internet marketing The Big Sis Diaries: November 2006

Thursday, November 30, 2006

We've Hit the One-Month Mark!

That's right- as of today, we've been officially waiting for a month for the referral of LG. However, given that the amount of referrals received by families through our agency has been quite sparse lately, I doubt that we'll get ours before Christmas after all.

Contrary to what many adoptees feel when waiting, though, the time has gone by extremely quickly for me. Maybe it's different for a teenager with a million other things on her mind (I started track this week, leaving me sore and tired as I do my homework/studying before collapsing into bed- early.) It all will be different when we get the referral, of course- when I see pictures of the sweet children already home from Ethiopia on blogs and the forum I belong to, especially ones that could look a lot like our LG, I'm overcome with excitement. Aside from babysitting the 16-month-old-girl down the street, I haven't been around babies for a while (though I'm constantly around little kids!) I know it will be a whole new experience. I should probably be using time to do everything I need/want to do sans baby, since that will change quite soon (instead of blogging...)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Funny/cute pic of the week

What can I say? Kristian has always had a very eclectic taste in fashion.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


When I checked my e-mail this morning, I was surprised but thrilled to see a reply to the e-mail I sent to Melissa Fay Greene! I received some very nice compliments and the reassurance that she would check out my blog. I also thought that it was really generous of her to take the time to send the e-mail from a borrowed laptop while on vacation. I'm especially excited since this is my first real contact with a "celebrity"(if she is one- though I'm sure she is in the adoption world!)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Letter to Melissa Fay Greene

Upon suggestion from someone working for AHOPE orphanage, I sent an e-mail to Melissa Fay Greene, author of the widely recognized (and loved) There Is No Me Without You. The purpose of the e-mail was both to thank her for inspiring me and for gaining her support in my own efforts to help. Here is the e-mail I sent earlier today:


My name is Susanna and I am fifteen years old (a sophomore in high school.) I apologize in advance for the very extensive e-mail, but after reading your book There Is No Me Without You I thought I should introduce myself and explain how your book has inspired me.

Last year, my family made the big decision to adopt an infant/young toddler from Ethiopia. Our decision stemmed from wanting to expand our family (I'm a big sister already to two healthy, albeit wild, biological brothers and two sweet kitties) and, although our selfish reason was our first motive, our second was to help a child in need. As a family we took a two-week trip to Kenya in February 2005 (we're big travelers, though this was our first trip to Africa) and we have not stopped talking about it since. The whole experience was absolutely amazing and eye-opening, and it's not a stretch to say that now we're all in love with Africa. We did see the extreme need and poverty, however- we'd never seen anything quite like it- and a week doesn't go by without my thinking about how when we donated the few small items we had to give away to the Masai tribe, their gratitude and excitement could not have been more clearly shown. We were so taken by this experience that we wanted to do even more to help.

A third reason for our adoption, though considerably the lesser in comparison to the two others, is that we'd love to expand our cultural awareness. My father was born and raised in Norway, where I was also born. We visit once or twice a year and us kids are bilingual- we speak English with our Michigan-born mother and Norwegian with our Norwegian father. While in Norway visiting our relatives there, we always go other places in Europe to explore other cultures (though nothing can top Kenya, I also loved seeing Amsterdam and Prague especially.) All of this, in addition to my mom's resentment to sending my youngest brother off to full-day school the following year, led us to look into the adoption of an African baby.

Though Kenya did not have a formal program, Ethiopia did- and we followed through with the process to the stage we're at now: waiting for referral. Though we're not certain when we'll get the much-anticipated Call, it could possibly be before Christmas, which, although our heads are spinning with all the work we have to do, is very exciting. Since we're open to gender, we expect the child will be a boy, which, although I've always dreamed of a sister, will probably fit best into the current "boy mode" of our family. We feel totally ready and the only obstacle we feel that we'll have is teaching a baby, who up until that point had heard only Amharic, both English and Norwegian. Yes, we're aware of what adopting a different-raced child means, but although we're in a predominantly white community, we're prepared to take every opportunity to make our little guy aware of his culture. We also feel that our town will be very accepting. My friends don't let a day go by without expressing their excitement in our adoption.

