Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Birth Certificate

The adoption is final in Ethiopia and I have received the birth certificate. I am listed as JM's mother. His new name has my name as his middle name. Of course, that won't work. I will officially change his name when I refinalize in the US. I am waiting to receive my tax refund so that I can pay the attorney to start the process. I know some people refinalize by themselves but I don't want to take any chances.

JM has a new picture on his birth certificate. He is growing up fast. He still has scabs from his recent case of chicken pox. I will wait to get him home before I post any pictures of him now. That way he will be healed and looking handsome. Of course, I think he's beautiful even with a face full of chicken pox.

I leave in 8 days and a few hours. I can't wait! I can't believe I will finally have a son. This is truly a dream come true.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Almost ready!!!

JM's bedroom is finally finished and ready to go. Don't get me wrong. I still have a lot of work to do before I leave. This just means if I had to leave tomorrow, I could. I would just have some work to finish after we arrived back home.

JM's bedroom is a reflection of our old and new family. His crib is brand new along with the carpet (within the last year), his clothes and most of his toys. His toy box belonged to my brother when he was a child. It doesn't latch, air can get inside and the lid is light enough to be lifted from inside. My mother tells stories about my brother and me taking naps inside of it.

JMs dresser is an antique (sorry Mom). It was my mother's when she was a little girl. She used it for my brother and me when we were babies. My dad repainted it and it is now ready for JM to use. He will probably only use it for a few years and then get "big boy" furniture for his room. Hopefully, that will be when I am preparing for baby #2 but that definitelly won't be for a few years and even then may never happen.

I have my bags packed, JM's bags packed and we are just waiting for our plane to leave. Only 10 more days (12 days until I actually meet him). I am getting excited and nervous. The fear is beginning to subside as I remember that everything will be fine.

I still need a copy of JM's birth certificate so that I can fill out his immigration forms. I need a letter from the state giving JM permission to immigrage here as well as the USA. I have heard that internet service is down in Ethiopia but hopefully it will be back up soon. I still have some time so I won't panic yet. I trust everything will work out alright. I hand deliver the paperwork to our embassy in Ethiopia so I don't need the birth certificate until I actually leave anyway. The state will send an email to the embassy if we are running out of time.

I am trying to take my pastor's advice from a sermon earlier this year. I am trying to enjoy the journey. So far, I have been doing better lately. Each morning that I sleep in past 9 I enjoy it. I know that I won't be able to do that much longer. I know the future is very bright and soon I will have my son.

Enjoy the following pictures of JM's room.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

JM is 17 months old!

Time is flying by. JM turned 17 months old today. In the past few months, I have checked off the 21st of the month with some sadness. It seemed as though JM would just continue to grow up while I waited for a travel date. Today was different. I was very excited to see this day on the calendar. I am now 2 weeks (15 days) away from travel. Today I celebrated being one day closer to having JM in my arms and one more month of life for him. He must be getting so big!

I celebrated receiving my travel date and JM turning 17 months old with a friend today. We went to a restaurant that specializes in Ethiopian food for dinner. The food was good. It is definitely a different taste than I am used to but I did enjoy it. I had some kind of chicken stew (wat) that is suppose to be really popular there. I was not too fond of the injera bread but I guess I will have to get use to it. I hear I won't have much choice but to eat it there.

I also celebrated tonight by myself after dinner. I went shoe shopping. I have 2 pairs of size 5 shoes that according to the age charts, should fit. Of course, his feet could be big for his age. I wanted to make sure that he has at least one pair of shoes that fit in Ethiopia. I purchased a size 6 pair tonight. If they are too big, I'll just bring them home for later. He will need them soon either way.

JM's bag is packed, the donations are packed and I believe my shopping is done. Now I really can't put off getting the rest of the house ready. I only have a few more days off work before we leave. I can't believe it is almost time to bring JM home forever!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Excitement and Panic

My days are now filled with moments of excitement, moments of fear and occasionally moments of panic. I am told that these feelings are perfectfly normal and that every new parent has them. I also believe it must be part of the adoption process. After all, what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. Right?

Two days ago I received an email stating that I needed to purchase a foreign adoption bond from Wisconsin. It is a $1000 bond that is suppose to guarantee my child will never be on welfare. How much time do you think $1000 will cover for foster care or food stamps? Possibly a month? This is one of the worst policies I have seen in a long time. I did find out that the bond only costs $100 so that is good. It is still $100 that I was not planning on.

My next moment of anxiety comes when I look at my budget for the next year. I am not sure where all of the money is going to come from. When I do the math, there is enough there but just barely. I am not looking forward to a year of counting pennies and watching my expenses. Of course, I will be going out to movies and dinner less so I will have some savings there. The money will get easier after this first year. I am scheduled to get a couple raises at work and my car will be almost paid off.

