Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ
2 Peter 3:18

Friday, April 29, 2011

What a Fun Day

Sorry to say it, but this is another no picture post- but I should have some soon.  Maybe we'll have a picture post tomorrow.  Is the Picture Pages theme starting in your head, too?  Good....

We began the day by finishing up Wilson's new room.  I can't believe how old he's getting and the car bed just isn't cool anymore.  He even said the other day  he's not that interested in seeing Cars 2 this summer.  A moment of silence, please.

We had told him at the beginning of the adoption adventure that if we wound up having a boy, he'd be sharing a room and get bunk beds.  Well of course, he was devastated when our baby turned out to be a girl- because that meant no bunk beds.  Phil reassured him he could still have bunk beds and probably before Eliza Grace got here.  Promise fulfilled.  Wilson now has one of the coolest sets of bunk beds I've ever seen and his room is looking so big kid!!  Alright enough about that, I'm not in the mood to cry.

This morning I found out that someone in our EP batch had been approved.  Later this afternoon we got an email that Eliza Grace's EP had been approved too!!  We're so excited!  The end is sight. What exactly does this mean?  Here's the words directly from our agency's email: (you can skip reading all this if you want- but that means I'll just make something up if you ask later, "so what's next")

Now that my child’s EP has been approved what’s next?

Now that EP has been approved, it is still difficult to determine exactly when your travel call will be. What we know is the following steps need to occur before your child is ready to travel.

· Travel Certificate- Holt Korea will apply to the Ministry of Foreign affairs for the travel certificate after the EP has been approved. This typically takes about a week to gain the approval. We are not notified about this.

· Visa Physical Exam- This is done by an outside Doctor appointed by the US Embassy. This has to be done after the EP and travel certificate have been issued. Usually the exam takes place at the Holt clinic but if the child has special needs the exam is done at the hospital. We will e-mail you when we learn the physical has been scheduled (not everyone in the same EP group receive the same visa physical dates). ·

Class B waiver- This is only needed if the Doctor doing the exam notes something that they want to make sure that the adopting parents are fully aware of. If there is something noted on this form then Holt-Korea has to have a Class B waiver accompany the visa physical when submitting the P3 into the Embassy. The Class B waiver lets the officials know that the adoptive parents are fully aware of what is noted on the visa physical, and would still like to proceed with the adoption. The waiver also has to say exactly what the Doctor noted on the Visa physical, word for word. If you child needs a waiver we will notify your family and send you the waiver by e-mail.·

I600- Holt-Korea does not need your approved I600 until the very last stage of the process (submitting your P3 into the Embassy). Your I600 will only have an effect on your travel time if you delay in filling once you receive your Legals. Once your I600 is approved please send the Eugene office and your branch or co-op a copy.·

P3-The packet that Holt-Korea submits into the Embassy for the one way travel visa. This packet contains; I600, I864, birth/marriage/divorce certificates of adoptive parents, 1040, W2, legal document of child, vaccination certificate, visa physical examination, medical acceptance letter (if needed), photo of child and IR4. This takes 5-8 business days to be approved, if there are problems with any of the documents it will take longer than 5-8 days to be approved. We are not notified when the visa worker submits the P3 into the Embassy.·

VI- Visa Interview-This is new as of November 2009. The foster families now have to physically take the children down to the Embassy for a visa interview. This happens after the paperwork has been submitted into the Embassy. We are not notified about this.·

Final steps to prepare for travel- The final steps after the visa has been issued are the pre-flight report given to all families. This is a one page sheet that has important information such as eating, sleeping and other important things to help with the transition. Also, depending on when your child was last seen by Dr. Jeong he/she might go in for one last visit to make sure they are healthy enough to fly. Once these are taken care of the flight coordinator will start making travel plans for those who are escorting.

For those who are traveling, our staff in Korea will send us an e-mail when your child is fully ready. We will then contact your family so you can start making travel plans.

We don't anticipate the Class B waiver being needed and our I600 is already approved and in all the hands it needs to be in.  So there's two things we can mark off the list.

