Once we officially accepted his referral (we sent the paperwork in on May 29 - Jon's birthday), our US staff contacted the Ethiopia staff, who told A the news. We were told that when A found out, he had a huge grin on his face, and went around showing everyone our pictures! (These pictures were the ones we put together in our dossier, so they are completely outdated!)
From now on, each month we will receive an update. They will email us a new pictures and any important news about A - health, progress, etc. In addition to that, each month we are able to ask 5 questions. These 5 questions can be directed to A or to the nannies who take care of him. We are thankful that we will have these updates to look forward to each month! Our first update will come in the beginning of July.
In between updates we also have an option that i'm soooo thankful for - sending photo releases & care packages through other families in our agency. AWAA & Ethiopia are both very cautious about protecting the identity of the children in orphanages & our Transition Home....so we can't just be randomly taking pictures of all the kids and sending them to anyone. The photo releases allow families who are in Ethiopia for court or embassy to take pictures for those who are still back here in the US. The timing of A's referral was impeccable, in that several families were traveling a few days later! I was able to scan & email several photo release forms and I am LOVING seeing pictures and hearing stories about A almost every day since we accepted his referral. What a blessing!!!
Along with photo releases, we are also able to send care packages through traveling families! And guess what? A's first care package is currently on a plane along with my dear friend Jess and her husband, who are traveling for court and will be meeting their son "A" for the first time!!! (Sidebar: I am convinced that there are very few circumstances in which a "dear friend" can be someone that you've never actually met in real life. Adoption is one of them). Jess & Eric were DTE just a few weeks before us, so we have been traveling this road together for a long time. I had hoped to be travel buddies someday, but when the Soete's accepted their referral in January, and ours did not follow too closely, we thought a care package delivery would be a good substitute.....never actually dreaming it would end up happening! Yet another case where God's timing is just so sweet!
So what do you put in a care package? We have some guidelines to follow. It should fit in a gallon zip lock bag. No candy or vitamins. Nothing too sentimental or that you absolutely want to keep (A will open his own care package, but after that most of the items will be community property). I think there are a few more rules that I don't remember offhand. Shopping for A's first care package was a little more intimidating than I thought it would be. It would be his first real impression of us....but at the same time, we knew all of the items would be shared. Here's what we ended up with!
Superman T-shirt, Spiderman sunglasses, small American flag, bouncy balls, punch balloons, Parachute guy, markers, activity book, GUM (we have been told the kids go crazy for gum!), and a photo album with updated pictures of our family.
Our hopes are that we will be able to send care packages around once a month if there are families traveling. Our first instinct, of course, was to send as many as possible! However, not only would that start to be a burden financially, but giving A the impression that he will be showered with gifts isn't accurate! :)
So excited for our little guy to open his 1st care package!!!