Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I hate when I do something dim witted!  For a couple (stupid) reasons, we've moved our blog to:

Please continue to follow our story there.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

"30 days and a wake-up!"

My Marine Corps buddies would recognize that saying; it's what "short-timers" in the Corps said in their final month before discharge.

It's hard to believe, but we're just a month away from becoming a family of seven.  At this exact time one month from now, we'll be at court in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where a judge will decide whether Tommy becomes our son or not.

As we understand it, the court hearing is more than mere formality; it's the Ethiopian government's way of protecting against fraud and child trafficking.  So, they take it pretty seriously; the judge asks questions about why you're adopting, how you'll help preserve his culture, etc.  It's a stressful event! 

Then, sadly, we'll have to leave him in Ethiopia after our court hearing to give the agency time to work with the US Government for a immigrations paperwork and a passport.  The great news is that when they're finished, Tommy will not only be our son, but a naturalized US citizen.  We'll merely have to do some more paperwork with the State of Ohio after he gets home.

They say it could be 4 to 12 weeks before we can get back over there to bring him home.  Recent experience is that it's been taking about 8 weeks.  If that continues to hold, we could have Tommy home for Easter.  For now, we keep praying.

Monday, December 6, 2010

God has chosen me...

I've been reflecting a lot on why we're adopting; not just why, but why now, why a boy from Ethiopia, and why a boy with such significant medical challenges.

As to why I've been thinking about it a lot, let's just say that we've been asked those questions by a number of different people, not all of whom asked out of simple curiosity.  At least one said they thought we're being irresponsible and neglectful of our duty to our other children (they used the term "real children").  Although in retrospect I shouldn't have been, at the time, I was rather surprised by such an un-Christian accusation.  After all, that particular person isn't typically all that Christian anyway, and in fact, we'd had similar (although perhaps not as choleric) responses from friends who are (at least outwardly) very Christian.

I wonder how people who believe in God, who know his word, who claim to follow it, can take such a position.  After all, do the circumstances of Tommy's birth make him any less human?...any less a child of God?  Would he have been deemed more worthy of parenting had be been fortunate enough to be born in America?  Or is it possible that wouldn't even have been close enough?  Would some have still been unhappy that we didn't request an Ohio child, even a Warren County, Ohio child?

In the end, we've decided that some people just aren't comfortable with adoption, and these challenges to our decision are just their way of expressing that discomfort.  We knew we'd have people who don't understand, and we knew we'd be challenged.  After all, we're not wealthy, four kids is already a bit peculiar by some peoples' standards, $32,000 is a lot of money to be pulled from our earning/savings, and we certainly have insufficient information on Tommy's health to know what we'll be dealing with when he gets here.  So, what!

Last night at mass, the closing hymn, although I've heard and sang it many times before, struck me as poignant.  Without being overly dramatic, I really believe it applies to our family, our choice, our approach.  It goes like this:
God has chosen me, God has chosen me  |  to bring good news to the poor.  |  God has chosen me, God has chosen me  |  to bring new sight to those searching for light  |  God has chosen me, chosen me  |  God is calling me, God is calling me |  in all whose cry is unheard.  |  God is calling me, God is calling me  |  to raise up the voice with no power or choice  |  God is calling me, calling me ( )

I believe God has called us to stand up for children in Tommy's situation.  I believe he, and plenty more children like him, need people like us who will "bring good news to the poor."  God has chosen us; He is calling our family to live out his commandments, and we have answered his call.  I'll say it again, WE KNOW THIS WILL BE HARD!  But that's exactly the point! This isn't supposed to be easy.  It's supposed to be impactful!  We're changing the direction of a young boy's life!  And in the process, we're changing the direction and values of our entire family.  If it was easy, there wouldn't be such a huge surplus of parent-less children.  It's going to be hard!  We knew that at the first thought of adoption.  Every step along the way has confirmed it.  But we've never used how difficult something would be as a criteria to determine whether we'd do it; certainly not with things of great importance. 

