Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Step 1 DONE!

Yay! I mailed the first round of homestudy paperwork to Carolina Adoption today! I wasn't allowed to take a photo inside the post office, so I asked someone to take my picture out front:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Buki update

Buki, for anyone who doesn't know, is our second dog who has some challenging issues. We got her when she was a year old. We don't know what happened to her that first year, but she was very fearful of people. Since then she has gotten much better with people, but has become aggressive with other dogs. About a year ago she got in a big fight with our first dog. A lot of people thought we should get rid of her. Instead we have used closed doors, the crate, the backyard and a muzzle as tools to keep the dogs apart. So for the past year, like Sarah Palin and a coherent sentence, the two of them have seen each other across the room but never actually come into contact.

In the past month a lot of people have asked us about our adoption and Buki, so here is the update. The first thing we have done is to fatten Buki up. This has made a big difference. Even though the vets always complimented us on her weight, they said it's possible she was cranky because she was hungry. We gave her a deworming just in case, increased her food, and even temporarily switched her to puppy food. The second thing is that we put her on Prozac. That has definitely helped her anxiety without affecting her energy too much. We've also gotten on a waiting list for the superfancy experts at the veterinary hospital. And finally this past week we felt that things had improved to the point where we could reintroduce the dogs to each other. We are doing this in the evenings, when they are at their calmest, and it has gone very smoothly. We just let them be in a room together with plenty of space around them and both of us nearby but not hovering. Last night they were up to two hours together and they spent most of the time passed out on the floor snoring. We're pleased and hopeful.

The goal right now is to just have a smooth visit with the social worker during our homestudy. We haven't yet decided what to do when it's time to bring a child into the house. That's something we will be thinking about a lot during this next year.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


This site is a wonderful resource for adoptive families: http://ethiopianadoptionblogs.blogspot.com/
Thank you so much, Cindy, for creating and maintaining it.  There are currently about 1400 blogs listed on this site.

I am reading all of them.

Unless the agency or blog has the words "Christian," "Jesus" or "God" in the title, in which case I feel comfortable skipping it because we won't have much in common.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Last week we were officially accepted by Carolina Adoption Services and got our first packet of paperwork. My first reaction when I looked at it was to leave the house. So I did. I came back to it later and started filling it out, then I left it again. The next day Tabb and I worked on it together, and now it is feeling less overwhelming. The key thing is to do it one step at a time.
Here’s what’s included in the first round of paperwork:
  • Basic family information
  • Education and work history
  • Discuss your values and beliefs
  • Organizations to which you belong
  • Activities you enjoy separately
  • Activities you enjoy together
  • Childcare plans
  • Plans for preserving your child’s cultural heritage
  • Preparations for international adoption
  • Information on our parents and siblings
  • References
  • Our autobiographies
  • Various legal documents to sign
  • Financial and tax statements
  • Birth certificates, marriage certificate
  • Photos of us and our house
  • Proof of life insurance (we need to get some)
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Guardianship letter (who would care for our child if something happened to us)
Right now we are working on our autobiographies.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

How we started

I read a bunch about adoption online, and I found a couple of local information sessions to go to. One was on international adoption, and one was about adopting from foster care. After the sessions we talked, and we both were more interested in international adoption. It seemed far more likely that we would be matched with a toddler, and one who was fairly healthy.
Then we started thinking about countries. We both were looking at sub-Saharan Africa, because we’ve both lived there before (Namibia for me, Senegal for T). We had to rule out most countries because they have a five-year marriage requirement, and we’ve only been married for three years. We started thinking about Ethiopia and getting excited about what we learned. For one, we would get to meet our child’s birth family. We didn’t know that was even possible in international adoption, and we feel it would be very, very important for our child. I also love how ancient a country Ethiopia is (I’m Greek, being obsessed with antiquity is required). And all the descriptions I read about the orphanages sounded positive.

At the same time we were learning about countries in other parts of the world and realizing they wouldn’t work for us. Many of them have the five-year requirement; many only make older children available for international adoption; many only place special needs children; some have religious requirements. We kept coming back to Ethiopia, and it felt right.

Then we had to figure out which agency would be best to work with. Early on I had read some articles about unethical practices in international adoption, so we were really, really concerned about working with an agency that was transparent and completely committed to ethical adoptions. From the Ethiopian embassy, I got a list of all the American adoption agencies registered in Ethiopia (there were 22 of them). I crossed out any that were not Hague-accredited, and all the Christian agencies. Again, nothing against Christians, but I see adoption as joining a community of adopting families, and I simply cannot relate to someone who thinks the creator of the entire universe has a personal interest in their adoption. I also crossed out the agencies that were on the west coast. I figured if our agency organizes events and meetings, as many agencies do, we would be more likely to attend if they were on the east coast, where we are. Then I started reading about the remaining agencies in online forums and message boards.
Useful groups to join: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Adoption_Agency_Research/ and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EthiopiaAdopt/

Finally we had narrowed our choices down to two agencies: Wide Horizons for Children (based in MA) and Gladney (based in TX but with an office in NC). Both had very positive reviews and good reputations. Two things pushed us over the edge to WHFC - 1. they had responded to a survey on www.ethicanet.org/ and Gladney had not 2. they responded to a list of questions I sent them about ethical concerns and Gladney did not.

Since WHFC is in Massachusetts we also had to find a local agency to do our home study. There were two secular partner agencies in NC listed on the WHFC website so again I researched them online and Carolina Adoption Services was clearly the better one.

So… we have applied to both agencies and that’s where we are now.

We’re adopting!

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to adopt my children. I’m so excited that we are finally doing it!