Sunday, October 30, 2011


Please ignore the part that says, "We're not asking for your money." Send your money to Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF, or the IRC.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

to do list (updated as we do them)

Checklist to prepare for first trip:
  • Ethiopian visa
  • K vaccinations
  • T vaccinations (appt Nov 2)
  • copies of documents
  • notarized copies of passports
  • photo album
  • two copies of special toy for the boys - one for orphanage and one waiting here
  • donations (see below)
  • plane tickets (ff miles from incredibly generous family member)
  • vegetarian meals for flight
  • arrange accommodations
  • arrange car rental/driver
  • buy video camera
  • buy GPS
  • pack
Below are suggested donations for Horizon House. Email me at if you are interested in donating:
  • Similac formula milk in powder form. Similac with iron and lactose-free are preferred.
  • Baby wipes
  • Preemie, Infant and toddler size diapers
  • Anti-fungal ointment and tablets
  • Bed Sheets, bed covers, crib sheets, draw sheets (for infant cribs and older child home)
  • Medical shoe covers (like those worn in hospitals during surgery)
  • Bottles
  • Anti-fungal shampoo
  • Neosporin or antibiotic ointment
  • Hydrocortisone creams
  • Infant and child Motrin, Tylenol or other fever reducer
  • Pedialyte or Kaolyte (preferably powdered form)
  • Infant and child decongestants
  • Infant and child vitamins, liquid
  • Children’s Vitamin D supplements (found in several multivitamins)
  • Vaseline
  • Infant clothing
  • Bactoban ointment
  • Alcohol Swabs
  • Saline spray or drops
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Nystantin (Mycostatin)
  • Standard bottle nipples
  • New or like new condition children’s shoes
  • New or like new condition children’s clothing (infant to 14 years)
  • Developmental toys for children (plastic or wooden preferred)
  • Baby shampoos
  • Baby bath soap
  • Baby oil
  • Baby powder
  • Disposable surgical masks and gloves.
  • School supplies
  • Books for very young children (board books and easy readers)
* Stuffed animals or plush toys should be avoided, as this kind of toy can spread germs from one child to another. *

Friday, October 21, 2011

Amharic verb of the week: mam'tat (to bring)

This week's verb is mam'tat (to bring). The link to the conjugation is here. Compare to mem'tat (to come). Amharic has several such pairs:

- mem'tat (to come) and mam'tat (to bring lit cause to come)
- medres (to arrive) and madres (to deliver lit cause to arrive)
- meblat (to eat) and mablat (to feed lit cause to eat)
- mayet (to see) and masayet (to show lit cause to see)
- meqemme't (to sit) and masqemme't (to put/place lit cause to sit)

Monday, October 17, 2011

State Dept and Embassy notices (with update)

State department notice confirming orphanage closures in Ethiopia:

Also, posted in one of the online groups this morning, a list of documents/info required to be submitted to the U.S. Embassy with I-600 (source stated to be U.S. Embassy):

[Update: Our agency says there is no such official list, and that while this list may be accurate is some cases, it may not apply to others.]


Cases of Relinquishment
1. Petition from the relinquishing parents addressed to kebele/woreda/court showing their will and reason for relinquishment.
2. The Kebele and/or Woreda court decision regarding the relinquishment. The Court decision should include statements, signatures and occupation of all the witnesses, as well as the relationship between relinquishing parent and each witness.
3. All the local documents should include the name of the child, the names of the parents (deceased or alive), the name of the relinquishing person and so forth.
4. If a parent is deceased, death certificates or evidence from local authorities confirming the death. We will accept a declaration from a church or administration office with a registration number. Death certificates should provide the name and signature of the issuing person. We will not accept a statement of death to a church or administration office.
5. In cases when one or both of the biological parents have serious medical problems, a medical evaluation of the parents is required. (Please see Cases of Mental Illness for further required details.) In cases when the agency can't provide the medical evaluation report done by the authorized specialist it may be required that the parent is taken to the embassy's panel physicians.
6. Any correspondence between concerned authorities regarding the relinquishment of the child.
7. Complete life history forms of the children to include:
  • child's detailed information
  • names of both parents (alive, deceased or disappeared)
  • contact information for the relinquishing person (full name, address, phone number)
  • list of maternal and paternal relatives (even if parent is deceased)
  • list of siblings and their ages (to include stepsiblings)
  • acceptance date to the orphanage
  • statement from the relinquishing person giving the reason for the relinquishment and showing his/her will to give the child for international adoption
  • name and signature of the person filling out the form

Cases of Disappearance of One Biological Parent (in addition to relinquishment documents)
8. Police report reflecting a search for the parent and that he/she could not be found. Should include details of the investigation (exactly what action has been taken to find the birth parent)
9. If the details of the police investigation are not available, please provide proof of any efforts made by the family/orphanage/other to find the birth family. Example: ad in a newspaper, public announcement, ad in a church bulletin.

