How to Use This Blog

A Wayfarer is a person who is traveling, a particular place, a circumstance, a stage of life, etc. Let's walk the road of adoption together. The journey is so much better with company!
Much of this information is useful for any adoption, but this blog is designed to be a
I hope this blog will be helpful to you in your adoption whether you are considering, waiting or home. I started this blog when we were adopting and found there was next to nothing on the web in any orderly manner. I set about to collect information for myself and then for others. Now, there are more sites for resources, but still not much that brings it all together. I hope this blog will serve as a sort of clearing house for Ethiopian Adoption Information. Please feel free to contribute your knowledge through commenting.
You can search by topic in three ways. 1. Go to the "key word" tabs on top and open pages of links in those topics. 2. Use the "labels list" in the side bar or 3. use the "search bar" above the labels list. You can also browse the blog by month and year in the Posts section or in any of the above as well. The sidebar links are to sites outside of this blog. While I feel they provide good information, I can not vouch for each site with an approval rating. Use your own discernment for each. If you have more to add to the topic, please add it in the comment section of that page or post.
And, please link to The Wayfarer Adoption Blog by putting my button on
your blog so others can use this resource too. Please link to this blog when ever you can and whenever you re-post things (or images) you have found here. Thanks!
The solid tabs are links to my other blogs for books and family. Check them out if you are interested.
Welcome to the journey!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

grief, acting out and anniversaries

Well, I am once again reminded of the good advice so many parents and therapists give adoptive parents. Watch out for anniversaries. Why?  Well, the anniversary of the adoption and the anniversary of their arrival in the orphanage or any other significantly traumatic event is likely to trigger a reaction.  No, they don't know it, they are totally unaware.  But, if your son or daughter is suddenly acting a bit jittery, not sleeping well, extra needy, or just plain naughty with no apparent cause........ ask yourself if this is a significant anniversary time frame for them.  They likely just need a bit of extra attention, love and care and a good dose of security, attachment  and encouragement.

I was just musing over the sudden and unexplained naughty and jittery (minor stuff, but more than usual) behavior of my boys and asked my Bible Study ladies to pray for us as there is just something up, but what.  Well, in saying it out loud I realized that we are a week away from the day we picked them up from the orphanage two years ago.  Joyful event for us, certainly traumatic for them.  Either way, a big huge change, a good change, for them also a scary change.  They did this last year, so why did I not expect it this year?  Silly me.  One of our sons also does this in January, which is the month he was taken to the orphanage.  I had a little chat with them about how they may be feeling and why and gave them more encouragement and reassuring.  They were pretty good the rest of the day.  They just need an overdose of love and affection twice a year and they are fine.  If I can just remember this next time!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Adopting TWO (or more) at one time.

Pros for adopting ONE/Cons for adopting MORE than one
Will get our full attention
Financing one set of costs is all most people can manage
Adjustment for family is not as extreme
Bonding and attachment will be less strenuous (not that it won't be strenuous)
Processing the grief of one is an armload in itself, two is a mountain
Two is more expensive than one in daily cost of living

Pros for MORE than one/Cons for ONE
If you live in a very homogeneous area, it would be nice to have someone who is like you
Siblings would always have each other
Having a sibling would help them adjust to a new environment.
If I am processing one's grief and attachment why not two (this is hard!)
I want to adopt two eventually, why not just get it over with now, plus the fees will be reduced
If you wait to adopt another child later they may not be close in age, you may loose heart and never do it, etc.
instant family

Our experience:
We adopted our two boys at the same time, they were 3. We also have two daughters who are older and close in age to each other 20 mo, sibling adjustment is another post!). We are glad we did it, but we could not have picked a more difficult path, or been given more grace in doing it. If you are up the the challenge it is well worth it for all the reasons above and more. But, challenge it is. We are two years home and that is a lot different from 6 months or one year. You might have read other blogs or have friends who have adopted more than one at a time, wait until they have been home one or two years before considering their answer to your questions as full experience. They are still becoming family. With more than one, that is a longer journey.

