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 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 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 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/ 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 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" 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?