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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Very thoughtful and inspirational piece...

...about children and education...

http://www.raisingsmallsouls.com/wp-content/themes/179/aschool012008.html

Monday, April 28, 2008

Stress Dreams

I have always been one to have stress dreams. In fact, to this day, I still occasionally have a dream that I am in college and can't find my class schedule, can't remember where I'm supposed to be, and realize that I never went to class on the day of the exam.

When I was pregnant with Ryan I had dreams that I had forgotten to change him for a whole day, and he had terrible diaper rash.

Last night I had my first series of adoption stress dreams.

First I dreamt that when I went to the orphanage to pick up Annalea, they informed me that the birth mother wants to meet me. It turned out that the birth mother was an employee at the orphanage. She gave me a huge hug and told me to take good care of her.

Then later I had a dream that Annalea was home and I forgot that I had a baby. I came and went as usual only to come home and find her crying in her crib.

So, tell me. Am I the first one to have a stress dream about adoption? Maybe we need another poll?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

What should I do?

I just heard from my agency that it is ok to put Annalea's photos on this blog. Part of me wants to do it, but the other paranoid part wants to wait until what the call "Gotcha Day." I also think it is fun to create anticipation of seeing her photos.

I have a poll on the right where you can cast your vote as to what I should do. Please cast your vote!!

Good Riddance President Bush

Bush Commemorates Armenian ‘Tragedy’

April 25 /Armenialiberty.org/ By Emil Danielyan

U.S. President George W. Bush again declined to describe the mass killings and deportations of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as genocide on Friday as he commemorated the 93rd anniversary of “one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century.”

“As we reflect on this epic human tragedy, we must resolve to redouble our efforts to promote peace, tolerance, and respect for the dignity of human life,” Bush said in his annual address to the Armenian community in the United States. “The Armenian people’s unalterable determination to triumph over tragedy and flourish is a testament to their strength of character and spirit.”

“We welcome the efforts by individuals in Armenia and Turkey to foster reconciliation and peace, and support joint efforts for an open examination of the past in search of a shared understanding of these tragic events,” he added.

The two main Armenian-American advocacy groups were quick to express their disappointment with Bush’s continuing refusal to call the slaughter of an estimated 1.5 million Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Empire a genocide. They both recalled his 2000 pledge to recognize the genocide if elected president.

Bush has avoided using the politically sensitive term throughout his presidency, anxious not to antagonize Turkey, a key U.S. ally which vehemently denies that the 1915-1918 massacres constituted a genocide. He has also strongly opposed the passage of Armenian genocide resolutions by the U.S. Congress.

“This April 24, President Bush's last in office, he completed his eight-year long betrayal of his campaign commitment to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide," Aram Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) said in a statement. "The President not only failed to honor his promise to recognize the Armenian Genocide, but used the full force of his White House to block Congress from taking the very step he himself had pledged to undertake as a candidate for office.”

“In his final April 24 statement, President Bush missed the mark, which may account for the ongoing nature and escalation of threats of genocide around the world,” read a separate statement by the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA).

The AAA also criticized Bush for failing to mention an independent study on the issue initiated in 2002 by a group of prominent Armenians and Turks acting under the aegis of a U.S.-backed “reconciliation commission.” In a report released in February 2003, the New York-based International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) concluded that the mass killings and deportations of Armenians “include all of the elements of the crime of genocide” as defined by a 1948 UN convention.

Bush mentioned and praised the ICTJ study in his past April 24 statements. The AAA considers this an “indirect acknowledgement” of the genocide by the U.S. president.

Let's Pack!!

Being the organization freak I am, I am already making lists of things to pack. All I can say is that this is something you don't want to leave to the last few days before the trip. The agency provided us with a list of things to bring...I have shortened this list (believe it or not):

Electronics:

  • Video Camera
  • Camera
  • Ipod
  • Phone
  • Laptop
  • Chargers/USB: Cameras/Phone/Ipod
  • Plug adaptors

Clothing/Personal:

  • Women do not wear shorts…so I must pack capris and skirts. Thank goodness for those great CAbi reversible skirts!!
  • Men do not wear shorts (bummer for Kevin), so it’s khakis
  • Ryan’s clothes (luckily kids can where shorts!)
  • Ryan’s entertainment (game boy, dvd’s, books, toys)
  • Passports
  • Tickets
  • Meds: Pepto Bismol, Tylenol, Motrin, Benedryl, prescriptions

