Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Red Thread

"An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break." --An ancient Chinese belief.

The Red Thread is a theme in many China Adoption stories, following the idea that the new parents have been connected to the child they will receive and that it was only a matter of time til they met.

We kind of like the idea that we have been connected to Miaya with the red thread. We've always felt as if she was out there somewhere, but we didn't know where, certainly not that she was in China.

As we wait for the review and referral process to run it's course, we read a lot of other people's postings and journals to see how they are coping with the wait. From the begining of the adoption journey, we've felt that our daughter is waiting for us in China, and this process is just to pave the way for us to be together. Some have expressed the opinion that as the referral time lengthens, they will be getting a "different" child than the one they "should" have gotten had the referral time stayed he same. This is where we feel the connection of the Red Thread. Miaya is there waiting for us, she doesn't have a specific face, or a certain chinese name, and she may have not been born yet, but she is still there waiting for us and when the time is right we'll be united.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Well, It finally happened

It finally happened. We decided to use a shopping card we got for Christmas to get the mattress for Miaya's crib. While in line to check out, a lady behind us asked "Are you new grandparents?" We knew it would happen, but hoped it would be a little later. Really, we understand, and actually thought it was rather amusing. In fact, we are thinking about getting hats or buttons or t-shirts to remove the doubt without any embarrassment on anyone's part. We gently explained that no, we were actually adopting from China. She thought that was very neat thing to do. (So do we!)

We've joked about the advantages of being older parents, in a few years we can save money at the movies, "that'll be one senior, one regular and one child's ticket please". And there's always the early bird supper specials! So I guess there's a bright side to the age thing!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Our Surrogate Child

We'd like you to meet Nike, our surrogate child. Actually he is cat #2 in our house, and has been quite perplexing to Diva, our older cat.
Nike was born in my workshop, and was very friendly, and liked to be petted and held. His mother took him and his siblings out to learn to hunt and be big cats, and we feared they might be gone for good. One cold evening a couple of days later, we had come home from town and heard him crying out in the yard while we were unloading the car. We tracked him down, and was he was glad to see us, he purred and snuggled in. He had three things going for him that evening, it was cold and dark, he was so darn cute, and we were in the mood for something small to take care of. So, he got to live in the garage for a while until he proved himself to be housetrained. That was a couple of months ago, he's quite a bit bigger than the was in the picture, and can be rather ornery at times.
Diva has had to learn how to play with another cat again, and she is more active now. He's quite enertaining to have around, and has been a good lesson for us in curbing bad behaviour, although I don't think you're supposed to discipline children with a squirt bottle!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

It's Kind Of Like Being Pregnant......Well, Sort Of........

I guess that's about the best analogy to apply here, the last of our documents arrived at Great Wall's offices in Austin, Texas this morning. Tomorrow, December 23, our dossier will be winging it's way to Beijing to the offices of the Chinese Center of Adoption Affairs.

Upon arrival it will eventually be logged in, and the official "pregnancy" will begin. In a few months, it'll work it's way to the top of the pile and be translated into Chinese, then reviewed to see if all the documentation is correct and in order. Once it passes that step, it will move to the matching room where a group of dedicated people will match us with the daughter who has been waiting for us. Eventually we'll get a referral letter, kind of like a birth announcement with a picture and basic information about Miaya.

We knew this day was coming, especially since Michael had overnighted those papers yesterday, but it's still a thrill to get the official notification from our dossier caseworker. She's been wonderful, always answering our questions quickly and helping in many ways.

Once we get the referral letter and accept the referral, the next wait will begin, waiting for travel approval. Then we'll be waiting for the US Consulate appointment and the travel arrangements to come together. Then waiting for the departure date, then waiting on line for boarding passes, and customs, for the plane to get off the ground, so on ad infinitum. See, I told you the adoption process was mainly about waiting!! But on Gotcha Day the wait will be excruciating but the best! Finally being able to hold her in our arms and know she is truly and finally real.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Things you think about while waiting................

The whole adoption process is about waiting --- as if the childless period of our life hasn't already lasted long enough! With the longest part of our wait about to begin, it becomes a constant round of endless speculation as to what is happening. Is a woman in China pregnant with Miaya at this moment? Has she already been born, or been left to be found somewhere? Will bird flu delay the process? Will some politician say something stupid and foul everything up? Will our dossier get lost? These and a host of other questions come to mind every day.

Its not all that different from the thoughts and feelings experienced in the infertility process, although the odds of a successful outcome are much higher here. Always wondering if there was anything that could have been done differently to have sped up the process, or to have ensured a more favorable result. Infertility is the last thing most couples ever think about, in fact the opposite is usually the case, fear of a "surprise" pregnancy! Life seems so unfair, we've tried nearly everything in the book to no avail, yet another couple has a momentary lapse of discretion and a baby is on the way.

Parts of the adoption process cause you to reflect on many things, especially in the home study process. Even though the social worker is on your side, you still worry. The home visit is especially tough, is the house at the right level of cleanliness? Too clean might mean you'll have trouble dealing with the inherent disorder that goes with kids, but did we miss some dirt that will make us look like slobs? Does the house smell funny, what does a good parent smell like anyway? Worries and concerns keep piling up.

Now that our paper chase is nearing the end, and the Long Wait soon begins, we'll find things to keep our minds off it as much as possible. We have a pile of supplies for making over Miaya's room, a crib to put together, and I am sure we'll "practice pack" a few dozen times to decide what we really need to take. And, we both need to get ready to lug a baby around.

