Lilypie Countdown to Adoption tickers

Lilypie Countdown to Adoption tickers

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Long Awaited Introduction

Jack Leuel Skinner
August 11th, 2010
Dire Dawa, Ethiopia
Hayley Selamawit Skinner
July 29th, 2010
Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It’s Official!

We are mommy and daddy times 2! On Tuesday we received the call from our agency that we have received the MOWA letter, which was the last document needed for the legal process. We have officially passed court and we are the legal parents of Jack and Hayley! Yaaaahooooooo!

No, we don’t have a date yet as to when the kids will be home. We have to wait….again…but we are feeling like we are in the homestretch. The MOWA letter was the one document that really had my stomach in knots, so we are relieved that we have made it over this hurdle. If you don’t follow Ethiopia Adoption, let me give you some context: MOWA recently announced that they will be reducing the number of letters completed each day from 50 to 5! We were notified of this new rule just before we left for our trip not knowing how it would impact us. We learned when we were there, our file, along with 800 others would be expedited before this new rule went into effect. You can imagine how relieved we were to hear that news and to now have this letter. My heart breaks for those families who will be impacted by this new process. I hope and pray that the U.S. and Ethiopia will continue to work together towards solutions to better the process. Ultimately, it is the children that suffer in the end.

We are currently waiting for our file to be submitted to the U.S. Embassy. This includes gathering all paperwork on us, Jack and Hayley, including a medical exam for Jack and Hayley completed by and Embassy approved Dr. and getting their passport photos taken. It just cracks me up thinking of two 8 mo. olds going to the court house and getting their passport photos taken for their passport. Our agency can only submit files to the Embassy on Thursday, so we are hoping they will be able to gather the appropriate documents quickly!

After our file is submitted to the Embassy, they have to review our file and grant U.S. Embassy approval for us to be able to take them out of the country. This process could be as little as 48 hours or as long as 2 months!

We are still hoping to be able to bring Jack and Hayley home by the end of May. Early May would be ideal, but all the stars would need to align for that to happen. Anything is possible though, right?!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Quick Update

I know I have been terrible about updating my blog since we have been home. I think it is because we are just soaking it all in and still ooohing and awwwing over Jack and Hayley. I plan to write more in detail about the experience later, but this is just a quick update to let everyone know where things are at and how the trip went.

To summarize, the trip was amazing and exceeded our expectations in every way. The best part being the second Jack and Hayley were placed in our arms, we truly felt like a family and that we were meant to be. Secretly, our biggest fear was meeting Jack and Hayley for the first time and just feeling like they were cute and all, but they weren't our children and no real emotional connection to them. That fear was proven to be wrong and we couldn't imagine anything but them being our children. They were amazing, healthy, beautiful little babies. Or maybe I should say big babies; Jack is 15.4 lbs and Hayley is 16.5 lbs. It was great to see how healthy they were with our own eyes, and how wonderfully they are doing. They were just the best and it was one of the best moments of our lives being able to meet them and love them to pieces. Although, one of the hardest things we ever had to was leaving them behind. It was emotionally challenging and very hard for us to have to say goodbye.

So what is next?  We are waiting for an approval letter from MOWA. We were told that we should have the letter within 15 business days when we were in ET. Once the letter is received the court will need to ratify our case. Once complete our agency will submitt our file to the US Embassy for review. This review process can take 48 hours to 2 months. Once we receive approval from the Embassy we submit 3 days to the Embassy that we can appear for our Embassy appointment. The Embassy will pick one of the three travel dates and then we will travel. All in all, we are expecting that the entire process from court (the 17th) will take 8-10 weeks. Please pray that this time will go fast and we will be able to travel soon!

Thanks for your support and following our journey!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Greetings from Ethiopia

Christina and I are doing well and enjoying our first significant travel adventure.  We met our son and daughter today and the valuable time we spent justified our adoption experience. We are learning more everyday in everyway.  Thanks to all our friends, family and others for their support, encouragement and good wishes. - Sam

Friday, March 11, 2011

We made it!

