Friday, April 27, 2007

The (Other) Call That Shook the World

I told the story of us getting The Call, but the call story I will remember just as much is calling my mom to tell her. You probably have to know her to appreciate this, but know that 1) she is really really excited for her long-awaited first grandchild, 2) she really wanted it to be a girl, 3) she is a first-grade teacher, and 4) she is on the hyper-emotional side! (Sorry, Mom—if you want to defend yourself, you'll have to figure out how to leave comments on here!)

After we printed the photos and absorbed the referral information a bit, it was about 12:15 here—just after-school time for Mom in Michigan. Perfect. I called her school and asked for her. Mom had told me about how when she was a young married gal she and her friends had a deal that when one of them found out they were pregnant, they would call the others collect—so you knew if you got a collect call from Linda, Judy, Cindy that they were having a baby. So I asked the person at Mom's school to page her saying that she had a collect call (I didn't really call collect). After a minute Mom got on the phone with her professional teacher voice:
"Hello, this is Linda H."
Me: "You have a collect call from the mother of your grandchild."
Mom—confused: "Who is this?"
"It's Wendy."
"Wendy! Oh!" (starting to shriek)
"It's a girl."
"It's a girl?! IT'S A GIIIIIIIIRL!!!! OH! OH!" (and other extremely high-pitched, loud, shrieky noises!)
And all the other teacher ladies started shrieking too! The yelping and ohhhing went on for several minutes as Aaron and I stood there laughing. She was completely blubbering and freaking out. More people kept coming in the teacher's lounge to see what in the world was going on, so she'd tell them and they'd all shriek and laugh again. Finally I said, "Do you want me to tell you anything, or do you just want to keep screaming?" It was so funny—and fun! I will never forget that . . . or let her live it down!

She is coming to visit next week and, after showing baby Anna's photo to all the world and hitting the local baby resale shop, called her travel agent to see how many suitcases/pounds she can bring—Lord have mercy and bring more grandchildren so this one isn't spoiled to death!

I love you, Mom . . . Anna's grandma at last!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

More Photos from Referral Day

We got these from the agency today--two staff members were in Ethiopia last week and were able to hold Anna and tell her she gets to live by the ocean. They were not kidding when they said she is so cute and so much cuter than the first pictures!

Oh, what big eyes you have, my dear!

Getting "The Call"

I had vowed that Thursday would be a productive day, since we would be gone all weekend. I work at home, so I took care of some things around the house, sat down at my computer, and buckled down.

For forty minutes.

I was sitting at my desk minding my own business when the phone rang. "Agency!" blipped through my mind for just a nanosecond, but I didn't really think it would be; I thought such a call would come earlier in the morning and didn't give much thought at all to who it might be.

"Hello, is Wendy or Aaron available?"
"This is Wendy."
"Hi, Wendy. This is So-and-so from Such-and-Such Adoptions."
" . . . Hi." (suspicious)
"How are you today?"
" . . . I'm fine . . ." (very suspicious)
"I have some good news for you."
" . . . . . . Really? Like . . . really good?" (You had better not be kidding, lady!)
"Yes. I have your referral."
"Oh my word!"
"I'm looking at her picture and she's so adorable. Very photogenic!"

Adrenaline took over my body as I realized this was really happening and we had a daughter. The agency person asked me to first tell her where to email the photos and information. She asked me what I wanted her to tell me. Uhh . . . everything! I believe I said, "My brain is starting to leave my body. I can't think of questions. You start talking and I'll interrupt you."

She told me the basics and I attempted to make notes. As soon as I hung up I closed my laptop and called Aaron's cell phone. I said, "I need you to come home right away." He said, "Why? What's the matter?" "We got our referral!" I scared the heck out of him--he figured we had a burst pipe or some such disaster he needed to fix before we left town.

He got home in about 5 minutes. We ran upstairs to my computer and opened it. Check email! NO EMAIL! No! Maybe she had to talk to someone else before she got a chance to send it. I read Aaron my notes from the phone call. Okay, check email! No new messages! Check! No new messages! Check spam filter, maybe it doesn't know her address . . . nothing! Check other email account, maybe she didn't listen to me . . . check! check! check!

I called the agency. Voice mail—what, did you go to lunch? (I have since realized that you always get this, then press a number for the person or general line, duh.) Check email! Okay, okay . . . killing time--what's our plan after this? Who do we call first? Do we tell them the name we picked right away? Okay, moms first, tell them whatever. CHECK EMAIL! Dial agency again . . . receiving 1 message—got it! Open the pictures!

. . . Ohhhhhhhhh! She's perfect!

