Monday, December 31, 2007


So, quite a bit of news! Right before Brando and I left for Montana for Christmas, we received a voicemail from our social worker wanting to set up our home study visits "as soon as possible". We returned her call, but left town, so we didn't get in touch with her until today....Our visits are scheduled for January 7th and January 14th! After that, she would like to complete the write up immediately and get our dossier submitted by the end of January!!!!!


So, I spent the day working like mad on our dossier and Brando called up friends and family to come work on our house next weekend! With hoping to have everything completed by the end of the month, we have got to get busy! House to remodel, paperwork to chase, and money to find! We are going to be very busy little prospective parents :)

Also, the director of our agency branch passed on our contact info to another couple that is hoping to adopt a baby boy from Ethiopia and lives just a few blocks from us. We met her for coffee and are so excited about having another family so close by. This means at least 5 little Ethiopian babies within a 1 mile radius of our home! YEH!

Life is good. Real good.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

We're off to celebrate with the Schmidt family and then on to Montana to hang with my family.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Not too much to update on, but just for Jamie ...

A few things have accomplished lately, we:

Paid Holt for our home study (This means we'll schedule our interviews soon, probably for January)

Received a letter from Citizenship and Immigration Services, acknowledging our I600A and receipt of payment.

Not any huge leaps and bounds, but we are taking baby steps here people! Baby steps...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Our first baby purchase!

We have no idea the age or sex of our children, so we purchased this in size 18-24 months!

This is completely unlike us, but we were inspired by how completely adorable it was. Would I be a bad parent if I insisted my child wear only Baby Gap Product Red every day?

I thought your answer would be yes...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I feel like I am back in college again...

More parenting classes! Yup, this time it will be Baby & Toddler Care Class for Adoptive Families. The class is all day Saturday, January 12th at a local hospital.

I don't know much about it, except that we should "plan to arrive early to allow enough time to select a baby, etc". I know they will be baby dolls, but for some reason I am smiling at the thought of our class just raiding the hospital nursery...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Schmidts are parented up!

Brando and I had our first two adoptive parenting classes this Friday and Saturday. Being the dorks that we are, we took before and after shots to show how our intelligence level differed.

Here we are before: We are trying to look very uneducated in the ways of parenting....

And here we are after:

Simply brilliant and ready to parent! Yes, that is a teddy bear, and yes, we do look like some ridiculous 1970s ad in Parent Magazine...

Seriously, the classes were very helpful and covered some very important issues such as loss in adoption, attachment, etc. We also got to meet some more Holt families. Although no one in the class was adopting from Ethiopia, we did find that one couple lives in our town, and another just down the road...not bad when there were only 4 other families in the class!

Also, Brandon's cousin gave birth to a baby girl on Friday night. We were able to visit the new family in the hospital shortly after and it made me even more excited for our newest little nephew to pop out! Hurry up Sawyer!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Citizenship & Immigration Services...Can I hear a whoop whoop?

Brandon and I completed out I600A tonight! The I600A is a the Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition or, for those of you that do not speak Adoptese, the form we fill out to let Citizenship & Immigration Services know that we plan to adopt. Brando plans on mailing it out first thing tomorrow morning and even sealed it himself!

We also finished the remainder of our home study paperwork, excluding our medical visits (which are scheduled for this Friday). Once the medical visits are submitted, a social worker will be assigned and we'll schedule our home visits!!! So, hopefully by this Friday, our end of the first round of paperwork will be complete!

On a slightly more subdued, but just as positive note, I have to say that this has been a great experience for us so far. Answering the 16 pages of detailed questions about us, our families, marriage, parenting styles, etc. has been a great exercise. I was amazed at how similar some of our answers were and I teared up a few times reading through Brandon's, as I could see how much thought and love he put into it. More importantly, I could see how much that man loves me! I cannot wait to see what an amazing father he is going to be.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Friday Night Fun

Last night we went to an event hosted by a group called the Pacific Northwest African Adoptions Group. It was so much fun! There were at least a dozen other families that were either in the process of adopting or had already brought their children home. The best part was all of the beautiful little Ethiopian tots running around! The night included an Ethiopian dinner, coffee ceremony, a slide show by the organization Ethiopia Reads (, and then a nice round table discussion between the families. The highlight of the evening was that Brando made contact with a couple that will be hosting some Ethiopian cooking classes and he'll soon be joining them! Another great moment was when this tiny little guy (probably around 18 months) crawled up in Brando's lap in the middle of the round table. He just cuddled right into his chest and loved him for a bit before running off to play...I almost melted!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Jamie just cussed me out for not posting for a while, so here goes!

There really isn't much new on the adoption front. Still tackling the initial massive amount of paperwork! We have been meeting with quite a few people that have adopted from Ethiopia and/or are in the process of doing so. Just last night we had dinner with a family that adopted twin baby boys about 2 years ago. They were seriously the most joyful and adorable little guys I have ever seen! This Friday we are going to an Ethiopian dinner with a whole group of adoptive and prospective adoptive parents. We'll have good food, dance, etc. It is exciting making new friends and every day we get more and more anxious to have some little guys of our own running around this house!

