Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Another month closer, another month further away

Since I last posted, two rounds of referrals have occurred. Neither have given any indication of a speed up. The most recent referrals, received late last week, were for families with LIDs on or before 9/8/06. So those families waited almost 15 months. That is technically "holding steady", but not very encouraging. Late September, October and November of '06 where huge months, in terms of families logged in. They seem to be matching about the same number of families (each time they send out referrals), and if that's the case, it could take them several months just to get through October. Please pray that isn't the case!

Unfortunately I don't have an opportunity right now to do a lengthy post :). However, one of the other adoptive moms on the CHI message board posted the lyrics to a new (original) Christmas song that was released by the Christian group Third Day. Their guitarist and his wife are nearing the end of a Chinese adoption and didn't think they'd have to go through another Christmas without their daughter. He wrote this song, called Merry Christmas, which appears on their Christmas Offerings cd. I wish I could claim the song, the lyrics so perfectly describe my emotions this year (and probably next).

***Kleenex alert!***

There's a little girl trembling on a cold December morn
Crying for momma's arms
At an orphanage just outside a little China town
There the forgotten are

But half a world away I hang the stockings by the fire
And dream about the day when I can finally call you mine

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
And tell you from my heart I wish you Merry Christmas

As I hang the tinsel on the tree and watch the twinkling lights
I'm warmed by the fire's glow
Outside the children tumble in a wonderland of white,
Make angels in the snow

But half a world away you try your best to fight the tears
And hope that heaven's angels come to carry you here

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
And tell you from my heart I wish you Merry Christmas

Christmas is a time to celebrate the holy child
and we celebrate his perfect gift of love
He came to earth to give his life
and prepare a place for us
so we could have a home with him above

It's Christmas time again and now you're home
Your family is here so you will never be alone
So tonight before you go to sleep, I'll hold you in my arms
And I'll tell you from my heart, and I'll you from my heart
I wish you Merry Christmas

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Grout Sucketh

Removing grout sucks with a suckiness that far exceeds previous records set by all things that sucketh.

Are you getting the point? Removing grout SUCKS!

I have written about this before, but I'm writing about it again. After all, It's my blog and I'll whine if I want to, whine if I want to, WHINE if I want to........you would whine too if grout happened to you....whoowhoowhooowhoooo (hey, the lady that sang "It's my party" was named Lesley/ie, so I'll steal her song if I "want to").

I took a personal day Monday to paint. Scratch that. I took a personal day on Monday to paint, but MotH decided I should finish removing grout. Let the record show that the following events are all HIS FAULT.

I approached the shower stall (master bath) with a mixture of dread and anticipation. This would be the day of my deliverance! No longer would the dreaded spectre of old grout hang over my head! I would be a liberated woman! I will run my ventilation mask up a flag pole as they did with bras in the 70's! Freedom was mine! I could smell it.....and it smelled like lots of dust!

At 9am on Oct. 9th, I stuck ear plugs in, put on a shower cap, some pregnancy leggings (no matter WHAT you do, you must always be dressed well...lol!!!), an old Cancun t-shirt, my respirator and stepped into the shower to get to work.

It seemed easy enough: use a Dremel and a grout removal bit to devour the grout at about 6000 rpm (which brings me to a side point: exactly how do they know that it rotates 6000 times per minute? Why not say 10,000? Or even 50,000,000? I mean, don't we have to sort of take their word for it? Could anyone actually count the rotations? They're probably yuckin' it up at the ol' Dremel plant that we're buying into the 6000 rpm thing) . And it would have BEEN easy, had the yahoos who built our house bothered to actually SPACE the tiles. Instead, my poor Dremel screamed (I could have recorded it and used it for Halloween) in protest as it fought through the smaller-then-they-should-have-been gaps in the tile. The bit kept getting pulled out, so I had to constantly stop to re-insert it into the Dremel....resulting in a rather sore thumb AND blister. Finally, I reached the bottom on the wall (mind you, I had already invested about four hours in grout removal.....before buying a new Dremel to replace my cordless one, which kept losing it's charge).

This is where things began to get a little dicey. We had caulk.....a LOT of caulk.....at the base of the wall. Dremel grout removal bits don't like caulk. It quickly boa-contrictered itself around my bit and snapped it. Grr.... This means I have to NOW go to Home Depot, dressed like a mid-80's nightmare (the leggings) with dusty hair, no makeup and a bloody spot on my cheek from a zit I lost a battle with.

