Last Weekend to Prep

HealthDepartment
I noticed the check I sent in with the health department application was finally cashed yesterday. I received a call this morning from an inspector scheduling the inspection for this Monday. I think I’m ready, but still want to go through the house and make sure everything is good to go.

I’m a bit nervous about this since I don’t know what to expect. Has any had a health department inspection and how did yours go?

Next, she will schedule the fire marshal’s inspection.

 

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Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony

My first day of training is March 1st, 2013. During lunch at this training event, we all have to go around and present our research project. This project is research but more of a hands on research. We are allowed to use the Internet for the initial research but must discover a real experience to go along with it.

In all my Internet research about Ethiopian culture, one stood out for me. Coffee Ceremony. I entered some keywords in Google and at the top of the results page was a link for Blessed Coffee (pronounced bles-sed). I said, “oh how cool, an Ethiopian cafe”. Yeah, not so much. I sent an email to Blessed Coffee to verify that they were not a cafe and to see where I could buy their coffee. Thinking this was a long shot, figuring I probably wouldn’t get a response – but I did.

The founder of Blessed Coffee actually responded. He sent a link to a few places to buy the coffee. One of them is a co-op market that was by a membership, but after asking Tebabu, the founder, if the membership was required, he said that it wasn’t.

I then asked him if he could help me with something. I explained that I am a single woman adopting from Ethiopia and part of my assignment was to learn something about their culture. I also explained that I was intrigued by their coffee ceremony and I’m interested in including that in my new life as a family tradition.

To my amazement, he emailed me back and invited me to his house where him and his wife would give me a traditional coffee ceremony. How awesome is that?

The ceremony in a nutshell is a community social event comprised of three rounds of coffee, with the last round being the “blessed” coffee.

To learn more about the coffee ceremony, click HERE.

My mom was excited and wanted to go with me. It makes me so happy that she is here to walk this entire journey with me.

We arrived at Tebabu’s house this past Saturday at 11am. They were still setting up but it was great to see it from beginning to end. Tebabu was great explaining the difference between coffee and why the ceremony is such a wonderful way to create community. His wife was equally amazing as she explained each step of the ceremony as she was going through it.

I asked if I could take pictures and they of course welcomed it. I took one at each step so you can get a better visual of what I am talking about. We also got a group photo or two at the end before we left.

Ceremony setup  Burning frankincense   My mom sitting across from me

Coffee beans before they are roasted      Tebabu and Sara     Roasting the coffee beans

Removing beans that burned or didn't roast enough  Brewing the coffee   Pouring first round of coffee

Me, Sara, Tebabu, Linda   Me, Sara, Family Friend, Linda

Not done yet.

Tebabu and his wife are also the founders of the Ethiopian Festival that occurs in July. The festival is two years old so this year will be the third year. Tebabu puts together a festival booklet and he asked me if I would write an article sharing with the Ethiopian community, my physical and spiritual journey of adoption. Wow is right! They also invited us and our friends and family and I’m very excited to participate. I believe he said either this year or next he hopes to have a special area of the program for adoptive parents and their children.

I hit the jackpot!

To top off this wonderful experience, he offered his family as our extended family. A friend of his family stopped by (not sure I know how to spell his name) and he also extended himself as a resource for when I bring my child home. They all said that if I have any questions about culture or whatever, they would be more than happy to help me.

At the end of the ceremony, Tebabu suggested we go around and say something to end our conversation. I can’t even put into words everything they said, but everyone make my eyes moist and my heart swell.

I have made a lifetime of new friendships as well as a new branch in my family tree. I can’t wait to see what the future brings me.

Decision Made

decision-making
Yep, that’s right, I made the decision on the placement agency (agency #2). So now I get to wait and see if I’m accepted. So stay tuned for a lengthier blog when that happens!

But really…why wouldn’t I be?

I’m really hoping I am accepted with this agency as I’ve heard some really great things and they have some nice perks that the other one didn’t have – well I didn’t ask – but in my defense, it wasn’t standing out on their website like this other agency had.

The reasons I love this agency, well, I can’t really tell you right now. Not until I have a final answer on being accepted. Let’s just say it makes me very excited and very scared, all wrapped up in one.

I’m so thankful to be on this journey and I pray that I can find my way through the financial hurdles that are up ahead.

So Hard to Decide

make your choice

I thought I had it all figured out. Who I was going to go with for agency #2, but then I got to researching more and now I’m more confused and unsure than I have been so far.

My local agency recommended agencies that they use – WACAP, Wide Horizons, and Holt – specifically for Ethiopia. All except WACAP are currently accepting new applicants. So I figured my decision was made.

I recently joined a yahoo group for Ethiopia adoptive families. I have learned a lot by reading their questions and advice. Things I wouldn’t have thought about  yet. Tips on where to stay when traveling to Ethiopia and what to do to the water in order to be okay drinking it.

I posted a question today asking for feedback on agencies that have an open Ethiopia program and that accept single woman. I asked for people to message me offline and I received a few responses. One suggested the agency they are currently using – Adoption Associates. So I started researching reviews and testimonials, etc. I found nothing that raised any red flags. I filled out a form so I could be emailed a packet of information. I haven’t received it yet though.

I’ve emailed my local case worker to see if she has heard of them or if she has ever worked with them. I just wonder if she will try and convince me to use one of the agencies that they normally deal with. I like to have options.

My goal by end of this weekend – to pick agency #2 and apply

Anyone out there have any agency feedback or other agency suggestions?