The coolest part about today is that I've met a new bloggy friend.  Remember back in December when I posted about being matched with Eliza Grace and how we had to decide between her and another little boy?  I met his mamma today on the online bulletin boards for Korean adoption families on Holt's website.  His EP was approved as well.  There is a really good chance we'll be in Korea at the same time as his family and we might get to meet him.  As I told his mamma, he was never mine but I felt soooo responsible for him.  He was sent to the waiting child list after we made our decision.  It was so hard to see Eliza Grace stamped with "I have a family" knowing that a new picture had been added because we had said "no" to him.  I was so relieved when in just a few short weeks he too had a family.  And it is so awesome to have contact with them.  He's going to have 3 older siblings.  I just can't wait to learn more about him!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring Has Sprung and Our Lord Is Risen!

The first day of Spring was March 20 and the kiddos woke up to some pretty fun baskets full of things to enjoy this new season with.  I think their favorite is the nets for catching bugs, minnows, frogs and turtles.  The girls got new flip flops and Wilson got a fishing pole.  Everyone got a new book and some seeds for planting.  We are so thankful for God's renewal of his earth each year!

Miller and Wilson planting their seeds.... I think a couple of the sunflowers may actually make it :)

Dying eggs at Pat Pat's house

Dying eggs at Granna's

Miller's school egg hunt
Wilson's egg hunt

Making Resurrection Cookies the night before Easter- we sealed them in our oven ("the tomb") and put soldiers there to guard them.  When we bit into the cookies in the morning- THEY WERE EMPTY!

Wilson on Easter Sunday

Miller on Easter Sunday- wearing a dress my mom MADE for me to wear in a wedding as a flower girl when I was little. 
Easter Sunday with Phil's family at Pop & Mim's

Afterwards, Wilson and Miller got to spend the night with their great grandparents and mom and dad had a date night.  What a great day!

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's Raining Outside . . .

...but we're CELEBRATING!! We just found out that Baby Sister was submitted for EP on APRIL 6th!! The process has begun for her to receive her ONE WAY Visa home! An added bonus is that we have two weeks of waiting for our travel call under our belt and didn't even know it. We now have a window of 4-6 weeks before we travel. So May is a viable possibility, but I'm still guessing we might be on the trip of a lifetime on our anniversary (6/8) and my birthday (6/9).

Wa-hooooooo! What a relief!

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ethridge Update

Long time, no post.  We've been pretty busy around here, but I'm not sure if I have many pictures to prove it.  Mostly busy with not so fun stuff...

Wilson has just finished his first round of achievement tests- which he though was fantastic.  They were his best everyday!!  Can't believe I have a little one big enough to be filling in bubbles on a scan tron sheet.  (Scan tron is probably an outdated word- they probably score their cards by infrared web cams or something- but you know what I'm talking about)  He's also the proud care taker of two baby turtles (although I see us cutting that back to one by the end of the week- two babies are very cute, two adult 10" turtles in my study, not so cute).

Phil has continued his Geocaching quest with Wilson and Miller eagerly following him anywhere for a treasure hunt.  It's all fun and games until someone gets poison ivy, though.  Poor Phil, it seems that this is going to be our "first sign of spring" from now on.  He never had it as a kid, but now it just seems to hunt him down!

I have been anxiously patiently watching emails and adoption boards hoping to hear that Eliza Grace is being processed to leave Korea.  If there is in fact any pattern to time lines she was probably submitted for her emigration permit last week.  However, our social worker in Korea has been out of the office since last Wednesday and won't be back until tomorrow (maybe today, I can't keep the time difference straight!).  Then the US office will be closed this Friday for Good Friday, so it may be next week before we hear anything.  Early this week I realized I was actually a little relieved that we didn't hear anything last week.  Up until now going to get her has seemed so far in the future and so abstract.  Monday it sank that I could have just heard we'd be going to get our baby soon and I kind of freaked a little.  You know when you're engaged and you know you're going to get married and you've bought a dress and picked out a cake and looked at 1000 flower arrangements, but then like the week before you go "Oh my gosh, we're really going to do this!"  Or when you've been pregnant for 10-1/2 months and you've set up a nursery, been to the doctor a gagillion times, washed tons of tiny clothes, but it's not until you're driving to the hospital that you go "we're not getting back in this car with the back seat empty...ever again!"  Well, I'm there.  We're really going to pick up a 16 month old and say "you're living with us now, ok?"  What if she hates sleeping in her crib?  She's probably never slept in one before- most babies sleep on mats by their foster moms.  Which leads to the next panic attack of what if Pottery Barn doesn't sell the quilt that Miller has on her bed anymore and we wind up with this really miss matched room (wouldn't that just be the end of the world!?)  To ensure we won't have TOTAL chaos, I did go buy a few more yards of the fabric that is on Miller's headboard- at least those will match.  What if she screams the WHOLE time we're in Korea, what if she screams the WHOLE way home, what if she really hates us for a LONG  time, what if I NEVER sleep again!? 

