Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's Been Quite A While

I haven't posted in some time...because....I don't have anything to say.....I don't know what to say.....It's all been said.....No reason really. I have just been busy and not a whole lot has been going on with China adoptions. Referrals are moving at a snails pace as usual.

It is hard for me to believe that we are closing in on 22 months of waiting (since LID) and still really with no end in sight! The CCAA has now referred parents who were logged in through December 14th 2005. So there are 2 months and 2 days worth of LID's until they get to ours. When stated this way it doesn't sound so bad! But, when you consider that as an average, for the last 6 months, they have only been referring 6.16 days per month that means for them to get through those 63 days until our LID would take 10.22 months! This would mean a referral in October or November of 2008!! 2 years and 8 or 9 months from LID to referral! Oh God, I can't believe I just typed that! It's going to speed up right??? There are less people logged in late December and January....right??? If we did not get a referral until November of 2008, that could mean we would not even travel until 2009! That couldn't/wouldn't happen....right?!

Really, I know there are no answers to any of these questions. And by now I am completely aware of the fact that pretty much any scenario is possible. Funny thing is though, after nearly 2 years, I have finally been able to kind of accept the wait and the fact that I have no control over what happens. Maturity??? Acceptance??? Resolve??? Maybe...or maybe I have just been beat down by all of this just going from bad to worse for so long that I have surrendered! No matter the cause, I suppose it is good for my emotional health to not be so stressed about the situation.

Ultimately, Willow will be home with us where she belongs. We will be the family that I have dreamed of for SO long. We will look back and remember the wait and think "wow...that was a LONG wait"...but I bet not remember the pain or the agony it has been from time to time. I can sit here right now and close my eyes and see Willow...see her beautiful shiny black hair....see her sweet innocent smile....and see something deep in those stunning dark eyes of hers, that maybe...just maybe there is a little more of a mischievous girl than the innocent girl in there...but sweet none the less! For all of these reasons, for the vision of her I have in my head, for the great volume of my heart that she has already taken up...we wait. And wait....and will wait until it is "time" and then we will go get Willow and bring her home to her family. Because this is what is meant to be. And all will be good with the world!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

National Day Week

China is currently celebrating one of the three "Golden Weeks" in China.

National Day was October 1st and it is a week long national holiday. This is actually the 58th celebration of National Day, as the PRC was founded October 1, 1949.

Many Chinese families celebrate by going to Tianamen Square to observe the flag raising ceremony. There are many celebrations throughout China and it is a very busy time for travel since workers have the week off.

Enjoy yourselves our Chinese friends....enjoy the time with your families! Each of you can take pride in monumental growth and achievement that you all are responsible for within your country!

UUUUUGGGGGHHHHH---Referrals Are Arriving!

Well, families started receiving information about their referrals today. It looks like the cut-off is going to be 11/30/05, but the CCAA website is not updated yet and they are on holiday until 10/08/07, so it looks like nothing formally will happen with that until then. But, since people with LID's of 11/30 have gotten referrals and no one beyond that has....unfortunately I'd say we are pretty safe with the 11/30 assumption!

Damn...damn...damn...I was SURE that they were going to refer thru December 5th! I was SO SURE of it! I scoffed at the thought that they were only going to finish November. WHY, after all of these months, do I continue to let it surprise and shock me at referral time?!

They started referring November 2005 in June of 2007 (technically on May 2007 they referred thru November 1, 2005) so it took ALL OF JUNE, ALL OF JULY, ALL OF AUGUST, ALL OF SEPTEMBER to match 1 MONTH OF LIDS! GOOD RIDDANCE NOVEMBER! Now let's quickly move thru December, January and get to February finally!

I still am insistent that we are going to get our referral on March 30th 2008! Of course lately I feel more like some crazy lady for sticking to that date...but that's been the date in my head...so I am sticking to it! Of course ironically, I have thought of this date (March 30th) for SO LONG, that I initially thought it was March 30, 2007! But we won't dwell on that now!

We are friends with a family who recently returned from adopting their child in China and the person who was their facilitator in China told them that "China would be closing to international adoption for 3 months for the Olympics". er...uh.....WHAT?! Yep, that is what he said! And when I questioned my friends saying I did not believe that, they said that the would believe what this individual told them over anything that the agencies here in the US knew at this point. Huh?! Crap! Okay...so apparently now I have to worry about another deadline....we need to be to China and back prior to the Olympics. Sure, I always wanted that, but the longer we wait the more I wonder if it is possible. And 3 months? Why 3 months? What 3 months? The Olympics begin on August 8 2008 and end on August 24 2008. So is the 3 months 1 before, July, the month of, August and one month after September? Or June, July & August....or......does this guy not know what he is talking about?!

I did hear somewhere that some countries have been told that they will not travel during the Olympics and I believe they were told for 2 months, although I don't know what 2 months, I assume July & August. It seems reasonable for some because some of the countries consulates are in Beijing. I can't even imagine the horror of trying to find a hotel room during this time. But there is not really any reason for anyone from the US to go to Beijing, short of that being where your baby is, which is also uncommon most come from Southern China. Most Americans only travel to Beijing a few days prior to getting their child to try to get acclimated to the time change/jet lag and to do some touristy things....Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, etc....But the US Consulate is in Guangzhou...no where near Beijing! This sucks for anyone that it is going to impact! I don't know how the CCAA is going to handle this, are they not going to give out any referrals for a few months or are they going to give out referrals and possibly make the people wait and extra month or two to travel?! Either way it sucks! And means that some of our babies will be potentially staying in an orphanage longer due to an "international sporting event"! Okay, okay, I know the olympics are more than that! But I can assure you that they are NOTHING to me compared to our Willow!

As always....the drama continues! Any PAP out there that has heard anything about the time around the olympics...let me know.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Travel Groups and Attrition Levels

The Rumor Queen site has some new statistics up based on information she has requested from readers regarding attrition. According to her, the approximate attrition level for those families logged in January, February & March 2006 is 23%.

Now, I realize that these attrition levels are not going to filter down to individual travel groups. But...it makes me wonder. Originally we were told that there were 5 families traveling, including us, in our group. So based on attrition...maybe at least one of the families has dropped out of the China program....presumably choosing a SN child or switching programs to a different country.

We have recently found another one of the families that is still traveling with us though! They are Lori and Andy, they live in Florida. So, including us here in AZ, we know of two of the other families, Susan and David in WI and now Lori and Andy in FL. Possibly if one family dropped out, we only have one left to find??????

I joked with Tom and told him that I thought family number 4 lives in Maine and family number 5 lives in Washington State. That way we would have all corners of the US covered just in our little group! So much for making it easy to plan some kind of travel group reunions for our girls to get together! Oh well, I guess if we all travel from China to the US...it should be a piece of cake to go from one coast to another! Pilot

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Global Warming and China's One Child Policy

U.N. Climate Change Talks went on this week in Vienna and China says that its one child policy has helped the fight against global warming by avoiding 300 million births, the equivalent of the population of the U.S. Beijing says that fewer people means less demand for energy and lower emissions of heat trapping gasses from burning fossil fuels.

I am not going to go on with the quotes from the article, you can read the whole thing if you wish from this link:

Now, I am by far not an expert on climate change. I absolutely DO believe in global warming. And absolutely believe that if we do not do something to try to help avoid further erosion, that maybe not our children's lives, but quite possibly their children's lives will be directly affected by our actions, or lack there of, today.

