is nearly complete. Since we have done a home study before, we really just needed to update it. But for those of you who have never done a home study, just updating such a document is a major task. Once the home study is approved by our agency, we can apply to USCIS for an approval to bring an orphan child into the U.S. The rest of our dossier is sitting in my home office just waiting for this approval. Once we receive the immigration approval, we will be ready to officially submit our paperwork. I am guessing this will happen around the beginning of November.

We are asking for a boy between the ages of 3 and 5+ years old. Our main concern is that he is younger than both Lily and Semira. It is not uncommon for older Ethiopian children to actually be older than their paperwork says. I am a tiny bit nervous that 5 may mean 7 in reality so I would not be opposed to a referral for a 3 to 4 year old to accommodate for this possibility. I have a feeling that when things sort themselves out, we will end up with virtual triplets. We already have the virtual twins, so what’s one more?

The process to adopt from Ethiopia has changed some since 2008 when we adopted Semira. The paperwork is virtually the same, but both the Ethiopian court process and U.S. immigration process are different. On the Ethiopian side of things, we are now required to appear in court in Ethiopia during the hearing to award Steve and I parental rights of our son. Before, an in-country representative working on behalf of the parents’ adoption agency would appear on behalf of the parents. The other change is that the U.S. Embassy is taking longer to complete its paper work and investigation before granting an immigrant visa to adopted children. The slowdown is in response to some corruption occurring in the adoption world in Ethiopia during the last few years. As a result, new procedures have been put into place to ensure that all the paper work is legitimate and that all laws have been followed. The bottom line for us is that we must travel twice to Ethiopia and the time between the court decision and awarding of the visa will be longer. We have no idea of a possible timeline. Once we receive our referral, I will have a much better idea of what our travel plans will look like.

Speaking of travel, we plan on taking both Lily and Semira with us on one of the two trips. We would like to travel around Ethiopia for an additional 10 days to two weeks. We did this last time with Lily and it was a very rewarding experience for us all. Semira is very excited to return to Ethiopia so we want the trip to be memorable for her. At this point Lily is a very good little traveler and Semira is getting much better at it. So I have full confidence in our ability to pull off such a trip as a family. In reality, if you don’t extend your trip, your experience is very limited to Addis Ababa and it is mostly adoption business. This involves a lot of sitting around, having to be somewhere at a particular time, and participating in activities with other families as a group. It is not to say there is no fun, but it was definitely not the most enjoyable part of our last trip.

I plan on posting updates about our adoption journey as the details evolve. In the meantime, we are excited about the future and trying to enjoy the process itself as much as possible. It’s funny – when you are going through the process, every minute and detail seems to matter. But once you meet your child and return home, you forget all those things. This time we are a lot more relaxed about everything! Maybe it’s all part of my new Zen philosophy.