One of the questions that people seem to be the most curious about it how long it will be before we bring our baby home. In short...we don't know.
I'm REALLY praying that we'll have a referral within the next month. My birthday is on the 24th. What could be a better present? Ethiopia recently passed a new requirement that both parents travel twice. I think that this is in response to recent developments around the world in regards to international adoption. Most adoption agencies have the best interest of the child at heart (Holt definitely does), but unfortunately, some do not. There's been accusations of selling children and corrupt practices in other countries that have caused those countries to either suspend or cancel their adoptions overseas. Ethiopia, from what we have been told, is being proactive and dealing with any problems before they arise. Therefore, they've toughened their requirements.
The first time that we travel will be for court and we should be there about 4-5 days. From what I understand, both the birth parent(s) and adoptive family will be required to attend. I'm nervous about meeting the birth mother and possibly, the father. There's no denying, however, that this will be in the best interest for our child. We'll have a story to tell him/her about his birth family, and perhaps even a picture. For that, I am willing to deal with a bit of awkwardness. Besides, I really want the chance to thank her for her sacrifice. I want to be able to tell her what a gift she is giving to Liam and I and how we'll never be able to express our deep gratitude. I think most of all, I want to reassure her that we will love and cherish this child and give her a sense of peace about her decision. When we are there, we'll also get to meet our little guy/gal for the first time; though we are told that this will only be for a few minutes. I think that Holt doesn't want to cause the children any more stress and a couple of new people fawning all over you and then leaving would undoubtedly be added stress.
The second trip will be 6-8 weeks later. Again, we should only be there about 4-5 days. This is when we will take custody of our child. From what I hear, since we will have passed court by then and he/she will be legally ours, Holt will give our child to us when we get off the plane practically. From there, we'll have some final paperwork to fill out before leaving the country with our baby!!!!
So, to answer the question, I'm hoping to be home with our child by late winter or early spring. Before then would be AMAZING! But, if I take into account that the first trip will be probably 2-3 months after our referral, and then the second trip will be another 2 months, then that puts us around February or March. Ugh! Have I complained enough about the waiting. :)