Cases of Abandonment
10. Police Report regarding the case to include the name of the person who found the child, the exact place and time where the child was found, efforts made to find the birth family of the child (example: ad in a newspaper or an announcement made by the police, orphanage or the agency).
11. Complete child's life history form to include information from the police report, date when the child was accepted to an orphanage, the name of the person that referred the child to an orphanage, contact information for the police officer processing the case.
12. Recommendation from the local authority to place the child in an orphanage.
13. Statements of the witnesses (if applicable). (Please see Cases of Relinquishment for further required details.)

Cases of Relinquishment by a Relative/Other
14. Court decree granting legal custody rights to the relinquishing person (not required if the relinquishing person is a sibling or a grandparent, according to Ethiopian law)

Cases of Mental Illness
15. Medical evaluation proving mental incapacitation of the parent provided by a medical official. In cases when the agency can't provide the medical evaluation report done by the authorized specialist it may be required that the parent is taken to the embassy's panel physicians.
16. Court document removing custody of the child from the mentally ill parent.
17. Court document assigning new guardian to the child.

Cases of Father Unknown

18. Efforts made to identify/find the unknown father. Example: ad in a newspaper, public announcement.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

This is hard!

I think I've entered a new phase of waiting.  Now that we have our plane tickets, it feels different than anything I've felt up until now. I find myself incredibly distracted. Unable to think of anything else. I'm talking to anyone who will listen about our trip. I'm having trouble focusing on anything or getting anything done. My house is a mess. I'm spending too much time on adoption blogs and Ethiopian travelogues. I'm wondering how I'll get through the next thirty-two days without going nuts.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Amharic verbs of the week: mem'tat, megbat, mesmat, mesrat

Four verbs this week, but they are all conjugated the same way as meblat (to eat). Click on each for a link to its conjugation:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Two months, and planning a trip

Two months today doing the 10% challenge. This month's amount was less than last month's because both Buki and the car have been on their best behavior. This time the contribution went to Unicef, because I'm tired of the bad rap they get for saying that inter-country adoption should be a last resort for children in need of families.

Some exciting news - we've connected with two families who are appearing in court the same day as us, who also have accepted referrals from Burji (from the same orphanage?), and who also live on the East coast. If all our referred children end up coming to the U.S., it will be such a comfort to them to see familiar faces in their new, unfamiliar environment. I hope we can maintain and strengthen this connection as we go forward.

We are working on getting our tickets to Ethiopia. We had hoped to have a stop in Greece on the way because we haven't been there in over five years. But with news like this coming out of Greece, we can't afford to take the chance that the airport would be shut down, so we are not going.

We've planned a tentative trip to southern Ethiopia to see the area where the boys are from. We're trying to decide if we should rent a car or if we should hire a driver. On the one hand, a driver would make things easier and could also be an interpreter and a source of information. On the other hand, it feels like a driver would put some unwanted distance between us and the people around us. Any advice on the matter?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Amharic verb of the week: meblat (to eat)

I ate................bellahu
you (m) ate.....bellah
you (f) ate.......bellash
he ate..............bella
she ate............bellach
we ate.............bellan
you (pl) ate.....bellachu
they ate...........bellu

The rest is here.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Great week!

On Saturday night I went to the Ethiopian church for the celebration of Mesqel. You can read about the significance of the holiday here. It involved candles and a bonfire. I met a nice Ethiopian man who turns out to live only a few miles from our house.

And we got a court date!  I got the email yesterday afternoon. We will be appearing in court on November 24, Thanksgiving Day. So excited!!!!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

This is not a gray area

A few days ago, a horrifying post appeared on the blog of an American couple currently in Uganda. They had gone to an orphanage in the hopes of beginning adoption proceedings for a ten-year-old girl they had met. In many countries children may stay in orphanages as a temporary measure when a family is going through hard times. Children living in orphanages who have not been relinquished are not available for adoption. When the American couple got to the orphanage, they found the girl’s grandmother and uncle were there to take her home; they learned that the girl’s mother was on her way as well. Then the American couple, carried forward by their unshakeable conviction that God wanted them to have this little girl, spent the next few hours badgering the grandmother and uncle with prayers and photographs of their (comparatively) incredible wealth. They got the grandmother and uncle to agree to pressure the girl’s mother into relinquishing her so the Americans could have her.