I get TWO new bits (being proactive) AND some caulk removal gel and head home, grateful I didn't run into anybody I knew. MotH removed the shower door for me and I went back to work. I used the caulk removal gel. Have I mentioned yet that caulk removal gel doesn't actually remove caulk? Rather it turns it into snot-like white goop that is only slightly easier to scrap off then normal caulk.

Finally, a couple of hours later (I sort of lost track of time....I'm blaming it on the enormous quantity of dust I breathed) the caulk was gone. VICTORY WAS MINE!! I had triumphed over the white snot!!! I put my new drill bit in and got back down to business......or I would have, if I hadn't noticed that my bit, which previously spun in a nice, straight line, was now wobbling about as though it had spent a little too much time on the Tilt-a-Whirl.

MotH carried the wounded soldier down into our sterile exam room (a.k.a. The Garage) where he pronounced it a field casualty. I would need to go for a new recruit at Home Depot.

Off I go BACK to Home Depot. I am still as lovely as before, only THIS time I also have the aforementioned white caulk-snot hanging from my rear (a fact I failed to notice until I was leaving the store). This is where my day began to look up. Buried among clearance items was a Dremel kit made for decorating candles. I asked a Home Depot guru (he had the orange vest on, so I was confident this was a schooled professional in all things Dremel) if the Dremel was the same Dremel they had in "Tools". He assured me it was. Snickering quietly to myself at all the fools that purchased a regular Dremel for $59.99, while I scored a VARIABLE SPEED Dremel (VARIABLE SPEED, I TELL YOU!!) for $49.99, I made my way BACK home to finish the job.

Finally, at six p.m. that night.......some NINE hours after I first donned my shower cap, I stood up and admired my grout-free shower. I could practically hear the "Halleluia" chorus coming from the tiles, having been freed from their bondage of old, decaying grout. I had been their liberator. The grout statue had been tipped!. It was exhilarating.

Or it would have been if my back hadn't felt like I'd spent the day moving pianos, my hair hadn't been matted with 17 tons of grout dust and my eyes full of grit. I'm still waiting to cough up a brick, from all the dust I inhaled (and this was WITH the "safety" gear I had to wear). I drug my pathetic body into the shower, made a fast dinner and crashed on the couch.

But I had done it! I fought the grout and came out a victor! Unsanded grout is no match for me and my trusty Dremel.

The final tally is as follows:

THREE Dremel tools (the first cordless version, which was replaced after when it kept running out of charge only a couple of hours into the job, the second version that died when I snapped the bit and the third, my "score" on the clearance rack at Home Depot)
FIVE Dremel grout removal bits
TWO bottles of Caulk-to-Snot gel
ONE back
ONE blistered thumb (have I mentioned how much it hurt??)
COUNTLESS prayers for patience

We've pretty much decided to put a new shower/tub unit in the hall bath. It has the same tile our master bath had, only a lot more of it.......I suspect the same yahoos installed it, so I don't hold out any hope that it would be easier to remove.

Next up: grout REAPPLICATION. I feel certain that nothing can go wrong with that!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Today I'm having a "bad" waiting-adoptive-mom day, but a good "current" mom day

The most recent batch of "rumors" is disheartening.

As usual, nobody seems to know what is going to happen (most agencies won't even speculate....releasing info ONLY they have it from a definite source directly from the CCAA). Unfortunately, the most recent rumors are that things will speed up, after hitting 18 months.......or that they'll continue to slow down, and eventually get to 24 months.

It seems like the agencies that ARE speculating/leaking info are split about 50/50 on these rumors.

My own number analysis tells me that if they continue to take two months to get through one month of referals, it will be summer of '08 before we have our referral.

While I know we won't get the "wrong" baby, I never imagined we'd wait nearly three years (from the time we started) to bring her home.

My mind tries to wrap itself around the idea of having children eight years apart and frankly, it breaks my heart. Will they ever be close? Even have anything in common? I just don't see how it's possible.

However, the emotional side of this WILL subside......it always does.

Unfortunately, not having ANY idea what will happen makes planning for the future very, very difficult. I don't want an answer from anyone, but I really wish someone could tell me (someone from our agency) what they believe will happen. I mean they've been doing Chinese adoptions forever.....surely they have to have SOME idea what "might" happen. But they are completely closed mouthed.

