Friday, May 21, 2010

Decisions Made and a Request for Help

Well we did it. We booked our tickets. We are off to Ethiopia on June 7th. Now before you get excited NO we didn't get Tegegn's VISA. We have been told that it will be in, in approx 4 weeks from now. If I've learned anything from this process, approximately is different for everyone. With that said we have booked our flights home July 6th. Our hope is that we will be coming home as a family of four, but that might not happen. If his VISA isn't issued in that time frame, Darryl and Celine will be making the long journey home and I will stay with Tegegn for and unknown period of time. Obviously I am hoping that if this happens it will be a short extended stay, but who knows.

All I know is that I need to be a mother to my child physically and not by seeing pictures of him. We as a family need to get to know each other, we need to be whole. In all honesty we need this journey of waiting to come to end, so that the hoping and dreaming is reality, and the anxiety, tears and heartache ends. That is why we have decided to take this risk.

So wish us luck!!

For those of you who read my blog and are not familiar with the process of adopting from Ethiopia here is a bit of a background - After a family receives a referral, they will wait anywhere from 1-3 months for a court date. Only after a successful court hearing can the travel documents be prepared for children - and families are ONLY able to bring their children home once they have received confirmation that the travel documents are ready. In the past, these travel documents have fluctuated in processing time, anywhere from 2 weeks to over six months!! Currently, these travel documents are taking an EXTREMELY long time - in fact, NO families who have gotten their referral since the bankruptcy (the first referral occurred in mid December 2009) have received their travel documents for their children. That means no family has yet bring home their child/ren to Canada and have been given no indication whatsoever of when this might happen. This issue is completely unacceptable and, even more so, unnecessary and could easily be solved.

In comparison to other countries, like the USA, families receive these travel documents within as little as two weeks after their successful court hearing. Also, in comparison to other Canadian High Commission locations around world that process travel documents, the office in Nairobi (in which Ethiopian adoption travel documents are prepared) takes over double the amount of time as these other locations and has gotten significantly longer over time.

This issue does not only affect Ethiopian children being adopted by Canadian families, but on a much larger scale, it also affects refugees coming to Canada. The Canadian Council for Refugees’ wrote a report describing the current problems in Nairobi and called for better resourcing at the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi. You can read more background on this issue here and the full report here

Here are the steps to follow to help us take action on this issue:

1) Cut and paste the letter at the end of this post into an email.

2) Send the email to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Jason Kenney, at

3) Copy your own Member of Parliament on the email. Using your postal code, you can find her/his email address at the following website:

4) At this time, the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration is studying the issue of immigration application process wait times, specifically the long visa wait times of the High Commission in Nairobi. Telling this committee what we are asking for is a key step. We also want to let the Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Foreign Affairs critics know that we are doing this. Please copy the following Members of Parliament on the email to the Minister as well:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Here is the letter for copying and pasting:

Subject line: Application processing times at the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi

Dear Minister Kenney,

I have read of the Canadian Council for Refugee's report on the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi. I am distressed to learn of the High Commission's processing times for its most vulnerable applicants. I am embarrassed as a Canadian to read in the report some of the personal stories of refugees and their dependants who are enduring significant hardships, and in some cases tragedy, as they wait years for their applications to be reviewed by your clearly overburdened visa officers in Nairobi. Furthermore, this issue also affects children being adopted by Canadian families.

CIC-Nairobi' s processing times for refugees, refugee dependants, and internationally adopted children are approximately double the average for all of Canada's overseas missions. In fact, CIC-Nairobi' s processing times for almost all other immigration categories lag dramatically behind the global average for Canada's overseas missions. This situation is hardly fair or just, especially given that it impacts some of the most at-risk people Canada's overseas missions serve.

I want my voice heard and to encouraging the Government of Canada to stop the neglect of this overseas mission and the many very vulnerable individuals and families it serves. I would like to strongly encourage Citizenship and Immigration Canada to act on the following recommendations from the Canadian Council for Refugee's report:

- increase resources (both human and material) at Nairobi;
- increase processing targets allocated to Nairobi;
- reduce the number of countries served by Nairobi by using or creating other visa posts in the region to take on some of the burden of Nairobi; and
- review refugee and immigration programs to ensure that access is equitable and that Canadian anti-discrimination and anti-racism policies are fully respected.

