Monday, May 31, 2010

Experiencing the journey of adoption from both sides

Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people. ~ Albert Einstein

I feel so lucky to be able to experience the amazing journey of adoption both professionally and personally.

From the first moment I started working professionally in adoption I was touched by the families motivation and dedication towards the process. I felt so honored to be a part of them becoming a forever family.

Now being an adoptive family ourselves, we feel so blessed that we have this opportunity to go on this journey. We feel that we have gained an even greater sense of what is truly important in life and we know that this is the path we were meant to take. Through our own adoption process we have connected with other adoptive families, developing wonderful friendships that will hopefully last a lifetime. 

Thank you! Thank you to adoptive families that I have worked with, for letting me be a part of your journey. Thank you to everyone for the support you provide us during our journey of becoming a forever family.

Every child begins the world again.... ~Henry David Thoreau

Monday, May 24, 2010

SIGN Benefit

Last Friday night we went to the SIGN Benefit in Portland. SIGN (Surgical Implant Company), founded by my uncle Dr. Lew Zirkle, is a non-profit organization with a truly amazing humanitarian vision. As stated on their website, "SIGN supports the trauma surgeons in developing nations who have committed their lives to serving the injured poor. Despite many obstacles, these surgeons often work with limited hospital resources, overcrowded wards, and at times a lack of pay and support from health administrations. Equipping these surgeons with orthopaedic training and instrumentation means that they provide quality fracture care for those who desperately need it but cannot afford it."

We already knew that SIGN had programs in multiple countries, but we were unaware that the focus of the evening's benefit was to raise money towards their program in Ethiopia, to the Black Lion hospital. We were shocked to learn that just a couple of years ago there was only ONE orthopedic surgeon in all of Addis Ababa, which had a population of over 3.5 million people in 2008. Since SIGN started their program in Addis Ababa they have helped to train two surgeons, each with ten assistants/interns. It is not uncommon for patients to wait more than twelve hours to be seen.

This evening was just another affirmation to us of the importance of continuing to give back to the country of Ethiopia even after we bring our daughter home. We recognize not only the significance of keeping her birth heritage alive in our house and hearts, but also doing what we can to contribute to lives of the people of Ethiopia. There are so many ways for people to help make a difference, from donating to SIGN to sponsoring a child so they can go to school.

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.  ~Anne Frank

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Fun facts about Ethiopian Culture

Amharic: Tenaystilign? (How are you?)
The word tena means "health." If translated literally, it would mean, "May you have Health." Implicitly, it would mean, "May God give you health."  To respond, one would say, Egziabeher Yimesgen, Dehena Negne. This means, "God be praised, I am fine."
Oromifa: To ask, "How are you?" in this language, say, Naguma, Fayuma or Naga, which are interchangeably used depending on regions or locations.

Art and Music
Traditional Ethiopian art, such as paintings, are an expression of religion, especially the Greek Orthodox religion. Paintings have a medieval style and people are painted with large, almond-shaped eyes. 

Ethiopia has a strong tradition of music. Popular music is played, but most musicians also sing traditional songs and most audiences choose to listen to both popular and traditional styles. Ethiopian music uses a unique modal system that is pentatonic, with characteristically long intervals between some notes. This creates a somewhat "unfinished" and anticipatory atmosphere to the music. Folk instruments include the masenqo (fiddle), washint (flute), kebero (drums) and krar (lyre). Many kids learn the lively and irresistible eskista dance, which is performed almost entirely with the shoulders.
Holidays and Festivals
Ethiopian New Year's Day, Sept. 11
Victory Day, April 6
Labor Day, May 1
Victory Day, May 28: Celebrated as a victory day for the current government and also marks the Fall of Derg.
Christian festivals include Maskal, or the Feast of the Finding of the True Cross; Christmas; Timkat or Epiphany; and Good Friday according to the Coptic calendar. Christmas in Ethiopia is primarily a religious observance. 
Muslim festivals include the ninth month of the Muslim calendar devoted to Ramadan, which is marked by fasting. The greatest Muslim feast of the year is 'Id Al Fatr, which celebrates the end of Ramadan. The 'Id al Adha is the feast marking Abraham's sacrifice. 