Meanwhile, we have to try and plan for the future, without really knowing anything about what could happen. Do we go ahead and sell the house? Or wait until we're done with the adoption? Do we plan family vacations? Do I commit to various projects at church?

It sort of feels like we can't make any moves at all, because we have no idea what might happen in the next few months.

I know, I know that this will all work out and that when it's over, we'll look back and understand why God had us wait........but occassionally it causes me to have a "bad" day. I suppose a better word would be "deflated". I feel sort of deflated today, regarding the adoption.

HOWEVER, my "current" motherhood day is going quite well. I had my first parent-teacher conference today and AM is doing so well in school. His teacher said he is a very bright student. He is getting 80% of his vowel sounds identified (consistently) and beginning to put multiple "sounds" together. She said she fully anticipates she'll begin teaching him to read around Christmas........and that he's ahead of most of the other kindergartners in that area. There are two areas of concern: his handwriting (which we knew would be an issue, due to grip strength issues.....but it's improving tremendously) and that he talks to much (can't for the life of me figure out where he would have inherited that, lol).

I hardly know how to handle a meeting like that. To have two people tell me that AM is really bright, when we were told he'd really struggle and have a lower IQ (due to his prematurity)........well, it's just further proof of what a miracle God worked in him!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Waiting, waiting, waiting!

Everyone (meaning everyone that's involved in Chinese adoption) is anxiously awaiting the newest batch of referrals. Will they make it into August (a "slow" month), or just through the end of July? Will there be more Hunan referrals? When will they arrive?

As usually, nobody knows. I know there are those that think the CCAA is sort of playing with our hearts, but I truely don't believe that to be the case. I think they just work on their own schedule and no amount of anxious parents will change that (if it could, I'd already have my daughter)!

AM is doing great in school. While I'm on that subject, let me take this opportunity to suggest everyone reading this runs out and buys stock in Spray n Wash. Perhaps I was naive (okay, I was), but I really didn't think it would be a problem for AM to wear khaki pants with light blue or white tops. I was wrong. I bought the child two new pairs of khaki pants two weeks ago and they look like he's been mud wrestling in them........or they would without my trusty Spray n Wash ammo. Sheesh. I'm thinking the navy pants idea is a very good one (hides more stains). Unfortunately, navy pants with a navy shirt doesn't really work, so he'll still have a light colored top. Until this year, I NEVER had a problem with stains on his clothes. I guess the "I like to crawl on my knees in the grass"-switch was flipped when he began kindergarten! I now know why there are never any "gently used" boys clothes available at garage sales! Anything worn, on a regular basis, by any boy over 5 years old surely looks like it's been sitting at the bottom of a lake for a month. I suppose I'm lucky he waited until now to start ruining clothes. As it is, I'm thinking of making him vinyl pants.....

Not much else is happening right now. I just found out (today) that I have tendonitis in my thumb....on my right hand (I'm right-handed), which makes working interesting. But this too shall pass (hopefully with the aid of good anti-inflamatories).

For now, I'll sign off.....talk to everyone soon!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

And then summer was over!

Many of my posts of late have been on the "heavy" side, so I thought I'd lighten things up a bit!

Last weekend, we went to the Winderemere resort on the shores of Lake of the Ozarks. Despite the weather forecast (which called for a 90 PERCENT CHANCE of thunderstorms all day Saturday), we had beautiful weather. We spent Saturday paddleboating, swimming, roasting hotdogs and just generally having a good time.

This retreat had been planned for months and I was the "organizer". To tell the truth, I was a little worried about the "deluxe" accommodations I booked for us. I have memories of church camp that include rooms with cement floors, no a/c and whatever linens mom let you take from home (or a sleeping bag). I knew ours would be a "step-up", but when the lower step is SO FAR DOWN, there is reason for concern! I was terrifically relieved when we arrived to find a very comfortable "lodge" with lovely accommodations. **phew** Plus, it was nice to take the kids someplace where there weren't scantily-clad women (who have no business being scantily-clad) and teenagers with potty mouths. We get enough of that at Walmart.

Then we came home....and it's been almost cool all week. Last night we celebrated ES's (brother-in-law) THIRTIETH birthday with dinner at Texas Roadhouse. Yes, this is the SAME Texas Roadhouse where I horrified fellow diners by falling OUT of the booth last year (they though I had a skirt on..............it was a SKORT, I promise!), but we were pleased to see that they allowed us back. Afterwards, we went to Silas and Maddys for some ice cream......and proceeded to FREEZE OUR REARS OFF outside (if only that were actually possible)!!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't August just end, like, three days ago?? Someone needs to quickly send Al Gore a memo and figure out how this works into the whole "global warming" thing.

