I'd like to make it easier for readers to find specific information or details they're looking for--especially adoptive families.
Here's an overview of our adoption story. Click on the links at the bottom of the page to read about our experience in more detail. I've tried to label the posts to give you an idea of where to look for particular points along the way.
We were a family of four, with a biological boy and girl, Jasper and Ruby. We had always wanted to adopt internationally. When our third baby, Charles, a boy with severe birth defects, died at birth, we decided the time was right to pursue adoption.
Charles died in October of 2007. I had already started researching adoption agencies and countries. By March I had begun paperwork with Children's Home Society and Family Services (CHSFS). They were reputable, good to work with, and helped us get our paperwork finished in time to be officially waiting by June 30, 2008, for two siblings from Ethiopia.
After six months with CHSFS, I was antsy. They had been honest about the average wait time, and I knew it could be over a year, but I continued to search online for waiting children. In that process, I came across a very small agency in Oregon who said they could place children in a matter of months. We decided to switch to this agency, knowing we'd lose a thousand dollars and about six weeks in the process. CHSFS was very gracious about the change.
We completed the transfer, and by January were officially waiting with this new agency. On about June 30, 2009, we received our referral from this agency for two sisters, aged 3 and 5. We had requested a boy and girl under five, but felt good about accepting these girls anyway.
With our two other children in toe, to adopt Tinsae and Birhane Ayalew. From day one it was obvious that Tinsae was well over 5. We've now pegged her at 8. Her English name is Saffron. Birhane is actually 4, not 3. Her English name is Willa.
Tinsae and Birhane were waiting for us at Toukoul Orphanage in Addis Ababa. I have nothing bad to say about this orphanage--it was loving, cheery, clean, welcoming, and our girls were very happy there.
The incorrect ages of the girls were only one challenge we had to face in this adoption--our agency had made a serious oversight that left us languishing in Ethiopia for an agonizing couple of weeks, unsure when we would get out. Our Ethiopian friends at our guest house, Ethiopia Guest Home, were wonderful to us and helped us through a difficult time. I would recommend this guest home as a perfect fit for any adoptive families in Addis Ababa. Ultimately, our Senator's office helped us clear the embassy and get out of Ethiopia. We absolutely loved the country and its people, despite our bad experience with our agency and the US embassy.
This blog details our referral, our time in Ethiopia, and mostly our time since returning home. In my adoption research I found there was much written on the web about the adoption process, but very little detailing the day-to-day life of a family adjusting to new reality at home in the first year after the adoption. So, I felt I should chronicle as much of our story as I could. It's frank, because that's the only way I know how to be.
We love our Ethiopian gems, our Saffron and Willa, and are extremely grateful to have them in our family, in spite of our rocky beginning in Ethiopia. To anyone seriously considering international adoption, and especially older children, I say GO FOR IT! Do your homework and know what to expect, of course . . . but then GO FOR IT!
Feel free to email me directly with questions about our experience or agencies.
Before the Trip . . .
Getting Our Referral
The Night Before Leaving
Meeting the Girls for the First Time at the Orphanage
The Girls' First Official Night Living with Us in our Hotel
Why Ethiopia: About Ethiopia FROM Ethiopia
Photos of an Outting in Addis Ababa
A Glimpse of Some of our Major Problems with the US Embassy
MORE Embassy Trouble, and the Lame Horse Photo that People Have Commented on More than Almost Anything on the Blog
The Emotional Rollercoaster of Paperwork Problems, but the Great Experience of Having a Meal Inside an Ethiopian Home
A Couple Photos of the Girls' Home Town
Finally! Approval to Bring the Girls Home
The Girls' First Week in America
The Report of Another Week: Long, but a Favorite Post of Readers
Some Photos of Early Days Home
Great Help From a Wise Ethiopian Friend
Poop and Parasites
About the Girls' Family in Ethiopia
First Runaway Trip to Ethiopia
Trip to Disneyworld
An Example of the Fun of Discovering New Things
The Fun of Learning a New Language
The Reward for It All!
Video of Saffron Cooking Some Ethiopian Wat for Dinner
Second Half of that Video . . .
One of the Typically Hard Questions You Get: Female Circumcision