There was an outcry among many people who read this post, and after a few days it was taken down. I heard that someone was able to send a copy to the U.S. embassy in Uganda before it disappeared. You can find many more details here and here and I have nothing to say about the original bloggers that hasn’t already been said.

I do have something to say about the people who commented on this case. Mostly the comments took one side or the other – either, “Hallelujah, God moves mountains, God wants you to take this child” or “This is completely wrong, this is trafficking, stop.” A few more “reasonable” people saw a gray area, pointing out the good-hearted motives of the American couple, the complications inherent in international adoption, and the difficulty of the girl’s situation.

This post is for the reasonable people.

To the person who wrote, “I know [ ]  and [ ]. I traveled to Uganda with [ ] and [ ] stayed at our house for a night or two about a year ago. They are lovely, God-fearing people”

They may be very pleasant people. But they are trying to take a child who has not been relinquished by her mother. She is not available for adoption.

To the person who wrote, “This is not a wealthy family, he is a pastor at a church and she is a stay at home mom… I think they are a very well intentioned family”

It doesn’t matter what their intentions are. The child has not been relinquished by her mother. She is not available for adoption.

To the person who wrote, “This is a really hard subject”

No, it isn’t. She is not available for adoption.

To the same person, who wrote about her experience with people in Uganda using their children to fleece sponsorship money from foreigners and then letting their children go unschooled and hungry –

That sucks. There are assholes everywhere. But she is not available for adoption.

She also said, “I don’t believe [ ] to be grandiosely wealthy people. They seem to have pretty well-adjusted little ones and have worked their way around some difficult situations… who am I to say that their belief that [ ] is to be their child is wrong. So, I don’t believe they are child-trafficking or anything else that has been leveled against them. They see a kid with a great need and want to help”

But she is not available for adoption.

To the person who wrote, “unless you know the family and the little girl's situation, you really aren't qualified to comment about them in a public forum”

It doesn’t matter what her situation is. For her to be living in an orphanage, her situation probably stinks. There are many children in similar situations who have been relinquished by their parents. This particular one is not available for adoption.

To the person who wrote, “This family has had long standing ties with this child care center for years and this specific older girl (she is over 10) asked for them as parents when the sister and dad visited last year..... it’s a tough situation. I have followed this blog for over a year- I am not certain that the young girl, [ ], had ever thought going back to live with her family was ever an option. She would pray with the center workers for a new family”

I can believe that the girl wants to go with them. But it’s not an option. She is not available for adoption.

To the person who wrote, “I was in Uganda with [ ] and [ ] in April. They are not recruiting for adoption as you refer to it. They have established strong relationships with Uganda and the people there. They are working hard to change what orphan care looks like in this country. They have been in country a combined total of over 10 times”

It sounds like they are very involved and doing good things. They are also trying to take a child who is not available for adoption.

This is not a gray area. There is nothing to be reasonable about. Because (one more time):

She is not available for adoption.

In a few months we will hopefully go to court to become the legal parents of the two boys who were referred to us. We are not sharing who in the boys’ family is still living, but suffice to say they have living relatives. Until the court proceedings, their family can change their minds and reclaim them. This is part of the adoption process as it was explained to us very clearly from the beginning. This seems to be the part that adoptive parents conveniently forget as they decorate rooms and buy baby clothes. Then if it’s time for court and the family has changed their minds – What?! Outrageous!! But that’s my child!!

No, it isn’t. If the boys’ family changes their minds, it will suck for us. SUCK. Bigger font: SUCK. My world will come crashing down. I will cry, I may vomit, I will likely sink into a deep depression for a long time. If we believe the relatives are good people and their fortunes have changed, I will at least have the comfort of knowing the boys are returning to a home where they will be well cared for. But what if the family is rude and mean and desperately poor? I will be so sad to let the boys go. But they are their kids. And one thing I won’t do is bully the family into letting the boys come with me. 

Because at that point, the boys will be (all together now):

Not available for adoption.