However, although I know we're going to give this child a life full of love and opportunity, I want to help the orphans left behind in Ethiopia. Upon many, many recommendations I read your book, and was so taken by all of the stories you related, especially the ones about the HIV+ orphans. I talked to my guidance counselor at school and I've decided to start an organization called The Sweet Dreams Project. Through all of the schools in my school system, I'm going to hold drives collecting new and gently-used pajamas for the children at AHOPE orphanage, which we will bring when we go there later this year. If all goes well, I will hold one or two more drives, and send the donations with families going over there at that time. My guidance counselor also suggested that I do several presentations on Ethiopia in my school, church, and community. I'm vice president of my school's International Club, so the club, along with my friends, will make a very supportive group.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for writing this book. It was both heart-warming and heart-wrenching, and I couldn't put it down. After I finally had to close the book, my decision to help other orphans was solidified. I understand that there is only so much one can do in a crisis that looms high above all of us, but I think that if everyone who reads your book makes one little effort to help, we can all make a big difference. Right now, I'm just doing my part, and I hope I in turn can inspire other people to do theirs.

Thank you, also, for taking the time to read this very long e-mail. As you can probably tell, I love to write. I'm writing a journal documenting all of my adoption experiences which I, too, hope to publish someday.



P.S. I do have a blog, if you're at all interested in taking a peek. It's

I hope to get a reply, though I know she probably is flooded with fan mail!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Have a...

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Funny/cute pic of the week

I know this is a little late in the week, but better late than never! (In this case, anyway.)

Our kittens' favorite pastime. They constantly do this when I'm typing up essays or reports (or blog posts) and they love to add their input on everything I write (namely gtprtpewroitxv.)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

After knowing me his whole life, he knows what insults me the most

You know you must have done something to make your little brother feel the need to insult you (though, for a ten-year-old, there doesn't have to be a reason) when you come home from babysitting at midnight and find a note on your bed that reads,

The baby is going to like ME better than YOU!!!!


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Lesson of the Day: All Good Things Come With a Trade-Off

My mom asked us in the car today, "What would we do with our lives if we we'rent adopting? Everything would be so boring, wouldn't it?"
And Carsten, my seven-year-old brother replied, "Well, I think it would be less fun and more fun."
"More fun? Why would it be more fun?" we asked him, confused.
"Well," he said, matter-of-factly, "It would be less fun because then we wouldn't have a little guy to play with, but it would be more fun because then Susanna wouldn't be on the computer every hour of every day going on her blog!"
Okay, I admit he does have a point there. Unfortunately, by his saying that, I'm now compelled to go on my blog and write about it. Sorry, buddy- I guess not all good things in life come cheap. But at least now you'll have a little sibling to share your irritation with.

Friday, November 17, 2006

We have a room theme!

Since we don't have a specific idea on when exactly we'll get a referral (our SW honestly couldn't predict either way if we were going to get it before Christmas) we have been trying to get things ready around the house first, so that we can focus more on LG later. But we just can't resist...

Yesterday my mom, with help from my brothers, picked out four really cute books for the baby- two of which were stories from Africa and one featured African-American-looking children. Today, my mom came up with an adorable theme for his room!

Does anyone remember those Ezra Jack Keats books (A Whistle for Willy, The Snowy Day)? My mom went to and ordered some framed illustrations from the books, the colors in them matching the colors the walls will be. Not only are those books family favorites, but they feature an African-American boy, making this theme, we think, perfect!

I'm so excited to get his room ready, buy him clothes, and travel...but it thrills me even more when I remind myself that LG will be OURS- he'll be my baby brother forever!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sheer Madness

We just heard from a person at our agency yesterday that there is ONE family ahead of us waiting for the same type of child we are...making it quite possible that we could get out referral in the next month.

I am, of course, very excited...yet at the same time feel like my excitement is being suppressed. There is SO much going on here, I can't even begin to make a list of the things we still have to do- much of which has nothing to do with the baby himself. On top of everything, we are going to Norway for Christmas and, while this is a very nice tradition that we have, it's making my entire family nervous that we won't be able to get everything done.