So now it's Sunday afternoon and I'm updating the blog while MotH works on the deck. Which, of course, he's always doing these days. Oh, he did take an evening off earlier this week after being BASHED in the head by a board and having to get stitches.......but otherwise he's always out there. I am a lucky girl, however, to have a husband that is such a capable "handyman".

I, on the other hand, am hoping to live in denial long enough that the master bath will actually complete itself. You see, FIVE years ago, I began a project. My project was to remove the old, nasty blue carpet from the bathroom, replace it with ceramic tile, remove the old grout from the shower (tile surround), repaint and then bask in the glow of the amazing transformation from all I had accomplished.

So we've been without a working master bath for five years. No basking yet.

Now, you ask yourself, what would make a reasonably motivated woman like myself ignore something as obvious as an inoperable bathroom? I will sum it up with two words: tile and grout. See, I am a Christian woman. I am supposed to have a clean mouth and mind. When I work with tile and grout, I find myself with much to confess afterwards. So really, I'm saving myself from offending God.

Okay, okay.....that was a really lame excuse for why I'm avoiding the bathroom. Seriously, though. If Boeing used sanded grout to build it's aircraft, there would be no need for the "black box" (assuming it would be able to fly with all that weight).

I finished the floor last summer and it looks mighty fine, if I do say so myself (though if "pride cometh before the fall", my grout line will probably crack any day now). My work-in-progress is removing the old grout. I never would have imagined that tiny, 1/8 inch grout lines would test my will and resolve like they have. I've tried nearly every grout removal tool out there and have come to the conclusion that they all stink. The least stinky is using a grout removal tool on a Dremel, but this creates so much dust that I'm forced to breath through a haz-mat mask (while wearing a shower cap on my head). And it is s-l-o-w going! I have worked on this for probably a combined total of six hours thus far and only have the top 1/3 of two walls done!

For any of you out there considering a radical grout color, like fushia, to jazz up your bathroom.....DON'T DO IT!!!!! The pain of removing it will make you regret the decision!

Anyway, by the time we get our house ready to sell, we aren't going to want to leave! We surely won't find anything in our price range that will end up being as nice as our house. Darn the stupid busy street out front.

For now, I must run. MotH has promised AM a family bike ride this evening and I suppose my presence is required for that. I certainly need the exercise after steak, potato and ice cream last night!

Until next time...

Hope.....and a little bit about peace too.

I suppose I should have included a warning when I started this log: ****Warning**** God ahead...Jesus crossing. Then again, most everyone that knows me already knows of my belief in God, so perhaps the warning isn't needed after all. At any rate, if you don't want to read my Jesus ramblings and are only here for adoption updates......you can feel free to skip this post. It is my prayer, however, that you will find some encouragement if you do read this.

I just hung up the phone with a dear friend. This woman and I have been friends since highschool, when we were as close as sisters. Chances are good that if I'm reminiscing about school, Nici was somehow involved in the memory.

As long-time friendships go, ours has ebbed and flowed. Many times over the last decade, our correspondence has been limited to an occasional phone call to share good or bad news. Earlier this year, she was in a terrible car accident and called me. The years melted away and I wanted to spend time with her and bring even a small measure of comfort, if possible. Well, she battled back from her injuries and just when she began to really put the wreck behind her, she found out she has cervical cancer.

As we've done over the years, she called me to tell me the news. What she doesn't know is that when we hung up, I wept bitter tears over her news. You see, that's how it is with sisters of the heart. We may not keep in touch like we should, but when I found out she was hurting, I hurt as well.

During our conversation we talked a little bit about "hope". She was telling me that she shared my blog with a friend who's wife had just suffered their second miscarriage. She mentioned that we don't always know why things happen, but that God has a plan....we just may not know what that plan is until years later when it's been revealed to us.

So that led us to the topic of hope. The Bible tells us not to mourn as those with no hope. See, life without hope is rather empty. It's void of, well, hope and hopefulness. I'm certain that all of us, at one time, have felt a sense of hopelessness....but to live that way entirely would certainly crush the soul. The hope that the Bible refers to is our hope, through faith in Jesus, that we will not just die, but be raised to life eternal. If we HAVE that hope, if our loved ones have that hope, then certainly we should never mourn as those without it.