Still, it's hard when people you love treat you poorly because they disagree with a decision you've made.  In the end, it'll makes little difference.  We've taken our decision and we're very nearly at the crossroad; just 36 days.  We're comfortable with what we're doing and why. I'm hopeful eventually those who disagree with us will come to understand and accept it.  Till then, we'll keep praying.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Joy & Sadness...both overwhelming

After something like 20 hours worth of online research and phone calls, we finally managed to secure flights to Ethiopia and back.  I feel as if I've earned my graduate degree in travel arranging.  A huge thank you goes to Gramom and Grampop Romano, who gave us their frequent flyer miles.   American Airlines doesn't fly all the way to Ethiopia, but they can get us to London, and back. It was a huge help; saved us almost $2,000 plus gave us a nice reason to stop-over in England.  We'll have about 1/2 day on the front and almost a whole day on the back end of the trip.  God Bless them for being 100% supportive of us and our plan to make Tommy part of our family.  Less than 39 days till we meet our boy.

On the other side of the emotional scale, on Monday we spoke with another mom, who like us, was very close to meeting her daughter.  The agency called her that morning and told her their child was hospitalized over the weekend.  She didn't share why the baby was ill, just that her condition quickly worsened, and she never recovered.  It was a brutal reminder, for them, and for us, of just how fragile life is there.  It quickly brought us back to the reality of why we decided to adopt from Africa in the first place.  It also adds a measure of anxiety...not just for us, but for all the families.  As good as the care appears to be at Holt's care center, you can't help but feel as a parent, that he'll be forever better off once we get him here.  I'm certain we will be too.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lighting the town Christmas Tree

I am in my 5th year, my second elected term, as a member of my town council.  This year, I am the functional equivalent of Mayor in my 33,000 person suburban 2-highway, 3 exit, fast-growing town called Deerfield.  As an elected official, we get to "host" the annual lighting of the town tree.  Actually, it belongs to the shopping center at the center of town, aptly named Deerfield Towne Center.  That's convenient because it allows us have a town tree but avoid all the messy non sequitur church and state arguments.  Our town is mostly Christian, but we've got an ever increasing mix of Jewish, Indian and Asian families moving in.  And although I tend to think of a Christmas tree as part of the secular celebration of Christmas (after all it's not like we've got an official town creche), I do want to be sensitive to those who don't celebrate.  So, at least for now, we get to have a town tree, and my kids really like going to the tree lighting.  It's a 40-foot tree and they always have music and singing, a horse-drawn carriage and hot chocolate.  It makes for a nice family event, and a great backdrop for a kid photo.  Here's how it turned out this year. 

I never tire of hearing Merry Christmas.  Can't wait for Tommy to be part of this photo and this season.  43 days till he's officially a Romano.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

60 days

Our first visit to Ethiopia is just two months away.  We're so anxious to meet Tommy, but there's still so much to do and it just doesn't seem like enough time.

There's been alot of discussion around our house about how they prepare the kids for our arrival, and for their eventual departure.  We're all wondering "does Tommy know?"

He's been at the Care Center for over a year, and I'm sure kids have come and gone there.  I wonder what they know about where the kids who've left have gone.  One of the other families indicated their 4-year old couldn't wait to leave because he thought he was going to catch up with his buddy from the care center when he got to America.  As funny as that sounds, it may not be so far off the mark.  We've connected with a family from New Mexico (, who also have 4 kids and their little guy is at the care center with Tommy.  They're about 50 days ahead of us on the travel schedule, so looks like our guys are going to be coming to America around the same time.  We're very excited about the prospect of keeping them connected somehow (phone, Skype, etc).

We're a little worried about the show-up then leave part; will it confuse him?  Many of the adoptees are very young, and probably don't understand much of what's going on anyway, but Tommy's 3 1/2, and it's got to be confusing when some people who look VERY different show up, hug, slobber and dote over you, play with you for a couple hours, give you some nice trinkets, then disappear for 2 or 3 months.  He'll have to be wondering "is that what family means?"

Just one of the difficult parts of this journey.