Wednesday, December 31, 2008

HAPPY 2009!!!!

Check out that blue jello! Nothing like blue jello to ring in the new!

I hope this is a wonderful year for all my readers!

I also hope it is the year I become a mother... It depends on the USCIS, State Department, agency referral, etc. It's all out of my hands!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm going out with a few friends for dinner only to celebrate the New Year. Generally I don't like New Year's Eve as a holiday... it feels forced to me, and I always get nostalgic and a little bummed out. So I probably won't be staying up to ring in the New Year at midnight.

I am grateful for a day off tomorrow, it's been a zoo at work. Crazy busy... unnaturally busy, clients feeling needy maybe? (I saw 8 clients between 9 Am and 10 AM on Monday and it hasn't petered out since...). If it's nice I may take the dogs for a hike.

Oh, and for my BookCrossing friends, this year I read 59 books :-) .

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Attachment myths


I've been reading a lot about attachment and adoptive children. From the beginning of my research into adoption, this has been a huge topic that shows up everywhere. I asked my social worker during the home study about whether infants will also have attachment issues, as I thought the younger the child, the less attachment issues there would be. I'm right, she said, but there will still be SOME no matter what. I'd be naive to believe everything will be peaches and cream just because I'm adopting "as young as possible". Also, I might accept a young referral who, through the closing of courts during rainy season or other problems may grow older while we wait. So this is a topic that all adoptive parents should read up on and feel comfortable with before their children come home, I believe.

Tonight, in my traveling through cyber space, I came across a wonderful website chock full of information on attachment and attachment disorders. The website is It has articles on neurobiology, PTSD, "before placement" attachment issues and "post placement" issues, how to grow bonds between parent and child, etc. Really chock full of great info. Here are a few myths for those who may think adopting an infant will prevent all those issues:

Myth: Infants, especially those adopted out of foster care, do not have attachment problems.
Every adopted child, regardless of the age at adoption, has suffered trauma: that of being separated from the birth mother. Many times, that single trauma is enough to produce attachment problems. Attachment therapists treat even children whose adoptive parents were present at the birth.

FAQ: When newborns are placed with a foster family at birth, how can they miss their birth mother?
A baby's first attachment is to the biological mother. Research indicates that attachment develops throughout pregnancy. At birth, the child knows his mother's voice and her smell. His emotions, heartbeat, and respiration are regulated by hers. He believes that he and his mother are one. If this attachment or bond is broken, trust becomes an issue and the child may have difficulty forming a secure and healthy attachment to the foster/adoptive mother.

Myth: Babies don't remember.
Early memories are remembered by the body. Although a child may not consciously remember early trauma (including separation from the birth mother), the experience is difficult to erase because it is stored as a nonverbal/emotional memory in the body. Neurons in the heart, stomach, and other parts of the body can fire messages, effectively hijacking the thinking parts of the brain…especially if these memories took place before the child developed cognition skills. We have also experienced many moments that indicate that our children remember more than we give them credit for.

Myth: All They Need is Love!
Although love is inarguably what attachment disordered children need, the challenge is getting them to accept 100% of their parents' love. They are like tiny banks, desperately in need of deposits, that have put up signs saying, "Closed for business." Adoptive parents with attachment impaired children find it helpful to consider where their children are in the attachment process by asking, "Is my child willing to accept ALL my love?" When the answer is no, the task then becomes figuring out how to get the love in when the child shows resistance. "

Here is the link to the website:

Monday, December 29, 2008

My favorite part


This is just a light post today because I have nothing much to add.

My favorite part of all the blogs I'm reading is the part where the family FINALLY gets to travel to ET and see their child!

Every blog I read, I try to figure out their travel dates through the timeline and narrow it down from there. Some of these blogs I have to go back a few years in time to get the "pick up" story.

I love the stories about Ethiopian Air, arrival in Addis, the people, the culture, the taxi drivers and the ride to the hotel, and best of all, the trip to meet their child. And then, there's always the part where the other kids in the family get to wear the traditional ET dress. Oh yea, and doing a project at the orphanage, or dancing with the kids in a ring at the orphanage. I hope I get to do that stuff too :-)

I find it hard to believe almost everyone has to spend the first day and night without seeing their child. I guess you are so jet lagged it's smart... but I don't think, if I was in the same city as my daughter, that I could rest until I was with her.

My social worker invited me to lunch on the day I get my fingerprints, which is nice, since we will be in the same city.