Our boys presented opposite everything so we got to see the variance in kids all at once. (Definition of terms: attachment = feeling of love. Bond = trusting parents to meet all needs). Son 1: transferred attachment within the first 3 months, then tested hard for another four months, bond took an entire year to establish. Son 2: no attachment to transfer. Teach attachment, struggle and work hard and terribly tired, combating fear and anger. Attachment took about a year, bond took an additional 10-12 months after that. We are in a good place with both of our sons at this time. We would not have survived so well if we had not done our homework beforehand. We read everything and had a game plan for any scenario and we used them all and had to come up with more and read more.

There are two ways to go about the multiple child adoption.
You can adopt siblings. That is the most common way. Social workers will tell you that because siblings already have a bond to one another they will not have to expend so much energy bonding to eachother and have more energy to bond to you. If you have other kids in the home then that is only half true because they still have to bond to them too. And you will have to consider if they have even been living together. Many are separated by living with different relatives or different child care facilities due to age or gender. That sibling bond can get in the way of forming a bond with the parents until you gain the trust of the most dominant sibling (usually the oldest). Sometimes that is not so hard, other times it is the hardest part of the entire attachment/ bonding thing. Siblings also share almost all the same history (sometimes there are different fathers).  That is a big plus and if there is an older sibling they remember for everyone and will have more for you to write down. However sometimes there are different life experiences due to gender or age. Siblings can be manipulative and controlling. But, really don't all kids try this. If you adopt just one and have another child at home you are still going to deal with this. For that matter, an only child will pull that one. It is the nature of children! It is also less expensive, adoption fees and validation and USCIS, etc. for siblings are just less.

Or you can adopt two unrelated children at the same time. Not so common, and lots of agencies will not allow you to do this. Ethiopia DOES allow this. Mainly agencies discourage this because they say it is harder to form a bond with two (but they don't apply this to siblings for some reason). Since this is what we DID DO, I will say that most of their issues are well founded, but also apply just as well with a sibling adoption. The benefit of non siblings is that the children do not already have a hierarchy nor a leader to block and usurp your authority. To me that is a big bonus. Of course this does not always occur, just like the horror stats for unrelated adoptions do not always occur (like in our case).  If the children come from the same child center then they may already have an attachment or bond to each other. They at least have feelings about each other. Siblings may not like one another but they know there is nothing to do about that. Unrelated kids may not like each other but they don't automatically think there is nothing to be done about that. Of course both scenarios will have manipulative and controlling behaviors and well, you have to work that out with siblings no matter how they become siblings. Everyone will see the opportunity and charge you fees for two, ok the paperwork is slightly more. Even after they are home and ARE siblings you still get to pay twice because they don't share the same blood line. Even though at this point it is not more paperwork.

It comes down to what you feel is most important for your children and family and what you feel you and your current family (and marriage) can handle. Two is a tough road but it is soooooo worth it. By researching and reading all you can you are doing great thinking on this and you will make a good choice for you. The best thing I can say is if you choose to do two, do not be afraid. Trust that it is what you are called to and you can do it.

Do your research, learn all you can, make your plan, bring  your kids home, work your plan, learn more, make more plans, work your new plans, repeat...... and one day you will wake up and find that you are really really truly feel like family and you are glad and you are not as tired as you have been. That is a good feeling.

Resources for adopting more than one child at the same time:
the above article covers: adopting unrelated children and siblings

If you have done this and would like to share your blog, please post it in the comments.

Birth family meetings

Everyone has their own feelings on meeting birth family members. It could be really stressful, emotional or awkward. Stories I have heard run the gamete. Birth mothers and fathers ceremonially giving their children to the new parents, prayer, good wishes, letters for the child, etc..... all the way to it was awkward, and they demanded money. For most, the experience lands somewhere in the middle.

Different agencies have different policies on meeting birth families.Some have you wait until after the US Embassy appointment, others after court only, others still, after you have picked up your child for the final time and will keep him or her with you indefinitely. Some don't even want you to meet them at all. You will have to abide by your agencies preferences. Ethiopia's official stance, as far as I can gather, is that it is ok to meet birth relative AFTER you have taken custody of the child and that there be NO money exchanged in any way.Of course no matter what your situation, it is really up to the birth family if they want to meet you. You can request or not request, but if they want to or do not want to meet, then that is what will happen. (per your agency rules).

