17 Months on the Wait List

Wow.

I never, ever thought I’d be writing a post with this title.

Today marks exactly 17 months that we have been on the Gladney list of families who await a referral for the child/children we will be matched to for adoption.

Given the date, it seems rather fitting that just this morning, a social worker from Gladney visited us in our home to perform the required update to our Home Study. Each 18 months the home study must be briefly updated to reflect any changes in the family/home. (Our changes by the way were rather boring overall: in the 18 months since our last home study, we have added two little rabbits to the household, and Jay and I have each turned 40.) I HOPE that our adoption process will not stretch out so much longer that we will need to have yet another update before our daughter is home, unless we, for some reason end up moving houses. But…I just don’t know.

When we began this process just a little over 2 years ago, the average wait time after all your paperwork was complete to referral was 9 months. The process has lengthened considerably now and there really is no “predictable” average wait time anymore. The best guess as to how much longer we will wait for our referral is, conservatively, a year from now. Even my 6 year-old can do the math on how many months of waiting that will be, but it is too sad to me to type that number out here. Perhaps (I HOPE!) it will be sooner than that, but realistically speaking, that’s what it looks like today.

Increased wait times are mostly due to increased scrutiny in Ethiopia into the adoption process. Much more information and paperwork are being required by the Ethiopian government to go along with each adoption case, particularly relating to investigation into each child’s background prior to them being cleared for adoption. All of this takes more time and manpower, and as a result, far fewer referrals can be given out each month.

After our referral, we wait for a court date, which is scheduled at about 3 months after referral. We make a first trip to Ethiopia for that court date, and that is when we will finally get to meet our daughter (we can’t wait!!). However, we are not cleared to bring her home till after waiting another couple of months for an Embassy date — basically, for her visa to be ready. Right now, the estimated time from referral till a family brings their new son or daughter home is about six months. It could be less, but it could be more.

If all this sounds incredibly long, well, that’s because it is incredibly long!! And yes, it is hard, hard, hard. But as hard as this wait is for us here, I know for certain that the increased wait times are much harder on the children and their caregivers in Ethiopia. And the sad fact is that the longer the wait times are overall, the fewer children who are in need of families will ultimately come home and be welcomed into a family, their family. That makes my heart hurt incredibly.

I have been horrible about updating this blog. Truly, life is full, things are busy, and the fact is that most of us find it simpler to type out a quick little status update on Facebook than to sit down and write a blog post that hardly anyone is going to read anyway. I hope to blog more in the future, if only because in the past, I have so appreciated the account here of our family’s growth and change. Perhaps in the coming months, I will have the joy of blogging about our newest family member, a little girl whom we do not yet know, but who is very real to each of us as we think of her and pray for her daily. She has a place in each of our hearts, and we feel so privileged to wait for her.

May God be with all of those who wait, the children and the families. May He comfort those who mourn, be close to those who are brokenhearted, and place the lonely in families.

Porkie Roast

I want to share a recipe given to me by a dear, old friend who is not really old at all, but with whom I share an “old” friendship, at least in my view of things. In fact, I guess I have known Steph for just about 20 years now. Whew!

Stephanie shared this pork roast recipe with me long ago, and I have played with it and added a couple things along the way. It’s easy, it’s fairly inexpensive, and you can either eat it at home with family for Monday night supper like we did tonight, or cook it for company if you want to!

Take a center cut pork loin roast of any size. This is a fairly lean but also pretty inexpensive portion of the piggie.

You will need:

* several tablespoons of a nice spicy mustard
* copious amounts of minced garlic
* fresh rosemary
* 4-5 slices of bacon (I like the center cut variety)

Rinse your roast and pat dry. Douse your roast with the mustard. Slather the spicy stuff all over — don’t worry that you are using too much.

Next, chop/mince/dice or do whatever you like to do to garlic — and spread that atop the mustarded loin.

Remove the rosemary “leaves” from their stems, cut finer if you prefer, and sprinkle the rosemary over the garlic.