Tom and I try to live "green". There are many, many more things we could do than we do...but we are making an effort and continue to be aware of the greater impact of our choices and try to make decisions based on this. I drive a hybrid car, we recycle-even though it is not mandatory or particularly even convenient in our community, we have replaced all our light bulbs with fluorescent, we have landscaped to conserve water, we use canvas re-usable bags when shopping-not store plastic shopping bags, etc.
If anyone is interested in some suggestions for change they can make, big or small, in their lives here is one of the many websites that offers many suggestions: www.fightglobalwarming.com

But back to China's response in their fight against global warming.....all I can say is.....PLEEEEEZEEE! Could they possibly have given this response with a straight face?!
Okay, let me say, I do recognize the theory that less people, less fossil fuel consumption, less effect on the environment. But anyone who has been to China can tell you how horribly polluted the country is. The lack of government regulation, or enforcement of regulations, regarding pollution from corporations in China is notorious. Just look at articles, from any other country than China, that are relating to the Beijing Olympics in 2008-one of the major issues everyone is concerned with is air quality for athletes due to pollution!

Ironic that enforcement of laws regarding population control seem to be more important, and certainly more widely enforced than those of pollution control!

The Things You Tell Your Kids

We are having a pretty big monsoon thunderstorm here tonight. With wind, thunder, lightening and rain....which tends to be a little unusual here in the desert. Often we get wind storms and some thunder and lightening, but usually the rain never hits the ground.

My two sweet doggies don't like the thunder! And they look to their mommy for protection and "comfort from the storm". Tonight as I was comforting them, I told them "it's okay, it is just the angels bowling"....."there's no reason to be afraid of that!"

Okay, now move beyond analyzing the logic behind me trying to use something like this to comfort my dogs and think about it. This was what my parents told me when I was a child and afraid of the thunder. I can remember them being in my room in the night during a thunderstorm and when I jumped from a loud boom of thunder, them holding me tighter and saying "WOW...that must have been a strike!"

Now I have talked to several of my friends about this story and none of them were told this story of the angels bowling when they were young. I do remember one of my friends telling me some other story that she was told growing up. I don't remember what that story was though...but obviously it was not nearly as convincing or believable as the bowling scenario.

My husband told his children, from a prior marriage, the same story when they were young. But he does not remember if his parents told him such a story when he was young, so maybe this story got handed down to him and his children from his ex-wife.

So now as I sit here on the couch, joined by each of my fur babies, one on each side....I wonder.....
How many others were told the angels bowling story? What other stories are out there?
While I don't expect everyone, sadly even a majority, to explain things like this to their dogs as I have, what is it that you tell your children to "comfort them from the storm"?

For me....I'm good with the angels bowling theory. It worked for me.....it seems to comfort my dogs.....so I think Willow will hear about more than one "strike from the angels in heaven" before she grows out of it too!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

What About The Dogs?

There are 2 dogs in our family....our "furry kids".Dog 5 Dog 5 They are sisters, from the same litter of "mutts"...we know their mother was a cattle dog and think possibly their father was some sort of lab mix.

They are pretty good dogs, rather quirky, but overall pretty good. I have read a lot of recommendations for how to prepare your dogs for the arrival of your child. Honestly, I haven't started with any of them yet, but know I need to. Oh, unless chasing the dogs around the house with the "rocking panda" (see post dated 5/31), telling them it is going to get them, while they bark at it....unless that counts as part of the preparation! Lol What can I say...I was bored...it was funny!

Seriously though, I am concerned about how they will adjust to Willow coming home. Since it is just Tom and I, it is usually a pretty quiet house, nothing like it will be when Willow is home I'm sure. They haven't ever been around very young children, they aren't used to the noise...the sudden movements...etc... And they are both completely spoiled and MAMA'S GIRLS! I am concerned about the possibility of jealousy.

I talk to "the girls" (my dogs) often about Willow and about how they are going to have to act when Willow comes home. Honestly they do not seem all that interested in the conversation. But I have also let them know that they don't have a choice in their behavior once Willow comes home! Because if there are any problems, they will be living at new homes. And that would be horribly, horribly sad for all of us!

Has anyone dealt with this issue yet? Any suggestions on what worked or didn't work for you?

Friday, August 10, 2007

August Referrals

August referrals came out on 08/02/07. And once again....it sucks!! Those who were logged in by 11/21/05 were referred. Yes, this means another month of 7...yes 7 days of referrals.


And based on the polls on some of the websites, I am predicting that next month could probably be only 6 days, so September referrals will not even get us through November! Rumor Queens estimate for our LID date of 02/16/06 is sometime in 05/08! Holly crap...that would be a 26 month wait! I checked the China Adoption Forecast site estimates our referral to be on 03/13/08. I could seriously just blast out a serious line of obscenities a mile long Pissed about this subject....but I won't go there....not "in public". Obviously it would not serve any purpose, but for me to blow off some steam!

Really I actually think I am becoming more accepting of the wait. Ha...after almost 18 months! But I do need to try more to enjoy the time. Tom and I both need to take advantage of the "couple only" time we have left. Of course all of this seems perfectly rational and easy...but only in my head! I have been thinking of things that I would like to get accomplished before Willows arrival, minor home improvements, painting, redecorating, etc., it has helped with the wait.

I guess the last word is....the wait will be what the wait will be....24 months....26 months....etc.... Ultimately the wait time will be SO WORTH IT! And I am sure as soon as Willow is in my arms, I will completely forget all the pain, anger, anticipation, hopelessness, all of these crazy emotions that are included on this crazy journey! For now it is my job to find ways to make the wait less stressful for Tom and I and to do everything I can to prepare for our beautiful Willow.

What Do You Think?

I added a poll for everyone to give their opinion on when we will get our referral.

Please participate...I can't wait to see what the general consensus is!
The poll is to the left. Thumbs Up

Monday, July 30, 2007

100 Good Wishes Quilt

I sent a letter out to several friends and family when we first started the adoption process and received many fabric swatches and wishes back....but we are still short of our "100". If you are interested in participating...or swapping....send me a note and I will give you our address. I am requesting 8 X 8 100% cotton squares please.

This quilt has become very popular in the Chinese adoption community as a way to honor our daughter’s heritage and give them a sense of history so that they have a piece of themselves to pass on to their next generation. Most of our Chinese daughters come to us with no personal history at all, except for the culture of their homeland. The quilts are a wonderful keepsake and reminder of all the people that were waiting for her and wishing her well.

The last Empress of the Qing dynasty was a mere concubine, until she had the good luck to birth the Emperor’s only son. When forced to leave her baby alone for a while, she conceived a plan to protect him from the senior wives and obligate the other powerful Manchu families to back his claim to the throne.“From the head of each of the highest one hundred families in the Empire, she required a bolt of the finest silk. From the silks she commanded the palace tailors to cut one hundred small pieces and from these make a robe for her child. Thus he belonged, by symbol, to one hundred strong and noble families, and under their shelter the gods would fear to harm him." (Imperial Woman by Pearl S. Buck)

This legend has transformed into the Northern Chinese tradition to make a Bai Jia Bei, translated to “100 Good Wishes Quilt“, in which 100 friends and family members are invited to contribute a swatch of fabric along with a wish, hope, prayer or dream for your daughter. Then 100 patches are sewn together into a quilt that contains the luck, energy, and good wishes from everyone who contributed. A small piece of fabric is used in a memory book attached to the wish of each participant. The idea is that each patch on the quilt can be matched to it’s sender and their wish in the memory book.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Got Ink?