On a little bit different front, when Brando and I talk about the adoption and our children, we always speak in twos. I think we are both picturing adopting 2 children at once. We always talk about "the twins" or "the kids", never "the baby"...Tonight I mentioned that maybe we need to explore this further and maybe request that we receive 2 children, twins or young siblings, and not only 1 infant.......Hmmm Can we handle that? I hope so!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The process

Quite a few people have been asking me about the adoption process...steps involved, paperwork, timeline, etc. In response, I have decided to post a bit about the long road ahead.

Below are the main steps our process:

Ø We apply to the Ethiopia program (Done)

Ø Upon acceptance, we have a huge list documents to prepare for our home study. Once the home study is complete and we have had our required social worker visits, the documents are reviewed by our agency and approved for Ethiopia (Working on this part now)

Ø File I600A immigration form (This is a form letting the government know that we are preparing for an international adoption and will be requesting to classify a child or children as immediate relatives and therefore US Citizens)

Ø Prepare dossier (The dossier is a large packet of information i.e. police and medical records, financial information, etc. that is sent overseas to the Ethiopian government)

Ø Agency reviews dossier and obtain state certifications and forwards the Dossier to the US State Dept. & the Ethiopian Embassy for authentication

Ø Dossier is forwarded to Ethiopia representative in Addis Ababa who has dossier translated and prepared for court

Ø Child is referred to family (This is the good part)

Ø Paperwork is submitted to Ethiopian court

Ø Court order is issued, subsequently the birth certificate is issued

Ø Child is issued visa and we are ready to travel!!!!

Basically, in the end it looks something like this:

Wish us luck!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A bit about me...

I am an archaeologist.

Wikipedia defines archaeology as:

Archaeology, archeology, or archæology (from Greek: αρχαίος, archaios, combining form in Latin archae-, "ancient"; and λόγος, logos, "knowledge") is the science that studies human cultures through the recovery, documentation and analysis of material remains and environmental data, including architecture, artifacts, features, biofacts, and landscapes. Because archaeology's aim is to understand humankind, it is a humanistic endeavor[1].

But in reality, it looks something like this:

Not as cool as Wikipedia makes it it?

Well, in a nut shell, I work for the U.S. Government, so I get paid to review all energy projects in the northwest, dig things up, and then write about them.

The pic above is me last Friday....hard at work, sitting in the woods, recording a historic can dump...Simply fascinating!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Parents in Process adoptive parenting classes

We received a letter confirming our first required parenting classes today! December 7th and 8th.

This is starting to become so real!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Just because...

Just because I think blogs get really boring without any sort of is a great one of Zulu enjoying a nice warm day at the park...

Sunday, November 4, 2007


16 pages of questions!

Yes, you read that correctly, 16 pages! This is just the start of our home study and we have 16 (can I say it again) 16 pages of in-depth questions about our marriage, childhood, parenting skills, etc.


On a more serious note, Brando and I did start working on our questions today and it proved to be more difficult than we expected. It is hard to put our thoughts and feelings on paper, and even more difficult to have it make sense! This is going to be a good exercise.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Let's get this party started...

Today we received our first packet of information from Holt. The packet included what will be the beginnings of our adoption home study; i.e financial statements, medical evaluations criminal records check, employment verification, immigration forms, and the most cumbersome of all, something called "personal data information" which is a HUGE questionnaire designed to provide our social worker with written data regarding our backgrounds and experience.

Home study, here we come!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Our application has been approved!

Seriously? In less than 5 business hours??? At this rate we'll have a family by the weekend!

I am figuring if we submitted around 3 pm and they called us around 11am the next day, it only took them 5 business hours to realize we were great candidates....wonderful for our egos, but setting a bad pattern when we know we have a long road ahead :)

Brando spent the day home today, and Sharon from Holt called around 11am to let us know that they have approved our application and will be forwarding on some paperwork that is needed to get started on our home study. Also, she wanted to schedule us in for some adoptive parenting classes coming up.

When Brando called me at work to tell me I squealed and got all teary eyed (this is going to be a long road...). Jenna and Nicole (my co-workers) rushed right over and Jenna even had tears in her eyes. We did the whole girly thing, I called my mom, e-mailed friends, and I was not able to focus on work the remainder of the day.

When I got home that night, Brando had dinner waiting and we crawled in the hot tub with a bottle of wine we have been saving for quite some time.

Another great day! I could get used to this...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

On our way to becoming an Enat and Abat!

The pic is the two of us outside of our agency, getting ready to submit our application materials! I know, we are dorky, but also just so excited to finally get started on the process. I took the day off work to devote to finalizing the application, notarizing the contract, etc. We submitted it around 3pm.