It's really just beginning to get interesting, and to become very real!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Getting Closer

We got word from our agency that the last of our documents are off getting certified and authenticated, and they anticipate that our dossier should be heading off to China before Christmas.

As the time to referral seem to be getting longer, it's possible we could be heading for China next Christmas. What a Christmas present! But, whenever it happens, it'll be great.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Waiting Game -- A Longer Wait?

The story is making the rounds of the various China Adoption discussion groups that the waiting time for a referral is getting longer. Recently, the wait was as short as 6 to 7 months, now some are saying it could soon be as long as 10 months to get a referral, back to what it was a couple of years ago.

There's a lot of speculation, but little hard information as to the possible reason for this. One idea that comes to mind is that the interest in adopting from China is still growing, and that the increased workload is slowing things down. Or, they may be spending more time on each case, making sure that all the paperwork is correct so that no last minute surprises happen. What ever the reason may be, the results will still be worth the wait.
And, maybe if we have to wait a few months later it might have it's benefits, we'll have some more time to finish Miaya's room the way we'd really like to have it.

We've sent off that last piece of paperwork that needs to be certified and authenticated, and now just a couple of minor details remain. THE PAPER CHASE IS ALMOST OVER!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I-171H means One Step Closer

We passed one more hurdle, last week we got our I171H in the mail from the Citizenship and Immigration Service! This is a "Notification of Favorable Determination" concerning our I600A which is the application for pre-approval to bring a foreign born orphan into the United States. In short, the US government thinks we're fit to be parents. Advance approval speeds up the process when we file the actual orphan petition at the American consulate in China.

This is the last big hurdle in the US, soon our Dossier will be ready to send to China where the officials there will examine it and eventually match us up with our daughter. Shortly we'll be starting the "Big Wait" for the referral to come through. We're hoping to see our dossier go to China in mid-December, the time to referral seems to be running around seven months or so. The referral comes when we are matched up with a baby, it will be a picture and information about the child -- name, age, weight, medical information, location and so forth. After accepting the referral, travel approval usually comes 2 to 6 weeks later, and allow another 4 to 8 weeks to make all the arrangements to travel.

What a trip, not just to China, but the whole process. Making the decision to leave the infertility route, agreeing that we still wanted a family, then deciding on adoption. We considered many options, domestic adoptions often involve long waits and our ages were a negative factor with many agencies. International adoption looked promising, some research revealed unsettling things, many eastern european countries have problems with fetal acohol syndrome and other health and adjustment issues, not to mention rampant corruption. In the end China was a very attractrive option, the process is straightforward and corruption is nonexistent. We have both known of others who have adopted from China and found the experience was as promised. The more we looked, the more we liked what we saw, and the decision to apply to China was an easy one.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

So many little things -- so little time

We made another commitment, we've started buying things for the baby's room, (wow!) that sure seems strange to say! After nearly ten years of marriage and almost that long hoping in vain for something to happen, it's getting closer. We've been assured by everyone so far that we will be getting a baby. So we better start planning even though it's many months away.
We've picked up a few things, and some paint and so on, and oh yes, a nice crib we found on sale, one that will convert to larger beds as she grows.

There's nothing we've done that has made us feel so inadequate and lost as looking at baby things. How can someone so small need so many things, and so many of them large and expensive! We started looking around in stores -- what will we need? What is worthwhile and what is just a gimmick? We shared a lot of blank looks and baffled expressions and helpless shrugs on our first outing. We're starting to get some good ideas and asking questions and learning. But still a daunting experience, especially for us "older" first time parents. Probably the actual trip to China will be less scary than starting to shop for baby items.

We'll figure it out eventually.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Finding Miaya - A Chinese Adoption Journey

Hello from Snowy Southwest Iowa! We've just had our first real snowfall of the winter, and hopefully it's not an indicator of things to come. Near blizzard conditions in mid-November are unusual and a radical change from the 70 degree temps we had last week.

Well, so far it's been an interesting experience! We are now at 3 1/2 months in our journey to find and adopt our daughter from China. We've had a couple of snags, but so far they've been fairly easy to overcome.

Even before we applied to an adoption agency, we began collecting documents we knew we would need such as birth and marriage certificates and the like. At that point we discovered that after almost ten years of marriage, we were not officially married! The minister did not file the certificate following the ceremony. We also learned this has happened to several other couples as well, the same person has filed documents late or not at all. We were able to get a new certificate, and have it witnessed and filed; we now have a "delayed" certificate of marriage issued by the state of Iowa.

We've collected nearly all the documents we need and they are off getting all the official stamps and seals from the various state offices and the Chinese consulates. Most recently we were fingerprinted at the Immigration office in Des Moines, and are awaiting their decision on our foreign orphan petition.

Our adoption journey got rolling after struggling with infertility treatments and hoping for a miracle for nearly our entire marriage. We had reached the point where a decision had to be made, and we opted for adoption. It had been on our minds as an alternative for several years, and after some research and soul searching, we decided on China. The adoption experiences of others with China convinced us we had made the right decision and we began to evaluate agencies. We selected Great Wall China Adoption and sent off an application and the first wait began. WE GOT ACCEPTED! What great news, we applied for a girl infant, and now only a stack of paperwork and the dreaded waiting time stood between us and our daughter.

We had read many adoption journals on the web and were not too sure about those who picked a name before even applying. After we finished the home study and the social worker told us it was ok to start accumulating baby things, the name thing kept coming up and after a lot of ideas bounced around, we decided on Miaya. At least we've got the first name, we're still working on the rest.

So, we're well on our way to "Finding Miaya".