Tom got this tattoo shortly after we sent our paperwork off to China. I think the artist who tattooed him did a great job...I Love It!
He has one other tattoo, in honor of his much loved Wolverines. It is a University of Michigan football helmet.
The Willow tree is on the outside of his left calf and the U of M football helmet is on the outside of his right calf.
Willow just has no idea what a position of honor she already holds on his calf and in his heart!

A Boy Named Sue...but not a boy named Willow

I was reading one of the adoption forums lately and quite the interesting debate came up. Someone posed the question....if you were to receive a referral of a boy, would you accept the referral or reject it based on the fact that you wanted a girl? And further than that, if you knew you would not get another referral if you rejected the boy, would you still refuse. It actually turned into quite a debate. Many of the people who participated had a lot of strong opinions, as is usually the case when it involves international adoption. In general though the consensus seemed to be that No, most would not reject/refuse the referral, even those who specifically requested a female only.

This brings up an interesting point though. Most people who are not involved in China international adoption do not even consider the fact that boys are available for international adoption. Sadly even some who are involved with international adoption seem to be oblivious to this fact...which I totally don't understand. There are boys in orphanages in China, certainly not even a fraction of the number of girls there are, but there are boys. A large number of the boys are special needs children, but not all. Some of the male abandonments presumably come from unwed mothers or extremely poor couples who can not afford to care for even one child.

As prospective adoptive parents, we had the option of requesting a female child and requesting an specific age range of our child (based on guidelines of the youngest adoptive parents age). But it is just that....a request. Nothing is guaranteed! In nearly all cases, adoptive parents who have requested specifically only a female child, have received a female child....but not all. There are some parents who have said that they solicited the CCAA specifically for a female child, but were referred a male, much to their surprise!

Needless to say....we would be in TOTAL SHOCK if we were referred a boy! Tom was the one who had a preference for a girl, I did not have a preference. We did specifically request a daughter, as young as possible. All of our plans have been for a girl. Everything we have purchased has been for a girl. The nursery is decorated for a girl. Even the furniture is girl furniture...I don't even think we could get away with it for a boy! Of course with all of that said, if we received a referral for a boy, would we accept it? Without a second thought! I believe if we were to receive a referral for a son, there must be a reason, it must be bigger than us, it must be fate! We would just have to change everything we planned on for the past 2 years! And someone would end up getting a really good deal on a beautiful bedroom set for a girls nursery! Oh....and we would have to pick a new name. Ponder

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Mystery Travelers

There are a total of 16 agencies that travel with our "travel group". We are small groups, from agencies with small China programs. There are not families from each agency in each group.
Our "travel group" name is TWLP or Traveling With Li Ping. Li Ping is our international coordinator in China.

For example, when we got our LID, we were assigned a travel group number, ours is 124A. We were originally told that there were a total of 5 families in our travel group, no one else from our agency, LMI, though. I do not know if that number is still the same or has changed due to attrition, families adopting SN or switching countries due to the long wait.

Tom and I have had contact with one of the families in our travel group, Susan & David, who live in WI. There is a TWLP Yahoo group and we "hooked up" with them there. But there are no other families registered on the group from our travel group. It just makes me curious where these people are. I mean I know I tend to be an internet junkie...but I can't imagine someone being in this process now who doesn't follow it somewhere on the net. The program has just become too crazy with the wait. And information seems to be few and far between, unless you look for it! Wow...maybe they are with some outstanding agency who keeps them informed and up to date, who tries to console them during their unexpected long wait...so they don't need to go anywhere else. Crap, now I'm jealous of these people!

Seriously though, even if they are private people, if they were "lurking", they would know who we were and they could privately email us. I find it to be a fine line, deciding what you are and are not going to post. I tend to be rather private I think most of the time. But I almost find this blog to be somewhat cathartic during the long wait. I mean, what else would I be doing at 3 am? Look at some of the times on my posts!

Back to the "mystery travelers"...presumably there are 3 more families out there somewhere in the US that we will be meeting up with in China...probably sometime in 2008. These families, these complete strangers, are going to be witness to the most incredible event of my life...the first time I see my daughter. Doesn't that seem kind of weird? Going through such an emotional roller coaster with a group of strangers, day in and day out for 2 weeks?! Yup...this adoption journey is one strange trip.

Obviously to be perfectly honest, I don't care who is there...as long as Tom is with me and Willow is there! But it would be kind of nice to know, I guess just out of curiosity.

I have heard many stories of people in travel groups maintaining long time friendships, even though they are scattered around the country. Many have annual reunions with their children. I think this is awesome! The only physical link that their children still have to their early lives in China are each other. The rest of the children in the travel group come from the same orphanage, some of these children would have spent the early months of their lives in the same cribs! So, I applaud those families for keeping in contact, if for no other reason, for their children.

But who are "my people"???? Who are the strangers that I may have a lifetime relationship with after we travel to China? Who out there will possibly be the one whose daughter may be sharing a crib with our Willow right now?? Are you out there?? Does anyone know someone who is in TWLP and is in group 124A? I would love to chat with them and I know our other travel mate Susan would as well!

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Forgotten Letter

While in the process of completing our renewal application for my I-600A, I was looking through some old documents on my computer to find some direction on how to answer some of the questions on the form. I didn't find what I was looking for....had to email my international coordinator. But, I did find something that I had forgotten.

About 5 months after we started our paperwork, when our dossier was finally sent to China, I started a journal that was meant to be shared with Willow once she was old enough to understand. The original intention was to let her know what we were thinking about and feeling while we were waiting for her.

Unfortunately because the wait kept getting longer and longer, I did not keep up the journal. To be completely honest, I kind of forgot about it. Our feelings, dreams and anticipation about the adoption never changed...over time the situation has just become more desperate! I'm not sure that is something I could keep journaling about!

Maybe at this point I will just make it into something from the beginning of our wait and then again a story about the end of our wait, journaling briefly about the torturous long wait, telling of the stories of specific preparations that were made and then about our thoughts and feelings of when we first saw Willows face and about our dreams for our future as a family.

Anyway, I thought I would share the beginning of the original journal. This is not the journal in its entirety, just the first few paragraphs, it goes on to tell the story of Tom and my early years of marriage, our decision to adopt and our choice of China.

I believe all waiting families will appreciate the irony of my comment on the wait being "unbearable"...when we were just waiting for our LID! HA..the innocence....the naivety, I had at the time....Oh if I had only known the wait we had in front of us!
Love Letter


02/19/2006: As I write this we are waiting for our LID from the CCAA. This is the next step in the process to bring you home. We are still many months away from going to China to get you, but you already feel like such a part of our family. There have been so many preparations and so much planning for your arrival, the anticipation is making the wait nearly unbearable!

I have so many questions……are you born yet? If you are, where are you? How long did you stay with your birth parents? Are you at an orphanage or in foster care? Are you okay? Are you happy? Are you scared? Do you know there are people half way around the world who already love you? Do you know that you are already considered part of these peoples family? What do you look like? How big are you? How much hair do you have? How do you look when you smile? What kind of personality do you have? My sweet baby, the list goes on and on! But for now we can only imagine the answers to all of these questions. What a wonderful day it is going to be when we finally get to meet you and get some of the answers. And what a joy it is going to be for us to discover the answers over the years.

