I can hardly believe it’s already New Year’s Eve. This year has gone by in a rush, but a beautiful rush, for it was the rush that brought us Elvie, that got her home, that got her well. We have worked hard this year, but it couldn’t have been for a better or brighter reason. To say that we are better off now as a result of Elvie’s entrance into our lives is an understatement. We are so lucky to be her family. When I look back on the year, I am grateful for everything that has happened to bring Elvie home to us. For memory’s sake, I made up a little timeline of important days on our journey to Elvie. I want to remember this year and all that happened. It has been full of magic and miracles.
February 11 Elvie is born in a hospital in northern Ethiopia. We have been in San Francisco just over a month and are starting to get documents together for our next adoption, but feel like it won’t happen soon. Little do we know, things are about to take off.
March 14 I see a link on an online adoptive family group, and I follow it, where I learn about a baby with a rare medical need which affects the physical structure of her lower body and could affect the functioning of her major organs as well. I send an email to be allowed access to further information about her, and we receive a password. With Zinashi sitting on my lap, I see her face for the first time, and Zinashi asks if that’s her baby sister. I say, “I don’t know, but I hope so.” I talk to Jarod about inquiring further about being her family and send another email to let the agency know that we are interested in the possibility of adopting her.
March 15 I speak to an adoption agency representative about Elvie and her needs. We know that her diagnosis is rare, and that each case is different, but that she will need at least one major surgery and then follow up care. Having intended from the start to be a family to a child whose needs might be a little more challenging, we fill out an application to officially be considered as a family for Elvie. From that date forward, I send emails back and forth with the agency representative, confirming our desire to be Elvie’s family and letting her know what resources we have available to meet Elvie’s needs.
April 9 After receiving more information from Ethiopia and having it reviewed by a doctor in the US, the agency representative calls to discuss that with me. We basically have no more information than we had prior to the additional information being reviewed, and I tell the representative that we don’t care, we are comfortable facing the unknown. Right then, the agency representative says, “Well, then we would like to ask you and Jarod to be her parents.” I say yes without consulting Jarod because I know that he will agree, too. Documents are sent over, and we begin to gather all the paperwork we need to work with the agency and have our dossier submitted to the Ethiopian courts.
April 30 We overnight all our documents to the agency so they can be forwarded to Ethiopia and submitted to the courts. We settle in for a bit of a wait while everything is delivered, translated, and presented. In the meantime, the agency representatives work together with both the courts and embassy to have Elvie’s case expedited due to her medical need.
May 29 Though we haven’t received confirmation of a court date yet, the courts have offered us any day we choose, so we go ahead and book plane tickets to get us to Ethiopia for a June 25 court date. We start to count down, and I start to throw things into suitcases and worry about not taking the right stuff. I meet with an international adoption doctor to consult about care while we travel with Elvie. We gather everything we think we’ll need, and in the middle of it, receive confirmation that our court date is indeed June 25.
June 21 We board a flight from San Francisco to Dubai, then spend a night in Dubai, after which we fly to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
June 23 We land in Addis Ababa, check into our hotel, change and freshen up, then go straight to the care center. We meet Elvie for the first time and are then able to spend time with her Ethiopian family. This day is a gift that I will treasure always.
June 25 We say yes to being Elvie’s family in Ethiopian court, and the judge declares that she is ours. We head back to the hotel, change out of our fancy clothes, and go to the care center to get our girl. We walk out with her wrapped in a borrowed blanket. We are a family of four. At the hotel, we undress our baby in order to put her in clothes that belong to her and discover that all the layers she was wrapped in were hiding the fact that she is incredibly malnourished. We begin a wild goose chase, with the help of our international adoption doctor from afar, to take her to a doctor who can confirm that she is healthy enough to fly. The third doctor is the charm, and we receive confirmation that she will need care as soon as we arrive home, but she will be okay for the duration of our remaining time in Ethiopia and the flight.
July 2 We have our visa interview at the US Embassy and are approved to bring Elvie home. An agency representative must pick up the visa the next day, and then we will be free to leave Ethiopia, in plenty of time to keep our flight plans four days later.
July 6 We depart Ethiopia, with Elvie getting weaker by the day. We feed her with a medicine dropper all the way home because she can no longer suck on the bottle.
July 7 In the late afternoon, we arrive home, exhausted but happy to have made it. Elvie, as if recognizing that this is home, finally, rallies and begins to eat from a bottle again.
July 9 Our international adoption doctor does a house call to advise us on treatment of Elvie’s myriad health issues. She leaves in the early afternoon, and by night she has called and instructed us to check Elvie into the hospital the next morning. She has done all the leg work for us; we just have to show up.
July 10 We check Elvie into the hospital for treatment of malnourishment and multiple infections. Friends step in to help, and Jarod’s mom books a flight to come care for Zinashi.
July 27 Elvie is discharged from the hospital, and we come home, again. Our joy at being together as a family in our own home is immeasurable.
August 7 Elvie is re-admitted to the hospital with another infection.
August 12 Elvie is discharged from the hospital, and we come home, yet again. She is on four medications at first, and then finally it’s down to one, and we do not re-enter the hospital except for follow up visits. She continues to grow (and grow and grow) and remain healthy.
December 25 We celebrate Christmas on the same day that we celebrate six months of Elvie being in our family.
Today, December 31 We close out the year knowing that Elvie’s surgery will be in just one week, that her care will move forward. We have such big hopes for this little girl, and we bid farewell to the trials and joys of 2012, knowing that 2013 will bring big changes for our baby, but changes that will make her life so much better. We are excited to see what 2013 holds for our very special baby girl.