Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Sky is Falling (close call on Spring Creek)

Hello, this is Spence. This is my first post on our blog. Today Lori and I canoed Spring Creek with our friend Kent. It's an easy class I (beginner level) creek, but it's very pretty and fun. It has some bouncy waves, mossy water-worn limestone bluffs, and a canopy of big hemlock trees. Dozens of springs trickle and drip from the banks all along the way. The beavers have been hard at work, gnawing and chewing down several trees. We stopped at one of our favorite spots for lunch. Peanut butter and jelly, cheese sticks, crackers, and cookies never tasted so good. Lori even brought a thermos of hot chocolate and it was gooooood. Very nice on a cold day. I know what you're probably thinking. "What about the close call?" Well, it's coming. About halfway through this seven mile trip we were drifting through a gently flowing stretch of water, shooting pictures and relaxing. Suddenly there was a loud CRASH behind us. We looked back to see that a large tree had fallen straight across the river, from one side to the other! Right where we'd been thirty seconds before! If it had hit one of us, we could easily have been killed or badly injured. It's funny, we regularly paddle difficult whitewater which is considerably more risky. And here we were on an easy cake walk kind of trip and nearly get whacked by a dead tree. Go figure!

The first three miles we encountered several strainers, which act sort of like collanders - cheerfully letting water through but trapping anything bigger than a breadbox like a boat or a paddler. This strainer happened to be a tree.

This unusual strainer was the result of the summer's drought. With ponds dried up, farmers built them to keep thirsty cows from wading down the river.

Here's the infamous tree:

And here's the 12-foot top portion that broke off when the monstrosity smacked the water:

This is me right before the tree came down:

And this is me for the rest of the trip:

Spring Creek

I should be making chili for our NYE Open House, but we're going to the river instead. Spence and Caroline have been out scouting levels, and upper Spring Creek is running. Caroline is staying with our friend Donna while we paddle. It's a beautiful, crisp day so hopefully I'll get some pics to post.

By the way, I did paddle Roaring River that morning and one other morning too. It was low so I had to drag my boat a bunch. But it sure was nice being out there early, the river like glass and not a soul in sight. It may become my weekly ritual.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Cheer

Our Christmas gatherings were terrific. We visited family on both sides. Among Caroline's loot were a John Deere tractor, a wooden rocking horse and cowboy boots. To balance her cowgirl leanings, she also got a baby doll and doll carriage.

On Christmas Day we took a walk down to the river so Caroline could try out her new Smartwool gear.

She wasn't happy when Daddy wouldn't let her take a dip.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Few Days Off

Well, we have a few days off while we celebrate Christmas with the Inmans. I hope I can relax and forget about work -- that's always hard! I'm excited to have the family together though. Allison is in from Denver, and Little C's cousin Savannah is coming from Chattanooga with her parents Todd & Tara. We have a full weekend planned.

After Christmas, Spence and I are planning to host our second (annual?) New Year's Even Open House. It goes from 4 to 9 p.m. You're probably thinking, "What about ringing in the New Year at midnight?" Well, it's basically a party for lightweights and friends who have young children -- Spence and I fall into both categories. We actually do ring in the New Year -- in Hawaii. Last year we had a houseful so apparently the idea has merit. Now I just have to do the invitations. (In case I'm slow, if you're reading this you're invited.)

I'm sitting in bed typing this as the rest of the family sleeps. In keeping with my new commitment to exercise every day, Spence is supposed to drive me upriver early this morning for a quick paddle down Roaring River back to our house. It's about a mile of flatwater paddling and the river finally has enough water to accommodate a boat. BUT! I'm not sure I'm going to have time. This is my problem: good intentions but hectic schedules always get in the way.

On another note, all of our homestudy paperwork is at Bethany as of yesterday. Our first homestudy meeting is scheduled for January 15, the same day we start agency training.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


If you want a break from adoption blogs but want to read about some great work being done in Africa, check out my newest link below. I may get this all wrong, but let me give it a try. Lara is a relative of the wife of a friend of mine, and she's working in a medical clinic in Mozambique. (Bill, please correct my facts.) Check it out. But be careful, the stories hook you and won't let go. You'll find several hours have passed and you still haven't worked on your Hague training.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Paperwork update

We're a few steps closer on our homestudy. The last of our straggling paperwork goes to Bethany this week. We're just waiting on a couple of reference letters to be returned (you know who you are - and so do we!). We promise not to bug you too much 'til after Christmas.

I posted links to some great blogs below. You may want to check them out. These families are also in the process of adopting from Ethiopia, and it's been fun to watch their progress. I'll add some more soon.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Since we shared news of our plans with family and friends, we've been overwhelmed by the positive support and encouragement. We're making progress on our homestudy paperwork, but I thought it might be nice to back up and talk a little about why we chose this road.

I have always wanted to adopt. To say it's something I feel called to do is the best way I can describe it. It's just a feeling that I know is right. I know there are needy children all over the world. I know we can't save them. all. But we can provide a loving home for one child. And although that may not make a lot of difference in the world, it will make a world of difference to that child.

Spence and I have talked about this for nearly a year. We attended an information session with Bethany and began to feel the international program was the way we'd go. But we quickly learned that, due mainly to our ages (we're old apparently!), we didn't qualify for many countries. So we put our plans on hold and discussed other options for growing our family. Then in October, Bethany announced their new Ethiopian program. Not only did we qualify, the cost was reasonable and a little research revealed that this country needed us -- if only to help one of the millions and millions of orphans who were loved by their birth parents, but through tragic circumstances, lost one or both of them.