I thought I would keep this journal for you so you could see the process of how we came together and let you know how we were feeling and what we were thinking during the process.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Referrals Are Coming In a.k.a. More Disappointment

Referrals began arriving today and the CCAA has finished the placement of children for the families who were LID through November 14, 2005. That's right folks....a whopping 7 days for this month! Now everybody says that November is a "huge month for dossiers".....lots and lots of families logged in in November.....blah, blah, blah....but damn, could this go any slower?! As you can see...currently, I am having some "issues" with the wait! Some days are easier....some are harder!

So in my sleepless state of frustration/depression/disbelief (it is 1:45 am here) I have decided to get out the calendar and a note pad just "do a little figuring". Forgive me if I am off a little...as I stated, it is 1:45 in the AM! Okay, here it goes: There are a total of 93 days between the date that the CCAA has referred to (11/14/05) and our LID (02/16/06). And yes, I know this includes weekends. So far this year, from the 01/03/07 referrals until the most current of 07/05/07, they have averaged referring 11 days per month. And oh yes, that number looks hideously low, that is until you look and see that if I took the average for only the past 4 months it would be just over 5 days per month! Anyway, back to the 93 days that we have left, divide that by the average of 11 days per month and that gives you approximately 8.45 months until our referral. This would mean a referral in March of 2008! A wait of 25 months from LID to referral! Hmmm....and when our paperwork was sent to China and we were LID, the people were waiting approximately 9 months from LID to referral. This is just horribly, horribly wrong! Oh, and I did check the China Adoption Forecast site...they have moved our estimated forecast back to 02/16/08....so according to them we are looking at a 24 month wait. I think I am going to lose my mind! I can't believe we are going to go through another holiday season without Willow! Pissed

Alright then...on a more positive note, a couple that we know that lives in our community should be getting a referral in this batch! Congratulations Sarah & Roger! We can't wait to see the beautiful Charlotte. And to anyone else who is just seeing their child's face for the first time, Babycongratulations to you as well!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Where Are All The Babies....or....The Blame Game Part 4

Part 4 of my series of posts on theories behind the slowdown of international adoptions China. As some of you know theories on this particular subject seem to be endless, with many sides to each of them. I think this is the last one I am going to cover... at least for now. In my opinion, the theories/reasons/causes that I have covered here are some of the most prevalent ones and I think in most cases I have covered both sides of the story. Ultimately do I know if any of these theories are in actuality fact? No. My suspicion is that probably a good part of many of them are true. But ultimately I do not know for sure and will probably never know the absolute truth. This is just another tough part of international adoption....having to give up control, trusting the unknown, while keeping the faith.
As I previously stated, over the past week, representatives from the CCAA are in the U.S. and having meetings with various U.S. adoption agency personnel. I am not entirely sure of the purpose of these meetings. I do know that some "pre-selected" adoptive families and waiting families have been invited to attend some of these meetings and "allowed" to ask representatives from the CCAA questions. Of course these "pre-selected" family members have "cautioned" not to ask any questions that would "embarrass" or be considered to be "accusatory or controversial". Honestly, at this point, I can't think of a question that I might ask them given those restrictions. I guess it is lucky for all that I wasn't invited to one of the meetings then huh? Not that there was even a remote chance of that happening with my agency....we will be lucky to even be provided, by our agency, with any information our agency may have received during the meeting. But luckily, those of us with an interest in the world of international adoption in China are a resourceful bunch and information "makes the rounds". If only there were a reliable way to disseminate fact from fiction all of our lives would be a little easier.
The Blame Game
  • During at least one of the meetings between the CCAA and U.S. adoption agencies the CCAA officials stated that one of the reasons for the slowdown is due to the individual SWI's. According to these officials, the CCAA does not have enough "Paper Ready Babies", not necessarily that there are not enough babies...but "Paper Ready Babies". And whose responsibility is it to make the children in the orphanages "paper ready"? The individual SWI's have to submit the paperwork to the CCAA for the children to be eligible for international adoption. There are many steps in this process, including paperwork, finding ads, medical checks, etc. This has always been another responsibility of the SWI's, another part of the care for the children who they are responsible for. Adoptive parents from the U.S. are required to make an "orphanage donation" to the SWI that our child comes from in the amount of $3000. USD. This payment is meant to aid in the care of the children in the orphanage. This care includes housing, food, clothing, medical care, staffing for childcare and YES paperwork & documentation. Hmmm...can you relate? How many of us enjoy our job....if it weren't for that damn time consuming paperwork?! Apparently $3000. USD does not go as far as it used to, because according to these recent meeting with CCAA officials, SWI personnel does not see this as the financial incentive to make children "paper ready" as they have in the past. There are new paperwork regulations that are more involved due to Hague compliance and the SWI's feel that they should be getting more money due to this.

As usual, I am torn about this. One would think that this is not a rumor or theory since it reportedly came directly from officials from the CCAA. But that would involve having complete confidence in what we are being told. If you go back to Part 2 of this post, I wrote about "saving face", as we would call it in the U.S., since this is a common cultural practice with the Chinese, one may have issues with the level of confidence. I have to question when/if $3000. USD was not the equivalent of a lot of money in China....again, go back to Part 3 of this post....in the past it was said that SWI orphanage directors would not provide children for domestic adoption in China because they got a larger donation for the orphanage from international adoption....but now it's not enough?! I don't get it!

So, should the SWI's get a larger amount of money for their "donation"...in all honestly at this point....I DON'T CARE! Would I give the orphanage that cared for my daughter for the first months of her life more money to help care for the other children who are in their care? Would I invest more money in providing a cleaner, better environment for these children? Would I pay more money for one more nanny to be added to the payroll of a orphanage so maybe, just maybe, my daughter or someone elses would actually be held while she is being given a bottle or comforted while she cried? YOU BET I WOULD....WITHOUT A BLINK OF AN EYE! Judge as you will, but this is my opinion. I would do so without reservation. NOT to be "buying a baby", but I see this potential increase as a price of doing business. U.S. agencies rates increase, homestudy/social workers charges increase, even the U.S. government USCIS fees are increasing....I have no control over any of these increases, nor did anyone ask my input before they were put in place...and while all of these are involved in the process of us adopting our daughter, none of them are directly involved in the care of our daughter. So why, in the name of GOD, would I not be willing to increase the financial donation to my daughters orphanage?

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Where Are All The Babies....or.....The Blame Game Part 3

Part 3 in my series of commonly talked about reasons behind the slowdown of international adoptions in China.

  • The CCAA was recently in the U.S. and according to them, 4 out of 5 adoptions in China are domestic adoptions, leaving only 1 out of 5 for international adoptions. Hence, less babies for international adoption. The Chinese government has strongly promoted the domestic adoption program and according to them it has been very successful. I tried to do some research on domestic adoption on the CCAA website before this post, but was unable to get to the information I was looking for, so I do not have a lot of specifics on the domestic program. I have read that in the case of a domestic adoption that the Chinese government will waive the "one child rule". Of course, as with nearly everything that is involved with international adoption in China, there are many sides of this story. While the government agency who is responsible for child welfare has indicated that one of the reasons that there are fewer children for international adoption is that the children are being adopted domestically, many do not believe this is the case. There are many reasons behind why some do not believe that domestic adoptions are not as successful in China as reported. It is said to be unusual for a Chinese family to raise a child who is not a blood relative, historically in China there have been a large number or a)informal or b)adoptions within families. These adoptions are done privately and not part of the government regulated domestic adoptions. Another issue in domestic adoption is the financial aid obtained by individual SWI's for domestic adoptions versus international adoptions. I have read that several SWI directors are not interested in participating in domestic adoption because it is not as fiscally rewarding to the institute as an international adoption. As stated, I do not know the specifics of domestic adoption in China, but I do know that the individual SWI where your child comes from in international adoption receives a donation in the amount of $3000.00 USD from the adoptive parent(s). I think we can all safely assume that no one is paying this in domestic adoption. (I DO NOT think they should, by the way). The numbers of 4/5 of adoptions being domestic in China is at first glance kind of shocking, but when you break it down, it is really not a large number at all. Consider that if the CCAA completes approximately 10,000 international adoptions annually (with all countries, not just the U.S.), that would mean that there would be 40,000 domestic adoptions annually. Considering the population of China is approximately 1.3 billion, 40,000 seems like a very low number. Of course with that said, I did see the question of 4/5 adoptions in China being domestic posed to Dr. Jane Liedtke of OCDF and her response was "Don't believe 4/5 of all adoptions are domestic - that would put the number pretty high." If you a member of the yahoo group "Ask Jane in China", you can read her entire post in reference to this subject here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/askjaneinchina/message/2869

