A total of 24 questions were asked in my first ever blog giveaway! I don’t have a cute little helper to assist me by pulling a name out of a hat (and trust me, the options with the beagles were not promising), so I used an online random number selector to determine the winner.
So, without further delay, the lucky lady is…
I would have loved for any one of you to have won this sweater, but I am tickled that this particular mama has won. I think she’s been in need of a little boost lately. And Spencer will be an adorable little guy to knit for! (Seriously, he’s such a cutie-pie.) I have noticed that Spencer is always very stylishly dressed, so I’ll have to be sure to come up with something that will fit into his super-cool wardrobe!
Now, sit back, put your feet up, grab a favorite beverage of choice, and get comfortable. I really enjoyed thinking through this great mix of questions, and I’ve provided my answers here. I tried to be concise, but, well, I’m just not very good at that. Be warned that this is a long post!
1. Kelly asked: Will your future little Ethiopian take Craig’s last name, your last name, or a hyphenated version?
This is an easy one, because I took Craig’s last name when we got married. I guess I’m a traditional girl at heart. I remember having a conversation with my dad about this and he asked if I was going to keep my maiden name as my middle name. I said no, I was keeping Elizabeth as my middle name, because it was a family name (my grandmother’s name and just about every other female relative on my mom’s side of the family). He said, “Oh, and [maiden name] isn’t a family name?” I suppose he had a good point. 🙂 But he wasn’t arguing, he was just asking. I stuck with Elizabeth.
2. Sue: Why did you choose Ethiopia?
Honestly, Ethiopia was not our first choice… at first, that is. I had long thought that someday we might adopt a girl from China. I have actually thought that for years and years, but I think I had always assumed we would have a couple of biological children and then adopt if we wanted to expand our family. (I’m sort of into the zero population growth thing.) And to those unfamiliar with international adoption, China is one of the programs you hear about the most. Anyway, we learned that the wait to adopt from China was years and years long. The next country that came to us was South Korea. (This is why I have so many bloggy friends who have adopted/are adopting from South Korea, like you, Sue!) We were comfortable with the long, stable status of adoptions from South Korea, the good medical care the children receive, and the fact that the babies are in foster homes instead of orphanages. So, we actually started the process to adopt from South Korea. We were later told (by multiple agencies) that we could not proceed with an adoption from South Korea because I had taken antidepressants for a few months after our second miscarriage and my balanced translocation diagnosis. This was a devastating blow, but we figured it meant we needed to go somewhere else to find our child. Throughout the research we had done and the various agency meetings we attended, Ethiopia kept coming up time and time again. So, we decided to look into it further and found that it really seemed like a good fit for us. We enjoyed learning about the culture and we saw a tremendous amount of need. So, it’s something we sort of fell into. And of course now we feel like it’s the perfect fit for our family.
3. Barbara: What is your favourite Ethiopian dish…and do you have a recipe you can post?
I’d have to say that at this point my favorite Ethipiopian dishes are the wots. These are spicy stew-type dishes served with injera, the sour, pancake-type bread used to scoop up the food. I think my favorite is doro wot (chicken), but I’ve also really enjoyed the lentil (yemesir wot) and potato (denich wot, I think) varieties. As for recipes, we have acquired a cookbook but we haven’t tried the cooking just yet. I think we need to make a trip to Little Ethiopia in DC to obtain some of the spices. I will be sure to share our cooking adventures with you! I’m a bit disappointed in ourselves that we haven’t tried any of the cooking yet. It was one of my winter goals, and here we are just a day away from March…
4. Eileen: After your little one arrives home, do you plan to return to work full-time (or part-time)? If so, what are your childcare plans?
