Not only were we not submitted to the embassy, but we found out that Temar's birth year was misprinted on her court decree, birth certificate and passport.  It all has to be redone.  It's been six weeks since we passed court, and she became our daughter, but we still don't have a single piece of paperwork we need to bring her home.

In this two year adoption process I have lost count of the number of times we've gotten phone calls that have been game-changing and flat-out depressing like this one.  News that ruins everything.

It started as soon as we were accepted into the AWAA Ethiopia program and the Ethiopian adoption rules were changed so that we would have travel to Ethiopia twice.  Meeting our child and then leaving her there.  We were devastated and wondered how we could pay for a second trip and how we could possibly meet our child and then leave her.  And that was just the beginning of it.

When we mailed off our dossier to the Virginia office to become DTE we found out that there were mistakes in the state certification.  It took weeks to get those papers worked out and we became DTE weeks later than we'd expected- ultimately making our wait for a referral months longer.

Then came the phone call that I had a brain tumor.  

And then we had the entire summer of 2011 without a single infant girl referral given to anyone.

And then finally in January we got our referral call, but paperwork issues kept us from getting our court date for three months, while other families moved ahead of us.  

Finally a court date came and we passed.  But now, as other families are submitted to Embassy and cleared to pick up their children, our paperwork is wrong again and we wait.  Watching families, who got their referrals weeks after ours, already bringing their children home.

Not one step of this process has been easy.  It seems like in every place a problem could arise, it has.  We have gotten used to these horrible phone calls.  We've gotten better at processing bad news.  We've become more patient.  Because we're learning that every single time that something goes wrong, HE makes it right.  

Ecc. 3:11
He has made everything beautiful in its time... yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

When we were in Ethiopia for our court date, we were thrilled that the rule had been changed and we had to travel twice.  We are are thankful that we'll have two trips to see our daughter's country and that we had time to spend with her while she was six months old.  

If we hadn't been delayed by the state certification of our dossier and our dossier had been submitted earlier, we would not have gotten our referral for Temar.  She wouldn't have even been at the transition home when it would have been our turn for a referral.  Since the day we first saw her photo we have been thanking God for putting us on the DTE list right where we were.

We were able to go to one of the greatest acoustic nueroma hospitals in the world and my surgery was done by one of the most talented surgeons in the field.  I am fine now and the outcome was better than what seemed possible in the beginning.

When we were miserable last summer that we didn't have a referral, Temar wasn't even born yet.

Of course, we wished we could have gone to court sooner, but once we were there it didn't matter!  We were able to spend most of our trip as the only AWAA family and so we were able to go where we wanted to go, see the things we wanted to see, and ask the questions we wanted to ask.  We had hours and hours alone on the porch with Temar.  We wouldn't change a thing about our court trip.

And so now, as awful as the news is about her paperwork.  As much as we want to cry, and stomp our feet, and get angry... and we have a little bit.  

By now we've learned...He makes all things beautiful.  

Even though right now we can't understand what He is doing from beginning to end, it will make sense eventually. 

We've already seen the beginning of it.  Two weeks ago, we discovered an additional donation of $600 in our Both Hands grant and thanks to our great friends we raised $400 in a yard sale.  An extra $1000.  

With this holdup we've decided that we're going to do an additional investigation into Temar's case.  A little extra information we can submit to the embassy and also hopefully answer some of the outstanding questions we have about her case.  We've felt a quiet nudge to investigate since we were in Ethiopia.  The price to begin the investigation: $1,000.  We had the money a week before we even knew we needed it.
 
 
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A picture taken for us last week by the Sfura family.
We have not yet been submitted to the Embassy, but we are hoping it will happen tonight.  We are still hopeful that we will be traveling to pick her up in mid-June.  God willing, we'll be surprised, and it will be sooner!  Because we're ready to go right now!

She's had bronchitis, but she's better now.  Waiting here is much easier when we know she is healthy.  We're praying she'll stay healthy for the rest of her stay.

After we ranted and raved about the government orphanage, several... or almost all... of the AWAA families traveling to Ethiopia since we've been there, have also visited the government orphanage.  I am so thankful to all of those families for putting themselves in that situation.  For seeing what they did not want to see.  And now... we aren't the only family fired up about helping those children.

