With a finger-print and a smile
A look at our time line
I’m still here!
Papers flying in every direction
How to Stretch a Penny… all the way to Ethiopia
A work in progress
Why Ethiopia?

With a finger-print and a smile

I realized that I have not blogged about one of our most exciting adoption adventures to date… our FBI finger-printing session.

One sunny afternoon I drove downtown to pick up Calvin from Lifeway and head over to the Davidson County Criminal Justice Center.  I have been finger-printed previously for my teaching license, but that was a measly state check.  The FBI check is a tad more hardcore.  We walked in the building and headed toward the officer seated behind the bulletproof glass, now I hate to feed the stereotype of policemen who over-eat, but there was defiantly some fried chicken aroma wafting out from under the slit which allows your drivers license to pass through for inspection.  We were told to pay the clerk for the finger-prints and then return with the receipt.  We did as we were told, standing in line behind a gentlemen getting his first set of mug-shots, and brought the receipt back to the officer.  After the exchange we were buzzed through a door and escorted upstairs by another officer.  The woman at the desk asked us if we were “applicants” with a somewhat confused look on her face.  I told her yes.  (I thought she meant applicants for adoption, it turns out she meant for the police department)  After that was straightened out I told her we were there because we were adopting a baby, a statement that rang gloriously in the air.  Not that she thought it was glorious.  It just escaped from my lips so easily and hovered in the air so tangibly, large enough to grasp.  Moments like that make this process so real.

We filled out our cards and, one at a time, took our place in the next room where we were electronically finger-printed for the FBI background check.  During the process I was very thankful I had chosen not to commit any felonies in the past, they are a lot nicer to you when you aren’t a criminal.  At the end of the session my inky little prints came rolling out of the state-of-the-art printer and my task was complete.  Calvin, on the other hand, has wacky fingers and his prints kept coming out too dark.  Therefore a sweet little letter stating that “the condition of the applicants fingers prevent passable prints”  accompanied his prints to Texas.   Oh well, at least Calvin also chose to avoid a life of crime.  Although his wacky fingerprints may have given him a leg up.

A look at our time line

So how long is all this going to take?  A question we seem to be getting a lot lately.  Here is my best attempt to explain our time line/process:

Right now we are working on our dossier.  It will probably be another couple of months before all the documents have returned and we are able to send the completed dossier to the U.S. department of State and the Ethiopian Embassy.

Once the dossier reaches Ethiopia it will take about 6 months to receive a referral for our child.  When we receive a referral we will get a picture of our child and any medical/background information that is available about our child.

Once we accept the referral (just a matter of a couple days) our agency will send the dossier and our child’s information to the Ministry of  Women’s Affairs in Ethiopia.  The new travel requirements for Ethiopia will require us to travel to Ethiopia for the first time at this point.  We will get to meet our child and finalize the adoption in country.  Sadly, we will not get to bring our child home at this point.  After staying in Ethiopia about a week we will return to the U.S. and wait another couple of months.  Once everything is approved, stamped with a big stamp and checked another hundred times we will travel to bring our child home!

So…. if all goes smoothly, our homecoming should be around ten months from now.  Whew.

It’s amazing to sit here at my computer and think about this process.  We will ACTUALLY fly to Africa and bring our child home.  It’s not a dream, it’s not a nice thought.  It is reality.  So weird, in a good way. (=

I’m still here!

Goodness.  It’s been a long couple of weeks!  I recently went back to work and I’m enjoying it but I’m sad to say I had to abandon the blog for a few days while I adjusted.  All is well and I’m back on the blogging horse.  As far as adoption news goes, there is little to report at this point.  We are in the stage where we are waiting on a lot of things.  One exciting thing to report, as of today, is that the tax credit for adoption was extended once again.  The tax credit will be a tremendous help in affording this adoption.

Sometimes when I’m doing my day-to-day I forget about how our lives have changed and will change with this adoption.  And then it hits me.  I long for the day when we receive our referral and when we hold our child for the first time.  I wish I could speed up the paper process.  I know, you are all thinking about the things people say about God’s timing and being patient but I have a hard time being patient in this department.  I’m ready to have a number three running around the house.  I guess I just don’t want him to be away from his family even one more day than he has to.  It’s a weird thought to know that a member of our family is somewhere else right now and that he will have experiences that we may never know about.  When I’m tired, and I’m very tired this evening my mind just wanders and ponders all the scenarios.

Praying that you are safe and well until you are with us baby boy.

Papers flying in every direction

The title above is about how I would summarize our adoption progress at the moment. I keep filling out papers, signing checks and depositing them into the mailbox.  There is something gratifying about flipping that little red flag up.  It’s like a signal, a little reminder that things are moving along.  I walk away feeling a little lighter, a little more accomplished.