I forgot to take a picture of this next part, and I’m sorry for that. Keep in mind there are often at least two or three short people trying to ask me important questions/share vital information while I attempt to get supper in the oven. Usually there are dogs sniffing around also, greatly interested in the goings-on at counter level in the kitchen. If things are especially interesting, the resident rabbit will also have been brought into the room at this time to offer tips and advice on preparing the evening’s meal. Evidently, I am easily distracted.

At any rate, you’ll have to use your imagination for this step: just lay a few slices of the bacon along the top side of the roast, ends touching or barely overlapping. I usually use about four for a 3 to 4 pound roast.

I like to cook this recipe on a little roasting rack in the pan so the juices gather easily underneath and enhance the flavor of the dish, but it’s not necessary. Pop the porkie in the oven and roast at about 400 degrees until the roast is cooked to about 155-160 degrees in the middle.

Now here is the important part: do NOT attempt to cook this roast if your meat thermometer is broken. I may have learned this the hard way today. Let’s just say that when your meat thermometer says 180 degrees and the inside of your roast is so undercooked that it’s still oinking, well, you may be fairly certain that aforementioned thermometer is no longer of any use. You will, at this point, in an effort to avoid giving your loved ones food poisoning, overcook the lovely roast so that it more closely resembles shoe leather than nice, tender gently-cooked pork loin. (Sigh.)

Even overcooked, this dish is still pretty good, but please take my word for it, and use a thermometer that works! When your meat is done, slice it thinly, and be sure to cut up plenty of the bacon to enjoy with the roast. Spoon the wonderfully rich roasting juices from the bottom of the pan over the meat to serve it, and your family will devour this meal, lick their fingers, and declare you the bestest cook ever!!

If you get tired of eating the leftovers, the sliced meat transitions beautifully into barbequed pork you can serve as sandwiches a couple nights later!

Thankful, Day 22

Today I am thankful for blue sky breaking through the clouds, for hot coffee after a chilly morning walk, for old friends and time to catch up, for the fun of introducing a fourth child to the warmth and humor that is Paddington Bear (and the snuggles I get whenever I find time to squeeze in yet another chapter), and for Chicken Pad Thai.

Thankful, Day 21

I am thankful that food and other supplies we need (plus a whole lot more that we don’t!) are a couple of blocks away and so simply acquired. My family doesn’t know what it is to be in want for sustenance or even a treat.

I am thankful for wonderful thunder storms and much-needed rain; for coming home to a warm and cozy house after being drenched in aforementioned rain during our grocery shopping; for songs that are so happy they make me cry, and for gluten free pie crusts in my Whole Foods’ freezer case.

Thankful, Day 20

I am thankful for….a day of rest.

Thankful, Day 19

Today I am thankful for friends both old and new, those nearby and others who are far away. I am glad for sweet friends for my children…what a blessing to have kids who pop in and out of each others’ homes and feel like family. Thankful for friends who love me and encourage in this stage of life, wonderful women whom I learn so much from, and who are just a blast to spend time with. Thankful for folks who have known us a long, long time and love us still. Thankful for folks who laugh and cry with us, who celebrate joys and disappointments as they come, and who are kind enough to allow us share in the stuff of their lives as well. We are blessed.

Thankful, Day 18

Today I am thankful for roller skating with friends, for long trips to the library with kids, for a date night out with Hubby, for my children’s enthusiasm and joy about so many things in life.

We entered the library this afternoon while an elderly lady was leaving. She looked my brood over, thanked the two boys who’d held the door for her, and instead of the “My, you’ve got your hands full!” comment I am subjected to most every time a random stranger says something to me about our family, this lady smiled at me and said, “Oh, it is so good to see children who are happy for a change!” And I blinked a little because I was so shocked, but then smiled at her, and said thank you for saying something so kind.

So today I am also thankful for encouraging words from complete strangers, and the reminder again of how blessed I am.

Thankful, Day 17

Today I am thankful for all the teachers in my children’s lives. Despite the term “Home Schooling”, there is much we learn about in settings outside of our home, and a great many more teachers are involved in this endeavor than just me!