Your spokesman's comments in November regarding the High Commission's processing times seemed to indicate that the Government of Canada feels no sense of urgency to address this situation. While acknowledging that this region is beset with many special obstacles, Canada is clearly failing to meet these unique challenges with unique solutions. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that those with the power in Ottawa to address this situation simply do not care to make resourcing decisions that would better support and protect vulnerable children and families.

I urge you to extend our Canadian values of fairness and compassion to vulnerable waiting families and to search for solutions to the issues currently facing the High Commission in Nairobi.

Your name
Your address

By sending these letters you will NOT help out Darryl and I. We are already in the process, and it will not change that fast, but you WILL make a difference to all the Canadian families in the future waiting for VISA's.

Letter writing made the difference after the bankruptcy. It helped us re-structure and allowed us to meet our son. I am asking you on bended knee. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE send these letters. No other family should be forced to make the decision to risk everything like we are doing and fly over without a VISA or to stay at home while there child grows up in an orphanage.

From the bottom of my heart, Thank you

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Friends Out Of Chaos

International adoption has been a lot more emotionally challenging then I ever expected. This obviously is in part to the horrible situation of the bankruptcy, but the process itself challenges you at every step. First it’s excitement of the decision to adopt. For us we knew we would always do this, but it challenged societies opinion of creating a family, and therefore came with a lot of “why” questions.

Then there is the waiting. The endless waiting. The constant pushed out time frames. I can’t explain to anyone who hasn’t experienced it how emotionally draining it is. There are days where you want to give up, throw in the towel and say forget it, it’s not worth it (even though in your heart you know it is). It is days like the one I am describing that I am so glad to have gone through this experience with some of the people I have met.

When the bankruptcy happened, the Internet allowed me to meet people I never would have met otherwise. Daily e-mails, phone conversations and just knowing that there is someone out there who understands what you are going through completely is a wonderful thing. I have met one person in particular that has helped me through this process (you know who you are) that I can’t thank enough. On days where I felt like we want to give up, she inspires me to go on. On days where I need to vent, I e-mail her, and on the wonderful days I have had recently, she is just as excited as I am because in the adoption world every time someone get’s a referral, goes through a successful court date, get’s a VISA it is a celebration for all.

Yesterday I came home to a package. Inside was a lovely letter and a necklace. The necklace has two pendants on it, one with the picture of a girl and one with the picture of a boy. On the back of these pendants it has Celine and Tegegn’s name on them. There are no words to say thank you. Once again knowing that there is someone who get’s it is priceless! THANK-YOU

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Weight Lifted Off My Shoulders

Some of you know that last October I broke my leg really bad. I won't get into details, but let's just say that seeing my bones outside of my body was not on my bucket list, and I don't recommend anyone put it on theirs. My recovery has been one complication, then another, then another. The last month has been really hard. There was a possibility that I might need more surgery and would have to postpone our trip to Ethiopia leaving Tegegn in the Transition house for longer then necessary if his Visa came in before I recovered, or Darryl would have had to go to Ethiopia by himself to pick him up. Needless to say neither of these options were great, and the thought of either of them was too hard to think about.

Well this week I had 2 dr. appointments and they both went great. There has been a huge improvement over the past month, and both have told me that I could go to Ethiopia without any worries. There is the possibility that I will need some minor surgery in the future, but I shouldn't be concerned about problems arising when I am there.

I can't tell you how happy this has made me. It finally feels right. I can finally let my emotions go crazy with the realization that we are going to Ethiopia together as a family. We will get to meet our little boy together. I can't wait to hug him, love him and watch him play with his big sister Celine. I can't wait to watch him grow up. Here are the latest pictures we received of him. All I can say is WOW I have an adorable little boy!!!!