For baby (this part blows me away):

  • Diaper bag
  • Glycerin suppositories
  • Ora-jel for teething
  • Baby Tylenol - see doctor for dosage
  • Saline Solution
  • Snuggly for carrying (Ergo recommended by Moms)
  • Light stroller
  • Infant’s Benedryl- see doctor for dosage
  • Diaper rash ointment
  • Lotion/cream (Lotrimin for baby yeast infection)
  • Pediacare drops - see doctor for dosage
  • Bulb syringe
  • Diaper wipes (can buy diapers there)
  • 12-14 outfits (onesies, socks, shoes)
  • Washcloths
  • Burp cloths
  • Rectal thermometer/Vaseline
  • Blankets x 4
  • Paper disposable bibs
  • Hats
  • Shoes
  • Dosage spoon (dosage depends on weight of baby)
    Baby hairbrush
  • Soft toys
    Rattles/Pacifiers
  • 4-5 Standard bottles (attach nipple infant is used to – purchase there)
  • Bottle/Nipple Brush
  • Mylecon Drops (for gas pain)
  • Teething rings
  • Small toys and books can be purchased in Yerevan and make a nice momento.

Paperwork (very important…cannot complete adoption without these documents!!!)

  • Parents’ U.S. passports.
  • Birth certificates of each parent - original
  • All USCIS communications and completed forms (original I171H, I-600 form – your attorney will assist with the completion of the I-600 upon scheduling of your embassy appointment).
  • An original marriage certificate, if applicable.
  • Copies of their tax returns for the previous three years.
  • Proof of current employment. (recent pay stub or W-2)
  • An original approved and notarized home study with an agency license attached.


The trip less than 3 weeks away, and this list will be my sanity until then.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Milestone in the Making

The Significance of Adopting in Armenia

As you may have read in my first post, I am half Armenian. This ethnicity gave me the privilege of adopting from Armenia. I am grateful for that.

When we embarked on this journey, I began to have a renewed interest in my heritage. I began reading numerous books, mainly books about genocide survivors. Kevin calls me a "born again Armenian."

For those unfamiliar with Armenia's history, during World War 1, the Ottoman empire marched 1.5 million Armenians to the dessert and left them to perish. "Turkey for the Turks," was their motto.

Among Turks, there was a deep hatred for Armenians then (and perhaps even now). Both of my grandparents were from a village in Turkey called Baghin in the territory of Palou. Their stories are very sad and tragic. I have a recording of my aunt and mom recalling what they remember hearing from their parents about their experience, but unfortunately nothing directly from my grandparents, Markar and Khachkartoon Khimatian. My plan is to take those recordings and get the story on paper...some day.

In the meantime, my cousin's wife, a journalist, wrote a piece many years ago based on an interview with my Great Aunt (my grandfather's sister). Luckily this story has been preserved on the internet and I am able to access it simply by googling my grandfather's name. It is a very tragic story...one of many among diaspora Armenians.

The Armenian Genocide: Noyemzar will never forget

With only the cloudy afternoon light sifting through the windows, it feels like a day for which funerals are made. It seems fitting, almost planned. For the life story of an 88-year-old Armenian woman named Noyemzar Alexanian - and for most Armenians of her generation - is a story of death

By Linda J.P. Mahdesian

They came looking for rope. On a spring morning in 1915, the villagers of Baghin, Palou - an Armenian territory occupied by Turkey - awoke to the sight of the Kurdish cavalry surrounding them. "Nobody knew what was happening at first," says Grandma, my Armenian grandmother-in-law. "The Kurds were hired by the Turks to do their dirty work," says Avedis Mahdesian, my Armenian father-in-law. He's doing the tough job of translating her rapid-fire anguish into English.

Sitting at the edge of the couch in her tiny living room, Grandma's telling me the story of her life. With only the cloudy afternoon light sifting through the windows, it feels like a day for which funerals are made. It seems fitting, almost planned. For the life story of an 88-year-old Armenian woman named Noyemzar Alexanian - and for most Armenians of her generation - is a story of death.

The soldiers went from house to house asking for rope. After that they took the males, 15 and older and collected them. "They used the rope to tie their hands," says Grandma.