It is this "hope" that provided the balm I needed to heal after Bailey's death. Certainly it was hard to understand when it happened, but now I can REJOICE knowing she is truely NOT dead. Were it not for that hope, I would undoubtedly still struggle with her loss.

In addition to hope, God gives us a peace. And not just ANY peace, a peace that "transcends" all understanding.

Phillipians 4: 4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Let me tell you that I have experienced, and am experiencing, that peace right now! It is absolutely NOT in my nature to sit by while someone else determines when I will be a parent again. Yet I have peace in the process.

I see dozens of people on various adoption boards that do NOT have peace. They are in obvious agony as they wait. Their anxiousness is evident in every post, their fear apparent in the way they react to bits of information. And why wouldn't they be in agony? Anxious? Fearful? Their HOPE and PEACE has been placed at the feet of humans!! I'm certain there isn't a person reading this that has never been let down by a human. ......it happens all the time! The easiest way to guarantee pain is to place your "faith", or try to find your hope and peace, through a mere person. Even looking to ourselves for peace and hope is a recipe for disaster (ever let yourself down....I sure have!).

Yet when I go to our agency's message board, I see something very different. The families on there are still anxious and impatient, but they are at peace. They don't "go off the deep end" each time a "bad" rumor comes out about the wait. There is no cursing, no anger, no anguish. Why? The only reason I can come up with is that they have put their faith for hope and peace in God. Over and over I read posts from families saying they know they'll get the child they are meant to have. They are soothed by the knowledge that God is in control. They are encouraged by the fact that God is dependable and that there is NOTHING He cannot overcome.

But when there is an absence of that, it just comes down to ourselves or other people.....it's no wonder so many people feel hopeless and anxious these days! Oh that isn't to say that believers don't feel anxiety. We certainly do! However, when we place those cares on Jesus, the knowledge that He is "walking the walk" with us is a balm to our hearts.

Matthew 11: 28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Am I facing a different circumstance then the families I see without hope or peace? Many of them have fewer months of waiting then we have remaining. Did they go through more pain trying to create their family? Many have experienced infertility and even miscarriages, but I would say that our experience with AM and Bailey is at least as painful. Do I just have better coping mechanisms? Perhaps I'm not as "emotionally invested" in the adoption as they are?

Or perhaps it's because of the Lord of light shines His brightness into the darkness of these situations? Gives me hope. Gives me peace. Gives me the knowledge that He holds this WHOLE situation in His hands?

Let me assure you, that is the case. And it's available to all those who believe. You see, I don't have to rely on myself or other's for my peace or hope. I can rely on the God that created the heavens and the earth. That's a whole lot better then depending on some faceless person on the other side of the world holding my adoption paperwork!

I pray that those of you reading this blog know that peace. Know the hope that comes from a relationship with the living God. For WHO (or what!) can stand against us if God stands for us! (Romans 8:31).

Monday, August 28, 2006

Time flies.

Time flies.

For us, that statement describes both a source of frustration and anticipation. We want to both clip it's wings, while at the same time hoping it has a stiff tailwind.

Frustration because I intended to keep this blog updated quite frequently, yet I find that eight days have already passed since I first posted! Where does time go (I have a sneaking suspicion that it is hiding with all the socks that get lost in the dryer)??? So many things have happened in just the last eight days, but more on that later.

Anticipation because the more time flies, the closer we are to getting our daughter/sister (although at the same time I realize that AM is growing up so fast, and that makes me sad).

I am a walking contradiction.

This past week was crazy (that's my only excuse for not posting before now). AM began kindergarten this week. I can actually say that now without feeling a rock in the pit of my stomach, or feeling slightly nauseous. Okay, I'm prone to exaggeration, but I promise that this was how I spent the first three days of last week.

AM was sooo excited to begin school. The Sunday before he started, I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing. After all, he only moved from the basement of the building (where the preschool is) to the first floor. I know the whole staff and they adore AM (who wouldn't). Yet I found myself a little weepy on Wednesday. Okay, okay...a lot weepy. The pastor checked on me after the orientation meeting because I was crying...a lot. I dare ANY parent (particularly a mother) that was told their child would most likely be deaf, blind or mentally disabled NOT to cry on the day they start school. Our poor son undoubtedly has many years of his mother crying when he does what other's consider "ordinary" things.

