Saturday, June 30, 2007

African American & Ethiopian Relations

April 20th, 2006 By Tseday Alehegn

In my endless Internet searching I found two really interesting articles on African American & Ethiopian relations. These were so interesting to me not simply because I am adopting from Ethiopia but also because I think other African Americans need to understand the history and relationship that we have with Ethiopia and maybe then they will stop asking me WHY Ethiopia...WHY Africa?

Ethiopian and African American Relations a Brief Timeline: http://www.medhanealemdc.org/misc/Ethiopian%20And%20African%20American%20Relations.pdf
Above: Commandment Keepers Synagogue in Harlem, New York.

Ethiopia, also called Yaltopya, Cush, and Abyssinia, stands as the oldest, continuous, black civilization on earth, and the second oldest civilization in history after China. This home of mine has been immortalized in fables, legends, and epics. Homer’s Illiad, Aristotle’s A Treatise on Government, Miguel Cervante’s Don Quixote, the Bible, the Koran, and the Torah are but a few potent examples of Ethiopia’s popularity in literature. But it is in studying the historical relations between African Americans and Ethiopians that I came to understand ‘ Ethiopia’ as a ray of light. Like the sun, Ethiopia has spread its beams on black nations across the globe. Her history is carefully preserved in dust-ridden books, in library corners and research centers. Her beauty is caught by a photographer’s discerning eye, her spirituality revived by priests and preachers. Ultimately, however, it is the oral journals of our elders that helped me capture glitters of wisdom that would palliate my thirst for a panoptic and definitive knowledge.


The term ‘Ethiopian’ has been used in a myriad of ways; it is attributed to the indigenous inhabitants of the land located in the Eastern Horn of Africa, as well as more generally denotive of individuals of African descent. Indeed, at one time, the body of water now known as the Atlantic Ocean was known as the Ethiopian Ocean. And it was across this very ocean that the ancestors of African Americans were brought to America and the ‘ New World.’ Early African American Writers. Although physically separated from their ancestral homeland and amidst the opprobrious shackles of slavery, African American poets, writers, abolitionists, and politicians persisted in forging a collective identity, seeking to link themselves figuratively if not literally to the African continent. One of the first published African American writers, Phillis Wheatly, sought refuge in referring to herself as an “Ethiop”. Wheatley, an outspoken poet, was also one of the earliest voices of the anti-slavery movement, and often wrote to newspapers of her passion for freedom. She eloquently asserted, “In every human breast God has implanted a principle, it is impatient of oppression.” In 1834 another anti-slavery poet, William Stanley Roscoe, published his poem “The Ethiop” recounting the tale of an African fighter ending the reign of slavery in the Caribbean. Paul Dunbar’s notable “Ode to Ethiopia,” published in 1896, was eventually put to music by William Grant Still and performed in 1930 by the Afro-American Symphony. In his fiery anti-slavery speech entitled “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” prominent black leader Frederick Douglas blazed at his opponents, “Africa must rise and put on her yet unwoven garment. Ethiopia shall stretch out her hand unto God.”

First Ethiopians Travel to America. As African Americans fixed their gaze on Ethiopia, Ethiopians also traveled to the ‘New World’ and learned of the African presence in the Americas. In 1808 merchants from Ethiopia arrived at New York’s famous Wall Street. While attempting to attend church services at the First Baptist Church of New York, the Ethiopian merchants, along with their African American colleagues, experienced the ongoing routine of racial discrimination. As an act of defiance against segregation in a house of worship, African Americans and Ethiopians organized their own church on Worth Street in Lower Manhattan and named it Abyssinia Baptist Church. Adam Clayton Powell, Sr. served as the first preacher, and new building was later purchased on Waverly Place in the West Village before the church was moved to its current location in Harlem. Scholar Fikru Negash Gebrekidan likewise notes that, along with such literal acts of rebellion, anti slavery leaders Robert Alexander Young and David Walker published pamphlets entitled Ethiopian Manifesto and Appeal in 1829 in an effort to galvanize blacks to rise against their slave masters.