The men and teen-aged boys were taken to a distant field and stabbed to death. "I remember my father and three other people from Baghin being taken away to be killed by the Kurds, and my mother is yelling, `Please help! Please help!' as they're taking him away. A friendly Kurd later told my mother that my father begged to be shot, not butchered," says Grandma. The 6-year-old Noyemzar watched the white shirt of her father as he was led up a mountainside by the soldiers. The white shirt became a white dot, and then it was gone.

Baidzar Khimatian took her four children - her daughters Noyemzar, Satenig and Zevart, her son, Markar - and her mother to a friendly Kurdish family's house in a nearby village. One day they heard a knock at the door. A Turkish soldier entered and ordered all the Armenians - women and children - into a caravan to be taken away and killed.

Before being herded into the caravan, Baidzar gave two gold coins to a friendly Kurd and persuaded him to keep two of her children, Noyemzar and Satenig. In the panic and confusion, little Zevart disappeared. "She's lost," says Grandma, raising her hands in a plea.

As the caravan arrived at the village where they were to be killed, Baidzar pleaded with the Kurdish leader of that village to spare her life and the lives of her son Markar and her mother. The leader agreed. He spared the lives of many other Armenians, including numerous families from Baghin.

The Khimatian family was still divided between two villages, almost 10 miles apart. They could only visit by getting permission from the Kurds. Noyemzar was only 6, yet she was the mother to her little sister, Satenig, who suffered from chronic stomach problems. "She died in that Kurdish village," says Grandma, stroking the couch cushion.

One day, her brother, Markar, and his friend, Hovagim Hagopian, came to take Noyemzar to visit her mother. Along the way, Hovagim told her, "Learn the way so you can escape from where you are." After a Kurd brought Noyemzar back to where she was staying, she made up her mind to escape the next day. "It was a cloudy, rainy day, like this," says Grandma, motioning toward the window. "I ran and ran and ran." This 6-year-old, frightened girl ran for miles across wolf-infested fields and mountainous landscapes and miraculously reached the village where her mother was staying.

Baidzar's brother, Hovsep, who worked in the village, came to their house one day and told his sister that the Kurds had beaten him. "My mother gave gold coins to my uncle so he could escape to Kharpert," says Grandma. Markar also escaped to Kharpert, a town with orphanages for the children of refugees.

By this time, Noyemzar was about 8 years old. Her mother asked for permission to visit Markar and Hovsep in Kharpert, and told little Noyemzar to escape to her aunt's house in another village. Fifteen days later, Noyemzar's aunt found a friendly Kurd to take her young niece to Kharpert.

The year was 1919 and the Turkish government was relocating the Armenian refugees out of Turkish-occupied territories, including Kharpert, and into Syria. Noyemzar, Baidzar, Markar, and Baidzar's mother were herded once again into wagons, bound for Aleppo, Syria. They stayed only a few weeks before being herded into caravans to orphanages in the villages near Beirut, Lebanon. Eventually her mother and brother and grandmother tracked her down, with their sites set on America - via Marseilles, France, and Havana, Cuba.

Fifteen-year-old Noyemzar and her family arrived in Cuba on Aug. 31, 1924. Before that year, the United States had no quotas on the numbers of Turkish citizens (Armenians were considered citizens of Turkey) entering the country. But that year, the U.S. government virtually slammed the door shut, leaving hundreds of thousands of Armenian refugees stranded in Cuba.

While in Cuba, Noyemzar, at age 22, married fellow refugee and shoemaker Krikor Alexanian. While a boy, Krikor had seen his own father shot by a Turkish soldier.

My father-in-law is standing at the window, getting ready to leave. "To this day, the Turks deny the genocide," he says. "They call it actions taken during wartime."

The Armenian Genocide began on April 24, 1915, during World War I. "They rounded up all the Armenian intelligentsia - all the professors, the government leaders, the priests - and they hung them in the public square," Avedis says pacing. By 1923, more than 1.5 million people were slaughtered. When Hitler was planning his genocide of the Jews and others in the 1930s, his rationale was "Who today remembers the Armenians?"

Grandma shows me a photograph of an elaborate white crocheted tablecloth. The lacelike design is covered with angels blowing trumpets. I ask her when she learned to crochet. "In Cuba," she says. "I look, I make - nobody teaches me."


One of my deepest memories of my childhood was hearing my grandfather tell me how the Turkish government denies there was a genocide. That was 40 years ago...and still to this day, they still claim that a genocide never occurred, claiming that Armenian deaths were the result of casualties of war. This denial is just one of the things that hinders their ability to join the European Union.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide which began in 1915. Every year this date is recognized around the world. In Armenia there is a "Genocide Memorial" where 1.5 million flowers were laid for for 1.5 victims.