Some people have expressed concern about the risks -- the child's health, attachment disorders, lack of history, etc. These are things we've studied and feel informed about. We worry about these things too, but we encourage people to remember there are risks with others things, like pregnancy after 35.

Spence and I (and most of our friends and family) know we could have another biological child. And that idea sounds wonderful to both of us too. But something in our hearts tells us that adoption is a better choice for us. And we're following our hearts.

On a paperwork note, we're finishing up the last of it before our interviews start. I just finished my physical today. I had to get a TB test. As I was walking away from the sign-in desk, I heard a man mumble to his wife, "Blah blah TB blah blah." They proceeded to look like they really wanted me to ship out. A few minutes later, another woman approached the desk to explain she was having her TB results read and how long would she have to wait. Apparently this guy thought there was an outbreak going around. I let him squirm rather than reveal I was eavesdropping on his comments.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Changing Adoption Requirements

Adoption is a learning process. When a news story comes out about changing adoption requirements, I'm always eager to know how it might affect our plans. An NPR story yesterday reported that the U.S. has officially signed on to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. The Hague Convention is an international treaty providing guidelines for international adoptions and protection for the children being adopted. Bethany, our agency, is already taking steps to be Hague-compliant and one of our requirements is to complete 10 hours of training that meet Hague rules. Needless to say, our social worker says our process should not be affected by the new rules.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Dossier Begins

We received our dossier packet on Thursday -- the next huge set of papers we have to complete. We also have to have psychological tests. That involves spending 3-4 hours with a psychologist undergoing various personality tests and interviews. We should know ourselves pretty well after that.

In preparation for this amazing journey, Spence and I have been reading a book called "There is No Me Without You." Actually we're listening to it on CD -- 12 CDs! If you're interested in learning more about this history of Ethiopia, the emergence and impact of AIDS on the population, the evolution of orphanages and adoption agencies in Ethiopia, and the process of adoption there, it is a great book. It follows the life of a woman who, through unusual circumstances, dedicates her life to rescuing orphans in Addis Ababa. It's incredibly sobering and inspiring.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

We Got a Social Worker

Our formal application has been received by Bethany, and today we were assigned a social worker. She will guide us through the entire process, homestudy and dossier prep. I have to confess I had to look up "dossier" in the dictionary. My guess was that it is a bunch of papers on a similar subject. But considering that a dossier appears to be the key to us bringing home a beautiful child from Ethiopia and loving him forever, I figured it must have some loftier definition. Turns out it means a bunch of papers on a similar subject: us (the Inman family).

We still have a few straggling pieces of paper to turn in before we start meeting with our SW. Feel free to join me in hounding Spence to get his part done.


Monday, December 3, 2007


His curly fur was multi-colored like marble chocolate. He had perfect triangle ears, amber puppy dog eyes. I was smitten from the moment he popped out of the bushes, as strays frequently do, on our 10-mile bike loop. Despite a paw injury of some sort that caused him to yelp as he ran, he followed Spence and me on the remainder of our ride. About a mile from home, Spence and Caroline (in her trailer) rode ahead to get the truck. We didn't want to risk an encounter with Cindy's not-so-friendly dogs.

For a week, he adopted our home as his own, met and brought home friends (other strays, a leg bone and a deer skull complete with antlers), fell in love with Caroline, got kicked by Skip (our horse), learned to sit on command, terrorized Marie (our cat), and turned up his nose at the cost-cutter dog food Spence brought home. All while I toiled over what to name him.

For a week, we called him "our dog," perhaps afraid on some unconscious level that giving him a real name would officially make him our dog.

I was very torn about what to do. Since coming to Roaring River Valley four years ago I've dragged my dear husband Spence into countless scenarios involving stray dogs (and cats) and here, it seems, we go again. Until the day Skip decided to remind him where he falls in the food chain. He propelled Our Dog a good 10 feet and sent him crying to the neighbor's for the night. The next day I put the feelers out for a new home.

One email was all it took. I actually had three separate people interviewing me for the position of new home. In the end, Sammy, named by his new owner, went to his new home...across the street at my neighbor Natalie's house. And everyone lived happily ever after.


P.S. Sammy now rounds up the horses from a good, safe distance. And he's much happier with his meals up the hill.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round

Yay! Our wheels are finally in motion. We mailed our formal application to Bethany yesterday. This is the first step in our home study, which also includes filling out forms, gathering records, getting medical exams, meeting with a Bethany social worker a number of times, including in our home, and several varieties of training.

After Spence and I completed the application paperwork, we both agreed we felt like we'd given birth. Then I laid the news on him -- this is just the home study. The dossier requires a whole different set of papers and the process is more like having twins. But one thing at a time. For now, we're going to bask in the glory of completing step one and look forward to step two: getting assigned a social worker (SW).

Let me add that (1) I'm new to blogging so if I do something silly on here that's why, and (2) adoption forums have a language all their own. So in an effort to look more educated than I really am, I may use some acronyms from time to time.

Spence and I took some friends on a great 7-8 mile hike today, while Caroline visited Santa with Mama Norma. We're all wiped out, so off to bed...