We made it! Well at least to Amsterdam. Yesterday was
challenging adjusting to the time change, but we are feeling refreshed today
and ready to take on the days activities.

Here are some first impressions of Amsterdam:

1.      Everyone rides a bike and no bike helmets. You can
be wearing stilettos and a mini skirt, you still ride a bike.

2.      Anything and everything goes.

3.      They play a lot of 1990’s American music.

4.      People are helpful if you ask, but they don’t go
out of their way to help.

5.      All the stairways are spiral and small.

6.      There are no fat people here, probably because everyone
rides a bike everywhere.

7.      Everything is served in miniature sizes,
including coffee and beer.

8.      Cheese here is good and cheap!

Today we are off to the Anne Frank house, a few museums and
a bike tour!

Tomorrow we are off to Ethiopia!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

We Leave Tomorrow!

AHHHHHHH! Can you believe that the time has come for us leave and finally go meet our children Jack and Hayley. A time that once seemed so distant is finally here. Pause. Deep Breath. The last few days have been a whirlwind of emotions of being excited, nervous, anxious, scared, impatient, and EXCITED!

We are all packed and ready to go. Here is our itinerary of events. Tomorrow morning we will go to church, pick up Sam's mom to come over to our house to watch our dogs and house and then we are off to the airport at 11:15. Our flight leaves at 3:30 and we will arrive in Amsterdam at 6:00 am (11:00 CST). We are hoping for early check in so we can catch a nap before we venture into the city. We will be in Amsterdam for Thursday and Friday and then we fly out to Ethiopia on Sat. morning.

Once we arrive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia very late on Sat. night, we are supposed to be picked up by a member of the Guest House where we will be staying. We will stay at the YGF, a guest house affiliated with Toukoul, on Saturday night. Sunday we head South to Awassa, Ethiopia for a 1 night trip. The orphanage is closed to visitors on Sunday so we figured we would take advantage of seeing some of the country. We will arrive back to Addis on Monday evening. The soonest we will be able to meet our kids would be Monday night, but likely it will be Tuesday morning. We will meet with the kids one more time before court on Thursday, St. Patrick's day. We will get to visit the kids one more time after court on either Friday or Saturday. We fly out on Saturday evening and will arrive back in MN on Sunday.

Over the next week and half I am going to do my best to soak it all in and just live in the moment (which is hard for me to do).  I am always looking ahead to what is next and not just 'being'. This trip will be like no other and I am sure life changing. It will be terribly hard to leave, knowing we are leaving behind Jack and Hayley and not knowing yet when we can return to bring them home for good. Please pray that wait is quick and we have the strength to make it through this challenging time. The one thing that I remind myself of that will help me to get through it, is that if Jack and Hayley can do it, then I don't really have anything to complain about as it is much harder on them.

While we are traveling we won't be making or receiving phone calls. However, I will have the ability to send out text messages. We plan to keep family and friends updated through texting. I also hope to update our blog from time to time to keep everyone informed.

2.  I am thankful and grateful for the wonderful caregivers who are taking wonderful care of Jack and Hayley. I realize that resources are a bit limited, but they are doing the best they can with what they have. I cannot wait to meet the amazing women who are cuddling, hugging, kissing Jack and Hayley when we are not able to be there. I hope and I pray that everyday that they are held with a mothers love in mind. Thanks to these women who love and care for our children until we are able to.

A Family's Love Goes a Long Way

Please watch this heartwarming video. It goes to show that just a little love can make all the difference in the life of a child.

3. I am thankful for all the wonderful families who have opened their home and their hearts to adoption. Through our adoption process we have met so many wonderful people that continue to inspire us. The adoption community is so supportive and encouraging and we are grateful to be a part of this wonderful community.