Oh, this is an issue I think about a lot. I would love to stay home with our child for as long as I can. We are honestly not sure, however, if we can really make it work for too long, financially-speaking. With my current job, I don’t get any paid time off (other than accumulated sick/vacation time) and FMLA does not apply, so they would not have to hold my job for me. Plus, I am pretty unhappy there. So, if I am still in this job at the time we bring our child home, the plan is for me to quit and then look for something new if we decide I need to. I am also in the process of looking for a new job right now, and if I do make a change, I hope for it to be soon so that I can get a year in before we travel. That way I could qualify for family leave. If I do need to work, we would really try to find a part-time situation if at all possible. If we need childcare, I would love to find a nanny-share type of situation or use a home-based daycare provider. Really, at this point it’s just not clear to us. At minimum I would want 3-4 months at home before returning to any type of work. Craig is also saving up his time off so that he can have a good chunk of time at home as well. Really, all we need to do is win the lottery and then the problem will be solved. 🙂
5. Kris: Will you be traveling to Ethiopia to bring your child home and if so, how long is the trip?
Yes, we will be traveling to Ethiopia! We are very excited about it. We love to travel and explore new places, and we really look forward to being able to see some of our child’s country and culture first-hand. The trip will be primarily to Addis Ababa, the capital city. We will get to meet our child’s caretakers and see where he or she has been living. Also, our agency arranges meetings with the birth family whenever possible, so that will be an incredible experience as well. Assuming there is family to meet with, we will take a one or two day trip to their town. The standard trip is about a week long, but if we can work it out, we would like to go a few days early to explore some more of the country than we will be able to with our new little one in tow! I have to say, if you had asked me a few years ago for the top places I’d like to visit, Ethiopia would not have been in the top ten or even twenty. But now it is definitely #1 on the list!
6. A.J.: I’d like to know what you’re most looking forward to teaching your child?
Hmmm… Craig has a very scientific mind. He is a software engineer and I’m sure anything computer-related will be exciting for him to share with our child. As for me, I think I look forward to things like teaching about trees and flowers and animals… the nature side of things. And I also get excited about thinking about simple things like reading, counting, and colors. That seems like it will be so much fun.
7. Emily B: When did you start knitting and who taught you?
I actually took a class at a local yarn store about three years ago, after I witnessed a friend enjoying her knitting hobby. We were in the throes of infertility at the time and I really needed something new and productive to focus on, and to feel like I could learn and accomplish something when I felt like I was failing pretty miserably at the rest of life. I like having projects to work on, although I’m not always the best at actually working on my projects! Alas, my wrap has been sitting on the coffee table for weeks now, untouched. (This was one motivation for this giveaway, to get me moving on something new.)
8. Elizabeth: What book from your childhood will you insist on reading to your little one?
Hands down, Goodnight Moon. It was my favorite as a child and I still love it!
9. Belinda: How long from your referral until you get to travel to Ethiopia and how long do you stay there?
The official answer from our agency is that we will travel 2-6 months after we accept a referral. It seems like most families these days are traveling in the 3-4 month range. There are a lot of steps that have to take place after referral on both the Ethiopian end and the US end, so it’s a bit hard to say for sure. When we travel, we will only have a couple of weeks notice, and we will be there for about a week.
10. Emily W: What was your favorite class in college and why?
Many may not know that my bachelor’s degree is in landscape architecture. (I also have a professional landscape architecture license – who knew?!) So, the bulk of my classes related to design concepts, plants, and so on. While this wasn’t the class that I did the best in, I’d have to say one of my favorite classes was Woody Plant Identification. (Yes, it’s okay if you laugh at that.) My program was in the School of Agriculture’s Department of Horticulture (keep on laughing – I graduated alongside people with majors such as swine management) and in this class we basically walked around campus for a few hours a week and looked at trees and shrubs. That type of class beats listening to a lecture any day of the week! The exams were hard, though, because basically the professor would put out a tiny piece of bark and we’d have to identify it (scientific names, too, of course). Yikes. The other class that stands out in my mind was Regional Design, which makes sense since I was mostly interested in larger scale land planning instead of planting design. I remember one of our projects was to conceptually lay out a trail system along a local river, so we got to hike around through the woods.
11. Christine: Do you foresee, or want to, become more involved with animal rescue/shelters at some point?
As I’ve mentioned before, I sit on the board of directors of the nonprofit that runs our city’s animal shelter. The shelter takes in an astonishing 11,000 dogs and cats every year. It is a really staggering volume. While I am quite committed to the cause, I’m not sure if I ever see myself working – as opposed to volunteering – for a shelter or rescue. I’m honestly not sure if I have what it takes to be on the forefront of that type of work on a daily basis. It is so difficult and emotional. I think I am probably most useful in a behind-the-scenes type of role as I am now. I can do my part to make sure that the organization operates as it should, and I pitch in wherever I can to make sure that we’re saving as many animals as we can. Right now I am the secretary of the board, chair of the program committee, a member of the development committee, and de facto co- legal counsel. It’s a lot to tackle on top of my regular job, but it’s definitely something that makes me feel good. Now, if only we could find that magic pot of money so we could build a new shelter and hire more employees and save more animals!
