Sunday, December 30, 2007

Thoughts and Reflections

Winter so far --- It's been a busy few weeks here, the short lived ice storm I talked about earlier was followed by a more intense ice storm that paralyzed much of the Midwest for days. Hundreds of thousands of people lost electricity for up to two weeks. Se were lucky here, as we did not lose our power except for a few hours a couple of days later. The surprising thing was that for over a week after the ice, we had very little wind. As bad as it was, we were only a 30 mile per hour wind away from a true disaster. We have had some snow, but nothing really bad so far, just enough to keep the cows from being able to go to the fields to graze, so we have been using more hay than we had hoped.

The Political Process --- The Iowa Caucuses will soon be over, and I can hardly wait. Not that I am political, I will just be happy to see all the politicians go away. The Iowa press always acts as if having the first Presidential elimination event is some kind of an honor, and I guess in a way it is, but it sure plays havoc with everyday life. It seems like there's a presidential candidate behind every bush and rock (and under some of the rocks as well). The whole spectrum seems to be represented, including the fruits and nuts on the fringes of both parties.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

December 14, 2005

It's official, the cutoff date for this batch of referrals is Dec 14, 2005. The 6 days of paperwork covered in the past month is disappointing in terms of progress, but some batches have covered only two days, so it's not so bad. We are officially in the 29th position in line at the referral window. It will be several months yet, but as we are moving closer it is beginning to get a bit scary.

A young woman who has family here in our town, is on her way to China right now with her husband to be united with their daughter. In a few days they will be holding her for the first time. Please remember Kathy and Matt in your thoughts, and pray they have a safe journey.

We hope to be following in their footsteps in a few months. We have speculated about this before, but with babies often being less than 1 year old at "Gotcha Day", the tiny girl who will be Miaya must surely be living somewhere in China at this moment. We can hold her only in our hearts and pray that she is well cared for and content as she unknowingly waits for her forever family. It is difficult to know that your child is halfway around the world in the care of strangers.

And we can only keep waiting.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

We'll know more soon!

The rumormongers are predicting the next cutoff date to be December 14, 2005. If that holds to be true, the CCAA will have covered 6 LID days worth of applications, about average for the last 6 months or so. This would put us 29 LID days away from referral. Given the about 6 day average progress per batch since May '07, we could reasonably expect 4 to 5 months until it's our turn. We still have hopes that it will be February or March 2008 when we get our notice. If that is that case, we would likely be traveling in April or May.

As we approach the third Christmas since we began this process, we are not in despair, but do feel sadness at marking yet another big family event as a couple and not as a family. But then, we have marked so many already.

What a storm!

I've never seen an ice storm like it, 15 hours after it started, nearly all the ice had melted, leaving tree limbs as about the only evidence it had happened. Most such storms leave the area paralyzed for several days, with people out of power for days or weeks.

We came out of it in pretty good shape, just the one big tree destroyed -- not really a big loss, we knew it was hollow and in bad shape any way. A few other limbs down, but nothing really bad.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Do you want Ice with that?

Well, we didn't want ice, but we got it anyway! By late morning, the temperatures had risen above freezing, and the ice was beginning to melt. However, this old maple tree we had been worrying about anyway succumbed to the weight of the ice and split into several pieces. We knew the tree was hollow, and as you can see in the picture, it really was! The best part was that nothing else was damaged. When the weather clears, we will get the local tree service to come cut down the rest.

Kim emailed this picture to Channel 13 TV in Des Moines, and they used it several times on their storm watch broadcasts.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

35 Days To Go!

The official cutoff date for this batch was December 8, 2005. This means there are 35 days of Log In Days until they reach our January 12, 2006 date. Just the realization that we are just over a month of dates away make this whole affair more real! Even though it will be several months until we get our referral notice, we are beginning to get a little nervous, scared, and well, a little bit terrified.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Reality Is Getting Closer

We should soon be seeing another batch of referrals, and the big question is how far into
December 2005 this batch will go. The various rumormongers seem to have settled around December 8th. This would be the largest number of day in many months, and would be good news for everybody. If so, this would mean we are 35 days away away from our Log In Date of January 12, 2006.

It will doubtless take several months to reach our log in date, probably 4 to 6 months at least, but getting near the one month mark makes it a little more real.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Almost Made It!

Every year we try to make it into November before starting the furnace the first time. Well, this morning it was just a little too cool in the house, so we threw the switch. Maybe next year!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Miaya's Stuff --- Still Waiting

We have been attempting to "declutter" our house a bit, and Miaya's room, though far from finished is beginning to look a bit less like a construction site, but for various reasons it's on hold for a while. Shown above is the bookcase/shelf unit we built for her. As her room is to have a garden theme, it is designed to look like a garden arch. On the sides are planter boxes which will eventually "grow" silk flowers and ivy. On top is a teddy bear Kim has had since college, and Miaya's ladybug Halloween costume (hopefully she'll be here to wear it next year).

