Monday, 19 January 2009

Who was I kidding?

When I said there was a chance that we might get through before the rainy season? There's no way.

A dear friend sent me an email asking about when we might be meeting our baby. I replied with a list of what we had to next (a long way of saying 'I don't know'). So here is our quick, off-the-top-of-my-head list of stuff that has to happen now. Some of this is the same as the US process, some of it is different. :
  • Wait for our approval to be ratified (probably early Feb)
  • Appoint a notary
  • Wait for our local authority to send our ratified papers to the department of ch.ildren, scho.ols, and (D.CS.F) (Should be ~1 week after ratification)
  • Wait for the D.CSF to certify us as 'eligible' adopters (could be 2 weeks, could be 6 months)
  • Wait for the DC.SF to send our papers to our notary
  • Get the rest of our dossier to the notary (really, there would be NO EXCUSE for not having all of this together after how long we've had to prepare): (bank reference, personal references, birth cert, marriage cert, post-placement obligation letter, why we want to adopt from ethiopia letter, photos, proof of life insurance, etc - y'all know the drill)
  • Arrange for notary to photocopy and authenticate all the relevant papers, then send to Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Ethiopian Embassy (I'm not quite sure why this costs close to £1000. A mystery).
  • Wait for Eth. embassy to legalise papers and send back to Notary (probably about 3 weeks - 1 month)
  • Notary sends back to D.CSF
  • Wait for DCS.F to send papers to Ethiopia (YAAAAAY!) (could be 1 week, could be 2 months - looking like 2 months at the moment. Another mystery. All they have to do is measure the parcel so we can call DHL and tell them to collect it).


  • wait to be notified about a suitable child (unknown time frame - could be quite quick, could be a few months)
  • Fly to Addis
  • Officially 'identify' child recommended by orphanage and apply for a court date for an adoption hearing
  • Ask british embassy to provide confirmation that child will be eligible for citizenship
  • Wait for notification of court date
  • Wait for actual court date (approx 2 months after application). I will possibly be in Addis for this time - J will probably have to come home. I'm hoping to volunteer at the orphanage for this stretch but I have NO idea whether I'll be allowed to or not. Not thinking about this yet. It's too early for me to be disappointed if the answer is no. I'd rather have hope.


  • Fly back to Addis (if back in the UK) for a second, 3-4 week trip. Arrive a week before court
  • Court date
  • Apply for Ethiopian passport for baby
  • Wait for British embassy to give us entry clearance for baby
  • Fly home!
Notice a recurring verb?

So. I'm kind of getting used to the idea that our baby probably isn't born yet. But sometimes it hits me that maybe they aren't even conceived. J and I have regular, half-joking conversations about the fact that maybe, since it's going to take so long anyway, we should hang out for as long as it takes to get a twin referral. (Oooh, sorry, recommendation. Independent adopters must not use the term referral). But then sometimes I think 'but our friend K got her first set of papers through the D.CSF in a week! It could still happen!' until reality slaps me down again.

I love my country. I really do. But this adoption is messing with my brain enough, anyway, without all these UK-specific logistics to send me doubly crazy. I wish adoption was a bigger part of our culture. I wish there were enough adoptions each year for us to have an agency in Ethiopia. I wish I had some idea when I could be leaving work. I wish I knew who my baby was. I wish I could at least pray for him or her, knowing that they exist, already, whether inside or outside mother #1. I wish that I could communicate to some of my friends that okay, if they don't see ME as an expectant mother, could they please pray for / be thinking of mother #1? I wish I could explain that right now, mother # 1 feels more real to me - is more often in my thoughts - than Hypothetical Future Baby, who, contrary to what I expected, feels more shadowy than ever. I wish I could explain that I'm not adopting to avoid morning sickness.

Okay, I'm a little off the topic now. Sorry. Normal service will resume soon.


  1. I think you might be blaming your country a little too much. I know you haven't really seen the Ethiopian side of the adoption process, but it is much crazier. Anyway- I love your determination. What you are doing is amazing.

    Watt Smith

  2. I will be praying for the birth mother of your child:o) I understand COMPLETELY!! Hang in there!

  3. Holy Crap girl. The stuff you have to go through is insane compared to our process. Seriously. Not trying to make you feel worse, I guess just validating your frustration. (as if you needed that, huh?) I can just imagine the endurance, patience, and a host of other amazing things this is producing inside of you. All I can say is that your times, and your baby's times are completely in God's hands. Doesn't make you feel much better, but hopefully comforts some. Hang in there. (probably the most overused phrase in the adoption process with the exception of "wait"). But still, it's true eh?

  4. Wow! I am so glad you wrote that out because I have been wondering what you are going to have to do and go through! Of course I will continue to lift you up in prayer during this time. I remember the birth mom being on my heart a lot also around the same season that D. was conceived...interesting how our hearts can possibly know some things without any proof. This is a long journey and there are no exciting baby kicks in your stomach to remind you a baby will one day be in your home and you will be loving him/her. Holding your hand metaphorically as you press on dear is going to be worth it!!!

  5. Wow, Caroline, that is quite the process!! I can see why you have been so overwhelmed with it all.

    I will continue to pray for you and am adding mother #1 to my list too. I wish there were more concrete things happening right in front of you to let you know that each check you make on your list is one step closer to your baby.

    Keep marching forward and we will be right here cheering you on!

  6. daunting, but doable!!!
    Tell me more about this independent adoption? Is this just a UK thing?

  7. That is a long list, but at least you have gotten past one crucial stage - being approved and being past the homestudy instrusiveness...


    Keeping you in thoughts.


  8. Thanks so much, people :)

    Watt, I'm not doubting that the Ethiopian side is crazy, but you havne't seen TRULY crazy until you've plumbed the depths of UK adoption policy. Actually maybe I dont' mean crazy - maybe I mean stupid.

    Speaking of which - yes, the independent adoption thing is a UK thing. The Ethiopian gov't insists on adopters working with agencies (a position I wholeheartedly support) - but they do make an exception for countries where citizens don't have any licensed agencies operating. I think that's pretty much just us and the Irish. (by the way, are you the Matt J I'm related to? If so, please excuse my paranoid moment but please promise you won't give this link to anyone else in the family!!)

  9. A friend of mine here in Texas is opening a restaurant and it is a long, long process with squillions of permits & other bureaucratic BS. I saw him yesterday & asked how it was going and he said things were very slowly inching along, illustrating it with the latest paperwork snafu. To which I replied, "Well, at least you're not in England trying to adopt a baby from Ethiopia." Which point was lost on him, but you would have laughed.

    PS.. I think of you as an expectant mother. You'll just be expecting a bit longer than usual.

    PSx2 -- avoiding morning sickness is no small thing...


Over to you!