Thursday, March 31, 2011

Three Ways to Help

The raffle is winding down, with just three more giveaways, but I've got lots going on right now and ways for you to help with the adoption fund.

1. Buy a raffle ticket. Each one is only $5, and you've got the chance to win one of three amazing prizes, including a quilt that I made all by myself.

2. Buy a table runner! Don't like one of the pre-made ones? No worries -- I do custom orders.

3. And just in time for Mother's Day, buy some jewelry. Click on "Find your Hostess" and type in my name. Twenty percent of all purchases will go towards the adoption fund.

I Did This! -- April Raffle

Yes, yes, I know it's not quite finished yet. I still need to put the binding around the edges, but here's the April raffle. (It will be finished in the next week and I'll post updated photos)

The binding will be the same color brown as the back.

And congratulations Karyn L. of Newfield NY for winning the Stan Musial photo!

Happy Opening Day

This is the way my front door will look from today until the Yankees' last game, whether it's the end of the regular season or the end of the World Series, or somewhere in between.

This is my favorite day of the year!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

More news, but we still don't really know anything...

Today's email from the placement agency:

We are writing today to report on information we have received regarding the meeting that took place yesterday between MOWCYA staff and the adoption agency network in Ethiopia. We are hearing that MOWCYA remains committed to processing, in the normal time frame, those cases with court dates already scheduled. MOWCYA is currently discussing its long term policy for processing future adoption cases. Until a final decision is made, we expect there will be a limitation on the number of cases being processed daily.

Please know that a strong advocacy effort continues with the support of many organizations, including US Department of State, foreign Embassies and governments, child welfare groups and adoption agencies. We will keep families informed as we continue to learn more about the impact these changes may have on the process. Other reliable sources of information include the US Department of State ( and Joint Council on International Children’s Services (

The Ethiopia Team will be available on Friday should you have any questions or concerns.

Monday, March 21, 2011

And so it begins....

all over again.

It's that time when things are about to expire and I have to do everything all over again.

Today, I mailed out my request to be re-fingerprinted; my fingerprints apparently expire in July. Who knew?

In May, I'll contact my home study person and have her start with my Maryland background check (they take a bit longer than New York), and then in June or July to start with New York. I'll have to get another physical and have my doctor fill out all of that paperwork, so that she can update and renew my home study.

And then, all that running around getting things notarized, mailing things off to the capital, and going to the Sheriff's office, and the County Clerk's office....I get to do it all over again and redo my dossier.

The only good thing about it all? Well, hopefully that means my paperwork will be current enough that there will be no issues when I go to court in Ethiopia, but also, being busy is a good thing. Keeping busy and doing stuff, rather than just waiting and waiting, makes me feel useful.

And so it begins....all over again.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


The top 10 things I've learned over the past 10 months....

1o.....that chickens are good fund-raisers
9....that buying books for the baby can be very fun (and Amazon can be a little dangerous)
8....that momentum can be stalled but not stopped
7....that I am my father's daughter and can be handy
6...that unlike hearing about other people's pregnancies, learning about a referral is good for my soul
5...that even though I successfully tried being handy, I'm still a crafty girl
4....that I should never forget my ghost of Christmas Past, because it was what got me to where I am today
3....that I know what I want, even when I doubt myself
2...that even I feel like I am sometimes, I am not alone
and the number one thing I've learned over the last 10 months....that I made it this far, and I'm strong enough to wait as long as I need to.

Ten months down, who knows how many to go, but let's just say eight to 14.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

This Week's Update

In the weekly update from my placement agency, some encouraging news (even with no referrals yet this month):

In the past week, the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA) in Addis Ababa announced proposed plans to implement changes in their processing of adoption cases.This announcement has incited much concern in the adoption community, as these changes could significantly impact the processing of adoption cases by limiting the number of cases reviewed and approved by MOWCYA. Despite this announcement, WHFC is hearing from our Director in-country, Dr. T, that at this time, NO final decision has been made by the Ethiopian government and no changes have been implemented.The discussions about how to continue serving the vulnerable children in Ethiopia through inter-country adoption are still ongoing at the highest levels of government, with many different suggestions and view points being considered.