And we've had a huge response to our call for donations too.  We'll have close to 200 crib toys and already nearly 100 dolls.  We could definitely use more dolls!  We could easily take 300 dolls!
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Angi Cooper, me and Tracy Wages at Created for Care in January, with our referral pictures.
Most of you know that Tracy Wages has been with me through this entire adoption.  Our dossiers got to Ethiopia on the same day and we waited through the entire wait together.  We met in-person at Created for Care in January.  She got her referral for Olivia Selam a week before we got our referral for Willow Temar.  Last week, she came home from Ethiopia with Olivia.  She wrote a wonderful post about their transition together.  And seeing as though Olivia is only a few months older than Willow, we are preparing for a similar homecoming scene.  So friends and family, please take a few minutes to read what Tracy writes, as I think it might prepare us all for what is to come.

Why my baby may live in a sling. by Tracy Wages

My favorite part is, "So please don't think we are hogging our new baby, not wanting to share her gorgeous smile.   Or that we are withdrawing completely from all our friends and family.  It's just that until we see what this little fragile 11 month old mind and soul can handle - we don't want to expose her to more stress and anxiety than absolutely necessary."  
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Another picture from the Sfuras. Not so happy with the strangers trying to take her picture.
 
 
 
 
I have been overwhelmed by the response to our first project!  We currently have over 75 crib toys with 8 more coming in the mail yesterday!    

I am very excited about our second project!  I have already made two myself and my cousin and aunt have made 50!  
I found DollyDonations.blogspot.com online a few months ago, and while we were in Ethiopia I knew this would be an awesome project to be a part of.  

To a child in an orphanage, having a dolly of their very own, would not only be one of the only toys they've ever received, but a comfort for a long time to come.  

These dolls are so simple and they can be made out of any kind of scrap fabric or old clothes.  I'm actually using an old pillow to stuff them, so I haven't bought a thing.

DollyDonations.blogspot.com has the free pattern and tutorial.  She'll be posting about our dolly drive soon.  

The dolls we bring with us to Ethiopia will be taken to the children at the government orphanage, and if we have enough we'd love to bring one to every child at the AWAA transition home, Abenezer Orphanage and KVI Orphanage.  

So if you like to sew and need a project, please join us!  Or send this on to someone you know who likes to sew!  These dolls are light and will pack flat in a vacuum bag so we can take hundreds if we can get them!  
 
 
Shortly after our trip to Ethiopia, we packed back up and went down to North Captiva Island, Florida.  It's the vacation spot we love the most and we go there with our family every summer.  After our trip last summer, my sister actually moved there and we hadn't seen her since February.  

We love it there so much.  Here are a few pictures...
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Writing his name in the sand.
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River took this one.
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An unwanted haircut from Aunt Manders.
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Our last picture as a family of three in our favorite tree.
 
 
I sort of assumed that everyone out there knew exactly what we are waiting for between our court trip and our embassy trip.  Until we were explaining it to our island friend Hillary and she said, "Wow.  You should blog about that."  And I thought... everyone does.  And then I thought, Oh!  Not everyone is reading the number of adoption blogs I'm reading.  There are still normal people out there whose lives don't revolve around the Ethiopian court system.

So... for the normal people of the world, I will break down what exactly it is we are waiting on.  

On April 19th we had our court date in the Ethiopian court and we passed.  So on that day she officially became our daughter.  However, she can't leave Ethiopia until she clears with the US Embassy and that is why we refer to a "court trip" and an "embassy trip."  

Since we passed court AWAA is working to collect five things.  
  1. A court decree saying that we passed court.
  2. A letter from MOWCYA saying that they approve of the adoption (MOWCYA is the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs in Ethiopia).
  3. A birth certificate (her name on her birth certificate will be Temar Logan Wade, we'll add Willow later).
  4. Passport
  5. Medical Exam- there are very few Embassy-approved clinics in Addis, and this is one reason some cases get held up.


Once AWAA has those five things, they can submit our case to the US Embassy in Addis Ababa, but only on a Wednesday.  So if it doesn't happen this Wednesday, it won't happen until next Wednesday and so on... 

Once we are submitted to the Embassy they have ten days to review our case.  And they can either A) Clear us to come and pick her up!  or B) Send our case to the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.  