So again, as with the prior issues regarding international adoption in China.....everyone has an opinion. And of you know what they say opinions are like....and everyone has one. Lol

By the way if you are in the process of adopting from China, I would strongly suggest you join the Yahoo group "Ask Jane in China". Dr. Jane Liedtke is living in Beijing raising her adopted daughter and runs OCDF "Our Chinese Daughters Foundation". Its a good source of no nonsense information. Ask a question, you'll get a straight response....no unsolicited comments...just ask and answer. I like it!

Where Are All The Babies....or....The Blame Game Part 2

Continued from the previous post, here is yet another reason/excuse/theory...on what is behind the slowdown in adoptions from China.

Maybe I should change the title of this post to: Saving Face and the 2008 Olympics.
  • It has been said that one of the reasons for the slowdown is the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Here is the theory...Chinese people are very proud people, very concerned about appearances and about "saving face" as we would say in the U.S. Part of Chinas goal with the 2008 Olympics is to show the rest of the world how progressive the country is, that it should be considered a growing industrialized nation and not a third world country. Certainly as the Olympics grows closer, there will be more scrutiny, more stories of practices and way of life in China. For at least the past 5 years, more children were adopted internationally from China than from any other country. It is an issue of pride with Chinese officials that they do not want to be seen as a country who is "unable to take care of it's own". Hence the slowdown....so any reporting on the issue would potentially be positive for China....IE. just look at the decline in adoptions....abandonment is no longer an issue....children are no longer languishing in substandard care in orphanages....we as a country have evolved and take care of our own. Or so that is the theory of some. I don't know, this seems incredibly harsh to me. But then again, I have read articles relating to preparations for the Olympics that have told stories of people being evicted from their homes and property in the governments efforts to clean up areas around Olympic venues, with these people being given little to no restitution for their loss. I have also read stories about how due to the amount of pollution in Beijing, the government has decided to have several coal burning power plants in the area (a major cause of this pollution) shut down during the Olympics. The issue with these ordered shutdowns???? It is going to leave tens of thousands of Chinese without electricity during the Olympics.

I understand the theory of nationalism in China. I understand their thought of "for the greater good of all"....as opposed to the individual. Regardless of if I agree or disagree with these theories, I do understand them.

BUT if my daughter has to stay in an orphanage for even one more day than is absolutely necessary before we can be united because of the Olympic GAMES...let me say that again GAMES, that is something I will NEVER be able to understand!

Where Are All The Babies....or.....The Blame Game Part 1

When I first started this post, I had in my mind about 4 or 5 reasons that I was going to discuss here. As I began with my first reason/thoughts, the post began to grow faster than I anticipated. Therefore I have decided that I will continue with this post on several separate posts....1 "reason" I want to address per post. J.

There are endless theories as to what is behind the slow down of adoptions from China. Certainly the most maddening part Pulling My Hair Out of the process is that they are exactly that....theories. No one knows for sure. Well, I guess that is not entirely true, I assume that some government agency in China, the CCAA or the SWI's???, have to know. But as anyone who has followed the roller coaster ride of international adoption knows...those in the "know" don't necessarily find it their responsibility to share this information.

So, lets cover a few of the "more popular" rumors/reasons for the slow down:
  • There are fewer abandonments in China. This one probably has an equal number of believers as non-believers. The "Believers" argument is that the "One Child Rule" is easing in China and even where the law is fully enforced, that families are making more money and are able to afford the financial penalty of having more than one child. There is also the argument that the population is becoming more educated in birth control, therefore less unplanned or unwanted pregnancies. Another side of this argument deals with the age old practice of the cultural bias preference for males vs. females, some say that with new generations that this practice is not as prevalent as in the past. The "Non-Believers", whose theory are that there are just as many abandonments as in the past, have their own compelling arguments as well. The argument of enforcement of the "One Child Rule" easing in China is highly debated. There are many, very disturbing, stories of forced abortions as well as forced sterilization within China by the Family Planning Officials. Here is a link to an article regarding this subject: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9766870. The issue that people have a higher standard of living in some cases is correct, but as you will see from the story linked, apparently some are not being given the option of paying a fine for a second child (girl) even if they have the ability. The other argument regarding the financial status is the standard of living has increased in many urban cities in China, but the rural areas remain poor and daily life is a struggle for many. Statistically it seems that most birthmothers of infant abandoments come from rural areas. Cultural bias for males over females can also be tied to financial stability in some cases. The bias for a male offspring is at least partially based on a families ability to survive in the future...for parents to be taken care of in their old age. Since daughters get married, leave their family, and become part of their husbands family, their is no assurance for the parents to have someone to provide for them once they are elderly and unable to provide for themselves. It seems that the lessening of this cultural bias for male offsprings for the current generation is dependent primarily on two things....the standard of living of the couple as well as the pressure provided by the families of these couples. Pressure from past generations, particularly grandparents, plays a lot into the bias for a male offspring. Apparently, in China, as with a lot of other places in the world...."You can't teach and old dog new tricks".

to be continued...........

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Signs That We Have Waited Too Long For A Referral From China

Okay...to be honest, I "borrowed" the idea for this post from a post that was on Rumor Queen....it was a very funny Top 10 List. I do not have 10, but I do have some very good indications that this wait has gone on for too long:
  1. I have a co-worker who, when we started the adoption process, was single, in college and very dedicated to her future professional career opportunities. We used to joke that she was "out to rule the world". Well, since that time, she has finished college, met a man, dated this man, married said man and yes....about 3 months ago had a baby girl!
  2. While we were working on the paperwork for our dossier, Tom and I asked our dear friends Stacia and Dustin if they would consider being our child's legal guardian if something would happen to both of us. I was hesitant to ask at that particular time, because Stacia was actively trying to get pregnant and things weren't necessarily going as planned. But we did end up asking them and we are so grateful that they happily agreed. Shortly after, Stacia did end up getting pregnant and we spoke about how our daughters would grow up together and be best friends. Well, they now have an incredibly beautiful, funny daughter. Bella is absolutely one of the cutest kids you have ever seen! We went to her first birthday party a couple of weeks ago. Hmmmm....looks like there is going to be a bigger age difference than we originally thought. Oh well, I'm sure Bella will make a wonderful "big sister"!
  3. Shortly after we submitted our paperwork, I started working on the nursery. I must have looked at hundreds of sets of crib bedding on-line before I decided on one. It is beautiful...it is a "Glenna Jean" set and the pattern (by coincidence) is called "Asia". I think that the set was pretty popular because I had to wait to get it because it was back-ordered. Ironically though, the bedding has now been discontinued! Discontinued....Before we even used it! Guess it is a good thing I got everything I wanted when I first ordered it and didn't wait!
  4. Tom historically goes back to Michigan at least once a year in the fall to attend a U of M football game. It has become an annual tradition for him and his son. Last year he thought maybe he "shouldn't" go....that it was an unnecessary expense, since we were going to have a new baby. As the time got closer and we were no where near a referral I told him "you might as well go ahead and go.....it may be the last time for awhile" and suggested to him that the rule after Willow came home was that he could go again as soon as she was big enough to go with him! Well....here we are.....almost the beginning of July, not to long again until Michigan football starts again...Go Blue! And once again, I hear myself saying...."you might as well go ahead and go............"

