Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ethiopia’s Youth
Thank God these forums are happening!!!!!!!!!!!

About the Tsehai Conference at George Washington University:
According to the African Youth Charter, youth refers “to every person between the ages of 15 and 35 years”. According to the UN Youth Report (2005), Ethiopia is among the 10 countries with the largest concentration of young people living on less than US$1 a day. She also has one of the highest concentration of undernourished young people in Sub Saharan Africa.
Ethiopia’s youth access to education, employment, health and social services, participation in decision-making, and access to information and communication technology is among the lowest in Sub-Saharan Africa. Indeed, Ethiopia has one of the highest urban unemployment rates worldwide, at about 50 per cent of the youth labor force. In addition, Ethiopian youth have been the target of government repression, from the 1960s up to and including the present, for demanding that their rights to lead a life of dignity, free from social, political and economic exclusions and repression, be recognized.
The present situation of youth does not presage a bright future for the current pre-youth generation, i.e., the 41.7% of Ethiopia’s population that is now under the age of 15.
Ethiopian youth, like the majority of Ethiopians, are confronted with monumental obstacles that prevent them to choose and act freely in ways that permit their human flourishing. But obstacles to human flourishing are also invitations to reflect on possible ways of overcoming these obstacles. The strength of Ethiopia’s youth lies, as they have demonstrated since the 1960’s, in their capacity to imagine a different future, to mobilize utopian energies, and to reflect critically on how to bridge the gulf between the past, the present and the future.

Finally, Disney!

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana – The Walt Disney Studios will continue its fairy tale legacy in animation by taking moviegoers on an all-new "once upon a time" musical adventure with its 2009 release of "The Frog Princess," it was announced by Dick Cook, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, and John Lasseter, chief creative officer for Disney and Pixar Animation Studios. A musical set in the legendary birthplace of jazz – New Orleans -- "The Frog Princess" will introduce the newest Disney princess, Maddy, a young African-American girl living amid the charming elegance and grandeur of the fabled French Quarter. From the heart of Louisiana's mystical bayous and the banks of the mighty Mississippi comes an unforgettable tale of love, enchantment and discovery with a soulful singing crocodile, voodoo spells and Cajun charm at every turn!

Thursday, June 26, 2008


noun-- a striking occurrence of two or more events at one time apparently by mere chance.

1. This week I received a call from my childhood best friend, Tanya, who shared with me that she too is adopting a girl from Ethiopia and working with the same adoption agency I am and probably a month or so behind me in the process. Tanya and I have not talked in a couple years and this coincidence just floored me as she already has 3 children but wants to grow her family in this awesome way. I'm so excited and proud as it's just another great mother and another family to share experiences with.

2. When doing some of my Ethiopian research on famous Ethiopians I came across the name Marcus Samuelsson who happens to be the Executive Chef of Aqavit restaurant in NYC. What's nice about this coincidence is that one of my dear friends Russell, who happens to live in Sydney in the moment, some time ago introduced me to Aquavit (way before adoption thoughts) because of his unique and unexpected Swedish/Ethiopian fusion. This restaurant quickly became a special staple of my NYC visits and thought of so fondly that Alexis got Russell a restaurant cookbook to make for us while in LA.

Marcus is not only a famous Ethiopian but was adopted by a Swedish family at age 3 and considered a premiere chef throughout the world. He reflects on his cultural identity, "The difference between an immigrant and an adopted kid, is that when you are an immigrant you are more clear on your identity; you are Ethiopian. When you are adopted you are stripped a little bit of one identity, and when you grow up you sort of go back to that identity.” “
He compares his upper middle class Swedish upbringing with that of his childhood friend Mesfin’s, who lived in close proximity to Stockholm’s ‘Little Ethiopia’ neighborhood. “What my friend Mesfin had was a community that I wasn’t familiar with. He was exposed to Ethiopian music, language, identity and customs.”

It's so helpful to hear stories from adults about their experiences to help broaden my awareness and parenting priorities.

