Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A word about the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia....

So this is a big hot topic for me.  And over the last couple of months, I have received emails from several families asking about communication with the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa.  The biggest question I have gotten is, "Is it okay to contact the U.S. Embassy?"  Ummmm...here comes the answer....Are you ready?....a BIG.....RESOUNDING.....YES!!!  But let's talk about why this is such a common question.  I mean, you would think it would be obvious that American citizens can contact their own embassy.  Our tax dollars pay for these embassies, don't they?  

Here's the deal.  There are a lot of agencies that tell their clients not to contact the embassy while going through their adoption.  While I could speculate about the different reasons agencies tell their clients this, I'm not going to do that right now on a public forum. 

Most of you know that Wes and I ended up staying in Ethiopia for three months.  There are several reasons for that long stay, and many long stories to tell, but we are not quite ready to share that yet either.  It left us deeply wounded, and we are still trying to heal from much of that experience.  But at the end of that long 3 months was the U.S. Embassy.  In the end, we finally decided to contact the embassy ourselves, and we are SO thankful that we did.  We are SO thankful we spoke up.

Here is part of an email from the embassy in response to an email our agency sent to them.  The embassy cc'd us in the email, so we also received it. 

"We encourage the families to contact us with any questions they may have regarding their paperwork, the status of their cases or any other questions regarding their adoption. Our email address is posted on the U.S. government website www.adoption.state.gov.

If the agency and the embassy work together we may be able to help them to get home sooner than later. Our goal is to assist all of the adoptive families to the best of our capability in this very emotional journey."

There you have it from the horse's mouth.  It is VERY okay to contact the embassy.  Of course there is nothing you can do until your paperwork is submitted to the embassy, but once it is, if you email them, they usually respond within 24-48 hours.  Many parents just want to know the status of their case, and that's okay!  Many parents want to know when the soonest possible interview after clearance would be, and that's okay!  Many parents want to make sure that what their agency is telling them, lines up with what the embassy is telling them, and that's okay!  This is all okay, because your child/children come first, and it is okay to be eager to bring them home.  It's okay!  Did I mention that it's okay?  ;)

During our final week in Addis Ababa in April of 2011, we physically went to the embassy ourselves for the first time.  We were so nervous, because we had no appointment, and we had been told by certain individuals that it was not okay to go there.  But we were desperate, given the fact that a government shutdown was looking very possible, which would mean we could be stuck in Ethiopia for several more weeks until they reopened.  We were not okay with is.  We were going to do everything in our power to get our family home.  When we finished speaking with the wonderful man at the embassy, I asked him one more question before we walked out the door.  "Is it okay that we came to see you without an appointment?"  His response went like this:  "Yes, we encourage any American citizens to come see us with any questions they may have.  That is what we are here for."  I cannot tell you how relieved he made Wes and I feel, because we did not want to be trouble makers, and we did not want to be disrespectful of the process.  His words were like music to our ears.  

I hope this post helps and doesn't hurt.  I hope it encourages any adoptive parents who have questions to feel free to contact the U.S. embassy in any country they are adopting from.  I want to reiterate that there is not much the embassy can do for you until they have your paperwork in hand, but once they do, they will tell you what they can.  And if you aren't sure that they have your paperwork, just email them and ask them.  If they have your names and your child's name, and the agency you are with, they will be able to look you up in their system.  I would encourage you to be very respectful and understanding in any email you send to the embassy, though.   I know that probably goes without saying, but I'm saying it none-the-less!  :)  They work very hard there, and it is important to treat them accordingly. 

Here is the email for the American embassy in Addis Ababa.

And here is the U.S. government website on Ethiopia which also has their contact information.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Last of the Holiday Weekend...

Okay, so here is the last of the holiday weekend posts. Wes and I and A&E got to travel down to South Carolina, and spend a little time at my parents' house on the lake. My brother and his family were also there, and A&E had a blast with them. I never thought that my nephews would be so great with Alex & Eliana. They were awesome! Alex and Eliana LOVED their cousins. It was a sweet time. I look at these pictures, and I am constantly in awe of the fact that these are my children. Alex and Eliana are my son and daughter. And 3 months ago, we were in Ethiopia, just hoping that we would be coming home soon. It's amazing how much can change in so short a time.

This is the look she gave me after I told her not to pull on Bestemor's flowers.

Daddy & Son.

Adam, A&E, and Evan.

Corn hole.  My brother, Rune, could not beat Wes, no matter how hard he tried.

This and the next 3 pics demonstrate the many faces of Eliana.  The girl is a ham!

Handsome Evan.

Eliana LOVED being held by Evan.

Tyler was so good with Alex.

Entire family.  We are just missing my oldest brother and his family, who are currently in Ethiopia, waiting to complete the adoption of their twins.  We miss you guys!

First Haircuts...

So it was a little scary to think of our little boy getting his first haircut, but we were confident this was the right thing to do.  The hair on the sides of his head was starting to look a big haggard, so we decided it was time to take the plunge.

We went to Sharkey's Cuts down in South Carolina, which is geared toward kids (as is made obvious by the car Alex is sitting in).  Alex LOVED it there.  He got to honk the horn while they cut his hair, and he had a blast looking at himself in the mirror.  They did a fantastic job, and we were so proud of how well he did.

It will be a while until Eliana gets her first haircut, but she still got some time in the Barbie car, which she also loved.

Look at all that hair!

We think he looks like a Who from Whoville here.  :)

Proud Parents.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Another Kind of Meetcha Day...

Okay, so maybe I have slacked a little in the blog department, but we are in the peak of wedding season, and being a full time stay-at-home mom, and a full time work-from-home mom has taken a bit of precedence.  But we are all well and happy in the Mullins home, and currently spending the 4th of July weekend down in South Carolina with my family.

Until this weekend, the only part of my immediate family that had met Alex & Eliana were my parents.  I have two brothers who live in New York and Oregon, so needless to say, we don't get to see each other too often.  My one brother, Erik, is currently in Ethiopia with his wife and children, waiting to complete the adoption of their newest additions, Haakon & Nyah (their 9 month old boy and girl!).  My other brother, Rune, and his wife Kerrie, and three boys, Evan, Tyler, and Adam, are here in South Carolina.  On Friday, they met Alex and Eliana for the first time, and it was a sweet little meetcha day for the Williams Family.

Yup, I still love to show off my "mean" face!

Everyone was a little shy at first....
Tyler was the first one to brave coming into the room.

Eventually they all made it in, and just stared at Alex and Eliana, and A&E stared back.

Tante Kerrie & Eliana

Alex is making his cousins laugh with that face again.

Sweet moments with Tante Kerrie.

Eliana wasn't sure what to think about her Onkel Rune.