Meeting a family member can be beneficial for your history records for your child. They will inevitably want to know something about their personal history. We all want to give our children as much as we can and with Ethiopia, that is often very very little.

In case you have the opportunity to meet a birth relative of your child you may like to have some questions ready for the occasion.I would suggest taking these with you at every outing. We asked to meet a birth relative. We assumed we would be given the yes or no and if yes a date and time. We did not expect that that person would be waiting for us when we picked up our children! I did not have my questions and was so flustered with everything new and different, and jet lag that I did not have my normal ability to think on the spot. Much of what I wanted to know is lost forever, if it was even knowable. Take your questions with you just in case! Identify your critical questions ahead of time in case your time is short or emotionally draining.

Here are mine:

Things I want to know about my sons:

(Some of this you may know from your referral. Of course you can verify what you have been told)
you can ask about translations of words, dates, meanings, etc. A lot of this can also be done on line after you are home. Get your criticals asked before you run out of emotional steam on both ends.

Who gave it to him
any thing significant about his birth or time of his birth
date of birth at best guess
place of birth
what was the child like as an infant

tribe of child's ancectors
tribal markings or traditions still kept
religion of family
Family information and names, anything known
Region he is from, city name where born
what was his or her home like
Family History social and medical
Did he live with family or only in the orphanage
what was his relationship with birth mother/father like
how did mother and father meet
married when and where, what was that like
names of as many family members as possible, parents, grandparents, siblings, uncles
are they still married/separated/divorced/death of one or both parent
does the child know and have an idea about this situation
cause of death
why adoption
hopes for the child to be shared with child
happy or favorite stories to be shared with the child about family or self

What age did  he come to the orphanage
Under what circumstances did he arrive
What was his physical condition when he came
How long did it take him to adjust to the new situation, any new situation, new teachers, etc.

Medical history of family
Birth details
Infancy, any information,
Early childhood, any information
home life details
parents work

Social history
What does he like to eat
To do
Who is his friend
Who is his favorite nanny/teacher
What is he good at

Is there any textures of food or clothing that bother him,
Sounds or smells?

Does he like soft or firm touch
Does he like to be held
Does he tend to go full force ahead or is he more cautious

What is his sleep routine/habits/schedule
What does he do to show displeasure or that he is upset
Does he come to an adult when hurt or upset
Does he tell stories, tell about experiences, ideas, etc
How does he relate to other children his age
To younger children
To older children
To adults
To strangers
To animals
What is it that seems to be the thing that upsets him most
Does he share his feelings
Is he happy or sullen or contemplative
Does he play alone or with others mostly
how does he play with others

What is his educational status
Can he read
Do math
How much does he know in English
What language does he speak mostly
Is he obedient
Is he compliant
Can  he stand up for himself
is he willful or stubborn

Names of friends and caretakers

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sickle Cell Anemia

While Sickle Cell Anemia is not normally found in Eastern Africa, there has been more movement about the continent due to all the wars and refugees. So, you never know if you will come up against it. I am including it here just in case you need to know.

From the Mayo Clinic

Sickle cell anemia is an inherited form of anemia — a condition in which there aren't enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen throughout your body.
Normally, your red blood cells are flexible and round, moving easily through your blood vessels. In sickle cell anemia, the red blood cells become rigid, sticky and are shaped like sickles or crescent moons. These irregularly shaped cells can get stuck in small blood vessels, which can slow or block blood flow and oxygen to parts of the body.
There's no cure for most people with sickle cell anemia. However, treatments can relieve pain and help prevent further problems associated with sickle cell anemia.

Other on line resources:
National Institute of Health
Kids Health

Celiac Symptoms

It has recently come to my attention that some kids who are of African decent and birth may have symptoms of Celiac Disease. It is common for kids adopted from African countries to have allergies and dietary issues with milk products and gluten. So, in case you think the giardia or intesinal issues are comming back and back and are frustrated here are some sites where you can check out the symptoms of Celiac to see if that could be your little one's issue or not. Apparently the disease can be somewhat elusive to diagnose. My understanding is that the grain Injera is made from, Teff, is a gluten free grain. So...... who knows.