3. Andy's constant supply of Ethiopian T-Shirts that he rocked in LA. I love it - bring it.

4. On father's day I was lucky enough to share brunch with 3 other couples. Two of which are waiting and ahead of me and the other who recently picked up their precious son. It was wonderful to hear about each story and relate. I learned that coincidentally, one of the men and I worked on the same movie together that he directed and I helped market. The funnier part is that those who know me, know I have little to no memory regarding movie moments (even though it is my business) and for some reason I have a handful of lines that I still use from this movie (and obviously so does he) so we had a lot of laughs over that (and Russ, it was actually a comedy - so we were laughing with it)...

5. Today on the streets I noticed Bob Dylan banners and right now as I type "Lay Lady Lay" is playing on my random select mode from my itunes (out of hundreds of options). And in case you didn't know, he's one of my dad's favorites. All these small nods are adding up ;) thanks dad.

So I guess to sum it up Rev Run style -
It surely is a small world where special meals take new meaning, old friends become new again, t-shirts only get cooler, music speaks to the heart and movie moments create the start of a beautiful bond.

P.S. Now my "random" itunes is playing "Hooray for Hollywood" - Dad is definately joking around with me now - LOL.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

3 Great Things About Today

As represented by 3 of Liv's shoes (the green from grandma, the pink camo from me and the silver sandal from Auntie Lexi)

#1 - Andy and Mom are in town!!!! and they decided they must try out for a Chorus Line.

Seriously, we had a fun night...went for an outstanding burger at the Father's Office and then to a Chorus Line in honor of mom's bday. Andy is still singing Singular Sensation two hours later.

#2 - I received confirmation that my dossier has made it to Ethiopia! Showing support, Andy busts out his Ethiopia T for bedtime and Rocky goes wild. And by the way, I love that he has this t-shirt independent of my adoption.

#3 - Mom brought home a special gifts (including the green shoes above) for Liv from Mexico. Mi gusto mucho.

and I'll throw in pics of the pups (Bluebird and Rocky) because they are just so darn cute...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Liv & Love

Happy Father's Day. This morning as soon as I woke up I said Liv's name and then I said it backwards and besides all the other reasons for me loving the name, I realized it was also a part of my father's name Orville and that made me really confident and clear. So as much as I've thought about the name Liv and why I like it, today had a special meaning.

-meaning: a vow with God and the intention behind it

-shortened nickname for Elizabeth (my middle name)

-And now part of my father's name (by the way a very unusual name)

So maybe it's a coincidence that it's part of his name and that I just realized it today or maybe it's poppy putting the thought in my head, saying he'll be there to watch over us. I believe the later. Here's a postcard that Melinda gave to me from my dad that he loved that was saved with a note (don't use). I thought it would be perfect to share today.

I also want to salute all the other fathers & men in my life - Andy, Manuel, David, Jet, Kris, Russell, Sandro, David, Takeshi, Sensei just to name a few....thank you for all your love and support!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Dear Dad,

Because you learned
Because you shared
Because you gave
Because you felt
Because you dreamed
so do I.

Because you loved me
Because you wished for me
Because you honored me
Because you saw me
Because you believed in me
so do I.

Because you are strong
Because you are proud
Because you are love
Because you are accepting
Because you are grace
so am I.

Because of you, I am me.

To Poppy, I love you and I miss you. Happy Father's Day.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I'm Waiting!!!!!!

It's official, I am waiting for a child. This happened Monday June 9, 2008. And I was fortunate to be in the amazing company of Alexis, Sandro and Tom in NYC having dinner at a fabulous restaurant that Russell found and recommended called Momofuku (the lucky peach) with the most divine pork buns in the universe. So over a bottle of wine, strawberry hamachi and best friends we celebrated. I think of her with love and prayers. Here's my baby picture - maybe we'll look alike ;)

And a major congratulations to Annie who just brought home her beautiful daughter. I am so thrilled for you both.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

19 Ethiopians turn the camera onto their own lives. I just found this super cool photography site supporting local Ethiopian photographers.