Our last home study visit, the scary in-home one, was scheduled for Friday.  However, both of our children were very ill this week.  We are coming to the end of an RSV, allergic reaction and stomach virus frenzy that has left us worn out and wishing we lived near family.  C is on some ridiculous steroids to calm the allergic reaction and she likes to get up around 3am.  She is an angry girl at 3am and fights us with a He-Man like aggression.  Must be the “roids.”

Long story short we have rescheduled for Wednesday.  I’m really looking forward to it actually.  Our social worker is super sweet and I’m excited to show her around the house and be on the path to finishing this thing.  Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about the fire-extinguishers.  Picking those up this weekend.  Thanks for the reminder.

Looking forward to posting Wednesday.  I’m sure it will be a good one.

How to Stretch a Penny… all the way to Ethiopia

Lately we’ve become serious penny pinchers.  Those of you who know us well might wonder how Calvin could pinch that penny any tighter.  It is possible my friends; quite possible.  We’ve come up with some ways to make regular life cheaper so that adoption life can gain speed.

1. We buy those coupon books that kids sell for fund raising.  Seriously.  These are a major score.  The auto coupons inside can save you 10-20% on car maintenance.  Free oil changes.  We recently had work done on Calvin’s car and saved well over $100.  So spend $20, help the kids, and rake in the savings!  Getting a dinner out at a super cheap price every once in awhile is also a major perk.

2. I cut hair.  Calvin’s and Elliott’s to be exact.  For Elliott’s hair I set the blade to 7 and go to town.  Calvin’s is 5 on top and 2 on the sides. This saves roughly $30 a month.

3. Ladies, this one is super daring.  I wax my own eyebrows.  For real.  It’s not that hard after you mess up a few times.  Savings: $12.

4. I shop (and volunteer) at kids consignment sales.  Volunteering comes with early shopping privileges and credits.  I am able to get the kids clothes and necessities for the entire season for a 1/4 of retail cost.  (maybe less)

5. COUPONS.  Can I say it again… coupons.  If you aren’t on the band wagon, hop on it.  I literally cut my grocery bill in half each week.  Often I cut the bill by 60-70%.  People, it’s like cutting dollar bills out of the newspaper on Sunday, printing dollar bills from the computer, finding them in the mail… it’s awesome.  And let me be clear.  I do not feed my family crap loaded with MSG and gross preservatives.  We eat partially organic and mostly natural foods.  There are coupons available for any way you choose to eat, you just have to take the time to look for them.

6. We don’t buy things we don’t need.  Pretty straightforward.

7. We don’t have Iphones.

8. We are pretty green.  We recycle, of course.  But the trick that helps us save is conserving energy.  Not running the heat/air too high.  Washing large loads of laundry instead of many small ones.  Starting a vegetable garden in the back yard so I don’t have to pay $2.69 a pound for dang tomatoes anymore.

9. We don’t spend money on lawn care.  Sorry homeowners association.  Of course we will mow, but we aren’t going to fertilize or hire lawn care people to make our lawn look like outdoor carpet.

10. Finally, we just try to cut out the unnecessary.  Eating at home, playing together, making use of what we already have… all these things help us achieve our goal.

Saving money isn’t so bad after all.  For me it’s a challenge, a quest of sorts.  And I love a good challenge.  Anytime I open my wallet I try to think of our child and how every dollar brings us closer to him.  It’s pretty easy to close it after you meditate on that for a few seconds.

A work in progress

Yesterday I hauled my sweet babies into the office of Catholic Charities again.  I love explaining the statues of Mary to Elliott.  When we left he said, “bye, Jesus Mommy.”

Our individual interviews are now completed and the stack of paperwork is in our social worker’s hands.  I’m feeling quite accomplished.  However, I know that while the progress of our adoption is gaining speed there is much ahead of us.  We recently found out that we will have to travel to Ethiopia twice.  We will travel after accepting the referral to meet our child and then a few months later bring him home. Thankfully our agency is really on top of this change and sending tons of info. our way.  My mommy heart aches at the thought of meeting him and then  promptly heading back to the states without him in my arms.  God give us strength.  In addition, we will now incur around four or five thousand more dollars in travel costs.  To be honest it really doesn’t scare me.  If we can count of God’s provision for $24,000 we can certainly count on him for a few thousand more.

We have had some inquiries about making a donation to our adoption.  If this is something you feel led to do you can donate, any amount, using the donate link on the left side of our blog.  We are also taking donations of cool stuff that we can auction off on our blog.  For example, I have a gently used Coach that will go up for auction soon.  We are pretty much open to anything that will help us raise funds to bring this sweet child home.  (=

We appreciate all of you and your continued prayers and support.  We have been blown away by our “support system.”

Why Ethiopia?

Good Question.  And one I’ve been getting a lot lately.