In case you are wondering (Mom), the application materials included the following:

International Adoption Services Contract, signed and notarized
4x6 Photos of us and our home
Copies of our last 3 years' Federal Income tax Returns
List of 5 non-relative references
The application fee

Later that night, we had dinner at the farm for Megan's birthday. Megan and Kris were so great! The first thing Kris did when I walked into the house was put down what she was working on, walk over, give me a hug and ask if I was "expecting". So sweet! Megan was similarly excited and it made me feel so good to see they were genuinely happy for us.

Today has been a great day!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Studying hard...

The whole family spent the evening looking over the application materials, reading contracts, etc. Even Zulu!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Ethiopia here we come!!! (I know!)

YEH! Brando and I decided this morning to submit our application to Holt this Tuesday!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

"Let's talk about adoption"

The first thing Brando said when he crawled in bed with me this morning was "Let's talk about adoption". YEH!!!!! I love this man!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ethiopia, here we come!!! (I think)

I am winning over the Brando! Early this morning (like 4:30 am) as we were getting ready for work and he said he thinks maybe we should "re-evaluate" before January!!!!!


Well, Holt's timeline says 12+ months for the entire process and we would really like our child (children) to be close in age to our newest nephew and also my friend Abbey's child (both due end of Jan and Early Feb). Also, we would like our travel to be in the late fall or winter as to try and avoid the wedding season (Brando is a photographer). Finally, we have realized that traveling to Ethiopia prior to starting the adoption process will most likely not work out.

I am so excited!!!!! Now I just need to get a new date from him, so we can send in our application. I am still trying to be cautious and not get to excited, but I think this means yes to adoption and yes to Ethiopia!!!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A yucky day turned bright

I had a bad day at work today, just too much on my plate and a little too much stress while feeling under the weather. I came home and cuddled up in my sweats and surfed around looking at adoption stuff online. For the first time, I think it cheered me up...I truly feel like this is going to happen and for once, I am happy, not fearful that it won't work out. I think the day is looking brighter....

Monday, September 24, 2007

Yeh For Holt International!

Brando and I had our appointments on Friday and they went so well! I paced all morning, my stomach was in knots prior to the meetings...He of course, was calm and collected.

Our first appointment was with Holt International, and they were amazing! They answered all of our questions candidly and dove into the tough issues right away. They have an amazing outreach program in which they have maternal clinics, family counselling, job counselling, etc. They truly are a humanitarian organization aimed at keeping families together first. We discussed ethics, and our concerns and we all felt so comfortable. Brando and I both walked away smiling and feeling that this agency was the one! The meeting lasted almost an hour and a half! We even discussed travelling over to volunteer prior to starting the process. I'll look into that soon!

We didn't have the same warm feeling with Children's Hope. It may have been that we were so excited about Holt, or it may have just been the staff we met with, but they didn't seem to have the same ethical concerns and motivations that Holt had. It was a tough meeting, and I could tell from his body language within 5 minutes that Brando had given up on them. The meeting lasted less than 30 minutes.

So, the bottom line is that we LOVED Holt and have decided that if we decide to proceed with Ethiopia, they will be our agency! We spent the entire drive up to Seattle talking non-stop about it and Brando seemed so excited. I am truly freaking out I am so happy! Also, my mom was up in Seattle (visiting my Aunt Connie), so i had a chance to pull her aside and tell her all about it in person.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A pit in my stomach...

Why am I so nervous about our appointments tomorrow?

I think it is because I really feel like these meetings finally shape Brando's decision to adopt from Ethiopia. I want to know and I would like a decision soon, one way or another, but am I really ready for this?

I asked him the other night, "if we don't adopt, can we start building a baby in January?" It completely floored him...he didn't have a response and the idea seemed weird to him. He'd never thought of it....To be honest, me neither, I think we have both just pictured building our family in a certain way. In order to keep my sanity, I have decided to take his response as a good sign.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Both appointments are finalized!

We meet with Holt International at 1:30 and Children's Hope International at 3:30.

Wish us luck!

Monday, September 10, 2007

A step forward

I convinced Brando to sit down with a few agencies to discuss Ethiopian programs and I am sending out the e-mails just now to set something up! Also, we've created a list of questions and concerns to ask them during the meeting. Definitely a step ahead.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Happy Anniversary to us!!

Today is our first anniversary...planning on spending the day in Eugene and eating both lunch and dinner at Maple Garden!!! Kung Pao Vegetables, here I come!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

We're adopting!!!!

Those of you who know us well know that we have been tossing this idea around for years. Well, the time has finally come to put some plans in motion and start building our little family!

The wealth of information out there right now on international adoption is insane!!! I am currently digging through the world wide web in search of something that makes sense and feels right for our family...interrupting Brandon every 5 minutes to update him on something new or interesting all along the way! (Sorry honey).

Here's what we know so far:

  • We want to adopt from Africa (preferably southern Africa)
  • We are open to adopting 2 children (twins, young siblings, 2 unrelated infants)
  • We are excited!!!!!
Right now, we are in the information process. i.e. hours on end in front of the computer and have decided to give ourselves until the New Year to learn a bit more, make some decisions, and prepare financially and emotionally for our journey ahead!