Sometimes I just have to laugh about all of this....because if I couldn't laugh, I might cry!

You Cannot Change The Truth

We attended an "Adoption Preparation" class given by a social worker ,who specializes in international adoption, several months ago. The following piece was in our packet with information from the class. I like this piece a great deal and thought I would share it with you adoptive parents who may not have seen it yet.


You cannot change the truth
These are your children
But they come from somewhere else
And they are the children of those places
And of those people as well

Help them to know about their past
And all about their present
Help them to know that they are from extended families
That they only have one parent or set of parents
But that they have more mothers and fathers
They have grandfathers, godfathers, birthfathers and fatherlands
They have family by birth and by adoption
They have family by choice and by chance

Childhood is short
They are our children to raise
They are our children to love
And then they are citizens of the world

What we do to them creates the world that we live in

Give them life
Give them their truth
Give them all that they came with
Give them all that they grow with

Your children do not belong to you
But, they belong with you
You cannot keep them from what is theirs
But, you can keep loving them

You do not own your children
But, they are your own.

Written by Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao, with love to adoptive parents.
Dr. Pavao is Director of the Center for Family Connections in Cambridge, MA.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Ladybugs and The Red Thread

Ladybugs are a sign of good luck in the Chinese adoption community. The story goes that if you see a ladybug that referrals will be received soon. There are MANY stories of this happening in the adoption community...too many, I think to be a coincidence. Believe
I guess I will REALLY believe when/if I see one just before we receive our referral...living in the desert in AZ, I don't think I've ever seen one here. I'm not even sure if we have ladybugs in AZ!

The Red Thread is an ancient Chinese belief that "An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but never break." From some of the research I have done, apparently this belief actually originally was in relation to "couples" whom would end up being married, but somewhere along the way it got "adopted" by the adoption community as relating to adoptive parents and their children. I believe this one too! I have a very strong feeling that there is a specific baby girl in China who will be Willow....not just any baby....OUR baby.

There is a childrens book, Little Miss Ladybug & Her Magical Red Thread, by Karen Acres, that combines these 2 beliefs about Chinese adoption. It is a cute story for children and the book has wonderful illustrations by Louise Pomminville.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Father's Day

Well, another Father's Day and Mother's Day have gone by and we are still "Waiting For Willow". Judy and I thought that 2006 was going to be the last Mother's and Father's Day that we would spend without Willow and now another one has gone by and we are still waiting. We are hopeful that this one will be the last but truth being told we really aren't sure that is true. The wait continues to get longer and things do not seem to be picking up in China. We are optimistic that our adoption will happen but we certainly do not know when.

This Father's Day was really hard on me because it coincided with the 22nd anniversary of my daughter's passing. June 17, 1985 the day after Father's Day, my 11 year old daughter Christina (Tina) was hit by a car and died instantly. She was a child from my previous marriage along with a son, Christopher who stills lives in Michigan and is 38 now. I still miss her.

Judy and I have been trying to stay busy and not think about the wait and this weekend discussed changing things around in the house for the long awaited Willow arrival. We have decided to move my home office from the library to one of the front bedrooms. We were going to make the bedroom a play room for Willow because it is right next door to her bedroom. It makes more sense to move it to the library because it is next to the great room and kitchen where we will be spending most of our time with her. It will allow me some privacy when I have home office days because there are no doors on the library. It also will allow me to do something that I have wanted to do since we moved here almost four years ago and that is decorate it completely in University of Michigan (my passion) stuff. I'm pumped up. I have U of M things in my office now but I'll have more wall space in the other room. Now we have something to do while we wait.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

CCAA Update

Well, referrals are out for June. The cut off is November 7, 2005. This means they referred 7 days since last months referrals....sadly....really only 5 days considering that 2 of these days were the weekend!
I just did the math and this leaves 108 days total or 78 week days of LID's until they get to us on February 16, 2006.
What does this mean? Who knows?! There really has not been any rhyme nor reason to referrals for many months. And you really can't estimate based on the number of days, because the number of families logged in varies by day. According to all the polls and "guesstimates" out there from various sources, November is a pretty big month and will take some time to get through. So...we wait....and wait....some days more patiently than others. But always knowing that one day our beautiful Willow will be coming home and all will be as it should be!
Congratulations to all who received referrals this month!
If you check out the link to the "Rumor Queen" she always has a great list of links on her site to individual families websites who have just received their referral information. There you can see pics of all the new babies!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Panda Rocker--Too Cute!

How cute is this?! This is the favorite thing that we have bought for Willow so far. I just love it! I can just see our girl on it rocking away...too cute.

I ordered it online @ www.erockinghorses.com , they have a lot of different "rocking animals"....not just your average horses. I also ordered a plush rocking horse for a friends child...very cute too.

Oh, I just can't wait for Willow to come home!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

China Adoption Forecast

There is a website out there, the China Adoption Forecast, that will give you an estimated referral date based on a combination of current activity and past trends of the CCAA. I put in our LID, 02/16/06 and here is our prediction:

Our prediction for LID 2006-02-16
Our best guess - a weighted average of recent CCAA velocities, guessing that CCAA will perform about as well in the future as they are performing now, but might return to previous trends: 2007-12-17
That's our best guess for when you might receive your referral. Just at a guess, we can suppose that the CCAA either speeds up or slows down significantly, and show you those dates. If they speed up: 2007-10-25. And if they slow down: 2008-10-16.
Since China generally sends out referrals in a batch about once per month, your referral date could easily vary +/- one month depending on whether you just get included or just get missed in a particular batch.

So, what can I say now? "I sure hope they "speed up"!"...DUH! Duh
My "guesstimate" at this point is a referral sometime in December as well, which means that we will not be traveling until probably February 2008. Ugh...another holiday season without our Willow....not looking forward to that.