I'm pretty sure our call story is not at all out of the ordinary as referral calls go, but the inability to get the email was pretty funny. Not as funny as my call to my mom, though--I'll post that next.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Referral Aftermath / What Happens Next

First of all, thank you for all the congratulations and well wishes this week! It has been wonderful to hear from so many of you, and we are so blessed to have such incredibly supportive friends and family. You all seem to share your love as naturally as if no other response is even possible, but not everyone experiences such support--so thank you.

Several people have asked, "So when do you get to go get her?" The short answer is: in a couple months. First we must have a successful court date in Ethiopia. This date should be scheduled within a couple weeks and hopefully take place within a month or so. That court date makes us the eternally legal parents of Anna! However, after that an embassy date also must be scheduled--that appointment takes place at least 20 days after court and is when we get her U.S. visa to bring her home. So we plan our travel around that date--if all goes well, it could be late June. Start praying for soon and successful court!

The last six days have certainly been wild and wacky. Suddenly having a daughter kinda throws off your plans for the day, ya know? After we got our pumping adrenaline under control, we had a billion phone calls to make and then congratulations flooding in. We had to get ready for the youth weekend and get Aaron and our gear to church by 11:30 a.m. Friday. I actually got gas, got cash, came home, ate lunch, paid a bill, forwarded the referral information to the pediatrician to look at, and was on the phone with the agency asking the questions I couldn't think of at the first call at 12:30 when the kids were loading up at church. Fifty-one hours later (only about 11 of which were sleep) we were back from the youth extravaganza, and 27 hours later we were back in action for Young Life Club. With more agency and doctor and congratulatory phone calls and emails in between, of course! Now I have boatloads of work to get done in a week and more referral-related details to wrap up, and Aaron is sick. Aaaugh!

Best part of the weekend? Randomly asking kids "Have you seen my baby?" and whipping out the photos!

Coming soon: the story of The Call . . . and The (Other) Call That Shook the World!

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Today we received an amazing phone call. We are thrilled to introduce . . . OUR DAUGHTER!!!!

She is 4 1/2 months old. Her name is Yegetanesh, which means “You belong to God.”

We are giving her the full name Anna Jubilee Yegetanesh.

In Hebrew Anna means grace. In the New Testament Anna was a prophetess who recognized Jesus as Messiah. Grace is a gift you don’t deserve. The most beautiful gift ever given. “’s a name for a girl / It’s also a thought that changed the world...”

Jubilee means joy, but also so much more: it calls to mind freedom, rest, redemption, justice, forgiveness. The biblical concept of jubilee stems from Leviticus 25, where God instructed the Israelites to make every seventh year a sabbath and consecrate the fiftieth year—year after seven sets of seven—as a Jubilee year: a time of rest from harvesting the land, relief of debts, freeing of slaves, redemption of land. The jubilee freed the poor from the burden of debt. In the Christian tradition jubilee also calls us to rejoice in our freedom from the burden of our spiritual debts—to find joy in the gift of forgiveness through God’s grace. “Lift your voice / It’s the year of Jubilee . . .”

Yegetanesh means “You belong to God.” By grace you are ours to care for here on earth; with joy we offer you back to God.

Anna Jubilee Yegetanesh Wetzel.

Born December 7. the right time.

Thank you for all your prayers and encouragement as we've waited for this day. Watch for more updates soon--after we spent a weekend away with the youth group!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

An Update You Can't Refuse

I feel like I should drop a quick update before the weekend hits and I am surrounded by 17 giddy teenagers (and 4 weeping adults) in vans and then with 10,000 more screaming teenagers at a stadium youth event. Yikes.

The big news is a blessing that has not really sunk in for me yet: We own a new MommyMobile! Yes, we have a new used minivan. We really needed to get something soon because we already inflict cruel and unusual punishment every time we squeeze a six-foot teenager or three into the miniature backseat of our little Suzuki "buggy." That was not going to work with a car seat in the equation. Our friend Nancy got a new truck . . . yada yada yada . . . we have her van. Let's just say it was an offer we couldn't refuse!

You know what that means . . .

This beauty is available.

You know you want it. What's not to like about a vehicle that's the same age as it's owner?

Interesting trades considered.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Where All the Wait Times Are Above Average

Greetings from Adoption World, where all the women are obsessive, all the men are impatient, and all the children's wait times are above average.

Today marks 16 weeks of waiting for referral for us. The agency told me a couple months ago that 16 weeks was the average wait. I can't decide if I want to call and ask them if that's still true or not; seems like now most people have been waiting longer than that. Still, now that we're above average in weeks (to go with our looks and intelligence, of course), any phone call could be The Call. Forgive me if I sound disappointed if it's only you.

Today we get Hep A boosters and round one of Hep B shots. Will I pass out? As always, please: no wagering.