12. Mary: What has been the hardest part of the adoption process for you so far, and why?
The hardest part about this process so far has been the complete and utter lack of control I have over it! I really struggled through parts of the home study and dossier process because there were things that I just couldn’t make happen the way I wanted them to. (For example, failing the fire inspection… and failing the health inspection… and the incompetent people at our doctors’ offices… and so on.) I am very much a Type A, organized, semi-obsessive-compulsive personality, and the adoption process has not at all fit into my way of doing things! I’m sure if you ask me this question again in several months I will change my answer and say that the waiting is the hardest part. But at this point, our referral is still so far off that I’m not obsessing about it too much.
13. Jodi: What is your favorite movie of all time?
Oh, I love movies, so this is a tough one. I’m not sure if I have an absolute favorite, but one that really stands out to me is The Silence of the Lambs. Soooo creepy! I remember my dad being really upset that I went to see it because I was only 16 and I got into an R-rated movie! But really, that’s about the worst thing I ever did as a teenager, so he didn’t have much to complain about. I really enjoy all types of movies. One of my recent favorites is Up in the Air.
14. Krista: Remind us – how did you meet your husband?
I am actually not sure I have ever shared that on the blog! Craig and I met in college at Purdue University. Get ready to laugh again… because we were both in the marching band. I played clarinet and he played cymbals. We actually do not really know exactly when we first met because we ran in similar circles. However, we got to know each other well when he was in his last year and I was on a co-op year between my 3rd and 4th years. I was working in Austin, Texas, and his family was in Dallas. We had a mutual friend (Stephen, who is now the proud dad to an Ethiopian darling!) who had graduated and was working in Dallas, and he and I would sometimes visit each other on weekends since neither of us knew many people. Craig would sometimes be around if he was visiting his family in Dallas. We all celebrated New Year’s Eve 1996/1997 together, and Craig and I ended up talking on the balcony of my Austin apartment into the wee hours. We communicated a lot over email over the next few months and then finally started a real romance over Memorial Day weekend 1997. And the rest is history…
15. Zoe: What do you want your life to look like five years from now?
Five years from now, I would like to see us with two children, living closer to family. My family seems to be centering in on the Denver area (which we both love), so it’s something we plan to explore. I’ve already found some families in that area who have adopted from Ethiopia, so that’s great. Diversity will be very important in any move that we make, though, and it’s hard to beat the diversity of Baltimore. Professionally, I’m honestly not sure. If I am working (and see above on that), I would like to see myself working in a more regulatory capacity with more of a focus on environmental and/or smart growth legal issues. I decided to pursue a legal career to work in those areas, but I’m not afforded much opportunity to do so in my current position.
16. Erin: How do you plan on telling your grandma whom you felt would not understand you adopting much less adopting from a foreign country?
You have a great memory, Erin! My grandmother will turn 95 in just a couple of weeks (Go, Grandma!) and she’s still pretty sharp most of the time. We have talked (loosely) about our adoption plans, and she is pretty cool with the idea, but the part I haven’t been so comfortable sharing is that not only are we adopting internationally, but also that we’re adopting transracially. For now, I have just left that out of the equation. She asks what’s happening and I tell her that we have finished all of our paperwork and we have to wait probably another year for a baby. To be honest, I’m sort of waiting until I know she really needs to know. Not to be morbid or anything, but she might not be here in another year. (Although she’s in pretty darn good shape!) I know she wants the best for me and she is eager for us to have our baby. She dealt with fertility problems decades ago and we’ve had some interesting conversations about it, but she has also given me the good old line about how we’ll get pregnant now since we’re adopting. I am just not sure she will understand why we made some of the choices we did, but when the time comes, I will tell her all about it. I will probably just call her and say something like, “Grandma, we’ve got great news! There’s a baby in Ethiopia and we’re going to get him or her!” At that point I’ll be able to tell her things like how old the baby will be and even send her a photo. It will be more concrete then. I know she will be supportive, but she has not had a whole lot of diversity in her life. Now, this reminds me that I need to plan my annual spring trip to visit her…