Here is a link to the site if you want to check your LID or if you want additional information on what information they use to make their estimates: http://www.chinaadoptionforecast.com/

Parental Leave

We receive a wonderful weekly update email from our home study agency, ICF. Not that there is ever really any news to update regarding the China program, it is nice to know someone out there remembers us here waiting...and waiting...and waiting. Often Jackie Semar, who is the executive director of International Child Foundation and authors the updates, will include something that is currently in the news that is adoption related along with a sort of "commentary" of her opinion of the issues. I always find this part of the updates interesting and thought provoking. The following is part of her recent update. Jackie includes some very interesting facts and brings up some great points.
Tom and I have been working toward being in a position, financially, for me to not have to work once we bring Willow home, or at the most, work only part time. This certainly will require some changes in our lifestyle being a one income family, but ultimately we both feel it is the best thing for Willow. Wouldn't it be nice if we all were in a position where we did not have to choose?

author: Jackie Semar-International Child Foundation (reproduced with permission):
Canada recently changed it's parental leave policy to 2 years with 90% pay for the mother, and 1 year for the father, although there are restrictions on taking the leave concurrently. Most European and Scandinavian nations, too, offer generous paid leave for new mothers (and fathers), subsidized or state sponsored childcare, wage protection and health care. The US offers some of the least humane or progressive policies for families and children. Most research indicates that the absence of parental involvement with a child, due to the 40+ hour work week, causes as much harm in adolescence as it does in early childhood. It is related to lower cognitive functioning, behavioral and academic problems in school, anti-social or criminal activity and even childhood obesity. This is not just a challenge for us as individual families, but for our communities and society as a whole.
Those of us who operate small businesses (for-profit or non-profit) know that there is no way an employer could provide 90% compensation for 2 years for employees taking family leave. And that is not how it works in most of the countries that provide lengthy family leave. Family leave is endorsed or mandated and financially supported by the government. Why? Because the government has calculated that NOT helping a family provide a child with a good start in life, and NOT providing families with safe and affordable child care and health care, is more costly to society than providing these services. Other governments do not provide these benefits because they want to be "nice" -- it is based on sound economic research. The more a government helps families thrive, the better off the nation is, as a whole. Less crime, less drug addiction, less unemployment.
The downside of parental leave, paid or unpaid, is loss of time establishing a career and maximizing income. Although the parent's wage or position is protected, there is no way to recover lost time, productivity or experience. But we can't have it all. Or can we?
There has been such a polarization of parental leave European-style v. parental leave US-style. The European style is predicted to ruin the economy. But will it, if the long term benefits are so high? Maybe, what we are rejecting or suspicious of, is not the financial issue. It may have more to do with our deeply-felt American history of individualism and self-determinism. Any kind of state subsidy is viewed with skepticism in this light, as the way our country will become undone, soft, socialized or "domesticated."
But let's let go of those assumptions, for the moment, and ask our representatives in Congress to really examine what would be best for American families and children. Honestly, there is probably no one more keenly aware of the problems of modern living than our Representatives, so you would have a ready ear. In the past, the politician's whole family would move to DC. Now, our Senators and Congress abandon their families at home for months at a time. Their lives are fractured, their children and marriages suffer.
How do we get from where we are today, in the US, to where we would want to be, in the next 20 years? For those of you just adopting, would you like your grandchildren to be able to have their mothers or fathers stay home with them, for few months or years? What do you think would be best for the child? That's the key question -- what would be best for the child? Then, don't dismiss your thoughts as impossible or improbable -- play it out, put a few ideas together, like a puzzle, and then tell someone. Talk it out -- send a letter to your Representatives. Whatever you think -- let them know!
I heard on NPR that the level of happiness in the US is way down. The high point was 1956; that's when the highest percentage of Americans reported being happy with their lives. Since then, according to this research, our material comforts have tripled, but our happiness has declined. There is a clue here. Material Girl was the road to dissatisfaction with life, not fulfillment. Living for others, rather than at the expense of others, gives us more joy. Having stronger communities, good neighbors, safe schools, faith -- not only spiritual faith, but faith in the future, in ourselves, our country -- this gives us happiness.
I've thought since I was in my 20s, a long time ago now, that the solution to having more parent time with children, was the 6 hr work day. Combined with a 6 hr school day. In China, children go to school from 7:30-5:30, 6 days a week. It matches when the parents work. (I am NOT proposing the China model!) But if we looked at work through the lens of what is good for the family... what would be best?
I think that no matter what, we will need to evolve to being a little less materialistic. If either parent works less, to be with the children more, there will be less income. That means less "stuff." Could we live with a little less stuff, to have happier families? Less TV, more Scrabble. Less video games, more trips to the park. Less shopping, more volunteer work. It sounds kind of like the 1950s again, doesn't it? Maybe I'm out of my mind. But I would sure love to see the children that come home to the US have more mommy time and daddy time, and for those new parents to have more parental leave without penalties.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Referral History

The following spreadsheet gives a breakdown of the history of referrals since we began the adoption process.
Some items to note: The wait time when we began the paperwork process of this adoption: 6.12 to 7.1 months. The wait time at the time of our LID: 9.14-9.5 months. The most current wait time: 17.95 to 18.12 months. We have currently waited 15.25 months.
When, oh when, will be get our referral?!

Can You Please Repeat The Question?

Don't get me wrong, I sincerely appreciate it when I am asked about our adoption. Your interest shows you care about our lives, our dreams, our future. Here I have tried to compile a list of questions that I am commonly asked.

To my fellow international adoptive parents, wherever you are in the process, this is to serve as a disclaimer, and in defense of the "questioners". Keep in mind that nearly all who may ask me one of these questions has NO experience with international adoption. Do not judge them for what they do not know.

Welcome to my frustration:

  1. Any news on the adoption, about Willow or about the baby? Nope...no news! Currently they are matching babies with families who were logged in _ _ _. We were logged in 02/16/06. They average roughly 2 months to get through 1 month of LID's, but for the past several months have gone considerably slower. We wait.....we will see. And by the way...when you ask me the same question next week, the answer will be the same! Maybe you can change your question to "what date LID's are they matching now? (just to let me know that you have been paying attention).
  2. Why Willow? This is the name Tom and I have chosen for our daughter from China. An "unusual name" you say? Well if it is necessary to classify our babies name, I would prefer a "unique name". No, there is no deep meaning behind it. Willow will have Tom's last name, not mine. I kept my maiden name.
  3. Why can...insert latest celebrity name....Angelina, Madonna, etc...just go get a baby right away and you have to wait so long? Well, this is really 2 separate questions. The reason we have to wait so long is a complicated situation with many different theories that I will address in several future posts. But I can say that NO MATTER WHO THE ADOPTIVE PARENTS ARE, if they are adopting from China, they are waiting just like everyone else. If you look my first post, I gave a simplified explanation of how the process works. This is the process for all prospective parents who adopt from China. The only "celebrity" that I can recall adopting recently from China was Meg Ryan. And from all accounts, she waited in line just like the rest of us. Now, for the other countries, international adoption processes differ by country. Angelina's last son came from Vietnam. Vietnam opened again to international adoptions late last year after being closed down due to corruption in the system for some time. The process in Vietnam is completely different than that in China but seems to be running relatively smoothly since it re-opened and hopefully for the waiting children will continue to do so. Keep in mind with international adoption, the vast majority of people who are wanting to adopt want an infant AYAP and a girl. Wait times vary greatly for boys and/or older children. Is the wait longer than we thought, wished, want....most definitely. But all we can do at this point is have faith that when the child that is meant to be our daughter, the one who is Willow is ready...we will get "the call".
  4. How old is Willow, how old will she be when you get her, is she born yet? We don't know, we don't know, we don't know. We have requested a girl AYAP. China government rules prevent any infant from being adopted prior to the age of 6 months. So by the time we travel, the youngest would probably be around 8 months old. We anticipate probably between 8 months and 18 months. Our best guess would be at this point yes she has been born....but again, that is just a guess based on when we are estimating that we may get a referral.
  5. Why did you pick China to adopt a child from? Hmmm...quite the controversial question to some. Well, for US, at the time that we started this process, we were not comfortable with private domestic adoption due to the potential of the adoption not being completed. We have all heard the horror stories. Adoption from the public child welfare system was out of the question due to the failure of these organizations to put the welfare of those children that they are suppose to be protecting first. This left us with the option of international adoption. We did a lot of research, found out which countries we were eligible to adopt from (each country has its own rules), narrowed it down by eligibility, did a lot more research and came to the conclusion that China was the best choice, at that time, for US to make. Even with the extended wait times in the China program, the program is still one of the most stable, uneventful, predictable programs. It is not coincidence that more adoptive children have come from China than any other country for many years. It's a good international adoption program.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Remembering My Friend