If we are sent to Nairobi, the file will have to be couriered there and that takes about a week.  Then they will take a week or two to review our case and then clear us to come and pick her up!

Absolute worse case scenario, and it is unlikely, they would issue an RFE (request for evidence) and hold our case in Nairobi until whatever evidence they were needing could be found.  

So you can see why we don't know exactly when we'll be picking her up.  There are many variables.  But the most recent families with cases similar to ours, have been back to pick up their kids in around 8 weeks.  And so we hope that we will be there in mid-June.  But it could be sooner!  Or it could be later.  We just have to wait and see.  

The first step is to have our case submitted to the Embassy and we'll definitely let you know when that happens! 
 
 
I should have called this one Klothing Kollection, because Logan loves it when people do that.  

We are collecting newborn - child size large clothing until Monday night.  We'll have to ship them out on Tuesday morning.  So if you have anything you would like to donate, please let us know or drop it off on our front porch, at Smidgens, at Lewellyn Technology or with one of our family members.  

The clothes will be taken next week to the Government Orphanage in Addis Ababa.  
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Clothesline at the AWAA transition home.
 
 
You can change another mothers life with a mother sponsorship.
 
 
In the Government Orphanage that we visited, we saw 35 infants wrapped in blankets and lying in white metal cribs.  No toys, no nannies to play with, nothing to look at, absolutely no stimulation of any kind.  Most of the babies laid motionless.

Stimulation is critical to early brain development, and so we hope to bring something back for those babies when we return for our Embassy trip. Something for them to look at, to chew on, to touch, and hear and smell.
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On the flight home I sketched out a primitive design for a bumper pad style crib toy.   

The toy consists of four 4 inch by 4 inch squares sewn together in a row.  

The finished product is 16 inches longs by 4 inches high and has ribbon (or something) on each four corners for tying it to a crib.  To make it as stimulating as possible each of the four squares should include one or more of the following: 

Touch: Silk, felt, fleece or a bumpy or course fabric

Sound: Crinkle sound (made by sewing cellaphane or something else crinkly inside the fabric) or jingle bells

Taste: Tags of different textures sewn off the sides

Smell: a packet of lavender or another soothing scent sewn in between the fabric.

Sight: High-Contrast black and white fabric or brightly colored fabric

Every square can be different, but I want at least four of the five senses covered in each set of four squares.  And I want two squares of high contrast black and white and two brightly colored squares in each set of four.  Otherwise, use your imaginations!  And remember, nothing that can be torn loose and swallowed!  These need to be safe for an unsupervised baby. 


If you are a beginner sewer you can simply sew squares and give them or mail them to me and I'll assemble them.  Or if you want to go ahead and assemble the whole row, that is fine too.  Just make sure that you have included at least four of the five senses in each toy.  

Here are some my cousin, aunt and mother-in-law have already been working on.  
We would like to bring at least 50 of these back with us on our Embassy trip, but they are so flat and light that we could easily pack hundreds of them if we were so lucky.

Email me at BrandyDWade (at) gmail.com for our mailing address and leave any questions in the comments section.  Thank you!
 
 
Logan and I are trying to process all that we saw and everything we did in Ethiopia.  So many of our questions about the country and the needs have been answered.  Now we need to figure out what we are going to do with everything we've learned.  Where is our place in all of this? 

We have a big idea- several big ideas- we're working on right now.  And several smaller projects that can be completed before we go back to bring Willow home.  

Right now, we have a family who will be traveling in the middle of May, who will be able to take 8 checked bags when they fly to Ethiopia.  We'd like to send clothing with them for the Government Orphanage that we visited while we were there.  Gently used, newborn to child size large clothing.  We would need to get the clothes in the mail to the family by Monday, May 7th.  We will be out of town from now, until then, so if you would like to drop off clothes, you can leave them on our front porch, at Smidgens, at Lewellyn Technology, or with any of our friends and family and they will get them to us.  If you have any questions, leave them in the comments, and I will respond there, in case more than one person has the same question.  

We have a fun, crafty project we'll try to post about tomorrow.  I've incorporated what I know about child development, impromptu toy-making, and the desperate need for stimulation we saw in the orphanages and I've invented a crib toy.  If you can sew a somewhat straight line by hand or machine, you can make this super-easy craft and you probably have everything to make it at home already!  Check back tomorrow!