My cousin emailed me and suggested I start a baby registry and listed about 50 things I need to get! I called her and explained I should have plenty of time after getting the referral, and then the court date, and then passing court.... It's not like I will not have advanced warning. Plus, with the co-sleeping part of attachment parenting, who knows if I'll even need a crib? And with the long wait post referral, who knows what size she will be for a car seat, or clothes? So much to think about and figure out! It's nice my cousin is so excited though :-) I was very excited for her first child too. I even drew a comic book for her of her pregnancy that I thought (modesty here) was hysterically funny. It's nice we can share this excitement.

I know there are similarities and differences to a biological pregnancy, but I think adoption must be harder in some ways.... Like the not knowing WHEN. With a bio pregnancy, you know WHEN to a large degree, and you know what size your child will be to a large degree. You know you will need a crib and car seat, and which size car seat. If you are past a certain point, in biological pregnancy you also know that eventually that baby is coming. Period. With adoption, even that is not certain.
Well, I don't want to start a debate on which is harder to go through, so I'll end by saying I'm sure they are both difficult, and both with great rewards.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

How to tell your child s/he was adopted


One of the questions my social worker asked me during the home study was how I planned on telling my daughter she was adopted.

Things have changed over the past 50 years!

This used to be something kept secret.

But in the case of trans racial adoption, there can be no secrets. It's pretty obvious. In fact, my social worker said we would be a "conspicuous family" and asked how I would deal with that. I told her I would deal with it openly, talking about any feelings that may come up. I am a therapist after all... my poor kid is probably going to be sick of talking about feelings all the time!

Now, growing up in Africa between the ages of 5 and 9, I didn't really realize there was a color difference between me and my African friends, but as soon as I moved here, U.S. society makes race an issue and one would be ignorant to think there will not be curiosity, stares perhaps, (hopefully not loud) comments, etc.

I guess I'm bringing up two separate topics here. So let me stick with the first one.

I was thinking of saying something along the lines of how special she is that Mommy wanted to fly across the world to be with her. That will probably be good for awhile, until she gets older.

Soo... How did you tell your child, in an age appropriate manner, that they were adopted? And how did they react? And then, what did you tell them when they got older?

Ok, everyone needs to traipse over to this blog

and check out the picture of this family!

I haven't read the blog yet, but the picture is just great.



One more step in the hundreds of steps of international adoption: I received my appt to go and get my fingerprints for USCIS (immigration) in January. I have already gotten my fingerprints from the local court house, and had a criminal check through the county and I'm waiting for the state criminal check to come back as well. So this is a third fingerprinting that needs to be done. For this one, I will have to wake up at 5 AM and drive 2.5 hours to be there at 8 AM. this is the day after I fly back late at night from my wonderful nephew's christening (guess who's Godmom?!!!!) So I'm sure I will be completely exhausted. I COULD reschedule, but that entails mailing a request for rescheduling and probably another month long wait, so I'm not going to reschedule, I'll just tough it out and play loud music so as not to fall asleep at the wheel.

They don't make this stuff easy.

Nor should it be. We wouldn't want criminals and child abusers adopting any child.

But why not do one national data base fingerprint check and be done with it? Say, FBI or CIA or Home Land Security, instead of county, state and national.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Interesting debates


Apparently 85% of adoptive parents ask for girls when given a choice. This is surprising to me, because, although I also asked for a girl, I thought many parents wanted boys just as much! When I ask bio parents what they are hoping for, invariably they say" either, just as long as it's healthy." Is it possible that statement is not true, at least the "either" part? (And really, would they love the baby any less if it wasn't healthy? I think not.) Maybe 85% of bio parents also want girls but manage to fall in love with their sons instantly anyway... That statistic is apparently true for both domestic and international adoptions. I read hours of a debate on another blog which brought up all sorts of reasons this might be true, from racism, and sexism to really trivial reasons like "We already have girls so handing down clothes makes more sense." Uhh.... there's got to be more to it than that!

Anyway, here's the debate, and the comments, for a lively read on the topic.

This is also a favorite blog of mine because it does make one think these things through a bit more. For example, does specifying gender cause or feed corruption? I had not even thought about that before reading these blogs, but it's a real possibility. There are many more boys in ET waiting to be adopted than girls and the wait time is much shorter, but people (myself included) are willing to wait longer for a girl. Why??