Right: Reverend Calvin Butts, current head of the Abyssinia Baptist Church in Harlem. Photography by Chester Higgins. ©chesterhiggins.com

Faith Is...

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
--- Martin Luther King Jr.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Caffeine, Rain and Adoption Reading

Why am I so blah this morning????? Maybe it's the rain, clouds or gray day. It could be all of the reading that I did with my coffee this morning. Let me tell you: caffeine and dozens of pages telling you that you need thousands of dollars for an adoption don't mix! So folks, there is no inspiring entry today! I'm just going to try to focus on work, making some money and not on the lack of (that isn't productive is it?) and if all else fails...I'll go get a pedicure and then do more purging!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Dear Tami,

I am so excited that you are going to be working with me to adopt from Ethiopia! I will be helping you through the Gladney application process to obtain ‘Gladney Approval’. Once this is achieved, your file will be given to the program coordinator. She will assist you with your dossier, travel, referral and ultimately placement.

….uhh….did I say yesterday that I was in the PRE adoption stage! LOL then I quickly changed it to the…I am in it to win it stage. Apparently, it is a good thing that I did change MY stage because today Gladney sent me two emails with about 100 pages of documents! They also said that more documents are in the mail and that I should take time to read all of the documents, contact the agencies, begin filling out the forms, requesting more documents, scheduling appointments, sending in money, do this do that…arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…I already have a headache. I’m going back to work now. Did I also mention yet in this blog that I have a brand new company that I am also figuring out at the same time as this adoption? I must be INSANE!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well…one thing is for sure…I am not motivated by money. This is why I am adopting now. I need more and my daughter is my motivation. She motivates me to do my business; she motivates me to get up in the morning to figure all of this out so all of this is worthwhile. I had a friend call me yesterday and say can you afford all of this? I said “honestly, not really but I’m not going to worry about it. I have faith that it is all going to come together and work out. I’ve been through too much for it not to.”

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ---Philippians 4:6-7

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Request for International Adoption Application

It is official; I am in the pre-adoption process with Gladney Center for Adoption. Today I had my adoption orientation via phone. It was pretty painless. We just went over the adoption process, application, fees and I got any questions I had answered. I say I am still in the PRE adoption phase because today I only had to pay $300 dollars. This was to secure my application only. I can still back out but I don’t get back my $300 dollars. I guess at any point in the process I can back out so, maybe, I am IN the adoption process…it depends how you look at it...Glass half empty or half full…Okay I am IN the adoption process! I’m in it to win it!

Next step, find an agency to complete my home study.

Friday, June 22, 2007

I'm Obsessed!

Okay, I’ve only been in the “I’m ready to adopt stage” for say two weeks and I’m obsessed! What is this all about? All I do is eat, sleep and drink this kid! I’m changing my life, my house, my thinking and I’m pretty excited about it. Since I can’t become pregnant I need to know, is this what it is all about? (On a side note, I was upset about that but since this first two weeks has gone by I have realized at least I can still wear my clothes! Okay, okay some of the clothes that the fertility medication weight didn’t cause me to bust out of but that is beside the point! LOL)

Am I going to get any better or does it just get worse? Is this what my life is going to be like for the next 18 years? Is this what it is going to be like for the next…rest of my life? I think I’m starting to get a little appreciation of what my mother means when she says you will understand when you become a mother. Or when she says my life started when I became a mother. However…while I am excited about this “pregnancy” I just want to be able to get to work so I can afford the good things in life like…food, a house, a car, clothes…you know, the basics!!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ethiopia Rumored To Eliminate Single Women From Adopting

Well you know how it goes. A rumor usually has a little truth to it. There has been some talk that Ethiopia has plans to eliminate single women from adopting! It's possible, China and Ukraine did just the same thing this year. Yes, that sounds crazy to me also. In a country where there are millions of children orphaned and there are countless single women that have the emotional and financial means and want to nurture, support and love children there seems to be something illogical about this.

