We are three days out from getting on an airplane to go to Elvie, going from being a family of three to a family of four. Wrapping my brain around that is a huge challenge. Everything about this process has been different from the way we thought it would be, and everything has happened so fast. I feel it is hugely unfair to those who have been on waiting lists for years to complain about our quick process, but at the same time, I want those of you who land in the same circumstances to know that someone else has been there, done that, and survived. I may have to eat my words later, but I sincerely believe that this part of the process is the toughest, and I believe that we are going to do just fine. What follows is a timeline from start to getting-near-the-finish.
September 2011 We find out that the fees for the agency we used with Zinashi were going up, but if we signed a contract, we could get in on the old fee schedule. We know we will begin the process sometime early in 2012, and the agency is fine with us signing the contract and being on hold until we are ready, so we do it. We then sit around and twiddle our thumbs, not really doing anything towards the adoption. It’s just not time yet; we are not ready.
November 28, 2011 On my birthday, Jarod receives a job offer that will move us from Kansas City to San Francisco. He accepts and we prepare to move over the holidays. (I do not recommend this, for the record.) I gather the home study and dossier documents that originate in Missouri so that we won’t have to send off for them by mail later.
December 30, 2011 We land in San Francisco, and five days later, our stuff arrives on the moving truck. I feel a strong compulsion to get everything unpacked and settled as soon as possible so we can begin our adoption process in earnest. There is no logical reason for this rush; I just feel like it’s time.
January 24, 2012 We notify our home study agency that we are ready to begin our home study. We gather the requested documentation and are put in touch with the social worker that will do the home visits and write the home study.
February 15, 2012 Elvie is born in a hospital in Ethiopia.
February 18 and 21, 2012 Home study visits are completed.
March 2, 2012 The home study is written and in our hands. We can now apply for pre-approval through US immigration. In the meantime, I gather all the rest of our dossier documents, which are necessary to prove to the Ethiopian government that we are who we say we are and that we will be good parents to a child.
March 14, 2012 I follow a link from a Yahoo group to a blog that features waiting children. There is a baby with a very rare special need mentioned, and I decide to ask about her. She is being cared for by a different agency than we are with, so I get a password to view her information on their site. After reading more about her, we send a request for more information. I speak to the coordinator handling her case the very next day.
March 15, 2012 We fill out an application to be considered as a family for Elvie. What follows is a back and forth with the agency regarding our resources, our willingness to move forward whether or not we have a more definite prognosis, and our intentions as parents. Elvie is undergoing more medical tests to try to figure out what can be done for her and how it needs to be done. We hope that we will be chosen as her family, but we really have no idea if we are the best fit for her. I do my best not to become too attached to the tiny baby I’ve seen on my computer screen, but it’s hard.
April 9, 2012 The coordinator calls to let us know that Elvie’s CT scan has been evaluated by a top surgeon and her prognosis is still just as unknown as it was before; the scans are simply not good enough to tell anything about her situation. I tell the coordinator that it doesn’t matter to us, that we are comfortable not knowing just what will happen. She asks if we will be Elvie’s family. Stunned, I say something along the lines of, “Yes, I mean, I have to verify with Jarod, but I’m sure that we say yes.” We are going to be parents of this baby. We immediately begin the process of changing from the agency we used for Zinashi’s adoption to the new agency. We must update or change many of our documents. We also must come up with fees much more quickly than we thought we would have to. Within eleven days, we get all the necessary documents together and apply for four grants.
May 1, 2012 All the paperwork is en route to Ethiopia to be translated and submitted so that we can be assigned a court date. We are told we can have any date we choose. We choose June 25, which seems so far away, but will give enough time for everything on both the Ethiopian side and US side to get done before we show up. The US Embassy is on board to help get Elvie home as soon as possible, so it begins to look like we will go through the court and embassy processes in just one trip instead of the usual two.
May 29, 2012 Assured that we will receive the court date we have requested, we go ahead and book plane tickets. The official countdown to Ethiopia begins.
May 31, 2012 Our court date is confirmed, and all other processes are moving along relatively smoothly, at least as far as we can tell via our agency and from our side of the ocean. We are getting busy at home, preparing for the trip and getting ready to welcome home a baby.
Today Our itinerary is confirmed, and we have three more quick errands to run before we leave. Elvie’s things are all packed, and Zinashi’s are nearly done, but Jarod and I are far behind. The house is a wreck, and I’m incredibly tired. I feel excited and nervous and like I will never get everything done. I look at my baby’s photo and realize that it doesn’t matter. Sleep or no sleep, coming home to a neat house or a messy house, all that matters is that we get on that plane and get to our baby girl.
We can’t wait.