Thursday, November 25, 2010

A New Perspective on "Thankful"

It's Thankgiving Weekend 2010, and I would have never thought that we'd still be sitting here in New York as a family of three. But Nicky, our adoption case worker, called on Wednesday with some great news - our long-awaited first court date, January 25th! It is not as soon as we had hoped or expected, but as has been the case for our entire adoption - and of course as with everything in life - there's not really anything we can do about that.

Why is it taking so long? I guess it's for a "good" reason. There is only one judge in Ethiopia who handles the adoptions. As more people go to Ethiopia for their children, his docket is increasingly busy. At least now his docket says "Zimbalist" on it...

I could very easily be negative about this. After all, we expected to travel for our first trip in December and bring Evelyn home in January, and now we won't be bringing her home till March. And the wait for our referral was longer. And we've had to update our home study and now have to get re-fingerprinted by Homeland Security because our old ones have expired. And on and on and on...

But, instead, there is much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, and looking back on this whole process.

We didn't get to this point without many years of heartache, stress, anger, self-pity, and every other difficult emotion. Much to my surprise, the adoption process has been a healing one for us. There is a baby at the end of this long road, and a beautiful, bubbly, happy, healthy, wonderful one at that. Our baby, our cute little Evie!

I have been especially thankful the past few weeks for the new glimpses of Evie that we have seen in three batches of pictures and videos sent to us by some wonderful CHI families who have gone over to meet their children for the first time. They took time out of their trips to bring a little bit of our daughter home to us, and for that we are so grateful.

And I am so thankful for what we are seeing in those pictures! Evelyn is gaining weight and has huge chubby cheeks, with little dimples on both sides of her mouth. She is almost always smiling or laughing, a big open-mouthed smile with her little tongue curling up. Her eyes sparkle and truly speak to us that she is doing fine and is happy and loved. The nannies holding her in some of the pictures are always smiling back, always with so much love for her. And we are also seeing a lot of "clean" - clean baby, clean sheets, clean clothing, clean floors.

I am also so thankful for a wonderful, loving husband whom I adore; an adorable, hilarious, snuggly son; supportive family and friends; and happiness, health, financial soundness (though winning the lotto would be useful), employment, a sweet dog, and so much more.

So in the next few weeks - the weeks when we thought we'd be meeting our daughter - we'll try to push aside the disappointment of having to wait even longer, and we'll be thankful for what we have and what is to come. Even while we are getting our travel shots.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Family of Four!

We are thrilled to finally share our joyous news: We have received—and accepted—a referral from our adoption agency for our beautiful baby girl! She is almost 7 months old, healthy, and unbelievably adorable! We'd love to post pictures, but because we haven’t gone through court yet to make it officially official, we can’t put her picture online in any way. I do carry her pictures around, though, so if I see you I am glad to show her off!

The baby was given a beautiful name by her birth mother (we can't share it on this blog yet - Ethiopian court rules), but her name very appropriately means "new blessing." We are keeping part of her Ethiopian name as her middle name. Her first name will be Evelyn, after Morris's beloved Aunt Evelyn.

We don’t know about travel yet, but we expect our first trip to be in December and our second trip (when we bring her home) to be in January.

We are all so excited to welcome Evie into our home and lives! Just a little longer, and we'll officially be a family of four!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Adoption as Animal Instinct

In my very first post on this blog, and occasionally when people ask me "why adoption?", I have said that we are parents in need of another child, and our daughter will be a child in need of other parents.

I never would have considered this an "animal instinct," so to speak, but maybe it is. Parents need children, and children need parents. It's as simple as that.

Click here to view an amazing video!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Think We Can

It's hard to believe that summer vacation ends a week from today, when Zachary goes back to school. Zac and I had a wonderful summer at Camp Ramah in Nyack, and Morrie enjoyed some vacation time taking care of things on the home front and working on High Holiday services and sermons. We celebrated our niece Sarah's Bat Mitzvah in San Diego and spent serious quality time with my side of the family, and it was a fantastic trip in all aspects, even the nine hours we spent tearing up LegoLand. Sarah was amazing and perfect and made us all so proud - the first Edelman Bat Mitzvah since mine 25 years ago (the anniversary was just three days after Sarah's big day)! And so, Summer 2010 flew by in a blink.

Yet amidst all of the fun and relaxation, I found myself gritting my teeth every week when reading the weekly update from CHI. Week after week passed with no referrals, or just a few referrals trickling in for people who had been waiting for less time than we have. So we sat at #7 allllll summer long. We didn't know what was going on until last week, when in the weekly update we learned that there was an extreme shortage of DNA AIDS tests in the orphanages in Ethiopia. This test is administered to all children ages 18 months (or maybe 2 years) and younger. They weren't sure when the test kits would arrive. In my mind, given the amount of time that had passed since referrals were given, it sounded like this would be the last medical test given to a lot of the children and that once the test kits came in, there would be a surge of referrals. So I kept that in mind to try to ease the anxiety. Truly, had it not been for camp and the Bat Mitzvah, this summer would have dragged, with no good news on the baby front.

Until today.

Today was one of those great days that prospective adoptive parents like us dream of. The head of CHI's Ethiopia program sent out great news via the CHI Yahoo group - today saw EIGHT referrals! Eight! Most were for babies, many girls, and most were for people waiting longer than us (thus moving us up the list)! By my calculations, we are in the top three waiting families now! I e-mailed Nicky, our adoption counselor, to find out our official number, though at this point, it completely doesn't matter. That phone is going to ring ANY DAY!

This summer has been like "The Little Engine That Could." He thinks he can get to the top, but never makes it until the end. He triumphantly chugs up the mountain, and all is well. Just when we thought that mountain peak was still so far - here we are! Wait just a little longer? I think we can!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Happy Listaversary!

