Sunday, September 18, 2011

Progress in Another Form: a Recap of the Fundraiser

The Short of it:

  • We collected a suitcase full of baby supplies that weighs significantly more than I do.

  • We raised $1333.00, with $485.00 of it designated for the 50/50 raffle winner.

  • We drew the raffle winner this morning : Mike Holt.

  • Mike, who also happened to attend the party, talk to everyone at it, AND stay until the very end, insisted that we keep his jackpot for the cause.

The Long of it:

I really thought we'd have a travel date to go and get Acacia by now. We are likely still anywhere from a few weeks to a few months away from having her home, and as I've said before, it's the unknown that's putting me over the edge.

Riding the wave of emotions in the past few months hasn't been easy to say the least. I am someone who lives by the principle of "high ideals, low expectations." I know how I want things to be, but I don't ever expect much, thus I'm more often pleasantly surprised than I am disappointed. However, my general rule doesn't apply to wanting my baby home. That exception is all about hoping for the best, and expecting the best... because how could I do anything else? Though as a result, I've experienced a lot of let downs.

The fundraiser was that kind of thing that had me returning to my low-expectation standby. I didn't want to get too confident that we'd get a good turn out or collect many supplies. I'm also not the fundraising type... I hesitate to put others in the position of feeling obligated to give. The whole thing was out of my comfort zone, yet it still felt like something that I needed to do.

I was admittedly a little discouraged when I didn't hear from some of the people I expected I would. Patrick sensed this, and did his best to encourage me that we'd have a great time. I did my best to remember this wasn't all about me, but about Acacia and her fellow buddies from her orphanage. It was tough, but I still found myself adding small details to the event to honor those kids. This included making a large batch of little lapel ribbons to wear at the event.

At the peak of last night's get-together, with the colors of the Ethiopian flag pinned to every shirt and blouse, I truly did feel a unification. There were people who were there for us, because they've always been there for us. We need that, and we couldn't be more thankful for that. There were also people who made an appearance because they really believe in what we're doing, and I was so touched by the conversations that revolved around this. There were a few friendships from the past that feel rekindled as a result of the evening. At 13 months old, Acacia has already managed to connect me to, reconnect me to, or deepen my connection with so many different people. This notion, along with the copious amount of donations we've collected, has put me at peace with the delays we've faced. We didn't let this extra time go to waste.

A few of Zinnia's teachers came to represent, showing me that Zinnia has, and needs, support in this endeavor, too. Her school put out their own collection box, unprompted, and such initiative speaks volumes. Another teacher was our babysitter for the night, gave Zinnia great care (as Zinnia will tell me everything!), and gave us total peace of mind while we were out. We came home to a sleeping kid with a glowing report.

When we drew the raffle winner today, I was really excited to see it was our friend Mike. He added a lot of energy to last night's outing, and it felt fitting that he'd get the other half of the pot. I was overcome with so much emotion when he told me he wanted us to keep it, and that there was no changing his mind. His generosity, which is a conglomeration of everyone's generosity, is appreciated, inspiring, and completely restoring. As I talked with him and recapped the evening, I felt like life's lessons were hitting me left and right. At a time where it's been hard to feel much progress in any area of my life, I suddenly realized that I haven't been as idle as I'd thought.

Again, thanks to everyone who participated, who came out with us, who added a tube of diaper cream to the pile, who has prayed for us, who has written us an encouraging message, or who simply reads this blog and silently cheers us on. I can see clearly at this moment that it has made all the difference.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Please make a promise. A call to my collegues in health and human services.

Just a quick update. Acacia's paperwork was not accepted by the US Embassy in Ethiopia today to process her visa. It was submitted and then returned because we were missing a report from the orphanage that would verify her official status. In the past the US embassy was rather straight forward with their disbursement of visas, but they have recently become pickier.

A quick primer about the process: at this point Ethiopia has already named Killeen and I as Acacia’s parents. Adoptions in Ethiopia are irreversible, and this was made clear by the judge when we first traveled. Bottom line, legally we are the only family that Acacia will ever have.

So, what is the purpose of the US embassy highly scrutinizing cases? My idealistic side says they are doing their part to assure that children are not being illegally trafficked through the system. However, if they did determine that a child was trafficked, the adoption cannot be reversed. So they would simply be assuring that this child would not be able to enter the US, and would be permanently separated from any family unless those adoptive parents became expatriates and moved to Ethiopia. My cynical side says that the US wants to appear tough on trafficking. I say this because a CNN story about three years ago exposed several adoption agencies in Ethiopia that were illegally trafficking children. Shortly after this, every government agency in Ethiopia tightened their process and added extra layers of bureaucracy (which is a separate gripe). The US embassy seems to be following the same process, so they aren’t the only person at the party, left to point the finger at if another trafficking scandal appears. In other words they want to be able to say, “We’ve cracked down on trafficking, just like Ethiopia.” The end result is a policy that hurts the intended population, and simply works to deflect blame. Acacia is our daughter, you are just stalling her homecoming.

My fellow human service and public health practitioners…please take a moment to reaffirm your practice…and make a promise to yourself that you will not support/make policy that hurts your population for the sole purpose of your agency’s PR. That is the most positive nugget I can pull out of this HIGHLY discouraging day. So we now wait longer.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Our Fundraiser!

[photo: a mother & daughter in the alley way of their home. Taken outside of the House of Hope, where we stayed during our trip to meet Acacia]

We're on the final stretch of the path to Acacia, and man is it hard to wait. So... we're focusing our energies on something positive: A fundraiser to help Numan Orphanage (where Acacia is from), and Acacia's adoption, which currently totals about 25K!

How to support:

50/50 Raffle

All you have to do to enter is click the DONATE button on the right (you don't need a pay-pal account; it accepts credit cards).

1 for $1.00, 6 for $5.00. Drawing will be held on 9/18, the day after our:

Fundraiser Event
Strangebrew Tavern
Saturday, 9/17, 4pm and on
Manchester NH

This event is an excuse to get together, and do something great for Acacia's orphanage. I might add that the beer selection is fabulous, and the day's specials include 1/2 off apps and 3.00 beer specials from 4-7pm. We are requesting that all attendees come with an item from the following list, which we will bring with us on our return trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (please ensure items have an expiration date of at least one year out).

  • Diaper rash ointment
  • Anti-fungal cream
  • Zinc oxide ointment
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Multi-vitamins for Babies
  • Cloth Diapers
  • Similac Infant formula
  • Baby Lotion - 0-2 years old
50/50 raffle tickets will be available that day, and there will also be a separate raffle on location for some fun prizes (more details to come).

Hope to see you there!!!

* Our 50/50 raffle is more like a 50/25/25 raffle- the amount we raise will be split between our own expenses, and a donation to Numan Orphanage in rural Assela, Ethiopia