I will catch everyone up this evening on our travel plans, so stay tuned...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A March Thanksgiving

Hi, It's Christina's husband, Sam. I'm compelled to document my thanks after reading Christina's recent posts. Here goes:

1. Christina's dedication to our adoption process makes me thankful. She is ready for motherhood and continues to "live it" everyday, every hour and every minute in her mind and actions. She has completed the lion's share of organizing, planning and communicating. She makes the often times nervous, unknown thoughts about the experience of parenthood easier and less scary. I can't wait for the opportunity to teach, educate and learn with two new SKINNERS.

2. I'm thankful for Fergus Falls. I grew up in a small town in Midwest MN. We just played in a basketball tournament with childhood friends and my brother. I can hardly walk today, but yesterday was one of the best days of the year. Life has a different feel, pace and their are tons of great people in Fergus. Our family and friends are the definition of supportive in all aspects of our lives. We are blessed.

3. I'm thankful for the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia and Amsterdam. Everyone talks about the 20 hours of travel. It sounds like parenthood to me, in some ways. You have a long journey that may be uncomfortbale (i'm 6'3") during parts of it, but it is all justified and validated during unbelievable moments and in the end. They are both opportunities, not obligations.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Lists, lists, and more lists...

I feel like all I have been doing lately is making lists of things to do before travel, things to get before travel, things to know for when we travel and things to bring for travel!  It is taking it out of me, let me tell you. I feel for the most part, I have things organized and under control though. Partly thanks to my friend, excel, for housing all of my lists. Yes, for those of you who know me well, I am sure you get a good chuckle out of my excel lists, but yet you are not surprised. For those who will be traveling and want to see my 'lists' feel free to leave a comment and I will share the goods! It includes everything from bringing crisp twenties for a Visa at the airport, to bringing flip-flops to wear in the shower, to how many pairs of underwear to pack, to all the meds we need to bring, to where to get a good cup of coffee and which places have good Internet access.

7. Simply put, thank you excel and my Sony Vaio laptop for helping me keep my sanity.  Technology, I love you.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Catching Up!

Okay, so this is much harder than you think to be committed to updating a blog every day. So 8 days until we leave and I am behind, again, on my countdown of things that I am thankful for. So here goes...

11.  We are thankful for all the great friends that we have that supported us though our adoption process. Many have wrote numerous letter of recommendation for us and cheered us on through every step. Sam and I really appreciate and value all of our friendships. They have been there for us though fundraisers, showers, referral celebrations and more. We hope to return the favor some day and hope that someone will be inspired through our story to adopt someday.

10.  We are thankful for lil Hayley who recently turned 7 months. She has the most beautiful big brown eyes that just jump out at you and draw you in. In every picture she seems so animated and full of life. We are thankful everyday for our beautiful daughter that we have never met that already brings us so much joy.

9. Oh our lil Jack is going to be a heartbreaker and we are so thankful for him. His kissable lips and adoring curls just make you long to hold him and kiss him. Jack is soon to be 7  months and we continue to pray he will have gained weight. With or without the extra lbs. he already feels like he is a part of our family and we cannot wait to hold him!

8.  We are so grateful and thankful that we have the two cutes nieces in the world, Stella and Alivia. Jack and Hayley will be so lucky to have older cousins to show them the ropes. Stella and Alivia will be adoring cousins and we look forward to play dates, pool dates, river dates and much much more.


Today was a busy day for Sam and I doing some last minute preparations for our trip!  At 1:00 we had a fingerprinting appointment with immigration services. Mind you, this is the third time that we have had to get our fingerprints taken. Then we took a trip to the dollar store and loaded up on bubbles, ring pops and pez dispensers to handout to kids in Ethiopia, Then we made another trip to target to get some additional things that we need for our trip, like cliff bars, face wipes, trail mix, Imodium, Vics, etc.  From there we traveled about 35 min. south to the Travel Clinic to get our Typhoid shot, the last of our shots that we needed for the trip. I am not done yet...we also had a meeting with our agency early evening to finalize our paperwork that we need to bring with us that will be submitted to Embassy after we pass court. Our agency also helped prepare for court, what to expect in Ethiopia, things we can bring for our kids, etc.