Let me take a shot at this from my little itty bitty step stool (if you will)…maybe in a third world country and in a country where a large number of the population are Muslim, they want nothing less than the best for their children and by that they believe the best to be a two-parent household. Quite possibly they believe that single women have not married because we were “not chosen”, “had bad values” or “did not value marriage or family”. However, as part of the growing group of single women choosing to adopt we know that is not true. I’m not going to use this blog to go into why we are not married but to say that we believe in the sanctity of marriage. And to convict us just because God has yet delivered our partner to us is unfair. We want the best for our kids also and would go to the same lengths to make sure they receive it. I’m going to the same lengths to get my daughter from Ethiopia (as a two-parent family) and even more so because I am doing it alone. Now if the government eliminates singles from adopting that would mean fewer children would have the option of living in happy, healthy and functional (ok sometimes ...LOL) homes! The world has yet to find a cure for poverty, HIV and other diseases but they continue to make it difficult for the few who can make a difference. It still sounds illogical to me.

So what does this all mean for me?

I’m filling out my paperwork NOW! They aren’t locking me out, I'm going to get my baby girl! I’m not that crazy. I talk a good game but it’s their county and I’ll play by their rules! They win! So…if you are single and want to adopt from Ethiopia my advice to you…Call Gladney, Wide Horizons or another agency but you better hurry up and call somebody!

Why Is Everything On Sale When I'm Trying to Save?

Since I have proclaimed that I am adopting, purging my life of unnecessary stuff, saving my money and being frugal why am I now seeing more stuff than ever that I want to buy???????? Why is everyone having the best sale ever? Barneys 50%. Neiman Marcus. Saks. Target. CVS. Heck I can’t even go into Safeway and not find a good sale. I’m addicted. I look for a vintage store in every city I visit and I tell myself it is okay. Yes, it’s less expensive but I come out spending $200 (with 8 original dresses of course). But, how do I save for my baby with these habits?

So…I’m just trying to go cold turkey! Is there a patch for this? Maybe I should just try to wear everything in my closet. The truth of the matter is I don’t wear everything I have now. My new rule is, if there is a piece that I love but I just need a shirt or bottom to go with it I first look through every thing I have and try to make something work then if not I buy the option that I am going to love not the least expensive option that I won’t wear anyway. Remember my posting the other day, I’m not taking anything into my new life that I don’t love…this goes for clothes also!

Finally, this week I have been pretty proud of myself. I went to one of my favorite shopping areas in DC (Maza Gallerie) and all I did was look and try on a few pieces. OOH and AAH over them and then think about how great of a Mom I’m going to be next year and put them back! Now that was progress! That was maturity! I then went back home to purge!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tracey Neale Set for the Long Haul of Motherhood

Tuesday, June 19, 2007; Page C03 Washington Post

Any day now, Tracey Neale is going to briefly disappear from the airwaves, and now we know why: WUSA's nightly anchor is adopting two children from Ethiopia. "I'm waiting for the phone call," Neale told us. "I've been wanting to do this since I was 5 years old. It's a dream of mine."
After more than a year working with a private adoption agency, Neale went public with her plan Sunday night at the Rammys, the annual awards for local chefs and restaurants (check out the winners in tomorrow's Food section). Neale, glam in black feathers, was introduced by WTTG (Channel 5) meteorologist Sue Palka, who proudly told 1,600 guests that her close friend is about to bring home two kids.

Neale first tried to adopt an African child six years ago, after reporting about the AIDS crisis on the continent. The baby died, and Neale founded Veronica's Story -- a foundation to help orphans and children with the disease -- and quietly continued to research adoption. Now, as a 40-year-old single mom-to-be, she's requested young siblings (ideally a brother and sister, who might otherwise be separated) and says she's as nervous as "any expectant mother."