What if I stop worrying and remember Who set us on this path and Who will see us through.  What if I remember that we've been new parents twice- neither time was a perfect walk in the park, but we wouldn't change a thing.  What if I remember the indescribable joy I have in my heart every time I see my sweet baby girl's face and the ever growing impatience to get there and hold her.  Oh yeah . . . everything's going to be GREAT- mismatched beds and all!

So then I pulled it together to go to jury duty this morning.  Yep jury duty.  There's just something about being in the courthouse in Canton that brings back the scenes of A Time to Kill.  We were greeted this morning with "Y'all'n come in the courtroom now"  (Note to my non deep south readers: Y'all'n is actually three words in one "you all can").  We all filed in and proceeded to be entertained by a video (yep- VHS) of the jury process.  Thanks, I watch A LOT of Law and Order- I really don't need the video.  You can return it to whatever high school substitute teacher you stole it from, k?  Then we got to take a break- thank goodness- that was grueling.  Then we got to the excuse part.  I got out pretty early on- kind of wish I had gotten to hear some of the other sob stories.  What was my airtight case?  Sick child, we're going to see a specialist in the morning.  "Ma'am, you'n* go.  You don't have to call or come back."  I said thanks, the judge said "yes, ma'am".

*you'n singular of y'all'n

Which brings us to, Miller and her fourth ear infection of the last few months.  We're going to see her favorite ENT (I say that in most sarcastic tone my keys will allow me to type) in the morning.  I hope he feels like this is just a string of bad luck, but I also hope if we need a third set of tubes he can tell now so that we can get it over with before we leave to get Eliza Grace.

My sweet Nan is still with us, but is very weak.  None of us understands the reasoning behind the aging process or what the Lord is doing through it, but we trust that he does work all things to his glory.  I am also bitter sweetly optimistic that Nan will see that glory first hand soon.  What an awesome thought!

My best for today has probably already happened.  Right before I sat down to post, the Fed Ex lady pulled up in my driveway.  She flung open the door to her truck and said (with the biggest grin and in the most excited whisper) Have you gotten the baby yet!?  I slumped my shoulders and said no, not yet.  She frowned and said, "I hadn't seen y'all in a long time, I just knew you'd gone to get the baby"  She handed me my package and told me, "hurry up and go get that baby- I'm getting impatient."  "Me too, girl.  Me too!"  Eliza Grace, we may never know how many people are cheering you home baby girl, but I'm so thankful for each one I find out about.  Hope you're sleeping well.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Let's get Vanya Home!

If you go to my "favorite blogs" tab you'll find No Greater Joy Mom.  Oh my goodness- what an amazing woman and family.  They have seven children- four were adopted with some pretty significant special needs.  Their stories of what having a family can do for someone with "special needs" are inspiring and truly an example of what happens when you allow God to break your heart for what breaks His.  Adéye is also an unbelievable advocate for orphans.  Read a few posts of her blog and you'll be astounded at what the Lord has done for some pretty desperate adoptive parents trying to get their little ones home through her blog.   Right now she is trying to get a little boy in Russia named Vanya's adoption funded so that all he'll need is a family to commit to him.  He's an older child and will be transferred from his orphanage to a much worse place if he's not placed with a family soon.  She's raised over $9000 from complete strangers in a matter of days- what a blessing for this little boy and his family!  Please check out her post.  "Chip In" (at the top of her blog) $5, $10, whatever you feel led and watch the Lord will do.  Also spread the word on your blog or facebook.  She has got some pretty awesome giveaways up for grabs.  Just comment that you chipped in, blogged, and/or facebooked about Vanya.  Leave a comment for each way you helped- you'll get an entry for each.  As important as each of these steps is please also pray for the family he's waiting on.  Is it you?  Is it a friend of yours?  Pray that this family will answer God's calling to place orphans with families soon!


What a Super Weekend!

The Ethridges had a GREAT weekend.  I'm not sure there's anything else we could have crammed into the last three days!