Since the release of MOWCYA’s announcement last week, a tremendous advocacy effort has been put forth by various stakeholders, such as the US Department of State, Joint Council on International Children’s Services, adoption service providers and agency representatives, including our own Dr. T. Their position has been that the number of adoption cases approved by the Ethiopian government should directly correspond to the number of Ethiopian children in need of families, and not be determined arbitrarily in a way that does not take into account the needs of children.We are happy to report that so far, the advocacy efforts of these stakeholders have been successful.As of today, we understand that the initial plan to significantly limit the number of cases processed by MOWCYA has not been enacted, and there seems to be advocacy within MOWCYA to continue processing pending cases in a timely way.

Although we are happy for this good news today, we recognize that the government is still making decisions about the best process for future adoptions from Ethiopia.The government has expressed a need to cap the number of cases processed daily, in order to ensure that government officials have the time to review and evaluate each individual case thoroughly and properly.We know that the government continues to consider proposals that involve some limitation on the processing of adoption cases and we remain hopeful that a proposed limitation would not impact families or children as negatively as has been reported.WHFC supports MOWCYA in their efforts, and encourages them to continue work in the best interest of the Ethiopian children in their care.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spread the Word....and Act!

From Amy at Building the Blocks

As you may have heard, Joint Council recently released a Statement regarding the announcement by the Ethiopian Ministry of Women’s, Children’s and Youth Affairs plan to reduce intercountry adoption by 90%. We do not have a lot of detail on why or if this is going to be temporary or permanent. JCICS has issued the following Call to Action in hopes that MoWA will reverse this decision.

Please help! by doing the following:

1)Sign the petition to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi – and pass it on!

2)Have you adopted from Ethiopia? Please send us up to 3 photos and 50 words or less with what you would like the Ministry to know about your child – we’ll compile the information and send a book to the Ministry of Woman’s Affairs. Send your photos and stories to by Sunday, March 12, 2011 to be included. Please note that sending photos and stories gives Joint Council unrestricted right to use the information you provide.

3)Share…Please send this Call to Action to family members, other adoptive parents, and everyone you know! Post, forward and share your adoption stories via Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Make sure you include us in your posts so we can all hear your stories! Here’s links to our pages: Facebook, Twitter and our blog.

4)Stay informed: Get up-to-date information regarding the situation in Ethiopia by signing up to receive information from us: click here to do so, make sure you choose “country and issues specific information” and “Ethiopia.” And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and our blog!

5)Help ensure our advocacy can continue: Joint Council is a non-profit and receives no government funding. Please join us in ensuring more children live in safe, permanent and loving families. Donate today!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bouncing Back

The wonderful thing about tiggers
Is tiggers are wonderful things!
Their tops are made out of rubber
Their bottoms are made out of springs!
They're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy

There were still tears on Saturday, for sure, but I did my best Tigger and I bounced back from the MOWA news.

I pulled out the sewing machine, I had fabric all over. The iron on one counter, my rotary cutter and mat on the other. And started an Etsy shop!

So for those who aren't interested in trying to win an amazing autographed item -- who are you and how are you in my life? :) -- I am starting with table runners, and will take custom orders.

Take a look -- my Etsy shop

Update on MOWA

It was an interesting weekend. Emotionally, I felt the way I used to when I would get a negative test. I cried. I wondered how I would get through this. If I had it in me to keep going.

And then the next day, I dusted myself off, and realized I did have it in me to keep going.

I heard from several friends who are with other agencies about what they've been hearing. And then I received the following email from my case manager:

We have consulted with our Director of Africa Programs (Dr. T) and confirmed that the Ministry of Woman’s Affairs (MOWA) in Ethiopia has sent a letter to the Ethiopian courts announcing their intention to dramatically slow down approvals of adoption cases. Since an approval from MOWA is a required component of every adoption, this could significantly impact time frames between referral and bringing a child home.

Our Director of Programs is in Africa now. We have been in regular communication with both of them this weekend and will continue to be in touch with them to discuss this issue. We know very little at this point about implementation of the proposed change. Under the leadership of Dr. T, we have already engaged in conversations with MOWA and other Ethiopian government officials to better understand their intentions, their plans for implementation and the effect this decision will have on the children we serve through our adoption programs. We respect the Ethiopian government and MOWA’s effort to promote ethical adoption, but we are concerned about the negative consequences this proposed action might have on orphaned and vulnerable children. As always, we will strongly advocate that the needs and rights of children be considered first and foremost.