The close up picture shows some the things we have been collecting for her, and some of the secret pal gifts we have received. Some of the items on the shelves also remind us of how long the process is taking. The Asian girl doll is one we found in a clearance aisle while we were paperchasing, and were really embarrassed about when our social worker saw it during our home visit. The Noah's Ark play set on the top shelf used to make animal sounds, but the batteries have run down. There's the stroller, highchair, and folding play yard (thanks Sophie and Gary) and so many other things still unused. The crib is in her closet, still unassembled, and the giant suitcase we bought for the trip is now overflowing with her clothes and other goodies.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Looking back, and a little ahead

Last night I was looking back at our previous posts on this blog, and contemplating how optimistic we were. Of course, that was before the referral slowdown really hit with full force, before the scandal in Hunan Province, and before the slowly grinding siege type mentality took over. Buying our first baby items, beginning to make plans for a nursery, it all seems so long ago now. We have slowly collected many things for Miaya, and have become accustomed to seeing them sitting there -- still unused. The crib is still unassembled, the nursery only partially done, it would be more difficult to see the room ready but empty. In the months since we bought those first baby things (and we were nervous for our social worker to see them), we have wandered through the baby section in many stores, occasionally picking up something on sale or clearance. Though always with a kind of "hopeful sadness" in our hearts.

Don't get me wrong, we're still optimistic, and the adoption WILL happen, but when the target keeps moving, it does get discouraging at times. We get an update called "Places Everyone" from our agency, Great Wall China Adoptions, after every referral batch is issued which shows where everyone's LID date stands in relation to the last batch, and what stage they are in, Translation, Pending Review, Review, or Pending Referral. It only shows the dates documents were mailed to China, and the dates they were logged in, not names of applicants.

We have slowly moved up the list, and now have 5 mailing dates resulting in 4 LID dates ahead of us, we are definitely closer. (Great Wall mails application dossiers to China every friday.) This puts us in the sixth slot, and it's very possible we may be four to six months away from getting the referral if the process remains the same. Supposedly, after November '05 clears, the number of applications drops considerably into early 2006. If the number of children becoming available remains about the same, then our hoped for day may come sooner.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Travel Goodies!

Thanks to our Travel Buddies for the latest round of travel goodies! We recently received a package with Disposable Bibs, Baby Einstein baby toys, and a really neat travel formula dispenser. (Kim babysat for one of her colleagues a few months ago, and she had one of the formula containers and Kim thought it was very neat.)

Can We All Say TWENTY?

Here we are on the brink of twenty months since LID, and the ever moving target of our referral is still moving. Most of this year has gone to clearing the applications from October and November of 2005, and 5 days remain to be covered from November '05. Supposedly, December and January were much lighter in the number of applications, so, process may speed up some. Assuming that there are enough paper ready children to keep the process moving.

We have also passed the two year mark since we were accepted by our adoption agency to apply to China. So many milestones, and still we have empty arms. We will be getting fingerprinted this week as part of renewing our I-171H at the Citizenshp and Immigration Service, which is our proof of being pre-approved to bring a foreign born orphan into the Unites States. Our first document was good for 18 months, and expired in May.

To renew, we had to dig out the birth and marriage certificates, get new criminal checks, have our homestudy updated, and new medical fitness letters from our doctor. The fingerprints should be the last hurdle in the renwal process, and as I don't remember being a menace to society lately, then it should go forward smoothly.

We still have faint hopes of getting our referral by Christmas, but those hopes have dimmed somewhat with the recent batch of referrals only covering 4 days, with the cutoff date being November 25, 2005.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I Know The Feeling

Just like this spray plane, sometimes I begin to wonder if this adoption will ever "get off the ground". I don't know if it was engine problems, or if he was overloaded, but this pilot failed to make it into the air at the Creston, Iowa airport.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

18 Months And Counting

We are now at 18 months and 1 week since our log in date, and no real idea of when we will get our referral. July 12 came and went with no tantrums and without too much despair. There are lot's of rumors flying around about what the next referral batch will include. It's something that happens in the last half of each month, when waiting parents are beginning to anticipate the next batch of referrals.

The last cutoff date was November 14, 2005, and given recent progress, it seems unlikely that the CCAA will finish the November LID in this next batch. So, it looks like we will not be getting a notice any time soon. Right now we are hoping for our referral in November, which could possibly get us home right at Christmas. Who knows, it COULD happen. Or, maybe we'll be singing Christmas carols in China.

But, it could also be January, or February, or March. It WILL happen, that much we know, it's just a matter of when.

Monday, July 09, 2007

It's hard to believe -- Unwanted Anniversaries

Two years ago we decided to pursue adoption to build our family. After much research and soul searching, we decided to seek our daughter in China. At the time we felt assured that by the second anniversary of that decision, we would have her home and be amazed as she discovered the world around her. But, things have changed, the process slowed down, and we are still waiting to be matched with the girl who will be Miaya.

We will likely see several more anniversaries of various kinds come and go before we are finally united with her. The end of August will see the second anniversary of being accepted by our agency, then on January 12, 2008, it will be two years since our paperwork was officially registered in Beijing (also called Log In Date or LID). Before that, July 12 will mark 18 months since our LID, and we still have several months to wait before we are matched with our daughter.