Once upon a time I fell in love with Africa.  I had never been there, and I didn’t know anyone from there… but for some reason a small piece of my heart devoted itself to a land far away.  In college I sought an opportunity to serve there as a missionary.  It never came to fruition.  Once married, my husband and I talked about going there as missionaries, I was in seminary, and that also failed to take place.  These things didn’t fail to happen because we didn’t act on them, God simply led us down another path.  That path led us to Nashville where we had our second child and began to think about how we would continue to shape our family.  We had talked about adoption as an option for our family and our hearts were convicted to pursue the next member of our family through such means.  A domestic adoption never came to our minds (at that time).  We talked about China a bit, but Africa weighed heavily on my heart.  We prayed about the adoption.  We prayed about where.  God whispered in my ear, “don’t forget Africa.”  And I haven’t.

The needs of Ethiopia’s children are great.  They are hungry, they are orphans due to disease and famine.  They need families.  The needs of America’s children are great.  They are hungry too.  They need families too.  They are in my heart as well.  This is the first child we will adopt, and probably not the last.  So don’t worry, those of you who question our international choice, we haven’t forgotten about our homeland.  This is only the first of many journeys.  And let me pose this question in response to yours:  Is a child in need any less important or worthy of a family simply because they come from another country?

Perhaps you remember this song: Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.  They are precious in His sight.


This just happens to be one of those weeks that has the potential to become a complete disaster.  I’m volunteering at the Encores and More North  Kids Consignment sale this week.  ( http://www.encoresandmorenorth.com/ )  If you are in the Nashville area I would HIGHLY recommend stopping by this weekend.  There is some amazing gently used equipment and clothing.  I have my eye on a Fisher Price Kitchen for the kids, hopefully I can score it.  In addition, I’m studying for the Praxis II, a test for teachers, and so far I’m a little concerned about how much I remember from college.   The test is bright and early on Saturday, so let the cramming commence.  To top it all off Charlotte started running a fever and is only consoled if I hold her constantly.  However, there is a bright spot, a little something to get excited about.  We are working with a new agency, All God’s Children.  Yay! (Picture little bits of confetti falling to the ground)  You can find out more about them at their website on our links page.  Our social worker at Catholic Charities suggested them to us and after researching them and speaking with them a few times we felt really peaceful and comfortable working with them.  AGCI does have an age policy regarding our biological children.  We can only receive a referral for a child that is 9 months, or more, younger than our youngest child.  Charlotte will most likely be around two (she’s almost one can you believe it??)  when we travel to get our son which means he will probably be between the ages of 2 months and about a year old.  Interesting.  We were originally planning to expand our age category up to three years old.  In the long run I think this is going to be a good thing for the dynamics of our family unit.  Keeping birth order intact is very important for our children and their identity as older or younger siblings.  We wouldn’t want to take away their privilege of being “big” brothers and sisters.  Now time for a confession… it took me almost an hour to write this dang post.  Charlotte is sleeping restlessly in my arms and has now woken up.  Going to call the pediatrician now, I think they are starting to recognize my voice.


I thought it might be interesting to write a post about Ethiopia.  It is our intention to encourage our child to celebrate his heritage and history rather than simply tucking it away and forgetting the miracle that brought him to us in the first place.  Although the Ethiopia of today can be heart-breaking it still contains a population of beautiful and strong people who are the unfortunate victims of drought, disease and a poverty-stricken economy.

Interesting Facts:

Ethiopia is one of the most ancient countries in the world.

Ethiopia was the original source of the coffee bean.  It is still the number one export.

46 % of the population is under 14.

Ethiopia has 84 indigenous languages.

Ethiopia has their own calendar which is roughly 8 years behind the calendar we follow.

Track and Soccer are the most popular sports in Ethiopia.  Many Olympic gold medalists have come out of Ethiopia.

Just a couple of things I have discovered in my quest to learn as much as I can before we hop a 16-hour (or so) flight over to Ethiopia.  Fortunately I still have plenty of time before that takes place.

Stay Tuned, Calvin will be guest-blogging next. (=


Humor me for a moment.  (Those of you who have met with social workers can skip this part.) Close your eyes and conjure up your best visual image of a social worker.

I’ll share mine to help you out: Early fifties, clip-board in hand, granny glasses (so that she can peer over them and scrutinize you), kinda tough, kinda judgmental, kinda hard to work with…. the list goes on.

I hate to say that this is what I was expecting as I lugged my two kids through the blowing snow and sat down to wait in the lobby of Catholic Charities earlier this afternoon… that, or maybe a nun.  Calvin was running a few minutes behind so I went in before him to make sure we kept our appointment time.  After sitting for five minutes or so, breathing in the very 1950’s smelling air, our social worker came out to meet us.  Surprise!  She did not exactly fit the profile I had made up in my head.  She was quite stylish, young, and very positive and energetic.  Calvin and I spent a full hour and a half with her as she explained the process, asked personal questions and talked over our two children who were joyfully ransacking the toy chest in her borrowed office.

Now at home, questions answered and huge stack of paper in hand, I wonder why I ever feared the social worker.  They are only there to help us bring home our child.  Our goals align.  Now if I can only get excited about all the papers I have to hunt down and fill out.

All Content © Erica Ho, Goodbye Normal