Friday Wilson had a birthday party to go to after school.  It was in the woods behind the birthday boy's grandparents' house and there were water guns!!  About 30 minutes into the squirting Wilson came running up to me and said "Mom! My tooth just came out!"  This was number six and I think the first one with NO TEARS!! 

We left the party came home and put on dry clothes and went with daddy and his office to the Braves game that night.  The kids had a great time jumping in the bouncy houses, eating hot dogs, and watching fireworks.  I think there may have actually been a baseball game going on, but I'm not sure ;)

We came home worn out and went to bed late.  We got up the next morning and loaded up to head to Starkville for Super Bulldog weekend.  We had so much fun seeing Uncle John, playing with Oscar- a REAL bulldog, more jumping in bouncy houses, meeting cheerleaders, eating ice cream, watching a little football, and seeing friends.

 Oscar at the KA house

 Playing in the fountain at the Chapel of Memories
 Pow wow about 2/3's of the way to the baseball game- Do we want to keep walking in the blazing heat, stand in the sun, and watch the dogs be gator bait, or do we want to turn around and go find some ice cream?
Dad, do you really have to ask?  ICE CREAM!!
 Miller with a "Cheer Cheer" She had a great time singing the fight song with her!
 The Maroon & White game.
From there we went to meet Evelyn.  It was SO GREAT to see her home and to watch her in action.  She has a great temperament and the BEST smile.  We could have watched her for hours.  Made me very anxious to get some news on our girl!!  We went to church the next morning with the O'maras and then started the trek back home.

We unpacked the van and went to the park for a birthday picnic for Pat Pat.  Fun, fun cousin time and some yummy food.  Hard to beat a chocolate cupcake!!
Happy Birthday Pat Pat!

 Paw, Wilson, & Phil
 Me and my niece- we were discussing our matching double chins...she said she try to cut back on the Enfamil, I said I do better about the butterfingers
 Amy & Matthew
 Playing Princess Frisbee with Paw
Matthew and Uncle Phiiuuul

Fun, fun, fun- Happy Monday, y'all!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow!

A dear family from our church the Perkins have FINALLY met their little girl in Russia.  They have been on the adoption roller coaster for years.  This has been an extrodinairy ride including one trip all the way to Russia to meet a few possible matches only to get there and find there were no children available in the area they were taken to!

This weekend they met 11 month old Betsy!!  I can't even express how thrilled I am for them.  Hurry home Betsy, you have three big brothers, a big sister, and a huge church family dying to meet you!!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Adoption Education ;)

 I did not write this, but a lot of does kind of sound like something I'd say- lol.  I love Tracy's answers to the "most common questions" adoptive parents get.  Yes- I think I've heard almost everything on this list, but I pray that these questions are left burning in my ears and not in those of our children.  Please, please don't take this as a blanket "don't ask me any questions about adoption".  I LOVE talking about adoption and really love discussing it with anyone interested in the process especially if they are considering it for their family.  However, I hope that those who are just "curious" will think before they ask something in front of my children.  You never know what kids are thinking or how they will process something they overhear.  I have had many many rude questions over the six years that I've been a parent about my age and "how young" I must have been when I started having children.  It's all I can do not to scream I'M OVER THIRTY.  I was 25 and had been married for two years before my first child was born.  Most people quickly try to turn it into a complement of how young I look and how glad I'll be one day.  I'm sure I will.  Right after I answer the next question.  It will be from the wide eyed six year old, "Mamma, what were y'all talking about?"
So, without further adew. . .
Especially in front of their kids.
by Tracy Hahn-Burkett

Author Tracy Hahn-Burkett has a four-year-old daughter adopted from Korea and a seven-year-old biological son. Whether well-intentioned, curious or inappropriate, Hahn-Burkett has had many a question lobbied in her direction regarding her daughter and their family make-up. Hahn-Burkett offers you, the curious, some advice before you speak. Along with ten questions one should not ask an adoptive parent, she gives her blunt responses.

  • Is it difficult to love a child who isn’t your own?

My children are my own — both of them. Yes, I know what you mean. And I repeat: both of my children are "my own."

  • I could never love someone who doesn’t share my biology.

I’m sorry your heart is so limited. And presumably your spouse doesn’t share your biology, so I’m sorry for him or her, too.