However, AM being AM, he provided the "comic" relief I needed to bring me down off Morose Mountain. I had promised to take him out to lunch to celebrate his first day (and MotH surprised us by meeting us for lunch too) and as we enjoyed our culinary creations at McD's, he pushed back his hair and declared that his "brain already grew" because he was learning new things.

Wednesday night brought a migraine and a trip to the doctor's office. A sinus infection, along with the emotion of the day, proved to be the perfect recipe for a massive headache. I was the ultimate "party pooper" as I spent the rest of the evening in bed, while my two boys headed out for celebratory ice cream.

Thursday was relatively uneventful and we survived day TWO of kindergarten.

Friday found AM at school in the morning (where he earned a cowboy hat sticker for being "quiet" in the hallway.......he's already doing better then his mother was capable of at that age!), MotH working on the deck and me packing for our long awaited Sunday school retreat to Lake of the Ozarks.

We left Friday night and, after an obnoxiously long wait in the Peculiar, MO's (yes, that's a real town) Hardee's drive-thru, made it to LotO around 9pm. The forecast called for a 90 PERCENT CHANCE of thunderstorms all night Friday, all day Saturday and into Sunday morning. We were prepared to hunker down inside, play games and enjoy some fellowship. Luckily, God, in all His mercy, knew that having three active kids (that REALLY wanted to go on the "jumperlines".....our niece's word for trampolines.....the one's at LotO float on the water) locked in a lodge would surely trust our Christian patience and brought out the sun! We had a wonderful time playing in the lake and enjoying good friends. There is really something to be said for having a vacation where you don't have to worry about what your kids might overhear (from passerbys) or see (thanks to less-then-modest beach wear).

We got back home around 3:45 p.m. yesterday and things are now back to "normal".

Now....on to adoption news......(I need to figure out how to make a "news ticker").

Referrals came in, catching many off-guard, right before we left town for families with LID's before July 22, 2005. Typically the CCAA sends referrals out the last week of each month ("typically" is somewhat relative, since it's always subject to change, but that has been the pattern of referrals lately). Agencies usually know, a couple of days in advance, that they are on the way and can let their families know. This time, they just showed up! People are very disappointed, because they should have been able to get through more dossiers then they did with this batch. Most people really believed they would get through the end of July and perhaps even into early August. Obviously, that didn't happen.

Rumors are flying around like crazy right now. Most agencies are in agreement that the CCAA is about to issue new rules and restrictions, in an effort to decrease the number of adoptive families. The rumors I've seen most often suggest there will be further restrictions on the age of both parents (currently both parents are supposed to be under 55 years old, the new restrictions could considerably lower that age), further restrictions or elimination of the singles program (allows single women to adopt), health restrictions (including obesity), restrictions on past police records (NO infraction, no matter at what age it occured, will be allowed), restrictions on the number of kids living in the home (3), etc...

Historically, the CCAA has only enforced the new rules on dossiers not yet logged in when the changes are announced. Those that are in the "system" get a pass. However, I know of a few families that were denied in the review room (veeery unusual.....the first department is where we were logged in, the review room is the last stop before being "matched" with a referral) due to health conditions related to obesity. This has adoptive families on edge that the CCAA may apply the new rules to anyone not yet matched (that would include us). However, I want to reassure everyone that none of the new "rules" seem to effect us......though I am anxious for many of the adoptive familes that may be effected.

The next few weeks should prove to be interesting. Generally, the CCAA announces it's new rules in early fall and then they are effective at the beginning of their new adoption year (which begins Dec. 1), so we should know what will happen in the next month or so.

Meanwhile, things are still slow in the referral department and the families that have late-July LID's will have had a 14 month wait from LID to referral. This is certainly discouraging to those of us that were logged-in fairly recently, but we're hopeful that things will begin to speed up when the next adoption year begins. No idea if that will happen, but we can hope :).

Meanwhile, life goes on as normal!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

What has happened so far.....

People always look at me like I'm crazy when I say we just started "the wait". They usually ask "what do you mean, you just started....what exactly have you been doing since November?!?!"

Well, this is what we've been doing, and why we've been doing it.......

Shortly after AM was born, we were quite certain that we didn't want to try for another biological child. If God decided to bless us with one, that would be fine, but we would not take fertility drugs. We began to talk about adoption soon after he came home (Nov. 2000) and it seemed like a very natural choice.