Plans for maternity leave are up in the air, and she's still trying to decide if she'll bring a WUSA crew to Ethiopia when she picks up her kids. One thing she knows for sure. As a first-time mom, she's going to need an experienced nanny. "I'm already looking," she said.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Positive Gladney Feedback

I had my first conversation today with a Gladney parent. It was with the mother of Ash (see their blog Baby Ash, he is soooo cute). She said her experiece with Gladney was great! She honestly had nothing bad to say about Gladney. The only semi negative comment she had was about the dossier process and that dealt with the Ethiopian Government (government is government in any country, 'nuff said). The entire process for them was nine months but she said (the general consensus) I should expect to wait about twelve months from the time I submit my paperwork. I should get to the job of beginning that paperwork huh? Well, I guess I should get to the job of huh...starting that fundraising...! My entire adoption from beginning to picking my little bundle of joy up priceless (yea...20K)! Insert happy face here

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Weekend Purge

I believe in editing my life regularly of unnecessary stuff (AND people).    However, I can't seem to figure out why, when I look around my home I still have more "stuff" than I want, need or for that matter even LIKE.   So, I decided I am not taking anything into this new life I am building that I don't love, need or has significant sentimental value. 
 
This weekend  the big purge began.  Not only is this purge a great way to begin editing my life, it  will help with adding funds to my adoption account.  The items that I no longer need or want will be sold on Craig's List, E-Bay or to  friends.    So far I have lamps, chairs, kitchen items, knick-knacks, tables and even a leather and linen sofa.     Once I can get everything cleaned out and have a clean slate then I can finally look at a space that has nothing but items that I love and I can start from scratch and build a home for my family.  I can then redecorate, but on purpose this time!  This time, my life is on purpose...what a blessing and an awesome feeling that is!   
 
 

Friday, June 15, 2007

Where Are You From?

Yesterday's post had me thinking. As an African American what does that really mean? Where is my family really from? I know my family is from Dominican Republic, Jamaica and blah, blah...but where are we REALLY from? Where did that big slave ship depart from? And where are my "other" relatives from? Are those stories that get passed down from generation to generation old wives tales or are they true? Well, if I am going to be a mother I have decided that any lies I tell my kid I am going to make sure that I make them up myself! LOL

So...as far as my family background, I want to know who I am and where my family comes from. I am going to take a DNA test specifically for people of African origin! No...not to see who my father is kind of test but this test: http://www.africanancestry.com/

The MatriClanTM Test Kit traces the mother’s mother’s mother’s line back at least 500 years. How does it work?If the ancestry is African, the MatriClanTM Test can identify the present-day African region with which you share genetic maternal ancestry.Your maternal ancestry may not be African. If the ancestry is non-African, you will learn where it is found in the world.
Men and women can use this test.

The MatriClanTM Test Kit uses cells swabbed from the inside of your cheek.
The MatriClanTM Test Kit includes:
Two sterile swabs
Two bar-coded swab envelopes
Simple, easy-to-follow instructions
Specimen information form see sample
Terms and conditions
Postage-paid return envelope

It takes 6 weeks for results and costs $349...Let's see...I had a birthday last week...I'm sure someone didn't get me a gift...now who can I call to collect a gift from????????? LOL Okay...part of a gift!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Interesting Questions I've Gotten Thus Far

So, after officially having my blog up only 1 day, I've gotten some interesting questions...here are the top three:


  1. Q: Why Ethiopia? A: Why not Ethiopia? Remember your first love and you just knew they were the one for you? Well this is how I feel...I just know that Ethiopia is where my daughter is. I've taken the adoption course for Department of Children and Family Services of DC and I've looked into other countries but I keep coming back to Ethiopia. I've always been drawn to Ethiopia since I was in college and for those who know me it has more to do with than the guy that I dated in college (he was very cute though)! LOL The need (goes without saying) ...so how about other stuff like...I love the food, the people are great, and everyone in DC thinks I'm Ethiopian anyway (I'm not...at least I don't think I am who knows, my family is Dominican, Jamaican, Spanish, Scottish, Syrian, African American...whatever that is these days, and some other stuff...) now I just need to learn how to speak Amharic. :-) I also think I should get one of those DNA tests done!...