We topped off the evening with a some ahi tuna and blood orange salad. Now just relaxing on the couch watching Parenthood in preperation for parenthood.

Hopefully you will see me here tomorrow. Until then, take care.

Friday, February 25, 2011


I have already failed, I missed updating my blog for what I was thankful for on my count down to travel. I can say that yesterday I was thankful for happy hour and spicy salmon rolls though!

Here goes...for real

13. I am thankful that Sam and I were lead down the path of adoption through our life circumstances and the decisions that we chose to make that were best for us and our future family. I know I haven't even met our lil Jack and Hayley yet, but everything just feels right. We are so grateful to grow our family through the gift of adoption.

12.  I am thankful for the birth parents of Jack and Hayley. I can't imagine anything more selfless than relinquishing a child to give them a life that would want them to have. This is a painful and heart wrenching decision that many parents in Ethiopia are faced to make. I will always admire the strength and love of Jack and Hayley's first parents be forever indebted to them.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Travel Plans

So as Sam and I were making our travel plans to Ethiopia, we had originally planned on just going to Ethiopia, doing a little touring in the country and heading home after meeting our babes and passing court. Well as our plans were developing, we realized that there would be a layover in Amsterdam. So, hum, what to do? Well, we checked with our travel agency (which was amazing by the way - Susan Parr Travel) and it would not cost any extra for to spend a day or two in Amsterdam. Sam and I have not really traveled much internationally, so we thought we just better take advantage of this opportunity. So that was it, we decided to take two days to ourselves to spend in Amsterdam before officially becoming parents! Our last vacation before babies. We better do it up good! Sam and I haven't been on a 'real' vacation in over 2 years because we have been saving for our adoption, so we are really looking forward to this little treat for ourselves. Really looking forward to it, is probably an understatement.

So what to do in Amsterdam? Well I am sure a lot that soon to be parents will not be partaking in! However, we are filling up our agenda, the Anne Frank House and the Heineken Brewery are on tap. Have recommendations for us? Let us have it!

14 days left until we travel. For the countdown, 14 things I am thankful for:
14. I am thankful that Sam and I have great jobs with companies that we really appreciate. We don't take our job for granted...I will just leave it at that.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The day we learned of our court date...

We received the phone call that we received our court date, and I was in a meeting at work. After the meeting I had an email that notified us of our court. FINALLY! As mentioned earlier, it will be on St. Patrick's Day. Sam and I are both part Irish, so the day is always a celebration for us, but this year it will be the best St. Patty's day that we could ask for.

It was a Friday, late in the afternoon that we were notified. Sam, my sweet husband, knew that this was a day worth celebrating. He went to our favorite fish market and got some sushi grad ahi tuna to have for dinner (my favorite) and some super good bread, from my favorite bakery.

Here are some pics for us to remember the day that we were notified of when our kids will be ours forever!


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Showers, Showers, Showers

I have some catching up to do! I have not even posted about my first baby shower in January. It was a beautiful shower hosted by my amazing friends Kathie, Elisha, Laura and Tara!  Everything from the food, to the decorations to the cake was perfect. It was a showing of about 20 ladies including high school friends, college friend, work friends, and family. I want to thank everyone again for their generosity all that they have done in support of Jack and Hayley's homecoming!

Kathie, Elisha, Me, Tara, Laura

You can tell from the pictures we are keeping in classy here in MN. Yes, we were drinking wine from the baby bottles as one of the baby games. 

On Friday my co-workers hosted a shower for me after work!  We went to Zahtar, a bar in our work building. Katie and Sarah hosted the event and was perfect! The group came together and gave us a gift card so we can get our BOB stroller! How lucky are we! We also got some great books and gift card toward a photo setting from a great photographer who is also a co-worker! We are so excited. Sam met up with us later and a few of us head out on the town. As if the shower wasn't enough, I also finished my MBA officially on Friday. Sam, celebrated enough for the both of us that evening.