Update: I remained conscious but am now experiencing soreness in my coffee-drinking arm. Not good, comrades. Not good.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Miscellaneous Thoughts, Rants, and Tax Tips

Yellow fever! No, not the shots--that'll be in a few weeks. I'm talking about my scrumdiddlyumptous golden upstairs. I spent three days clambering around spiral stairs like a monkey and straddling a twelve-foot-high loft half-wall like cowgirl--curse you, architect of crazy nonstop-curved-walled spaceship houses! Then a bookshelf warehouse exploded up there. I am enjoying the (almost) end result, though. I think I'll really like having my office up there; I noticed yesterday that it's twenty feet in the air closer to the bald eagle cruising around behind the house. I still have to haul up all my books (good workout) and desk (good luck) and piles of papers (good lord!), but the bedroom side is very clean and cozy. I hope to have the baby's room painted by the time Mom visits, since green is her favorite color and all.

We'd better have our referral by then too, because--besides all the other reasons--I need major Mom-help on baby gear. I went into the used baby stuff shop on Saturday and couldn't bring myself to buy a thing. I just didn't know where to start, since I have no idea of size or anything. Part of me wanted to buy; part of me wanted to cry. I chatted up the nice shop guy about our baby.

I did buy coffee and wonderful apple turnovers at the new European-African-Carribean deli. (Yes, I was scoping for Ethiopian food and black friends.) Coastal dwellers, stop by and support the Volta Deli, on 101 by the hippie music store! I chatted up the nice baker lady about our baby. She said Ethiopians are very beautiful people, which is exactly what all the adoption agencies say, but I had figured it was just biased PR. Apparently it's universally known. So there.

Mr. Famous Singer Guy finally has everything he wants for his grant application. We should hear by May 1. Really hope we get something from that one. I tried starting on some more grants today but found it depressing. Maybe it's the rain, but it felt like doing a dossier all over again.

The good news about taxes: we are getting a refund!

The bad news about taxes: WARNING TO SELF-EMPLOYED ADOPTERS: the adoption tax credit can NOT be applied to the self-employment portion of your taxes. This means that if your income is too low, your (non-self-employment) tax liability might be too low to take the full credit. Even over five years if you are really lucky. I never thought I'd say I hope I can increase my tax liability. Nice to know that those with cash to cover their adoption expenses will get it all back right away so they can help the economy by going to Disneyland or something while those who need the help to enable them to adopt (the purpose of the credit, no?) will get a tiny check and remain too broke to adopt again. Mmmm, it kind of reminds me of my other favorite system, health care . . .
"It’s simple. Most people who can’t afford health insurance also are too poor to owe taxes, but if you give them a deduction from the taxes they don’t owe, they can use the money they’re not getting back from what they haven’t given to buy the health care they can’t afford."
--Stephen Colbert

I apologize for the random and ranting nature of this post. This stuff was cluttering my head so I figured it'd be better to clutter the Internet. This is probably a good argument for the Internet not being free of charge!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Happy Easter!

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!Photo:

(We've been waiting 15 weeks and 3 days.)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Prayers, Progress, Procrastination

After a long last week of holding our collective breath, several families from our Ethiopian adoption Internet group had successful court dates in Ethiopia. Some had been waiting so long for referrals, then court dates, and then had their court dates rescheduled for two weeks later. Last week at small group I felt I must speak my prayer for these families waiting for court, and my eyes could not stay dry. And truly this time it was not for me—not for the factor that we will probably not get a referral until some families get through court and set to travel but truly for the ache of waiting these friends across the country are feeling. This is a purer prayer, but not an easier one. Some of them have waited so, so long already. How much longer? How long, O Lord?

Oh, when we started it was all so fast, it was all such a breeze. Woe to those adopting from slow countries, we thought! We must not rush things or we’ll end up traveling smack during the school year. Now wait times are skyrocketing and complications are being added and though we are hopeful that the floodgates of referrals will open soon, we hover between optimism and resignation and despair that we will hold our child before the fall. We survive only on solidarity and stories of the kids who are home already.

And ice cream. I have been enjoying lots of ice cream lately. And pickles. But I have yet to combine them.

Today I spoke with two clinics about travel shots ($305 each just for consult and yellow fever shot?!). Left a message with adoption pediatrician in Portland. Sent updated information and still more sappy, shameless paragraphs to a grant ministry that in my opinion already knows far too much about us. My big project is to start slathering delicious yellow paint all over our upstairs so we can move my office up there and I can slather delicious green paint down here. However, I was apparently feeling the nesting urge much more strongly when standing in front of the glorious rainbow display of paint samples Saturday much stronger than I am feeling it now that I’m faced with the dirty work. Why do today what you can put off until you have ten thousand things to do before traveling?