  2. Q: Why don't you just adopt from DC or some place in the US? A: Honestly, I don't have the emotional energy for the uncertainty of a US adoption. International adoption is much more predictable. There is no wait period for the birth parent to decide if they made the right decision...I can't imagine falling in love with my child then having her taken from me. I don't have to wait for someone to choose me to be the mother of her child or I don't have to become a foster parent first in order to become a mother of a baby through the city. Yes, there are many children domestically that need homes also, I just don't have the emotional energy to give to the process. After this past year (which I will discuss in the upcoming weeks) all of my emotional reserves are gone...I'm rebuilding them for those late night feedings and temper tantrums come next fall. Oh what great fun that will be! LOL

  3. Q: How much is it (adoption) going to cost? A: I'm glad you asked!!!!!!!!!! Following are the costs to the agency I'm planning (not set in stone yet) on using. It's very expensive so remember those rent parties people used to have back in the day...stay tuned for adoption parties!!!!!!!

Program Fees and Other Expenses Gladney Center for Adoption June 1, 2007
ADOPTION FEES PAID TO GLADNEY
One Child Gladney Application Fee $300
Gladney Home Study Fee * $1,500
(Home Study Review Fee of $500 if another agency conducts the Home Study)
Gladney Program Fee $4,200
Post Placement Supervision Fee ** $600
Post Placement Report Administration $450
SUBTOTAL PAID TO GLADNEY $7,050
ADOPTION FEES PAID TO OTHERS (Best Estimates) In United States
CIS Application and Fingerprinting for 2 Adults $685
Authentication of Documents (Estimate)*** $350
Passport ($85/person travel) if applicable
Travel Visa ($20/person) $40
SUBTOTAL $1,075
In Ethiopia -Foreign coordinator/foreign source fee+ $7,335
SUBTOTAL $7,335
SUBTOTAL PAID TO OTHERS $8,410
TOTAL ADOPTION EXPENSES (Approximately) $15,460
TRAVEL EXPENSES (BEST ESTIMATES)
Vary depending upon season, cities visited, point of departure,level of accommodation, etc.
Adult Airfare/per Person/International Travel
Child Airfare/per Person/International Travel
Lodging Depending on Accom.(Est. 7 days)
Meals (Est. 7 days @ $30/day per family of 2)
Misc. Transportation in Ethiopia
TOTAL TRAVEL EXPENSES (Approximately) $4,195 - $6,485


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Surge in Adoptions Raises Concern in Ethiopia

NY Times June 4, 2007
ST. PAUL — Ethiopia was not on Mark and Vera Westrum-Ostrom’s list when they first visited Children’s Home Society & Family Services here to explore an international adoption. Ukraine was first, because of their family heritage, until the couple discovered that the adoption system there was chaotic, with inaccurate information about orphans’ health and availability.

Vietnam was second, after they saw videos of well-run orphanages. But the wait would be at least a year and a half. Then they learned about Ethiopia’s model centers for orphans, run by American agencies, with an efficient adoption system that made it possible for them to file paperwork on Labor Day and claim 2-year-old Tariku, a boy with almond eyes and a halo of ringlets, at Christmas.

From Addis Ababa, the capital city, they traveled to the countryside to meet the boy’s birth mother, an opportunity rare in international adoption. And at roughly $20,000, the process was affordable compared with other foreign adoptions, and free of the bribes that are common in some countries. It is no wonder, given these advantages, that Ethiopia, a country more often associated by Americans with drought, famine and conflict, has become a hot spot for international adoption. Even before the actress Angelina Jolie put adoption in Ethiopia on the cover of People magazine in 2005, the number of adoptions there by Americans was growing.

The total is still small — 732 children in 2006, out of a total of 20,632 foreign adoptions, but it is a steep increase, up from 82 children adopted in 1997. Ethiopia now ranks 5th among countries for adoption by Americans, up from 16th in 2000. In the same period, the number of American agencies licensed to operate there has skyrocketed from one to 22.