Sports and Games 
Ethiopians enjoy volleyball and basketball, with soccer being the most popular sport. Gebeta, a game of strategy, has been popular for hundreds of years. It is played using seeds or pebbles and a board with rows of cups.

Typical Foods
Ethiopia's staple food is injera, a spongy bread made of a unique crop only grown in Ethiopia called "teff." Injera is baked in a clay pan and eaten with sauce made of either meat, ground grains, beans or vegetables. The following recipe for Misir Wat is served with injera, which you can buy from an Ethiopian market or restaurant. If you would like to make your own injera, get a recipe online and visit your local health food store to buy teff in the bulk grains section.

"A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people." ~Mohandas Gandhi

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Lights of Hope

My mom and I were thrilled to attend the 2nd Annual Lights of Hope Auction. Since it was mother's day weekend I thought this was a great way to celebrate my mom becoming a grandma. My mom was instrumental in who I am today and I am so thankful to have such an inspiring mother. I can't wait to see the beautiful relationship grow with her granddaughter. 

Ethiopian Orphan Relief Organization is such an incredible non-profit organization. It was a beautiful evening filled with love, support and generosity. I was so impressed with everyones effort to contribute towards the needs in Ethiopia. Beautiful people, lovely music, delicious food, and all for a good cause. We plan to make this an annual event for the family. 

My amazing mother! There isn't enough room in this blog to remark on the incredible woman, mother and friend that she is, but trust me ( : 


It was wonderful to meet other adoptive families, as well as chat with a familiar family whom I adore. 

Grandma purchased her granddaughter's first Ethiopian dress, a beautiful white dress with the accent colors of green, yellow, and red.

We hope to see everyone next year!

“We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.”
 ~ Mother Teresa

Friday, May 7, 2010


We sent off our notarized homestudy and I-600A application to CIS today in Texas today! I believe it takes about 5-8 weeks to process the application. The lady at the UPS store asked if I was adopting, of course I smiled big and responded yes but before I could continue my sentence, she stated "my friend is leaving for Ethiopia next week." I got goose bumps. We had a nice conversation and I walked away with an even bigger smile thinking about the day when I could say "we leave for Ethiopia next week!"

"Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb."

~ Winston Churchhill

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wordless Wednesday (well almost)

We couldn't believe the rainbow we saw tonight! Not only was it a full rainbow but also a double rainbow. Sorry the camera on my phone doesn't justify the beauty. Next wednesday I will work on my entry being "wordless." 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Few words...priceless value

We finally get to say OUR HOMESTUDY WAS APPROVED!!! We just got the news this morning.

As were headed out of town on friday, to go "yurt" camping for the weekend, we checked our email and saw that our homestudy final draft was ready for our review. We couldn't believe it, our social worker had completed our homestudy in a few days! That is unheard of because social workers are allowed 30 days to write up the report. The entire homestudy process has been encouraging, supportive and wonderful in every way. We enjoyed a relaxing weekend at the beach and read our homestudy by the campfire. As we read the report we were deeply touched by comments made by the social worker, as well as comments made in our letters of references. To all of you who wrote the letters, Thank You! We were profoundly moved by all the kind words. We feel so blessed to have such incredible people in our lives and to feel the outpouring of support along this amazing journey.

"We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather recognizing and appreciating what we do have." ~ Frederick Keonig

Upon receiving our homestudy the next step will be applying to immigration. We have to request their approval for us to bring an orphan, from another country, into the US. We submit this application, the I-600A, which is called the “Application For Advance Processing of Orphan Petition”. In return we get the approval form, which is called the  "I-171H". This step usually takes 5-8 weeks. While we are waiting for the "I-171H" form we will be gathering documents for our dossier. It is amazing to think that in just two months we could be submitting our dossier to Ethiopia.

"The Journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." ~ Lao Tzu