We initially considered domestic adoption through the foster care system. However, there were several factors that led to our decision not to pursue a foster care adoption. One, we wanted AM to remain the oldest child and the only way to get a young toddler/baby through the state is to "foster-to-adopt". Two, IF we had decided to foster-to-adopt, there was no guarantee that the birth parents wouldn't be granted their parental rights and be able to reclaim their child. Simply put, we just couldn't do that. To have a child in our home, to have it bonded to us and us to them, then to have them ripped out of our home.....we just couldn't consider it (we know someone that this happened to and it is not that uncommon).

International adoption was something we had talked about, but it really wasn't until we started going to LBC (our church) that we began to pursue it with increased interest. We suddenly found ourselves in a Sunday School class with a couple that adopted two brothers from Russia and another family with an adopted daughter from India. Coincidence? I don't think so. Within the next few months, we also met a family (at LBC) with two girls adopted from China (one was in AM's Sunday School class).

After casually discussing a few different countries, we settled on one. Unfortunately, we didn't both settle on the SAME one :). MotH was convinced that our daughter was in China, I was convinced she was in Latin America. Hmmmm.....we were in a bit of a pickle! So early last fall, I decided it was time to change MotH's mind, so I enlisted some help. I asked God. Now, lest you think I acted completely selfishly, I asked God to "align our hearts" so that we would both feel passionate about the country that would bless us with our future daughter.

Guess what.......the joke was on me, and I'm glad it was!!! I literally, and I am not kidding, woke up the next morning with China on the brain. I was literally bubbling over with excitement for the country! I learned a valuable lesson: God isn't always going to give me MY way and it's because He knows what He's doing...........thank heavens, because I'd be in trouble if left to my own devices!

Just a few days later, MotH heard an ad on the radio for an informational meeting held by Children's Hope International (CHI) and called to tell me we should go. Again I ask you....coincidence??? I went to the meeting and knew that was the agency we were supposed to use.

We turned our application in to CHI in November 2005. We began the document gathering process immediately and our home study began in December. We had to send off for MotH's employment verification (since the human resources' office is located in Michigan), get our passports, birth certificates and marriage license as well as having a full physical, having our police reports run and gathering various financial documents. Basically, we jumped through a bunch of hoops, turned around and jumped through them again!

Once we finally had all of our paperwork, we could proceed to immigration. In the US, you have to apply for "approval" from the government to bring a non-US born infant into the United States. When Clinton was in office, he signed a bill that made children, adopted abroad, citizens as soon as they land in their first US city (as much as I hate to admit it, he obviously had at least one redeeming quality......although I am saying that for a completely selfish reason). We went to the KC immigration office in March of 2006 to turn in our application and to be fingerprinted. Unfortunately, we happened to catch the immigration office as they hit a slow down and what should have taken just two weeks, ended up taking seven!

With our immigration paperwork in hand, I made a zillion copies of stuff and took them to the Secretary of State's office in Topeka. All of our paperwork had to be "authenticated", which basically means that the Secretary of State verifies that the notaries (each of our pieces of paper had to be notarized) are actual notaries in the state of KS. Then, the paperwork went to Chicago and our regional Chinese consulate for "certification". There, they attach paperwork (in Chinese) that says all the "i's" are dotted and "t's" are crossed (at least that's what I think it said....it was, after all, in Chinese). It took a little over a week for the paperwork to come back from the consulate.

Whew! We were finally able to send our paperwork to China! It left on May 26 from the CHI office in St. Louis. We caught a break this time and got in while China was still logging dossiers in pretty quickly. Our official LID was June 13.....and THAT is when the wait began.

We're often asked how long we'll have to wait and truthfully, we don't know. There are a bunch of rumors flying around right now about Chinese adoption. It's important for people to realize that international adoption is a very fluid situation, changing and shifting constantly. China appeals to many people because it is a very dependable process. Last year, the wait times were 6-8 months and a record number of parents flooded into China. The result: things got backed up!

The process for a child to become eligible for adoption is as follows: a baby is abandoned and taken to an orphanage. The police get called and place a "finding ad" in the paper, allowing birth parents to reclaim their child. This process goes on for a couple of months. After that time, the police file an official paper saying the baby was abandoned. The orphanage must them send this paper to another office where a birth certificate is created (unless the baby is left with a note, the birth date is the best "guestimate" the orphanage director can make), which takes another couple of months. The certificate goes back to the orphanage where the workers must then complete more paperwork to make the child "paper ready". When a child is "paper ready", they are eligible for adoption.

