Friday, January 05, 2007

East Africa / West Africa --Updates

EAST AFRICA (mostly):

Wow. My brain is fried right now! For the past few days I feel like I have been reading Ethiopia adoption blogs almost constantly. I have dreamt about Ethiopia for the last two nights as well (which is interesting because I never seem to dream about Bright or Ghana, as much as I want to).

One of the luxuries I'm really enjoying about going with AAI is that there is such a wealth of information out there--not just from the agency itself, but from adoptive families. I wish there were such a thing as blogs 5 and 6 years ago! I might not have been so naive! I feel like I have a good feel for how things will go with AAI--friendly and professional, but not overly hand-holding (which is fine because I don't need hand-holding at this point).

It's also so great to know so much (already!) about the orphanage our Ethiopian child will come from! I've read so many stories, and seen so many pictures the last few days. It's not the same as being there I'm sure--but it does give me a great level of peace in my heart--I know our baby will be well taken care of (just like Bright is).

Today I emailed AAI for the first time since mailing our application (which I'm sure they haven't even received yet). I wrote to Yvette with three quick questions and got three quick answers right back (within an hour)!

1. Is the estimated time from application to contract still 3-4 months? Answer--yes.

2. I told her we hadn't indicated gender so I was assuming we'd be assigned a boy and ask what the timeline for referral was for an infant boy? Answer--she said that it's more likely that we will get a boy, but definitely possible to get a girl. It all depends on what children come into care when we are at the top of the list. This surprised me because I thought we would almost CERTAINLY get a boy by not being gender-specific. She said that the wait for any healthy infant is around 6 months.

3. Should I fax our homestudy? She said yes, to fax it and the would look it over.

So then I wrote her back asking when I could join the agency email list (you know--my constant need for MORE KNOWLEDGE!). She gave me the director's email (who is currently in Thailand) and said I should write to her to ask to be put on. Easy!

So...first interactions with the "new" agency--good!


A nice side effect from all of this reading and learning about AAI's program is that I haven't thought constantly about Bright like I usually do. This is good for the wait! LOL! And with Ethiopia's ancient history I should have no trouble watching months fly by as I wait for Bright's homecoming (so I say now but remind me of that in a few months). I better learn as much as I can now because once he's home I have a feeling that learning about Ethiopia's unique calendar and way of keeping time is going to be on the backburner. It will be all about Bright!

We've had some decent news this week regarding the Ghana process. I emailed the US Embassy in Accra last week with questions about the I-600 and visa processing and actually got a response this week! I was STUNNED (had emailed before with no response). So what I found out is that (1) a representative can turn in all paperwork to the embassy (great news!), (2) that once the I-600 is approved we will be sent a letter with an open invitation to go through the visa process (which takes about a week), and (3) that Bright's adoption will most likely require a "feild investigation" because he has one living parent (bad news). I wrote back, brown-nosing as much as possible, asking if they could give any hints as to how long the feild investigation might take and haven't heard back yet. I think there might be a 30% chance I'll get a reply as that is the million dollar question--HOW LONG???!?!?!

This week I also emailed Lois to ask how much information we should expect during the Ghana portion of the adoption, telling her I expected that we wouldn't hear much. My thoughts were confirmed. Lois thinks we'll hear when the applications are actually submitted, and also when we get a court date. So we could go months and months with no update. Yuck. Or the whole thing could take two weeks--no way to tell.

I guess I almost hope that we don't hear anything until the court date is scheduled, because between the application being submitted and the court date being selected is the process where Bright will be legally relinquished by his birth father. His birth father has signed an unofficial letter to the orphanage stating his wishes to relinquish and his knowledge of adoption, but all it takes is one birth relative to say that Bright should NOT be adopted for the whole thing to fall through (even if his father wants it and the relative is unwilling to take Bright). A child is a FAMILY'S child in Ghana--not a father and mother's child. So...if we hear something before the court date is scheduled I'm afraid it would be to tell us that Bright couldn't be relinquished for adoption and will forever be in a horrible state of limbo, growing up in the orphanage.
One prayer request (well...many...but this one is most pressing): Lois has sent our applications with all supporting paperwork to the agency/orphanage representative in Accra. From there the rep. will have to MAIL (as in GHANA MAIL) the documents to the Director of Social Services in Volta Region. This makes me so very nervous. I've heard not-so-great things about the Ghana mail system and I'm sure that the potential for lost mail is much greater than here in the good 'ol USA. Please pray that our documents arrive safely at the director's office in Ho! Thank you!

Well, that's the news from both sides of Africa!