Completely off the adoption topic, today I have spent a lot of time in my head and my heart remembering my friend. On May 22, 2000, Nichole Pisano lost her battle with cancer at the age of 32 years old. Nikki left behind many friends, wonderful family, and the most tragic of all, 2 beautiful little girls.
Her daughters, who are my God Daughters, Demecia Hope, now age 10 and Grace Edith, now age 8, are two of the most incredible kids I have ever had the pleasure of being involved with! I will be eternally grateful to Nikki for allowing me to serve as the girls God Mother and hope everyday that I am following her wishes and living up to my responsibility in helping the girls grow into the exceptional women I am sure they are meant to be!
Beyond the relationship with these 2 girls, because of my friendship with Nikki, Tom and I are both part of a whole new family. Nikki's bio family are just as much part of my heart and due to logistics more of a part of my daily life that my own. I can't imagine my life now without any of them.
I miss Nikki terribly. I never before and am sure will never again experience such a friendship. We had some sort of connection that could not be explained, the same thoughts, the same feelings, the same spirit and definitely the same unusual sense of humor. Those close to us both saw it and sometimes were amazed by it. I had never before laughed...out loud...the uncontrollable laughter, that makes your eyes water, your nose run...when you can't stop and you loose your breath...that kind of laughter is what Nikki and I shared on such a regular basis. It makes me smile even now as I type this to think about it!
I loved Nikki. I respected her for her kindness, openness, dedication, her strength and love was beyond measure!

A few months ago we took Demecia and Grace to see the new version of Charlotte's Web. My ALL TIME FAVORITE childhood book. Towards the end of the movie when Charlotte dies, Demecia got a little teary eyed. Then Charlotte's babies where born and some of them went away, but several of them stayed in the barn with Wilbur and Wilbur gave them a speech about how he wanted to tell them about their mother....about what a wonderful "person" she was and about the great friend she had been. I pulled Demecia on my lap and put my arms around Grace and told them both, "see, that's like us...you guys are like the baby spiders and I am like Wilbur who is there to keep the love, spirit and memory of your mommy alive".
As I choked down the lump that had risen in my throat just before the theater lights came up, I had to smile. I had to laugh to myself, because I just knew that somewhere Nikki was watching and laughing...taking pleasure in the fact that I was the "simple pig" and she was the "eloquent beautiful spider".
Nikki was my best friend and I will miss her forever, but when I remember her, I always smile.

Adoption Acronyms

The following is a list of possible acronyms you will see on this blog....yes, we even have our own "language" in this adoption world!

ACR-age of child requested
AYAP-as young as possible
CA-consulate appointment
CCAA-China Center for Adoption Affairs (in China)
CN-Chinese name
DOA-date of adoption
DOB-date of birth
DOR-date of referral
DOT-date of travel
DTC-dossier to China
FCC-Families with Children from China
HS-home study
I-600-Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative
I-600A-Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition
I-171H-US federal approval to adopt foreign born child
ICF-International Child Foundation (our homestudy agency)
INS-Immigration & Naturalization Service (now the USCIS)
LID-log in date
LMI-Little Miracles International (our international agency)
LOI-letter of intent (special needs adoptions only)
NSN-non-special needs
PA-permission to adopt (special needs adoptions only)
PAP-prospective adoptive parents
RQ-Rumor Queen (adoptive parent who maintains a HUGE china adoption info website)
SN-special needs
SW-social worker
TA-travel approval
USCIS-US Customs & Immigration Services (Dept of Homeland Security)
WC-waiting child

Slow Boat To China

As our LONG wait continues, I have decided that it is time I start a blog so those interested can follow along with our progress and eventually with our actual trip to China to bring our daughter home.
I am beginning to believe that there are those of you out there who no longer believe that we are adopting! And others of you who are just humoring me by going along with my stories relating to "my daughter Willow-who will come from China". Thinking about those imaginary friends you had when you were little. But really...IT'S TRUE!

There is a whole different world out there in the land of adoption...specifically International Adoption, that no one knows about until they are involved. Maybe it would help if I give all of you a "crash course": INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION 101.
Okay, let's assume that you have done your research, decided that you wish to adopt internationally to add to your family and have chosen which country you wish to adopt from.

  1. Choose an agency--in our case Little Miracles, Inc. (after much research)
  2. Submit your application to the agency, pay some money.
  3. Once accepted by agency, sign your contract with agency, pay some money.
  4. Start compiling paperwork you need for your dossier: birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, police clearances, medical reports, financial reports, employment verifications, photographs, pay some money.
  5. Schedule with Social Worker meetings required for home study. Joint meetings with both spouses and individual meetings. Your social worker will provide a written home study report after your meetings, pay some money.
  6. File necessary paperwork with state of AZ to be legally authorized by a Judge to be an adoptive parent in AZ. *this is a bonus one we had to do...not many states require state approval, pay some money.
  7. File necessary paperwork with US Government Immigration to be legally authorized to be an adoptive parent of a child born outside of the United States. This one includes getting FBI fingerprints! Oh...and pay some money.
  8. As all the documents from items 4-7 are all compiled, they must be notarized, for notaries of course, you have to pay some money.
  9. Once you get all your documents together, your home study, your state clearance and your immigration approval, this is considered your "dossier", it gets sent to your agency, translated to Chinese and sent to the government agency in China responsible for adoptions in the country, the CCAA. The date your dossier gets sent to China is your "DTC".
  10. Once the CCAA has your dossier you wait for them to log it in their system, this is called your "LID". And once they have it logged in....your wait technically begins! Apparently all of the months of paperwork, appointments and meetings that have gone on prior to this were the pre-wait.
  11. After you are LID, the CCAA basically has only 2 processes of handling your paperwork.
  12. First, everything that was sent in your dossier is reviewed by a CCAA worker to ensure accuracy of paperwork, that you meet their requirements, etc...This is the REVIEW ROOM.
  13. After the Review Room is the MATCHING ROOM. This is where a CCAA worker looks at our dossier and photos and looks at the photos and files of the babies that are available and matches a baby to our family!
  14. The match that is made in the Matching Room is called your REFERRAL. This information is sent from the CCAA to your agency, your agency has the information translated from Chinese to English, reviews the information and forwards it to you.
  15. You decide, based on the information provided, if you will accept or deny the referral. Nearly all referrals from China are accepted, usually referrals that are denied, from any country are due to possible medical issues, but this is highly unusual in China.
  16. Once you accept your referral, the acceptance is sent back to the CCAA and you wait to get your Travel Approval ,TA, and your Consulate Appointment, CA, dates in China.
  17. When you have these dates, you can apply for your Visa, make your travel arrangements and off you go to China.

This is a VERY BASIC outline as to the process of what every adoptive parent has to go through before they even travel to China. I will outline what actually happens when you are in China for your adoption in another post soon.

I would think that for you "outsiders" from the international adoption world, your heads might be spinning, but keep following these posts, there will be much more to add in preparations for the adoption.

It is funny though, because I already know that all of this, as well as all that we have yet to go through, will turn out to be so inconsequential once Willow is placed in our arms!