Monday, September 26, 2011

It Finally Came!!

It finally came in the mail tonight – our approval letter from U.S. Immigration, which allows us to bring a child from another country into the U.S. So, first thing tomorrow morning we will head to the bank to get that form notarized and then to FedEx to mail our dossier to our adoption agency! It receives a thorough check to ensure completeness at AWAA and then is sent to Ethiopia. Yeah!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Update on USCIS Approval

Just a quick update on our progress with USCIS –
Jonathan received a phone call from someone at USCIS yesterday afternoon. He was wondering if we had both been fingerprinted on the same day because he was having trouble locating my information in the system, but had found Jonathan’s. He ended up finding it, with Jonathan’s help, under a varied spelling of our last name (De Neal).
So, the good news is that they are working on our application, but the not so good news is that he said we should have something in 8-10 days, about a week and a half longer than we expected.
We will keep you posted on the progress…

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Adventures in Indianapolis!

Jonathan and I had such a nice day on Monday!
On Sunday evening we drove to Indianapolis to stay with family since our fingerprinting appointment with USCIS was on Monday morning at 9 a.m. (IN time). We woke up early Monday, as we were anxious about getting to our appointment on time between the time change, early morning traffic, finding a place to park, and road construction. We made it to the building with at least half an hour to spare and went ahead and checked in. They were very quick with the process and we were actually finished and back in the car a little before 9 a.m.! I honestly think we spent more time finding a restroom before checking in than we did actually being fingerprinted : )
After the fingerprinting appointment, we headed over to Riley’s Children’s Hospital to take a look at their international adoption clinic. This is a service that can be found in many large cities and has been highly recommended to us by other adoptive families and our social worker. Since the likelihood of our child experiencing some type of minor medical condition is quite high, it is recommended to take the child to this type of facility for a thorough medical exam once home. That way they can be examined by a physician that is knowledgeable in international medicine and common medical conditions in Ethiopia, and then receive prompt treatment, if necessary. Although we did not do much other than look around, it was nice to see what type of facility we may be visiting in the future.
Then, we headed to Babies ‘r Us – an “expectant” mother’s dream! We enjoyed looking around and picking up a few general items that we have had trouble finding in any of our local stores.
Finally, we headed over to Major Restaurant, an Ethiopian restaurant in Indianapolis, for lunch. This was quite the experience! Since we (okay, really me) are a bit anxious about the food that we will have while traveling in Ethiopia, we thought it would be good to begin to experience it now.
The restaurant is owned by a very kind man and his wife. They pride themselves on providing their guests with an authentic Ethiopian meal. He seemed genuinely excited for our adoption process and spent a great deal of time talking with us throughout our meal.

We began with an appetizer called beef sambusa – a triangular shaped, beef filled dish. The outer covering reminded me of an eggroll. It contained various seasonings and was quite delicious!

The main entrĂ©e was a platter for two which had a bit of everything. It included three kinds of meat (chicken, beef and lamb), as well as lentils (prepared 3 different ways), spinach, cabbage, a lettuce salad, and something else that I am not really sure what it was : ) Using injera (the traditional “spongy Ethiopian bread”), each of these items was scooped up and eaten with our hands. The owner told us that injera is a staple – served at nearly every meal – and most Ethiopian families would have one other item to enjoy with it. He told us that meat is rarely served, as many families have difficulty affording it for a typical meal.
This is not actually our meal - I forgot to take a picture of it - but it was similar to this. The bottom of
the dish is lined
with injera, but they also give you more at the side.
We ended the meal with a traditional “coffee ceremony.” The wife of the owner brought out coffee beans that were being freshly roasted. After leaving this at our table for several minutes “to create the environment,” she came back for them and took them back to grind and make fresh coffee. They returned with coffee in traditional dishes and a basket of popcorn. He informed us that in Ethiopia, coffee is enjoyed together and always with food (either popcorn or a bread of some kind). I asked if the popcorn was authentic and he assured us that it is common.  

The whole meal was quite an experience! It took us about an hour and a half to eat it all since they freshly prepare everything.  We both agree that the food was definitely different than what we are used to, but it was all manageable. I would have to say, though, that my favorite Ethiopian dish is popcorn : ) We hope to go back someday with our child to share in this experience again.

After lunch, we headed back home. It was a nice day away together that we thoroughly enjoyed.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

What a Blessing

It continues to amaze us how God blesses us in small ways along this journey – primarily through His people and financially. We are in full swing preparing for our spaghetti fundraiser dinner at this point. It is quite the challenge to put together a nice evening for friends and family, while also keeping the cost down, so that we can raise funds for the largest portion of our journey (travel and final program fees) that will be here before we know it.
It may seem small, but late this week, my supervisor announced that our business headquarters had sent all of us a small gift to thank us for our service. They handed each of us a $50 VISA gift card! What a blessing! We were not expecting it, it was not tucked into a paycheck where it would be easily used for bills and forgotten about, so we are setting it aside to help offset expenses for the dinner. It just seemed like another reminder from God saying, “Don’t worry about this, I called you to do it, I will provide…”