Thursday, May 23, 2013

No More Numbers

To our family and dear friends,
We want to keep you as updated as possible about our adoption process, and we received some news from our agency that we think you should know.  The wait time for Ethiopia has increased significantly due to questionable ethical practices - NOT with our agency, but with other agencies.  Due to the increased wait times, effective immediately, our agency will no longer issue monthly waitlist numbers.  For us, the numbers were a blessing and a curse.  They were a great visual for us and others to watch our progress during the adoption process.  At the same time, they could be very disappointing and disheartening when we saw no movement or even moved up!  The numbers that we have received for the past year will definitely be a part of Safiya's adoption scrapbook, and we look forward to coming up with some creative ways to track our progress without numbers.  Additionally, because of the long wait times, our agency is allowing families to pursue concurrent adoptions, meaning that a family could commit to another child with another agency during the wait and still remain on AGCI's wait list.  We have not decided what our course of action will be regarding concurrent adoptions, but we are examining our options for domestic and international adoptions while we wait for Safiya.  We are disheartened by the news that questionable ethical practices (i.e. baby buying) are occurring in Ethiopia, but are thankful that our agency is operating in a morally upstanding manner and refuses to participate in such practices.  We know that God will bring our sweet girl to us in His time, but   the longing for another child is breaking our hearts right now.  If any changes to the adoption timeline happen, we will let everyone know as soon as possible.

- Natalie and Buck

Friday, April 12, 2013

Keeping Busy

If idle hands are the devil's playground, then he ought to be nowhere near our house. After we submitted our dossier, the excitement of paper chasing came to a grinding halt. We no longer had to make excursions around the tri-county area to get the signatures of doctors, notaries, social workers, employers, former employers, and the WV Secretary of State. We no longer waited with bated breath to jump the _____man (insert mail, UPS and/or FedEx here) when he pulled into the driveway.. And most disappointing, we no longer made exciting trips to the post office and forced the innocent employees to take embarrassing pictures with us. (See Exhibit A)

Exhibit A. Me and Jules with the. most. awkward. post employee ever.

Naturally, we wondered what the heck we were supposed to do with our spare time. Our case worker sent us a very helpful email suggesting that we "keep busy" during the wait. She still occasionally makes the same helpful suggestion in her monthly update emails.  As if I wasn't "keeping busy" enough chasing Miss Thing around (See Exhibit B)
Exhibit B. Miss Thing

But in all seriousness, there's a lot of empty hours between her bedtime and mine.  So I've been keeping busy with projects around the house (read: Pinterest ideas) First up: A new big girl quilt for Miss Thing - twin sized for her new bunk beds, which I single-handedly assembled, along with the matching pink ceiling fan.

Next, I thought it would be fun to build a chicken coop.

Look for pictures of its inhabitants during the 2nd week of May.  We are also open to suggestions for naming our 4 Golden Buffs - my only requests are no chicken anatomy or delicacy names, and that one is named Madea.

During said chicken coop building, in which I enlisted the carpentry expertise of my patient and understanding father-in-law, I learned how to use power tools, including this bad boy:

Once I learned the basics, I even used it by myself to build the bottom part of the chicken coop door.  Apparently, I wasn't ready for a solo plunge cut, though, so I made due with a screwdriver and a big hammer.

Next, I moved my ambitious self back inside and rearranged and enhanced our bedroom decor:

I about burned off my fingertips making this Pinterest idea come to life, which would have been unfortunate since we need to renew our FBI fingerprints next week.

This evening, I thought I would bring things down a notch and make the Pineapple Princess a dress.

And, of course, finish off the night with a little light reading and the original Karate Kid on Netflix.

Throw in a home study update and 10 hours of work. and that, friends, is how a waiting adoptive mama keeps busy...for a week. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013


"So you were adopting, right? How's that going?"
"Heard any adoption news lately?"
"What's your number?"
"Are you still waiting?"
"When will she be home?"
"Hasn't it been like a year?"

Yes, we ARE adopting. 
We have no idea.
Actually, it's been 1 year, 7 months and 23 days since we submitted our application.

Shortly after we submitted our application, adoptions in Ethiopia slowed by 90%. That translates to 2-4 cases per day being processed through the court system for the entire country. That doesn't include the days that the judge has meetings elsewhere and can't review the cases; nor does it account for the rainy season in Ethiopia, during which the courts shut down from August until October.  Meanwhile, our future daughters and sons wait, stuck in orphanages because their case wasn't chosen to be reviewed that day, or a piece of paperwork was missing or signed incorrectly.  It's the ugliest form of bureaucracy - enacting laws, policies, and restrictions that hurt, rather than help, the children they're supposed to protect.  

And so we wait. We wait for testimonies from family members that our daughter was freely relinquished for adoption without coercion or bribery. Or we wait for confirmation from the police officer who found her abandoned on the street that every effort was made to locate her family. We wait for relatives to travel 2 days by car or bus to Addis Ababa to appear in court and testify for the relinquishment of their child. We wait for papers to be signed, translated, authenticated, notarized, stamped, sealed, and approved by the U.S., Ethiopia, and sometimes (just for fun), Kenya. And that, friends, is why these kids are stuck.  For months, for years...the current wait time for new families on our agency's wait list for a healthy baby girl is over 2 years. That's 2 years from being added to the waitlist until referral (matching of the child with a family). That doesn't include the months of paperwork that families completed just to get on the wait list.  For perspective, we started the adoption process when Juliana was 8 months old.  She is now 25 months old. 

The purpose of this post is simple: every child deserves a family. It is a basic human right.  No child, regardless of their age, ethnicity, or limitations should be denied a family.  A documentary called "Stuck" explores why international adoptions are declining and follows several families who have waited and fought for years to bring their children home.  It is excellent, intriguing, and heart-wrenching. If you have a spare hour during your week, please watch it.  If you aren't interested in purchasing the movie, please contact me.  I will provide the username and password. - to purchase the movie for $12.99 (All proceeds go toward Both Ends Burning, an organization that supports enacting changes in international adoptions to bring children home faster) - to watch the movie (contact me at or via Facebook for the username and password)

Until the next number,

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Year...In the Blink of an Eye

March 31, 2012.  That's when we were officially added to the wait list. It will be a year on Easter.  A year of praying. A year of hoping. A year of waiting. A year of anticipation.  A year of preparation.  A year of waiting. A year of change. A year of seeing through new eyes. A year of celebration, indecision, affirmation, doubting.  A year of waiting. It was an agonizingly long year, but at the same time, it passed in the blink of an eye.  The waiting has not become any easier - our girl is never far from our thoughts. But waiting is no longer synonymous with fretful anticipation.  It has become routine and now holds a treasured place in our hearts.  Because we know the wait will eventually end.  And when it does, it will be joyous. It will be redeeming. It will be beautiful.