The following day we did some baby errands and Sam fell asleep at Babies'r'Us in a glider. As I was trying to show him an outfit I said, "Do you like this one or this one?" and a women walked by and said, "His eyes are still closed." Sam was pooped and his idea of fun did not included two Targets and Babies'r'Us.

We are headed to church shortly where they are doing a special service featuring African dance, music and food. We are excited to see what it is all about.

As we are getting ready to leave in 2.5 weeks, I am going to try to keep my blog update a bit better. My goal is to post something daily to keep everyone informed on our travel plans!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

1 Month Countdown

Christina and I leave on our first journey out of North America in one month. We look forward to our opportunity to broaden our thinking and seek to better understand other cultures. I'm excited for the adventure and time away from work. We will be in Amsterdam for two days and then take a trip North out of Addis and into Ethiopia. As if that wasn't enought, we then get to meet our children for the first time upon our return to Addis. Life's a crazy ride and we haven't even started some of the challenging parts. Christina and I do view our journey as an opportuntiy and not a challenge.

Thanks to all who follow and contribute to "Christina's blog." We appreciate it.

- Husband (Sam Skinner)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hugs, Hugs are Good

Soon, very soon, we will be able give our babies hugs and kisses and more hugs! Court date is March 17th! We can't wait to hug and smooch them to pieces!

Here is a video of hugs around the world for you to enjoy!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Good News and More Good News

We found out last week Wed. that our documents were sent to court for a court date. This usually takes two weeks and then we should find out when we travel and what our court date will be. We are still hoping for a date in Feb., but realistically it will be March. I can't wait to find out when we get to see our babies for the first time face to face! We got an update on the babies too, and both are doing well and are healthy. Jack is still a peanut and is only 10.1 lbs at 5 months old. Hayley is gaining like crazy, she is 12.7 lbs at 5 months! They are both so dang cute, I can't even stand it!

The other good news is that we got an update from our agency over the weekend stating that Embassy will now meet with agencies weekly to review files and assign Embassy Apts. compared to biweekly, which is current state. In most cases this should cut down on the time it takes from court to Embassy. Our agency recently told us it usually takes 10 weeks after court, so we are hoping now it will be closer to 5-6 weeks! All in all, we are hoping our kiddos are home by May at the latest! I can't wait!

I also just had a baby shower this weekend, it was fabulous, but more to come on that later....

For now, here are some pics from our holiday party. The theme was you had to wear a tree skirt or tree topper!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

So what is next?

Right now we are currently waiting for our documents to be prepared and sent to court to get in line for our court appointment. After everything has been submitted to court it takes about 2 weeks to just find out when our court date will be. It is frustrating to say the least that we have had our referrals for almost 2 months and our documents haven't even been submitted yet. At this point we are really really hoping for a court date by the end of Feb., but it realistically will be March. After court it is another 10 weeks before we will have an Embassy appointment and that is when we can take them home and they will be in our arms forever! Everything is this journey is taking longer than expected, and longer than 'average'. At some point we have to catch a break, right?  Our agency is well aware that we are waiting, and waiting impatiently, but it seems to be out of their hands and control at this point as well. Hayley just turned 5 months old and Jack will be 5 months in a little over a week. We really really really hope that they will be home by May, April would be the best case scenario, but unlikely at this point.

On a brighter note, here are some pics from Christmas!

Stella hanging with Sam and Bella .
Stella opening up her Christmas gift from us.

Just admiring our Christmas tree.

Us and Stella with her new Christmas gift, Violet the talking dog.
Alivia in her pretty blue dress.

Can you tell she is getting tired of pics yet?

Laura and Livi opening up their matching camping flashlights!
I think my dad was actually jealous that he didn't get one too!

Laura's fingers were burning from chopping the jalepenos for a
Christmas app so she soaked them in milk for some relief!

Livi, Jack and Hayley got matching pj's for next year!

Who said that 3 year olds can't appreciate the delicacy of mussels?

Laura and I with Gramps. Wish grandma was here.
Christmas just isn't the same without her buns and lefsa...
and just her being her.