My next huge fear is that something will happen to JM before I can get him home. A woman posted a message today that her daughter died a week before she was suppose to pick her up. She became ill and died despite medical care and everyone's best interests. Yipes! That is my biggest fear. I know the money will work itself out in the end (I'll cancel cable if I have to) and that things will get easier. I don't know what I would do if something happened to JM though! My prayers definitelly go out to all of the people who have been affected by this young girl's death.

Mostly, I still feel excited. Those moments of panic and fear are short lived and soon are overtaken by feelings of anticipation. It will be so wonderful to have JM home. I will definitelly do whatever it takes to keep him healthy and happy once he arrives. If it means working more overtime than I want, I will. I have to work some anyway or risk being ordered to work when I have other things going on. I refuse to be one of those people who use my child as an excuse not to work overtime. It is not fair to the other deputies or my supervisors. Besides, JM can handle a little time away from me after my family leave is over.

Just think. 17 days and 12 hours and I will be on a plane beginning the first part of my journey to meet my son!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

JM is coming home!

JM is finally coming home and sooner than I expected! I received the call today. My official travel date is March 12. Because we plan to visit the southern part of the country, my parents and I will actually arrive in Addis on March 9. That is only 3 weeks (22 days) from now! I am not sure how to feel. I think I am still a little numb from the excitement. I do know that I have a lot of work to do in the next three weeks.

My SW told me that the agency felt really bad that my travel had been delayed and was causing added stress. They tried very hard to make sure I got a travel date as soon as possible and actually got me in a week earlier than they anticipated. I can't thank them enough! It was not there fault that my case was delayed by the courts. It was the not knowing when the end of the wait would come that was the worst. I know that the SWs at CHSFS are wonderful and did the best job they possibly could! I will never be able to fully express my gratitude to them. They have made me a mom!

Today was a day of great news. Not only did I get a travel date sooner than I expected, I also got a new assignment at work. I am now what they call task force. Basically, that means that I am no longer assigned to any one area of the sheriff's office. I officially belong to administration and they will have me work wherever they need me. I will need to receive some additional training before I can work too many new areas. After I am trained, I can be assigned to conveyances, civil processing (serve warrants) and the jail. There is also a rumor that task force will soon be helping to fill patrol vacancies. That would be nice but it will be quite awhile before I get my road training.

I will officially start my new assignment on April 1, 2007. Of course, that will be during my family leave so I won't actually start until late May. That is fine with me. To know that I only have 3 more weeks left assigned only to the jail and 3 more weeks until I meet my son is good enough for me. I just don't know which happy dance to do first. The one for my son or the one for my job. Both are worth celebrating!

I am still waiting for JM's crib and other furniture to arrive. Once it does, I will take some photographs of his room and post them. That is just one of many things I need to do between now and March 9.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Through Court!

I finally made it through court! Today went from one of the worst days I have had during this journey to one of the best. All it took was one phone call! That phone call came in at 4:03 PM according to my bedroom clock. My court date was last Thursday but my SW didn't hear anything until today. The news that I am now officially JM's guardian is the best news I have had in months! The only thing that tops it is when I found him on the waiting child list and was told he was "yours if you want him." I will never forget either of those moments or the pure joy that came with them.
The unofficial word is that I will be travelling the week of March 19. My parents are coming with me and we will actually leave Madison on March 15. There is a weekend trip to the southern area of the country that we want to go on. It will give us an excellent opportunity to see more of the country and learn a little more about JM's birth culture. There is a chance that we could travel the week of March 12 but that is doubtful. It is more likely that we will go the following week. I am fine with either week. There are pluses and minuses with any week and a few days won't really make a difference. We have the rest of our lives to be together.
I can't believe that I will be travelling in just 30 days! There is so much to do before that. I have to wash his clothes, baby proof the house, prepare the au pair's room and shampoo the carpets. I have four "weekends" off work between now and then to get it done. I also need to finish his quilt for his bed. I have been working on cross-stitching it for months. I am almost finished and should have it done in plenty of time. I am so excited! It won't be long now!

Is the end near?

Today has been one of the most difficult days of waiting I have had. I was sure my SW would call me today with a travel date or at least an update. Instead, my email and phones have been mostly silent. Now all of my fears are really coming out.

Two families on the CHSFS group received their travel dates today. I am so happy for them! One of the families is actually travelling next week. I wonder if this means that all of the travel calls are done for a few days or if it is just the beginning? I don't have much of a choice but to be patient and wait. I tried to call my SW but she didn't answer the phone. I am sure she is extremelly busy with all of the recent activity. I didn't leave a message and trust that she will call when she has news.