Information from Heart Spring
Celiac disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, and barley. When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging the small intestine. Specifically, tiny fingerlike protrusions, called villi, on the lining of the small intestine are lost. Nutrients from food are absorbed into the bloodstream through these villi. Without villi, a person becomes malnourished--regardless of the quantity of food eaten.
Because the body's own immune system causes the damage, celiac disease is considered an autoimmune disorder. However, it is also classified as a disease of malabsorption because nutrients are not absorbed. Celiac disease is also known as celiac sprue, nontropical sprue, and gluten-sensitive enteropathy.
Celiac disease is a genetic disease, meaning that it runs in families. Sometimes the disease is triggered--or becomes active for the first time--after surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infection, or severe emotional stress.

Celiac disease affects people differently. Some people develop symptoms as children, others as adults. One factor thought to play a role in when and how celiac appears is whether and how long a person was breastfed--the longer one was breastfed, the later symptoms of celiac disease appear and the more atypical the symptoms. Other factors include the age at which one began eating foods containing gluten and how much gluten is eaten.
Illustration of cross-section of small intestine with detail 
showing villi on the lining.Symptoms may or may not occur in the digestive system. For example, one person might have diarrhea and abdominal pain, while another person has irritability or depression. In fact, irritability is one of the most common symptoms in children.

Something to think about anyway.

symptoms from Celiac Spruce Association
Wrong Diagnosis
Celiac Disease Foundation
Celiac Central
Celiac Disease Center PFD

Friday, July 9, 2010

African American 18 inch doll

Olivia is a new doll put out by Constructive Playthings. She is the newest in a series of cute 18 inch dolls and is African American with curly hair. Very cute doll. I notice she is on back order along with her wardrobe. My daughter has the first one they came out with and she is a great doll. Not quite as big around as the American Girl doll but they can still share all the same clothes. She is sturdy and has not had any mishaps with her construction. :) I think this a great doll to look into, and for the price! Well, you just can't beat that! Olivia with a 15 piece wardrobe -shown- (or any of the other dolls) are just 49.99. There are several clothing sets you can buy too. Three outfits for 34.99. Or you can go for the big set and get one doll with 12 outfits (and that includes shoes and hats and stocking!) for $144.99, that is a great deal! There are also bedroom sets, carry suitcase, horse sets, scooter set, etc. all for less than American Girl and yet very comparable and interchangeable. Check her out at Constructive Playthings.

In case you are skeptical of the quality of these dolls..... check out GaliGirls These are the same dolls. I love that there are dolls with Jewish history! Now, if they could make an Ethiopian Falasha doll. That would be really cool. These dolls are $35. I think they are very cute and their vinyl faces, arms and legs are quite nice. 

UPDATE: I did write to GaliGirls about a potential Ethiopian doll and I got a note back right away that they ARE working on an Ethiopian Story. When the economy improves they will publish it!!!!! Keep watching their web site and I will put it up here when it comes out too. For now the only doll they are planning on is this one. From the email: "dark skinned doll is geared more toward the girl of sephardi or ethiopian background - you can see her here:"
I did suggest another sort of doll with the curly hair eventually. We will see. But for now you can look forward to the story and use whatever doll you feel is right for your family. 

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The content on The Wayfarer:Ethiopian Adoption Resource Blog is for informational purposes only. We are adoptive parents, but we are not professionals. The opinions and suggestions expressed here are not intended to replace professional evaluation or therapy, or to supersede your agency. We assume no responsibility in the decisions that families make for their children and families. There are many links on this blog. We believe these other sites have valuable information, but we do not necessarily share all of the opinions or positions represented by each site, nor have we fully researched every aspect of each link. Please keep this in mind when visiting the links from this page.
Thank You.

A Links Disclaimer

I post a lot of links. I do so because I feel that the particular page has good information and much to offer. I do not necessarily support all that each site has to say or promote. I trust you to sift the links for information you feel is worthwhile to you. Each person's story and situation are unique and different things will be useful or not useful to each one in different ways. Please use your own discretion when accessing links and information.