The increasing interest in Ethiopia comes at a time when the leading countries for international adoption, China, Guatemala and Russia, are, respectively, tightening eligibility requirements, under scrutiny for adoption corruption and closing borders to American agencies. Ethiopia’s sudden popularity also comes with risks, say government officials there and in America.

“I don’t think we’ll be able to handle it,” said Haddush Halefom, an official at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, which oversees adoption. “We don’t have the capacity to handle all these new agencies, and we have to monitor the quality, not just the quantity.” Capping the number of agencies is one solution. And that is what some international adoption officials in the United States are now urging the Ethiopian government to do. Of concern is the ability of agencies to handle the rising demand, which may have contributed to a recent mix-up involving two families sent home with the wrong children by Christian World Adoption, an established agency, although relatively new to Ethiopia. That case prompted inquiries by the State Department and the nonprofit Joint Council on International Children’s Services in Virginia, a child welfare and advocacy organization, and the adoption agency itself, said Thomas DiFilipo, president of the joint council.

Officials at Christian World Adoption did not reply to e-mail messages or telephone calls. But Mr. DiFilipo said the agency was reviewing its procedures and has hired immigration lawyers to resolve the mix-up. The consensus, Mr. DiFilipo said, is that the mix-up was “an honest mistake.” But, he added, “This could be the byproduct of a staff handling 35 placements when they’re used to handling 20.” Children’s Home Society & Family Services, founded in 1889, began working in Ethiopia in 2004. The agency completed about 300 adoptions in its first three years in Ethiopia, and expects to complete that many in 2007 alone. Along with Wide Horizons For Children in Waltham, Mass., the society is credited with helping Ethiopia create a model for international adoption.

Ethiopia, with a population of 76 million, has an estimated 5 million children who have lost one or both parents, according to aid organizations. Many African nations have outlawed or impeded the adoption of their children by foreigners. Ethiopia has welcomed American and European families who are willing to provide homes for children who have lost both parents to AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis or starvation, or who come from families too destitute to feed and clothe them. (The adoption process includes routine screening for HIV infection.)

Two elements distinguish Ethiopia’s adoption system, according to dozens of experts. One is the existence of transitional homes for orphans, in the countryside and in the capital, with services and staffing that are rare in the developing world — paid for by American agencies. Not long ago, Sandra Iverson, a nurse practitioner from the University of Minnesota’s international adoption health clinic, the first of its kind in the United States, was invited to visit the Children’s Home Society’s Ethiopian centers. She arrived with a neonatal otoscope, to diagnose ear infections; the Red Book, the bible of pediatrics; and scarce antibiotics. She left confident that Ethiopia’s orphans enjoyed unusual care.

“You don’t hear crying babies,” Ms. Iverson said. “They are picked up immediately.” The other signature of the Ethiopian system is that adopting families are encouraged to meet birth families and visit the villages where the children were raised, a cutting-edge practice in adoptions. Some agencies provide DVDs or photographs that document the children’s past. Russ and Ann Couwenhoven, in Ham Lake, Minn., recently showed one such video to 6-year-old Tariku, one of three children they have adopted from Ethiopia. The boy seemed proud of the beautifully painted house he had lived in, they said, and the uncle who had sheltered him for as long as he could.

Linda Zwicky brought 2-year-old Amale home five days before the Memorial Day weekend, with a letter from the child’s grandmother that described holding the motherless infant at her breast even though she had no milk. Sometimes such vividness is too much. Melanie Danke and her husband, Kirk Frauenheim, of Minneapolis, adopted 6-year-old twins and a 3-year-old, all siblings. One of the twins “would work herself up until she was inconsolable” looking at photos of the aunt and grandmother who raised her, Ms. Danke said. So she has tucked the photos away for now.

David Pilgrim, vice president of adoption services at the Children’s Home Society, said the agency spends $2 million a year on its Ethiopian facilities. At the main transitional home, on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, a staff of 170 care for about 120 children, ensuring that the children have consistent contact with adults, which experts say mitigates the most damaging psychological effects of institutionalization. During a reporter’s recent visit, the two terra-cotta buildings where the children live, usually for no more than a few months, were spotless, with staff members scurrying to pick up toys and food spills as they hit the floor.