We understand that this announcement and the potential changes it may bring are very concerning to our Ethiopian pre-adoptive parents. We will do our best to understand and communicate about the impact of MOWA’s proposed changes, but it will likely take some time to assess. It is possible that after additional research and feedback MOWA may change their proposal. Even if they move forward as they have announced, we do not yet have information about how MOWA will select which cases to process and how long this proposed change will last. It is impossible to predict changes in time frames at this moment. As we receive more concrete information, we will share it with you immediately.

And while it's not the best news I've heard in a while, at least I now have official word from my agency. I'll just keep doing what I'm doing.

And on another note, I received the following email (in part) from a friend who is traveling to bring her kids home from Ethiopia:

Thankfully, I am past MOWA. They review for court, and court is done for me. If they follow through with what they plan to do, they will review five cases a day not fifty, and Ethiopia could become another China.. taking years upon years to get through. My timing was perfect even with a potential glitch now of a week or two more.

She asked that we not respond to her email because she doesn't want to fill her in-box while she's awaiting word from the Embassy, so I couldn't reply to this and ask her to think about the fact that there are at least two of us on her email list that has this MOWA thing hanging over our heads, that spent the weekend probably thinking of nothing else.

Friday, March 4, 2011

There's Nothing I Can Do....

but it still sucks. I am in a position where Ethiopia is really my only option, because I'm single. Because I want an infant. Because I don't make movie star kind of money.

And that's okay. It is. Because I know this is going to happen. Sometime in the next year. Or so I thought. Until I heard about this:

Ethiopia to Cut Foreign Adoptions by Up to 90 Percent

Ethiopia is cutting back by as much as 90 percent the number of inter-country adoptions it will allow, as part of an effort to clean up a system rife with fraud and corruption. Adoption agencies and children’s advocates are concerned the cutbacks will leave many Ethiopian orphans without the last-resort option of an adoptive home abroad.

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Women’s, Children’s and Youth Affairs has issued a directive saying it will process a maximum of five inter-country adoptions a day, effective March 10. Currently, the ministry is processing up to 50 cases a day, about half of them to the United States.

A copy of the directive provided to VOA says the reduction of up to 90 percent in cases will allow closer scrutiny of documents used to verify a child’s orphan status.

Ministry spokesman Abiy Ephrem says the action was taken in response to indications of widespread fraud in the adoption process.

"What we have seen so far has been some illegal practices. There is an abuse. There are some cases that are illegal. So these directives will pave the way to come up with [safeguards]," said Abiy Ephrem.

Investigations have turned up evidence of unscrupulous operators in some cases tricking Ethiopian parents to give up their children, then falsifying documents in order claim a part of the large fees involved in inter country adoptions.

American couples often pay more than $20,000 to adopt an Ethiopian child. Such amounts are an enormous temptation in a country where the average family earns a few hundred dollars a month.

U.S. State Department statistics show more than 2,500 Ethiopian orphans went to the United States last year. That is more than a ten fold increase over the past few years, making Ethiopia the second most popular destination for Americans seeking to adopt overseas, after China.

Child protection professionals generally welcomed efforts to clean up the system.

Some, however, questioned the motive behind the cutback. One adoption agency representative who asked not to be identified called the policy "ridiculous", and said it appears to be in retaliation for recent criticism of the government’s lax oversight of the process.

Abigail Rupp, head of the consular section at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa says the cutback is likely to result in a drop in adoptions to the United States from last year’s 2,500 to fewer than 500. She says the biggest concern is for the estimated 1,000 children currently in the adoptions pipeline, who may be forced to wait more than a year for their cases to be considered.

"We share the government’s concerns about the vulnerabilities in the process. But certainly we have concerns about children who would be waiting longer for their adoptions to be final. That would mean they would be in an orphanage or transition home for a longer period of time," she said.

Rupp said adoption agencies in Ethiopia should take the directive as a cue to be accountable for each case they bring forward, including knowing exactly how children in orphanages came to be there. She said government officials have indicated they may close as many as 45 orphanages as part of the effort to clean up what critics have labeled a “baby business”.

Ted Chaiban, head of the Addis Ababa office of the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, called the new rules “an important step” in rooting out irregularities in the system and finding family-based local solutions for what the government estimates are 5 million Ethiopian orphans.

"What is important is that any child deemed to require care be looked at in terms of a range of options starting from family reunification all the way through inter country adoption. In that respect the work being done by the ministry needs to be strengthened and supported," he said.

U.S. Embassy officials late Friday indicated they are posting an adoption alert on the State Department’s website addressing the concerns of Americans who will be affected by the Ethiopian government directive. The alert can be seen at