On a brighter note, I received a letter from a little boy in Mali today. His name is Djibril and he is 6-years-old. Mali is a country near the Ivory Coast. I am sponsoring him through Save The Children. Some people don't like that the money for Save The Children goes to fund projects in the community and not just for the child and his family. I actually really like that the money is used for larger projects. It is nice to know that the little bit of money I can send is being used to help an entire community and not just a few people. It is never easy to really know where the money goes but every little bit of support and help is needed. If even one family is helped, it is worth the money.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Still Waiting

I am still waiting for news from my SW. She hasn't returned my last message so she must still be waiting to hear from Ethiopia. I really believe these past few days of waiting have been the worst. It was easier when I didn't expect a call anytime. JM's bedroom is decorated and now I am ready to start on the au pair's room. Child proofing the rest of the house would be a good idea also.

I am trying to keep myself busy as I wait. My dog, Sierra, is also helping me. The above picture was taken while we were busy playing fetch. Or rather, I throw the rope, she retrieves it and then teases me with it. I cannot wait to see JM and Sierra playing together. Sierra loves young children and I am sure they will become fast friends. JM will also have 3 cats to play with/torment. It will be an interesting combination but everyone will adjust eventually.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Bad News

Today was a little upsetting. I learned that JM has chicken pox. He came down with them yesterday. He is now isolated and hopefully getting better quickly. It is so difficult to be stuck in Wisconsin when I know my son is sick in Ethiopia. I am comforted to know that he is receiving good care even if he is sick. I just wish he was here and I was giving him the care!

I also found out that the reason I don't have a travel date is because of a delay with the Ethiopian courts. According to my SW, I was scheduled for court today. I hope that I made it through! I should find out tomorrow or next week. All I can do is continue to pray for a fast travel date and that JM gets over his chicken pox soon.

The good news is that I finally finished painting JM's room. It looks fantastic! I also bought his crib and a few other things today. It is a relief to have that job done. His crib is being ordered so it should arrive next week.

OK everyone. I need happy thoughts for a travel date soon!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Learning to be a princess

My cousin Madison, age 3, was teaching my mom and me how to be a princess. What better way to spend a cold January evening. Thanks Maddy! I wonder what my son will teach me when he is 3?

Monday, February 5, 2007

Frequently Asked Questions

Since this blog is mostly for my friends and family to learn about and enjoy my journey, I will try to answer those questions that are frequently asked. Some of them are questions that peole are afraid to ask and others are just of interest.

1. Why don't you just get married?
A: If it was that easy, I would have been married a long time ago. The truth is I don't know when/if I will get married. I hope I meet the right man soon but so far I haven't. I also don't believe I need to wait to get married to be a good mom. I am devoted to my son and will do whatever it takes to make sure he grows up healthy.

2. Do you have a support system to help you?
A: Yes. I am blessed to live near my parents and brother. I also have several great friends in the area that have agreed to help when I need it. I am not going on this journey alone and am very grateful for all of the support I have received.

3. Why is the process so long?
A: It is long because of the large amount of paperwork, wait for referral and wait for the courts to do their thing. I wish it was faster but understand why it is not. I will admit I am not always as patient as I would like to be but I am trying.

4. What are you doing for childcare?
A: Since I work second shift and some weekends, I have decided to hire an au pair. She is a wonderful woman from South Africa who will arrive in April. I am really looking forward to learning about her and her country.

5. How can you afford all of this?
A: The same way any other family does it. I have to set priorities and make sacrifices. I also can't say thanks enough for those people that have helped me so far. My parents, friends and co-workers have been wonderful!

I am sure there are other questions out there and I am happy to answer them. I just request that people don't ask questions about my son's story. I feel it is important for him to learn it first and be able to share it when he is ready. I will post his picture on the site after I am sure he is officially my son.

Welcome To My Blog

Welcome! I am new to the blogging world but excited to try this out! My name is Heather and I am in the process of adopting a boy from Ethiopia. JM is 16-months-old and waiting in the CHSFS orphanage. I am currently waiting for permission to travel to pick him up. My SW at CHSFS told me it will most likely be in March. My hope is that this blog will be a way for family and friends to watch my journey to becoming a single mom.

I thought I would tell you my part of the adoption journey. I will let JM tell his when he is older and when/if he wants to.

My journey officially began last May. I picked out a home study agency and began the paperwork. I was placed on the official waiting list in August. I waited patiently until November. I was exploring on the internet one afternoon and had this overwhelming need to see the waiting children on the CHSFS web site. I called the next morning and received permission to look at the children. About 5 minutes later, I was on the phone with the waiting children's SW telling her I had found my son.

My paperwork was finally completed (again) in December and mailed to Ethiopia on December 18. I have been waiting since then to travel to get him.