Having said all of that, mark my words, I will be ECSTATIC when we get our referral, no matter when it is! I'm just telling myself that I can't feel too stressed about everything now and that, in time, the craziness will melt into pure happiness.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Africa Pictures Cont'd

Somehow, on my last post, I wasn't able to post more pictures. So here are some more...

* Pictures (from top): Hungry hungry hippos; Looks like nothing much, but look closer- there's a leopard in a tree eating a baby zebra (true, not pleasant, but it is kind of cool to see the food chain at work); Giraffes in the Masaai Mara.

Africa pics...part 2!

Click here: for part 1 of my Africa Pic Parade.

*Pictures (from top): The boys taking in the sights and sounds on a game drive; Mama Baboon and her baby; White rhinos (the nice ones) at Lake Nakuru; Carsten taking advantage of the safari truck's roof window; Kristian at the Giraffe Center, right after feeding some giraffes in Nairobi (the kids in the background are Kenyan schoolchildren taking a field trip); Us at the Karen Blixen house, Nairobi; Elephants at the Masaai Mara; The boys and I swimming in the Indian Ocean (in Watamu); SHARK!!

Funny/cute pic of the week

San Francisco, April 2004

As you can tell by the look on my face, Kristian had been lying there for a while by then...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Funny/cute pic of the week

Introducing "Attack of the Killer Doll" starring Kristian. Movie times to be announced. Prepare to be VERY afraid!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Okay, now we're REALLY waiting

I just wanted to clear up a little confusion some of you may have regarding our adoption. I said back in July, when I first started my blog, that our referral had been accepted and that we were waiting for an infant through Wide Horizons. Well, after we noticed the steeply increasing wait times that were starting to become a trend, we contemplated switching agencies (we found nothing wrong with Wide Horizons as an agency- we just felt that having not even a remotely vague idea of when we were getting a referral wouldn't really work for our family.) After calling the agency and discovering that we shouldn't be expecting a referral for at least another YEAR our decision was solidified and, after filling out the appropriate paperwork, we are now waiting for a baby of either gender 0-16 months old through Children's Home Society and Family Services (dossier was approved on Halloween!)

Switching agencies, in combination with expanding our requested age range, will significantly close the gap between dossier submission and referral acceptance. Instead of the 12 months+, we should get our referral in approximately three or four months. A family on the CHSFS announced recently that they got the referral of a 14 month old boy after waiting just two weeks- but I won't get my hopes up, since I know this is unusual. Realistically speaking, though, we should expect to be bringing LG home in the late winter or early spring (though I can't help having the fantasy that we'll get the call sooner than we expect!)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Naturally, as adopting a child means embarking on an entirely new adventure, we've had to tell people about it. It would be shocking and awkward if we suddenly started making appearances with an African baby, especially to the people we know very well. So there's no way to work around not breaking the news in some way, shape or form.

We've had, accumulated, such a wide range of reactions that if I wrote a book about it, it would be a novel. Each time we manage to convey the news, we aren't able to predict exactly how they'll respond. We've encountered indifference, mild surprise, extreme surprise, confusion, warm congratulation, and bouncing-off-the-walls excitement. My friends from Massachusetts have known all along, since the second my mom filed for an application, what was going on and have overall been extremely supportive, and I'm grateful for that. But I had yet to tell my new friends in Connecticut, and since I don't know them as well (yet) I wasn't sure what they would think.

Well, between classes today when we were in a cluster by our lockers, I told my closest friend the news while holding my breath. A second later, I could see that I had no need to worry. She was completely thrilled and gave me a big hug, saying congratulations and barraging me with questions. Soon, everyone else was in on it too, and they were equally ebuillient. However, the best thing I heard someone say was, "I've ALWAYS wished my family would do that." My other friends have said similar things- almost all of them say either, "I'm definetely adopting a kid when I grow up," or "I'm going to convince my parents to do the same thing!" I hope that after they see how happy my family is going to be with my baby sibling, it'll give them the extra push to firmly resolve themselves to adopting someday. It truly is a beautiful thing, and I wish everyone could see it, but even if they don't now, I hope they do when LG (Little Guy, as we call him here) becomes an important member of our family.

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