The transitional home has a primary school, open also to local students, where the children begin learning English. There is a medical clinic with two full-time doctors and 10 nurses. Down the road is a guest house for adoptive parents, who also can stay in a sleek hotel. The children also enjoy the services of a “laugh therapist,” Belachu Girma. “These kids come here and are very depressed at first, all with their heads down and not talking,” Mr. Girma said. “I come in and try to help them relax.” There was laughter also at the nearby guest house, more of the nervous kind, as American parents waited to take their children back to St. Paul from the Horn of Africa.

Araminta Montague, from Atlanta, who picked up 17-month-old Natan last week, compared her experience in Ethiopia to an earlier adoption of a girl from China (where Americans adopted 6,493 children in 2006). “Our daughter was in an orphanage with about 300 children and she was very dehydrated,” Ms. Montague said. “We were never told her origins. Her sheet just said ‘Status: Abandoned.’ ”

Some parents anguished, as did Karla Suomala of Decorah, Iowa, when she arrived in Addis Ababa to adopt 5-year-old Dawit and his 21-month-old sister Meheret. “It’s hard to know what the right thing is to do,” Ms. Suomala said. “Should we just give all the money we’re spending on this to the children’s mother?” Ms. Suomala and her husband, David Vasquez, had already spent time with her. “It was obvious the birth mother loved her children,” Mr. Vasquez said. “She said to us, ‘Thank you for sharing my burden.’ ”

Alessandro Conticini, the head of child protection at Unicef Ethiopia, is one of many who believe that international adoption is a good thing but must be “part of a larger strategy” that focuses on keeping children in their families or communities, with the help of humanitarian organizations. Indeed, the Ethiopian government has taken the unusual step of requiring foreign agencies to provide social services and document the results. As a result, agencies like Children’s Home Society and Wide Horizons have built schools and medical facilities — including one for HIV-infected children. But Mr. Conticini, of Unicef, worries about the mushrooming number of private adoption companies that “are not properly regulated by the government” because two different ministries are involved and working at cross purposes.

At the State Department, visa applications for children adopted from Ethiopia are getting extra attention, said Catherine M. Barry, deputy assistant secretary for overseas citizens services. “We will very quickly see if patterns are emerging,” she said, “and we will intervene in a timely fashion with anyone doing less than quality work.” While the governments collaborate to protect a delicate adoption system from the perils of growth, adoptive families arrive each week in Addis Ababa to ease their children into new lives. Last week, these included Mr. Vasquez and Ms. Suomala. While she had no trouble escorting Meheret from the orphanage, Dawit refused to budge, so Mr. Vasquez carried him toward the gate. There, the child grabbed the bars and would not let go. Mr. Vasquez considered prying his hands loose and thought better of it. Instead he told Dawit that it was O.K. to cry. Jane Gross reported from St. Paul, and Will Connors from Addis Ababa.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I'm Ready To Adopt!

It's 3:00 am and for most that know me you would think that I have just gotten up but I haven't gone to sleep yet. I've been on this erratic sleep schedule the past few months with the new business and even more so now that I have decided that I am ready to adopt. It's been a very emotionally painful few years but God is GREAT and I made it through and now I am excited and ready to share my life with a little one. Why am I doing a blog? Well for a many reasons:
  1. I'm exited about finally becoming a Mother and I want to share it with my friends and family.
  2. My journey has been non-traditional from the beginning and I was ashamed initially but now I know it was God's plan and has made me a stronger person. But mainly I am tired of telling the story so the blog can speak for me. ;-)
  3. I want to have as much history as I can for my daughter not only about her family history and Ethiopia but about her mother (as unconventional as I may be ;-)) and about how much I loved her even before she came her...or was born for that matter!
  4. I want to have a place to talk about what happened to me that led me to adoption. This may be of help to other women that are considering adoption or currently having fertility challenges and may even be single. It's an issue that isn't really talked about but we should...so, I will.