Now, part of the problem for the back-up (besides a record number of dossiers), is that orphanages are woefully understaffed and do not have enough "paper ready" infants. This, in no way, is a reflection of how many infants they currently have......in fact, they can have dozens (even over a hundred) and still not have any "paper ready".

Compounding the problem is the fact that China only allows certain orphanages to participate in international adoption AND only allows each of those orphanages to adopt out a certain number of babies internationally. Additionally, there was a baby trafficking scandal in the Hunan province last year and China completely shut the province down (there are a few kiddos being adopted out of Hunan again). This created a big shortage, because Hunan provided 40% of all of the babies adopted internationally!

Finally, China is embarrassed by it's problem with female, infant abandonment and simply will not allow a huge flood of babies to leave the country (they are especially sensitive right now with the Olympics being hosted there in 2008.....they don't want negative publicity). There is also speculation that the growing concern in China regarding the unbalance between males and females is leading them to adopt out fewer children internationally.

Okay, now that we know why there is a shortage of "paper ready" infants, let's look at the wait. Right now, the CCAA is sending out about two weeks of referrals at a time and only once a month (usually in the last week). At the end of August, it is expected that they will send referrals for the last two weeks of July 2005 (which means those families will have waited 13 months). August 2005 was a "small" month, but they always receive a larger number of dossiers in the fall of each year. Nobody really knows how that will effect the wait.

The CCAA just moved to a new office and is rumored to have brought in additional help to process dossiers. They are "committed" to keeping the wait around 12 months, but it is already at 13. Some believe it will grow before it shrinks, primarily because the CCAA can only process "paper ready" infants, and the number of those don't seem to be growing......in other words, they could hire 100 more people, but if the number of "paper ready" infants doesn't grow, there will still be a shortage.

So....we wait. We wish we could tell you (we wish we knew!) how much longer it will be, but we simply don't know. The good news is that we KNOW we will not get the wrong baby! God already knows which child is ours and His timing is always perfect. I remind myself of that often when I get impatient!

Lastly, if you've hung in with me this long, I want to recommend a few resources (to those interested). First, there was a good documentary done (National Geographic) called "China's Lost Girls", hosted by Lisa Ling. It can frequently be found at public libraries. Another good resource is "The Lost Daughters of China" by Karin Evans (book). Both will help explain, better then I could, the deep, cultural reasons for China's female, infant abandonment.

And finally, I expect that most of my posts in the coming months will be filled with "everyday life" entries, as well as current rumors and speculation. If you have questions, please try to post them in "comments" under each post (you can use that for comments too, lol) and I'll try to answer them. You can also email me.

Until next time, I leave you with this final thought. Frequently I've been asked if we get to "pick" our child, or what we'll do if we don't "like" the referral we get. My answer is this: never for a moment have I thought we'd get anything but the child predestined to be ours. God called us to adopt and His ways never return void. We will have the exact child God already knows as ours, at exactly the right time. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen " and while that applies mostly to faith in a savior we ourselves have never seen, it is also applicable in this context. From the moment we began this journey, we stepped out in faith.......faith in a God we can't "see", but who has called us on this wonderful journey.
Welcome to our blog! My primary objective with this blog is to provide an easy way for those we love to follow along on our journey to China and our daughter/baby sister. However, since that is still many months away, you will also find a good smattering of everyday-type posts.

Before I begin the business of "blogging" our adventure, I wanted to fill everyone in on what's happened thus far, as well as provide a list of acronyms (which I will use frequently) and frequently used words that many of you may be unfamiliar with.

Dossier - this is the complete set of paperwork that we sent to China. It includes our petition to adopt, homestudy, medical evaluations, police reports, verification of employment, etc....

Referral - this is what we are waiting for! Our referral will be the child they match us with. We will receive the referral (as well as some photos and basic information......date of birth, weight, current name, province, orphanage, etc...) and then travel to China approximately 6-8 weeks later.

DTC - Dossier to China. This happened back on May 26. Basically, this was when our agency sent our paperwork to China.

LID - Log in Date. This is the day that China (CCAA, see below) received our paperwork, did it's initial review and "logged" us in. This basically means that we are now "in line" for our daughter.
CCAA - China Center of Adoption Affairs. These are the people that basically determine our fate. They currently have our dossier and have "logged" us in. Eventually they will review our dossier and then match us with our daughter.

CHI - Children's Hope International. The agency we are using.