Thursday, April 24, 2008

Attachment

I've been reading some articles about attachment and bonding with adopted children. There are no surprises, but there are some recommendations that are made that one may not consider. Having had my first child biologically, there were no issues surrounding bonding. I nursed Ryan for the first year--you can't get much closer than that.

With adopted children, however, the journey to attachment requires special attention and tactics. Of all the articles on this subject, I found the one by Mary Chesney of the University of Minnesota to be the most comprehensive and reasonable.

I thought I would post the recommendations from that article here for the benefit of family members and friends who will be meeting Annalea over the next few months. Hopefully this will help you understand the importance of bonding and why we engage in certain behaviors to foster the process.

The recommendations from the University of Minnesota article for infants 6-9 months of age:


Our list of recommendations is based on the collective years of experience of our team of adoption health care specialists and has evolved over time. In presenting these recommendations, I would like to acknowledge the collaborative contributions of my clinic colleagues, Dana Johnson, MD, PhD, Angela Sidler, MD, Stacene Maroushek, MD, Kay Dole, OTR, Sandy Iverson, RN, CNP, Mary Jo Spencer, RN, CNP, and Maria Kroupina, PhD. "



  • We recommend a low-keyed arrival scene as you return home from your child's country of origin. It is usually best to avoid having a large crowd greet you. Your child should stay in your arms and should not be passed to others.


  • Develop daily routines and rituals, and stick to them as much as possible. In keeping mealtimes, bedtimes and playtimes consistent, your child will begin to feel that each day has a predictability and structure to it. This is comforting for the child who is experiencing a period of incredible change and transition from orphanage to adoptive family.

  • We recommend that parents, as much as possible, be the only persons to feed, change, bathe, dress, rock to sleep, or comfort their child. We think it is helpful for your newly adopted child to practice having needs consistently met by you, the parent.


  • When extended family members or friends bring gifts for your child, we recommend that you have your child sit with you and that you hand the gift to your child or assist your child in opening the gift. You may want to say something like "Look, Annie. Grandma brought you a present. You may open it now."


  • In the beginning, you may want to advise relatives and friends ahead of time that they should ask your permission to pick up your child or do an activity with your child. Each time they ask permission, your child is hearing them reference you as the important decision-maker for activities that involve your child. This may provide your child with practice in referencing you before embarking on a new experience.


  • In large group gatherings, like adoption shower parties, let guests know ahead of time that you will be holding your child and that you will not be passing your child around from person to person. Overall, we advise avoiding large group gatherings during your child's first few months home. A previously institutionalized child does not need trips to Disneyworld or a day of shopping at the mall. What he or she needs more than anything is lots of concentrated one-on-one time with a warm, loving and sensitive parent.

  • Spend as much one-on-one time with your child as possible. Your child does not need to be surrounded by lots of toys. In fact, being surrounded by too many toys and an overly stimulating environment may be overwhelming. Instead, choose one or two toys and get down on the floor with your child, and play with the toys in an interactive manner with your child. Use lots of facial expressions and face-to-face gestures like peek-a-boo or rubbing noses together. Watch your child for cues that he or she may be getting overwhelmed or tired, and then switch to a soothing, comforting activity such as rocking your child.


    We believe that all of these steps may assist your child in seeing you as the essential "gatekeeper(s)" through which all good things in life come. The goal is to help your child realize that you are the one(s) to meet his or her needs, to be trusted, and with whom to seek close contact.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Paper Chase

Seeing how I was so late in starting this blog, I thought I would give you an idea of the intensity of gathering paperwork for an Armenian adoption. Here is a list of the documents we had to gather to get approved:

Before you can even submit a dossier, you must complete the home study. Before the social worker will even come to your home, you must compile the following documents.