These teachers gently guide, and nurture creativity and a love for learning in each of our kids, and are a huge blessing to our family. While there is not space to mention all of them, I especially love and appreciate our piano teacher, who is fun and amazing, and who meets each child where they are, and helps them to create the most beautiful music. I am thankful that my boys have the opportunity to work and learn with a brilliant engineer who teaches them all about the science behind electrical and mechanical systems and then guides them in building all sorts of woodworking projects, circuits, electronics, and more: something I wouldn’t even begin to know how to do even if I wanted to! I am grateful for a dear friend who teaches Latin beautifully to my three oldest, since I cannot. And my little budding artist is thriving under the care and encouragement of her art instructors who are not only fabulous artists but amazing people.

My personal favorite teacher this year is not being compensated in any monetary fashion for his wonderful work with Abigail. I think that is partly because you cannot put a price on how cool it is for a 12 year old girl to enjoy learning General Science under the loving and watchful eye of her grandfather. Grandy John doesn’t seem to mind too much that he is grossly overqualified to teach 7th grade science, and the two of them are having a blast exploring the subject together. They do several experiments each week to reinforce/illustrate whatever it is they are studying about. Here is a pic I snapped of the two of them earlier this year; despite the looks of it, no, Grandy is not teaching Abigail to concoct mixed drinks in General Science!! (At least, not yet!).

 

We Interrupt the Thankful Posts…For a Little Update (One Year Waiting…)

Last night as our family gathered to pray together we spoke about how today, November 16, 2011 was going to mark a year’s time on Gladney’s wait list, waiting to be matched with a child we don’t know yet but are already in love with, if that makes any sense. A baby girl whom we pray for, and hope for, whose face we have not seen, whose story we don’t yet know. A tiny girl a world away whom we look forward to joining our family someday. But who, until she does, has become known around our home simply as “Little Sister”. Last night some tears were shed as we realized a full year of being on the wait list had gone by, and that we are still here, still waiting, not completely sure how or when this process will ultimately play out.

Reaching the one year mark on the wait list was never really on anyone’s mind until the recent slowdown and changes in process in Ethiopia, and subsequent delays in referrals, court processing, and Embassy approvals for many adoptions. When we began the process with Gladney back in April of 2010 the timeline for an Ethiopian adoption was very different than it is now. Once we achieved the monumental milestone of being approved to adopt, and having our dossier reach Ethiopia in mid-November of 2010, we felt pretty confident that we’d be celebrating this 2011 Thanksgiving and Christmas with another little Horne around our table. Of course that has not happened, and we continue to wait. To hope. And to pray.

That God has his hand upon this little girl, wherever she is. That He is being her provider, since we cannot yet be. That He is loving her and giving her comfort, since that is not yet ours to give.

And truly, while we wait, we see God’s hand and mercy upon our family in ways we did not imagine. While I am not saying that I think it’s good for children who are orphaned to have to wait longer for families, I do believe that God has given us the blessing of knowing the wait has been fruitful for our family, and I am grateful for that. I have had the privilege of watching my children become a little more aware of the plight of millions of orphans around the world. I have seen their eyes shed tears over the pain so many kids their own age face on a daily basis. I have seen them grow in compassion. I have seen their hearts become a little more tender to the things that truly matter in this world. Oh sure, they are still normal, selfish kids — aren’t we all?? Who wallow in wealth and struggle with contentment despite having so much — don’t we all?? Who complain mightily about the blessings they enjoy freely — and yes, I could be writing these lines about myself and not my children…but isn’t that the point?

I have to believe that wherever our daughter is, and whatever circumstances she is in, that at this time, our stories are not ready to cross paths. But that when it is time, that God will orchestrate events beautifully, and we will know with certainty that His timing is perfect. We really, really look forward to the day that we will finally get to see her face, to hear her story. To welcome her into our family and to shower her with all the love we know how to give. All the faith in the world doesn’t mean the waiting isn’t hard…it is hard. And it may get harder before we are all done.

I said I was interrupting the Thankful Posts and I am. But today, I want to leave you with this picture that came across my Google feed after a recent search on the text “In everything give thanks…”. This little boy actually resides not in Ethiopia, but in Zimbabwe. I cannot get this picture out of my head. Nor can I think of a more appropriate reminder for me and my family as we contemplate what it is to give thanks.