Adoption Meeting

officepaperwork600

Ok. Where to start. Um. Today was my first adoption meeting with my local case worker. I was nervous – only because I didn’t know what this meeting was going to be about. The only thing I was told was that I would be given a written assessment and some homework to do when I leave. Vague huh?

I arrive to meet my case worker at 12:45 and we went to a private room. A little bit of small talk was made and then she jumped right in with some questions she had based on my autobiography. They were good and thorough questions.

We move to some paperwork that she had to fill out while asking me questions, some other paperwork that she had to read and disclose to me. Honestly, it’s all a blur. I feel like I should have brought a tape recorder with me.

I took a bunch of notes of questions I need to find out from agency #2 and a checklist of what my next steps are.

  1. Finalize my decision on agency #2.
  2. Apply to the agency #2 that I pick.
  3. Order two copies of certified birth (me), marriage (me), and death certificates (Rob).
  4. Get fingerprinted (me and my mom)

She gave me a huge packet of paperwork for my home study. Most of it I can fill out myself or read over and understand. There are online courses I must take and some books I must read. But first, she suggests that I work on the things that are out of my control. They are:

  1. Medical physicals – my mom and I both have to do this. Mom has to because she is currently living with me.
  2. Schedule the health department home inspection.
  3. Schedule the fire marshal home inspection.

They provide two training days. Day 1 is a full day where they go over the adoption process in more details and then because I’m adopting internationally, they will discuss racial and cultural issues. Again, sort of vague, so we’ll see what happens when it happens. My Day 1 training is scheduled for March 1st 2013. Day 2 is a half day of training and won’t happen until after the referral and before I travel to meet her/him. So this one is nothing to think about yet since I have quite a bit of time before this happens. This training will be more specific to my child and how to bond with him/her and how to prepare for bringing him/her home.

Okay, enough of saying him/her. For blog reasons and of course my preference, I’m going to refer to my child as her. My preference is a girl so that’s what I’ll go with until I get my referral. So, him/her = her – for writing reasons.

Back to the training, I have some homework to complete BEFORE the training and some of it scares the cookies out of me. But I’m sure if I take it one thing at a time, it will all be okay.

The home study paperwork consists of things like:

  • Transracial/transcultural awareness plan of action – So I have to jot down five activities that I will do to gain awareness of my child race. I have to really think about this and come up with five things for what I’ll do before placement, when the child is 1-4 yo, 5-11 yo, 12+. Seriously? I have no clue.
  • Transracial/transcultural research homework – This is a more creative way to learn about the culture. They don’t want me to google it and simply write it down, but maybe go to a church affiliated with the country and talk to someone and document what they say. That is just one example. I’m not sure yet what I’ll do for Ethiopia. Maybe a restaurant?
  • Online courses – I have to take these and mark the date I took them, plus print out a certificate to prove I took them. This will be fun.
  • Financial statement – Provide a list of my finances and an average of what they cost.
  • Gynecological exam results – Self explanatory.
  • Medical self report – I answer a ton of questions and then get my doctor to sign off on it.
  • Health Insurance Coverage – This verifies that I carry health insurance.
  • Three references – I have to get three people to write up something about me. One has to be present at a home study. They are sealed up so I can’t read them. Dang!
  • Medical Issues Checklist – This list is for me to go through and check off what I am willing to have in my child and what I’m not comfortable with.
  • Guardian(s) Information – This is a legal document but the country needs to know that if something happens to me, there is someone on file that will be able to take care of the child. Any takers?
  • Home Safety Checklist – Few questions about safety in my house. Should be easy enough.
  • Firearm Safety Checklist – Not an issue.
  • Inspection Checklist – This is great because it will help me prepare the house before the Health Department visits my home.
  • Letter to Birthparents – Self explanatory. This will be hard to do.
  • Parenting Questions – I fill this out.

I know this was a lot to read and I’ll be surprise if anyone actually reads it. But see why I’m overwhelmed? And I didn’t even list out all the documents, just the more critical ones that will require some work.

It’s feeling very real now and I’m really terrified. I’m sure it will pass, but holy hell!

The Ball Has Moved

signing-paperwork
ADOPTION UPDATE!

I’ve received paperwork that my mom and I both had to fill out. It is our previous addresses for the past 5 years. This will start the background check. Unfortunately, because my mom is currently living with me, there are some things she will have to go through as well such as, background check, child protective check, finger-printing, and a physical exam.

I sent back the previous addresses and was able to set up a time for my first meeting with my case worker. It was going to be Jan 11th, however she had to reschedule it to Jan 16th. She said to bring agency #2 process outline so they can schedule things along with them. I’ll also have a written assessment and some homework to do.

The ball has been pushed and is slowly rolling now. I can’t wait to get this show on the road!

Autobiography….Done!

Writing-How-to-Write-an-AutobiographyIt has taken me awhile to put together my autobiography for my local adoption agency who will be handling the home study. I just emailed it to my case worker. I believe the next step is they will schedule either an interview with me or schedule a half day of training. I’m unclear at this point which is next and maybe it depends on the training schedule and the availability of my case worker.

I took the suggestions of friends and my blog followers on being completely honest in what I wrote about religion. My intent was never to lie, but I was worried about some of the topics. I’m not worried anymore because honesty and expressing how I feel about something or how I will raise this child still reflects a good home and a loving mother.

The social worker was right when she said by the end of writing this autobiography, people ended up enjoying the newly documented life story of themselves. I feel the same way now that it’s done.