17. Jenn: If you get a referral for a baby, do you pick his/her name or will your child already have a name?
This issue has been on my mind a great deal lately, so it’s a timely question! I plan to do a post on this sometime soon. Our child will definitely already have a name. Depending on his or her circumstances, it could be a name given by his or her birth family or it could be a name given by someone at the orphanage or with the government. But yes, there will be a name. So then the question to us is whether we keep that name or give him or her a new name. We plan to definitely keep his or her first name in some way. Many people give a new first name and keep the given name as a middle name. Many others feel that we shouldn’t change the name that was given by birth parents. Also, Ethiopian names have a lot of meaning to them. I’m honestly not sure where we fall on this issue yet. I hope to post on this soon and get some feedback. There are definitely strong opinions on both sides of this issue, so we’ll just have to figure out what works best for us and of course our child.
18. Leah: Why did you and your hubby decide on Ethiopia?
19. Amber: How did you choose Ethiopia?
20. Rain: If you knew at the beginning of your journey what you know now, what would you change?
I think the change I would make would be starting on the journey earlier! I often think that if we had gone straight to Ethiopia instead of South Korea, we would be six months further into this process. But, I know the process has unfolded this way for a reason, and that’s because the timing will be right for us to be matched with the child meant to be a part of our family. Also, while I would NOT change our agency, I wish that we had done more research up front about the various agencies. To be honest, we sort of lucked out by being repeatedly guided to WHFC, which is one of the most highly regarded agencies in Ethiopia. Research would not have changed our choice, but I recognize that we were lucky that it was this agency we kept hearing about and not others. I shudder to think about what we’d be going through if we had started off with a couple of other agencies that we’ve heard terrible things about.
21. Heidi: What is your favorite inspirational quote?
“But if I am for myself only, what am I?” by Rabbi Hillel is a favorite. While a lot of the time I feel like my life is pretty darn self-centered, I do try to make my life about more than me. In my job I help people who could not otherwise afford legal services, and I volunteer my time and energy to help animals. I try to respect our environment and protect it for future generations. I try to keep the bigger picture in mind as much as I can.
22. Courtney: Would you rather get a shot or be stung by a bee… and why?
This one made me laugh! Let’s see… I’d say I’d rather get a shot. I’m not afraid of them since I know they are coming, and needles don’t bother me much. (I just look away.) With bees, I get sort of worked up with fear about whether or not they’re going to sting! And my mom once accidentally got a yellow jacket in her mouth (it had flown into a drink that she then took a sip of), and that sounded pretty terrible to me!
23. Janet: How long have you been knitting & what self-knitted items (something you made for yourself) do you wear on a regular basis?
I have been knitting for just about exactly three years. Since it’s winter time, I have easy answers to this question. I have three scarves that I rotate wearing based on my coat and outfit selection. I also have a couple of hats that I wear as well. The item I wear the most is actually the very first thing I ever made – a simple scarf in a great blue and green color mix.
24. Jenny: Do you have your baby bedding picked out yet?
No, we don’t. To be honest, we don’t have anything baby-related, aside from my cool Ethiopian flag blanket, a stuffed lamb, and the giveaways I recently won. I haven’t been able to get myself to pick things out or start getting things together. I don’t think we will do anything nursery-related until we have a referral in hand. And it’s hard for me to think of looking at a bunch of baby items when we still have so long to wait. I guess I’m a bit superstitious, and I also think that we will have more fun pulling it all together when we know who our baby is! I do know that we tend to prefer more gender-neutral color schemes – greens and yellows and oranges already play a central role in our home decor – and also that we like stripes and dots and things like that. I did a tiny bit of looking when I was first pregnant, and I saw some really cute stuff! I’m sure it will be fun to pick out someday, when we’re ready to take that step.
Congratulations if you have made it all the way through this! Good grief. Thanks for the great questions and for playing along. This was fun for me, and hopefully fun for you as well!
Christine, I will be in touch!