  • She/he’s so lucky.

If there are adoptive parents who haven’t heard this one, I don’t know them. Yes, my adopted child is lucky, just like her brother who was born to me — just like any kid blessed with a good family. Moreover, my husband and I are lucky to have her as a daughter. My daughter is not lucky, however, by virtue of having been adopted or because she’s been adopted by an American family. Her life story will always be one that begins with wrenching loss of family, country, language, culture and all things related to the place and people from whence she came. She will have to figure out how to incorporate all of this into her identity at some point, no matter how much we love her.

  •  That’s great you’re adopting, it’s so much easier than having the child yourself.

Clearly, you have never adopted a child. What, exactly, is easy about it? Is it the hundreds of questions prospective adoptive parents have to answer along the path to adoption, questions that go to the heart of what kind of people they are and dissect every aspect of their lives? Is it committing to a lifetime of knowing that at anytime from toddlerhood through adulthood, your child may come to you with wrenching questions about his or her origins and your answers may be unsatisfactory? Is it knowing that the very fact that your child is yours means that somewhere a woman will probably grieve every day of her life for the child she could not raise? Is it missing the early months, sometimes years, of your child’s life? Is it telling your child when he or she asks to see baby pictures, "Sorry, I don’t have any"? I could go on, but you get the point.

  •  She’s so adorable; she’s just like a little China doll!

Yes, thank you, I think she’s cute, too [edited to remove a rant about the term china doll ... I take no offense to that particularly because it does not mean a doll from China as so many sensitive AP's take it to mean- I added a link if you're intested]  If you’re going to gush and coo over her, please consider that blond-haired, blue-eyed boy standing right next to her. He’s my kid, too. He’s pretty cute, too. And he can hear you.

  • Her "real" mother was probably a prostitute.

I’m her "real" mother, and so far as I can recall, I have never been a prostitute.

  •  What kind of a person would give up such a beautiful, sweet child? (This comment is often accompanied by a clucking of the tongue.)

In general, the kind of person whose options are limited in ways you have never even had to imagine. Birthmothers are not bad people. Very few, if any, birthmothers who relinquish their children do so lightly. For most, it is a searing, heartbreaking decision that will haunt them forever. Also, please understand that when you say things about my child’s birthmother, you are commenting about the woman who gave my daughter life and whose genes remain an inseparable part of her — forever.

  •  People who adopt children from other countries just don’t want black babies, or People who adopt children from other countries just want an "exotic" child, or People who adopt children from other countries are shirking their responsibility to adopt at home.
Very few parents who choose international adoption do so because they don’t like "dark" kids or because they want an "exotic" child. The systems of international and domestic adoption differ in fundamental ways, and most parents who choose to adopt educate themselves thoroughly and then pick the program that is best for them.

  • Anything in Chinese addressed to the Asian adopted child.
[I personally would not consider this a huge faux pas- or even put it on a list of 10 things not to ask in front of my child- in contrast I think it would give us a chance to discuss her heritage with the asker and later on at home]

This happened to me when my daughter was a year old. A woman in an elevator said something to my daughter in Chinese, and by the time I figured out what had just taken place, the woman was gone (thereby robbing me of my opportunity to deliver any sort of snarky reply). My daughter is American, has lived in this country since infancy, and the language she understands is English. Why would you assume anything else?

[Many people want to know if Eliza Grace has been taught English- well, she's only 14 months old, so how much of any language would you expect her to know?  But the answer is no.  She lives in South Korea, with a South Korean family.  They might know some English, but I'll bet I know A LOT  less Korean :)  She'll know a few words of Korean, but will pick up English quickly.  Someone did recently make an intersting statement about adopting an international toddler- "don't forget that their thoughts will be in Korean"  Toddlers do understand and use a lot more of their language than they verbalize.  What a culture shock for this little girl!]

  •  How much did she cost?

Another one we’ve all heard, generally more than once. But my child is not a melon; I did not pick her up at the store. She cost me nothing. I did, however, spend quite a bit on adoption fees to support the process and travel costs, just as I spent quite a bit on medical care, etc., in conjunction with the conception and birth of my biological son. If you truly want to learn more about the financial aspect of either process, I will be happy to discuss that with you. If you’re only interested in knowing in order to pass judgment, it’s none of your business.

Thanks for reading!