Home Study Documents:

  1. Police clearance fingerprinting completed

  2. Approved sanitary survey from Health Department

  3. Approved fire safety inspection (by fire department -- we had to provide them with a written escape plan in case of fire)

  4. School Adjustment Report (for Ryan)

  5. Photocopy of notarized protective services releases

  6. Photocopy of child support authorization

  7. Completed medical reports

  8. Reference letters (3)

  9. Statement of net worth

  10. Verification of employment

  11. First two pages of most recent federal income tax return

  12. Birth certificates

  13. Marriage license

  14. Department of Motor Vehicles Clearance (from both Maryland and RI)

  15. Home safety checklist

  16. Home firearm checklist (not applicable)

  17. Guardianship statement (who will care for your children should you die)

  18. Signed home study agreement

  19. Acknowledgement of receipt of adoption assistance handbook

  20. Completion of international adoption training




The Dossier Document List for Armenia (some redundancies exist from home study):



  1. A letter addressed to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, requesting adoption of a child or children from Armenia, signed by both spouses.

  2. Copy of Passports for both spouses.

  3. Certified Copy of Birth Certificates for both spouses

  4. I-171H letter from INS stating approval to adopt from Armenia and that the cable has been sent to YEREVAN.

  5. Home study approved by your state of residence with a notarized agency license attached to the back.

  6. Description of personal residence along with the information on the members of the family.

  7. Letter from your place of employment stating your position and salary for both spouses (if applicable).

  8. Three letters of recommendation including: Employment, leaders of the community and/or church. The person writing the reference letter must have their signature notarized, certified, apostille.

  9. Letter from a Certified Public Accountant on the financial status and solvency of the applicants. – listing Assets and Liabilities.

  10. Copies of 1040 Forms for the previous three tax years. Certificate of True and Accurate Copy provided.

  11. Health status report from a physician for both spouses.

  12. Local Police Clearance for both parents. Certificate of True and Accurate Copy provided.

  13. Certified copy of Marriage Certificate, if married. If divorced or widowed, a certified death certificate or certified divorce decree is required.

  14. A photo page depicting your family, home, work, church, pets. Place 8-12 photos on 2 pages color copy with room for captions and translations explaining who and what is happening in the photos. Certificate of True and Accurate Copy provided.


Documents should be freshly issued within 6 months of submission of dossier. Example: Do not use your birth certificate that was given to your mother upon your birth. Request all new documents as listed above. Upon collection of these documents, the applicant must 1. Notarize, 2. County certify and 3. Apostille each document in your state of residence or the document’s state of origin.



Collecting these documents was as you can imagine a job in itself. I wonder how people who work for a living do it. I have a file drawer dedicated to our adoption. You really have to be organized to pull this off efficiently.



The favorite part to put together was our photo page for our dossier, which is #14 on the list. Here is what it looks like:






Sunday, April 20, 2008

"Me" Time

A friend of mine has informed me that she had the perfect nanny for me. A nanny??? But I thought that now that I am a stay at home mom I don't need a nanny, right? I immediately said no way...I'm going to be the sole caretaker of her, and besides, that will help with the bonding experience, right?

Then one day a couple of weeks ago, I agreed to watch my friend's 18 month daughter, who is, by the way, from Armenia and a delightful little girl. After a few hours I realized that maybe I will need to reconsider this nanny thing. I have forgotten that with Ryan I worked and had my mom close by, so I had plenty of opportunities to have that "me" time. And then by the time I quit my job and moved to DC, Ryan was old enough for preschool. But today I am unemployed and my mom is 400 miles away. Yes, I will investigate this nanny idea after all.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Annalea is almost ours!!!!

So we got the news on Friday that the the adoption decree has been signed and stamped by the judge. After the 30 day "appeal period" we can travel to Armenia and take custody of Annalea.

We are going as a family...Kevin, Ryan and myself. The trip will take about 10 days. I'm not exactly sure what we will be doing, but I think we'll be signing alot of papers and getting a lot of official stamps from various ministries. We will also be doing some sightseeing.

The good news is that the nursery is done. We are using Ryan's furniture, and then I splurged on the other stuff:






We still have to install the Elfa shelving system in her closet, which by the way I swear by. Then I will fell better. Organization is key to my sanity, really.



Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hair Removal -- Back to the Dark Ages

Yesterday I went to see Lubna, a lady I met at our pool club who lives in my neighborhood. She is an estetician of Indian decent who works out of her basement. I heard that she does great facials and also does waxing. Without boring you with my grooming habits, let's just say that I have never had my eyebrows professionally done before. Frankly, I was tired of going to the nail salon and having the girls tell me, "You need eyebrow wax." But I refuse to give a nail technician access to my face. Seriously, I needed to do this so I could go get my nails done in peace.