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of our official addition to CHI's waiting list. You may remember that when we started we were #96. We're now #7. The view is much brighter from here, but we are now so close to getting our referral that we're a little on edge. The current wait time for infant girls is 12-14 months, and now we are there! We're trying to keep distracted this summer with camp and vacations... but every time the phone rings I jump a little bit!

I spent our "listaversary" morning in "Sissy"'s room with Zachary, cleaning out the piles of stuff that has gotten dumped in there over the past two years. After a few hours, the room got completely cleared and now really just contains the changing table/dresser, rocking chair, and futon. We're hoping that the universe will pick up the "ready for a baby" vibes that the room is now emitting and that our Caller ID will read "CHI" very soon!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Mother's Day to You

Mother's Day is nice. It reminds those of us moms that we are appreciated. I'm a chauffeur, teacher, personal chef, psychologist, doctor, and so much more every day. I am so blessed to be all of those things for Zachary. Those of you who are lucky enough to know him know that he is a pure joy, full of happiness, humor, and often wisdom beyond his years.

This was most likely the last Mother's Day for me with just one child. Next year, and forever after, Mother's Day will be spent with our daughter-to-be too.

This year, in her absence, I'm thinking about what Mother's Day will be like for her birthmother. (Is there a Mother's Day in Ethiopia?) Children in Ethiopia aren't given up for adoption because they aren't wanted. They are given up because for some reason they can't be cared for any other way. Their parents are dead or dying. Their parents are destitute. Their parents are desperate for their children to be able to live. Not just the "live a life that we could never provide for" type of living. Actually, literally, living.

The one thing that makes me the most nervous about our second trip to Ethiopia, when we officially make our daughter "our daughter," is meeting her living relatives. This is not terribly common in the international adoption world, but it is a requirement in Ethiopian adoptions. It's wonderful to be able to meet and talk to and take pictures with and hug and reassure - but to me, it's also really terrifying. A lot of pressure. And heartbreaking, on both sides, for both mothers.

We'll be allowed to send pictures and write letters that will go into our yearly "update," which will be translated into Amharic (and I guess whatever the family's tribal language might be?) for her birth family to access through her orphanage. I can just imagine our daughter's birth mother reading the updates and looking at the pictures. What will she think as she sees pictures of her African daughter with her Caucasian brother? Frolicking with our little dog? In a frilly dance recital costume? Draped in a tallit, leaning over the Torah, in a staged Bat Mitzvah photo? In her cap and gown?

You will have a lot of promises you want me to keep, Birthmom. And I will keep every one. That is my promise to you.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Second Cousins

Today my first cousin Neal and his wife Jenni announced on FaceBook that they are adopting a child from Ethiopia. This wasn't news to me - I've known for months, since they started their dossier process - but it was so exciting to see it announced!

Both of them e-mailed me within minutes of each other to tell me that they are #59 on the list. 59?! It took us five months of waiting to get there; we started at 96! I'm guessing that their lower number indicates that for whatever reason, CHI's Ethiopia program has shrunk quite a bit since we jumped on the list eight months ago. Because Neal and Jenni requested a much broader age range than we did, their wait technically should be much shorter than ours has been. I hope for their sake that it is!

I'm hoping that somehow for one of our two trips over there we will overlap with them; it would add such an amazing dimension to our process if part of our travel included spending time with our rapidly-expanding family in the children's homeland. Or if no overlap in physical travel, there will likely be overlap in our referrals - meaning, we'll both know who our children are when either they or we go over to Ethiopia. That will afford us the opportunity to meet each other's child - and more importantly, snuggle, play with, photograph, and videotape them! And we'll also be able to introduce the two children to each other as second cousins, whose first picture will be taken in a transitional home in Addis Ababa and who will have a future of pictures together hopefully in New York, Oklahoma, and many other places, with their new extended family!

So, congratulations to Neal, Jenni, Gabe, Mackenzie, and Isaac! Welcome to "the list!" You are in good company. Now, hurry up and wait!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Play Date Forever

At least ten times a day, Zachary makes a reference to "Sissy" - either "Sissy would like this toy" or "I want to buy this for Sissy" or "Do you think Sissy will like SpongeBob?" You get the idea.

Amidst that sweetness, sometimes he takes it to the "n"th power. Like tonight, at dinner, when out of nowhere, he declared "When my sister gets here, it'll be like a play date forever!"

It's definitely become clear in all of our years of trying to expand our family that aside from wanting to parent again, we wanted Zac to know the joys, aggravations, and bond of having a sibling. We won't tell him just yet that it's not always like a play date - though, maybe it will be!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I have had a horrible cold and sinus infection for at least three weeks. I now have purchased and used every level of cold remedy. Expectorant. Decongestant. Expectorant plus decongestant. Expectorant plus decongestant plus antihistamine. Expectorant plus decongestant plus antihistamine plus fever reducer. Some I have in both pill and liquid form. One that my doctor prescribed made my cough worse. Oh, plus two different antibiotics. I'm thinking I am finally turning the corner on this cold and will actually be well one day in the near future. Though I probably just jinxed it.

When I was a kid, the only cough medicine I remember ever taking was Cheracol, which is a prescription. It was cherry flavored, and it was kept way up high in a kitchen cabinet. I think we used the same bottle for my entire 18 years in that house. I just looked it up online - it was guaifenisin plus codeine. That's a little scary. Between that and the "witch's brew" we were given for fevers (two baby aspirins crushed between spoons and then mixed, in one of the spoons, with water - you can imagine how delicious that tasted), it's a wonder that none of us have any apparent brain damage. But, life was simpler then.