The Approval Process

Several of you have asked what steps you need to go through before your approved and waiting for a child - so here's what I had to do:
  • My agency's application
  • My homestudy agency application
  • A letter to the Ethiopian authorities expressing my desire to adopt from Ethiopia, why I wanted to adopt from Ethiopia, and my requested age range. I chose a girl.
  • References from friends, coworkers, family, neighbors and community members
  • Certified copies of my birth certificate
  • Copies of my passport
  • Passport pictures
  • Copies of my Marriage License
  • Original copies of my divorce decree
  • Pictures of me, my house, extended family and dogs
  • Directions to my house and a diagram of my floor plan
  • My tax returns from the last 3 years
  • Health and life insurance cards
  • A government form called the "I-600A: Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition", which, after submitting this to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, goes through a lengthy process that includes my FBI background check and fingerprints as well as a detailed social work document on me, and turns into an "I-171H: Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application for Advanced Processing of Orphan Petition".
  • A local police clearance letter
  • FBI fingerprint background check
  • A child abuse registry check
  • A physical examination
  • A letter stating I was employed (w/my salary and hire date)
  • A detailed financial status document (included income, assets, liabilities, etc.)
  • The homestudy report done by a CA licensed social worker. She spent a half day at the house with me asking questions and updating our homestudy report. This report was submitted to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services and to the Ethiopian government.
  • Proof of Hague Educational Training

Because there's a systematic approach to completing this and steps are dependant on other steps it takes a bit of time. I was able to complete these steps in 6 months but it can vary quite a bit. Also keep in mind that every bit of information MUST be notarized, then authenticated by the State Department so there's quite a bit of paperwork management. The good news is this process has a way of making you get your "stuff" together.

STATS: Ethiopian adoption increased from 732 in 2006 to 1,255 adoptions in 2007. Ethiopian government offices are now straining to keep up with the huge influx of paperwork. If the numbers of families interested in Ethiopia continue, we may see more slowing of processing times. I hope that additional staff will be hired so that kids can continue to come into families in a timely manner. It would be wonderful if progress could be made towards better supporting Ethiopian families so that fewer children would become orphans in the first place. But as long as the numbers of orphans in a country can be counted in the millions, I see an increase in adoptions from Ethiopia as a good thing.

OVERVIEW: Ethiopia, a land of rugged beauty, is the oldest independent country in Africa and one of the oldest in the world. The only African country that was not colonized by a European power, it is known as "the land of a thousand smiles." The ancient home of the Queen of Sheba, it was left bankrupt by years of civil war. Drought, floods, famine, and disease have pushed many thousands of Ethiopian children into institutions, because their parents are either no longer living or are unable to care for them.
A number of U.S.-based adoption agencies have been authorized by the Government of Ethiopia to provide adoption services, and several others pending accreditation. The government office responsible for adoptions in Ethiopia is the Adoption Team in the Children and Youth Affairs Office (CYAO), which is under the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MOWA). Private adoptions are permitted in Ethiopia, but discouraged by MOWA because they take place under local adoption rules and may bypass the process and protections put in place by the Government of Ethiopia relating to international adoption.
Ethiopia requires families to submit post-placement reports on their children at 3 months, 6 months, and one year after the adoption. Yearly reports until the child turns 18 are also required.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

CIS Approved

WHOOOPEEEEEEEEEEEE. Today Officer P. called to tell me that I received Citizenship and Immigration Approval to bring a child into my home. I was so happy because this process could have taken up to 8 wks but only 2 1/2 for me (thank you). So I chose to ship all my paperwork to a person in Sacramento who will get the Calif. Secretary of State to authenticate my final paperwork (in 2 days rather than 3 wks) which includes: CIS approval, notarized homestudy report, notarized social worker license, notarized agency license, notarized financial statements. Once this is authenticated it will meet the other paperwork (that's already been authenticated) and be sent off to the Ethiopian Government for approval. Fingers crossed that within the next 1 to 2 wks I should be on the official wait list.

It's hard to explain what a huge feeling it is to have the paperwork off my plate. The last six months have been document heavy. The IA (International Adoption) paperwork plus the name change really challenged my organization skills and patience. I would like to thank Kate for her expertise, Natalie for her tips, Laura for always helping me with the dirty work, Dena for her countless signatures and all my great friends.

This milestone also triggers a mind shift for me. Because I've been operating from a one step at a time place, I now can really start mentally preparing for Liv and all that means from a more emotional place rather than the logistical tasks I've been focusing on. I pray for her every night and feel much closer to the reality of having her.

I want to thank Dayna for going to CIS with me today and share with everyone this thoughtful t-shirt she gave me.

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." – Chinese Proverb