For me the reason is simple: as a single female with no male role model around, I just think I will be able to relate and raise a girl better than a boy. I have no idea how to raise a boy. None. I don't even believe if this was a biological pregnancy that I would be able to produce a son. I think I'm lacking that chromosome. Now know that sounds ridiculous and probably I have all the chromies I need for both genders, but its' so FOREIGN to me that I think it's impossible for me to produce a son.

So those are my reasons and they have nothing to do with racism. Sexism? Maybe, but I don't think so. What are YOUR reasons for choosing or not choosing?

Must read book


My agency is awesome! They sent me a book today, which I had been reading about on various forums, with everyone saying it is a must read book about Ethiopia and AIDS orphans. It is called: "There Is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Her Country's Children" by Melissa Fay Greene. I had then put it on all my various book wish lists, and now I can take it right back off my wish lists because here it is!

From Amazon reviews:
"From Booklist: The horrific numbers behind the AIDS pandemic in Africa, "the most terrible epidemic in human history," have little resonance for most people in the West: "the ridiculous numbers wash over most of us." But this searing account humanizes the statistics through heartbreaking, intimate stories of what it is like for young orphans left alone in Ethiopia. Greene's story focuses on one rescuer, Haregewoin Teferra, who has opened her home and compound in a rickety hillside neighborhood of Addis Ababa and taken in hundreds of the untouchables thrown in the streets and left at her door. She cannot turn them away. Yes, the comparisons with Mother Teresa are there, but this is no hagiography; the middle-aged Teferra is "just an average person with a little more heart." Greene tells the stories in unforgettable vignettes of loss, secrecy, panic, stigma, and, sometimes, hope, even as she documents the big picture of "the human landslide," the history and science of epidemiology and transmission, and expresses her fury at the "crimes against humanity" of the multinational drug companies whose expensive patents have denied millions access to the life-saving medicines. Just as moving are the personal stories of international adoptions in the U. S., including two Ethiopian children taken into Greene's own Atlanta family. The detail of one lost child at a time, who finds love, laughter, comfort, and connection, opens up the universal meaning of family. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved "
Here is the link if you would like to buy if for yourself or someone you know:

If has 40 reviews, all 5 out of 5 stars.



I reserve the right to name my daughter, but I'd like to hear some ideas. Please vote in the poll on the right, or if your preferred name is not listed, please add it in the comments section.

NOTE: If my daughter has a name already given to her by her biological family, that name will remain as her middle name. I wouldn't want to take away the only thing left she has from her past heritage. I am actively searching for first names though and would love to hear suggestions.

Announcement to family


I'm back from a week long trip to be with family over the Christmas holiday. It was a fun, chaotic, joyful time. There are now 5 "grandchildren" (meaning the generation after mine - we used to be "the grandchildren" but time moves on) all under the age of 10. Two of them are still infants and one a toddler. They all add so much to Christmas! It's amazing how 17 adults can stop all conversation and turn their full attention when an infant enters the room! Is it like that in all families?

I did notice the absence of my daughter. I imagined what it would be like with one more infant there... Probably even more chaotic, but I'm sure we could have handled it! But God knows best and so maybe a waiting period of (hopefully less than ) a year is prudent. Prudent but agonizing.

It was also hard not to talk about the adoption during the 5 days prior to Christmas Eve. We (my parents and I) wanted to announce it in a special way, and so waited until Christmas Eve when we were all gathered at my cousin's home for dinner. We opened a few gifts and "suprises " (Dutch tradition of poems and small gifts). The announcement came in the form of a poem my father wrote for me to read. I teared up, especially at the part about the biological mother. After the poem was read, no one was quite sure what it meant... some thought perhaps y parents were "sponsoring" a child ("for the cost of a cup of coffee per day") When they figured it out there were lots of hugs and congrats and talk of names and questions. Lots of joy! Here is the poem my dad wrote:

"Many years ago in Rio De Janeiro

A baby girl was born into the home

Of two diplomats stationed there

Ready to give her all their love and care.

Of ----'s parents everything was known

Their ancestry, their families, their genes

Yet it was impossible by any means

To predict or foresee

The beautiful person she would one day be.

Many years later, perhaps this very day

In Ethiopia far away

Another baby girl is born

And of her parents nothing much is known.

Except her mom and dad are no longer there

To give her all the love and care

She needs to grow one day for all to see

The beautiful woman she can be.

Sometimes it seems we have little say

Over how our lives progress from day to day

But this little baby needs ---- as her mother

And even more,

---- needs her to love and care for.

Sometimes it seems to me,

Some things are meant to be."