Lubna asked me if I wanted waxing or threading. I had heard of threading, but didn't know much at all. She recommended the threading, so I went with it. It is an ancient method of facial hair removal that originated in, of all places, Turkey. It is very popular in Middle Eastern and Asian countries, but not as readily available in the West, except in major metropolitan areas.

The result was amazing...why hadn't I done this sooner? If you can find someone who is experienced in this practice, I recommend it highly.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Surprise!!!

Over the weekend we had out of town visitors. My friend Nancy and her son George and daughter Serine drove up from Wilmington, NC. I met Nancy through our adoption agency. Until very recently she lived in Arlington, VA. Ironically, we both have bio sons the same age and were both adopting girls from Armenia. She completed her adoption about a year ago, and her daughter is now 18 months old.

Another thing to know about Nancy is that she is a pretty liberal democrat. Not that there's anything wrong with it! She is still welcome in our home. About a week before her visit, she indicated to me that living in NC has been an adjustment and that she may need to be around some dems while she is visiting. "Of course!" I said. "I know the perfect couple...Tammi and Jamie!!" Jamie used to work for Kerry and is now a lobbiest. And he is from Massachusetts, just like her. Yes, this will be a fun evening. I called Tammi, and was happy to hear she thought it was a great idea, and why don't we go to her place? Fine with me...I don't mind having someone else doing the entertaining. So we show up on Saturday at 2:00, only to find that they had planned a surprise shower for us. Of course, it took me a few minutes to figure it out...I just thought she decided to invite more democrats (and a few republicans). Seriously, I was overwhelmingly touched. Here we are with Tammi Jamie and family after the party wound down. That little guy hugging Ryan is Nancy's son, George.


Let's catch you up!!

Well I am finally getting around to recording our experiences...although I have to admit I wish I had started this blog a year ago. So the purpose of this post is to bring you up to speed on what we are up to in our adoption adventure.

In 2006, my husband Kevin and I decided to pursue an international adoption. We have one child already (bio child, which is adoption speak) who is 7 years old. Ryan, who is the joy of our life, started asking about when he will get a brother or sister at the age of 5. It was difficult to explain to him why it's not so easy for us. I would tell him "Mommy is too old," which is true if you want to do it the old fashioned way. I had Ryan at the ripe old age of 41, so you do the math if you are so inclined.

So I started researching different programs and kept hitting road blocks, mainly because of our age. We really wanted to adopt an infant (me more than Kevin), and none of the countries we investigated would accept parents over the age of 45. So one Saturday morning in November 2006, Kevin and I were relaxing in our very quiet house (Ryan had a sleepover the night before at a friend's house). "It is way to quiet around here," I said to Kevin as I logged on the computer to start researching adoption again. That is when Kevin suggested I investigate Armenia. In all of the agencies I looked at, none of them offered Armenia as an option, so I had assumed they didn't have a program. So I simply googled "Armenian adoption" and that is when our adventure began.

There are not many adoptions done in Armenia, in fact there were only about 19 orphan visas granted in 2006. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, there are not many available children. And second, up until recently, Armenia would only approve adoptions if at least one parent had Armenian heritage. Lucky for us, I am half Armenian AND one can adopt an infant as long as the mother is 49 or under.

The Paper Chase

We decided to go with a very new and small agency called Hopscotch Adoptions. When I first interviewed them, their website wasn't even up yet. But the agency director, Robin Sizemore, has over a decade of experience in this country, and has the best in-country facilitator. I felt very comfortable with our decision.

Robin immediately flooded me with all types of forms that had to be completed and a list of documents needed for our dossier. In addition to compiling these documents (about 20 in all) we had to complete a home study. We hired a local agency to do this. This was also a very paper intensive process and required many visits from a social worker. The purpose of a home study is to determine if the family is fit to adopt. If only this were done for people before they became pregnant!!

The home study took 3 months, so we were ready to submit our dossier in March. Three months later, we had approval from the Armenian government to adopt an orphan from their country.

Our "Referral"

In December 2007, Kevin and I traveled to Yerevan, Armenia, to meet Annalea. I was unfortunately sick and did not get to hold her very much. But Kevin did and it was a wonderful bonding experience for him. She even looks like his daughter!! We loved our stay in Armenia and the people we met.

So today we are waiting to travel to pick up our precious daughter, who is now 7 months old. We expect to be traveling in mid-May. As we get updates on our plans and preparation, we will post here.

Thanks for reading!!