Isn't that lovely?

Mom says she has already had 3 dreams about this baby. I try to warn her (and myself) not to get too attached.... so many things can go wrong. I will pray, and hope, and do my end of the footwork, and trust that "some things are meant to be."

Loving the unknown child


This adoption process is strange. I already feel in "love" with a faceless, nameless child - perhaps she isn't even born yet! I'm already attached to the "idea" of her and feel bursting with energy and love and nowhere to aim the love towards yet. So I do paperwork like a zealot and that's all I've done for 4 days! I hear it takes some families months, and I'm done already! And I read, read, read blogs about ET adoption, international adoption, ethical issues, trans racial adoption, black hair care, books I should read, music I should buy, etc, etc, etc. I have started a journal, which will also be a "life book" (something my social worker suggested, kind of like a baby book but for adoption or fostering). I can't imagine what it will feel like once there is a face to which to attach all these feelings.

For those of you interested in reading and learning more, and seeing some very cute babies, here are some of my favorite websites and blogs: this has the most concrete info for ET adoptions this is an ethical agency site you need to check to makesure you know what's going on out there

Home Study


Today the social worker from the adoption agency drove 2 hours to my house, arriving at 9 am to do my home study. This home study will eventually be presented to an Ethiopian judge and he will decide based on it's contents whether I am fit to parent one of their country's own. I thought it went well. The dogs were calm, the house was clean and looking great (I'd been mopping and dusting and putting out Christmas decorations for days!) I was able to answer all her questions honestly and I think being a social worker also helped us bond over something. She and I both had 3 cups of coffee, but she didn't touch the butter muffins I had bought for her. I wasn't really nervous, I feel this is meant to be. I also think God wants this to happen also because He seems to be smoothing the way. Little things, like finding a parking spot immediately in front of the court house (while it poured torrential rain) when I needed to get my fingerprints done; or bigger things like leading me to this smaller agency (which seems to be very ethical and faster but lesser known than the big agencies), all seem to be His handiwork. I'm becoming more of a believer than before... there is a sense that God already knows my family to be, and I just need to do the footwork to allow them in. Although I'm anxious, I'm not worried. The social worker asked me questions about my family history, my views on parenting (discipline, when I will tell my daughter she was adopted and how, my views on trans racial adoption and being a "conspicuous family", how would I integrate Ethiopian culture into my daughter's life, etc.) I told her I would tell my daughter age appropriately that she was adopted, perhaps explaining that 'mommy went across the ocean to pick you up' and how special that makes her at a young age, and then explain more as she got older. I also told her I don't believe in spanking, and that positive reinforcement seemed to work very well with my dogs (but not to put that in the home study!) She laughed and agreed that there were similarities. I told her I had researched attachment parenting and planned to follow the philosophy. She was pleased to hear that and explained that although the babies in their Ethiopian house are well cared for and sleep with their nannies, there will be some attachment work that needs to be done regardless. I told her I was planning on starting a group for African adoptions as there isn't one in my town yet, as well as listening to ET music, having ET art in the house, and learning to cook *wat* and *injera* (the bread made from their primary grain teff).She took a tour of the house and complimented me on my multicultural decorating style which I told her came from having grown up all over the world. She left after about 2 hours and I immediately called my parents who were waiting to hear how it went. She said she would have the home study written up before I left for the holidays on December 20th so I could review it and make any edits.

The moment of "conception"??

Today I dropped a contract in the mail to my chosen adoption agency for my Ethiopian adoption! It was probably THE MOST important piece of paper I've ever mailed! If this was a biological pregnancy, this would be the moment of conception. I looked at the other people in the post office line, at their faces, and imagined how they would look if they knew I had just conceived in front of them! I'm becoming a mother!

Friday, December 26, 2008


Hello and welcome to my blog. The plan is to keep family, friends, and voyeurs up to date on my adoption progress. I started this journey on December 8th, 2008, when I sent off my agency fee (!!!!$$$$!!!!) and contract. I had been told that it was imperative I get all my paperwork in as soon as possible to due the imminent change in laws that might prohibit singles from adopting in Ethiopia come the new year. So I got all my paperwork in by December 14th, a new record my social worker said! I had my home visit on the 11th. The only two pieces of paper not yet submitted are out of my control: my State Department Birth Certificate (4 to 6 weeks!) and my SBI fingerprint analyses (4 weeks). So I wait..... and hope.... that the powers that be in Ethiopia are slow to implement change.