There is still a small chance that we will have her in our arms before Christmas, or even be in China at Christmas time. It's more likely that we will be traveling sometime in early 2008. It is hard to be positive about it, but we're trying to look on the good side of everything. Constantly having to tell people "No, nothing to report, we're still waiting" gets more difficult all the time.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Man are we proud!

Kim's nephew, Alex McCarty had a great night of high school baseball last week. His 14 RBI's (Runs Batted In) broke the previous Iowa state record of 12 in one game, and his two grand slam home runs tied the record for grand slams in a single game. In all he had three homers in the game against East Union High School of Afton, Iowa, and was credited as the wining pitcher. Corning High who has had a mixed season this year defeated East Union 37-1.

Time gets away

I sometimes forget how long it's been since I have posted here. Not much new to report, it will probably be November or December before we get out notice that we have been matched with the girl who will be Miaya. We would likely travel within 8 weeks getting the referral notice. It will likely be a less than merry christmas again this year. Or, there is always the possibility we will be in China at Christmas -- What a Christmas Present that would be!

Friday, May 25, 2007

I don't want to whine, but.......

I really don't, but sometimes it really gets me down and I hate feeling this way. Oh, I've felt this way before. Before I met Kim, no matter where I went, it seemed that the whole world was all paired off, and I was alone in being alone. Then when we were trying to make a baby, it seemed like all the world was pregnant and we were the outcasts. Now I see other fathers with their children, and again the feeling of being the outsider.

Yes, I know we'll have her eventually, but why so long to wait? Oh, I know all the reasons and understand them, but my heart still wants her here now, not months from now, but NOW!! I think we're both scared as well, she will change our lives in so many ways that we cannot even imagine. But, we're as ready as we can be.

In a few months we'll get the notice, time will stand still for a few weeks, then the frantic rush to finish last minute details and get to the airport. We know all will not be "perfect" when we get her. She will have been taken away from everything and everyone she has ever known and thrust into the arms of strangers who look, talk, act, and smell different from everyone she has ever been around. It will be an adjustment for all of us, she to so many new experiences, and us to having to care for this small person who depends on us for everything.

But, we are ready and want it so badly, the good and the bad!

I hope you dance

Dear Miaya,

"When you get the choice to sit it out or dance; I hope you dance!"

Perhaps it is trite to find philosophy in a popular song, but sometimes one can find so much meaning. We all face choices and opportunities that can be scary or daunting to even contemplate, let alone to have to make. Your mother and I made the choice, and began this "dance" to find you and we are so much richer for it already.

I hope you take the chance to live life with gusto and passion, take opportunities when they come, and try the road less taken. At the end, I hope you can look back and have no regrets.

I hope you dance long and find joy in every day.

With love,
Your Dad

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Spring, and that hope thing

"Hope springs eternal in the human breast" - Alexander Pope

Spring flowers are poking their heads up, the daffodils are beginning to bloom in sheltered places! The time of renewal is here, the gray dull days of winter are nearly behind us and new life is beginning. Another spring and another new beginning, hopefully our new beginning will be here sooner rather than later.

Assuming she will be 11 to 14 months when we get her, and estimating we are united in November, then she has been born and is living somewhere in China. In an orphanage or a foster home, or in what province, we will not know for several long months yet. But we can be sure she is there when we send our good thoughts her way.

In the meantime, we will be renewing various documents, and clearances here in the United States. Our "Pre-Approval To Bring A Foreign Born Orphan Into The United States" aka I-171H from the Citizenship and Immigration Service will expire shortly, and must be renewed. The USCIS will require another fee of $545 for this, and we will also have to renew our fingerprint clearances for another $140 . Our home study will also have to be updated along with Iowa criminal checks, and etc. The good part is we already have most of the required documents i.e. birth and marriage certificates to complete the renewal. And, the documents in our Dossier (application) in China do not "age", so we do not have to renew anything there.

At least, it's something to do!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Changes in Longitude

One of our China Adoption "friends" has been fortunate enough to visit China with his wife and daughters for six months. Tim, Wynter, and daughters Marit and Mattie will be living in China while Wynter takes on a temporary teaching assignment at a Weifang University in Shangdong Province.

They have been quite fortunate to maintain a relationship with Marit's foster family, and are visiting them on the way. To have any type of "family" tie to the homeland is rare given the circumstances of most orphans.

Tim and family will be writing about their experiences on their Blog at , so far they have already had a fantastic journey and well, follow the link to read about their adventures and see the sights. Perhaps we will be blessed with an opportunity to take Miaya to visit her homeland someday.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Brian and Cris

We met Cris and Brian from near Memphis in Des Moines for lunch a week ago, and they are a nice couple. Brian's homey southern accent and Cris' sweet charm made for a wonderful time. We had a nice lunch and a long chat at the "Machine Shed" in Des Moines (Where else but Iowa would you eat at the "Machine Shed?). They are using the same agency we are and are logged in a week before us, so it's possible we may travel together when we go to China. Given the near zero temperatures that weekend, Cris hinted that we should have to experience Memphis heat to even things out! As this adoption process drags along, it is easy to feel very alone when there is no one else around who really understands. So, it is good to get together occasionally to commiserate and share feelings with others in the same situation.

Actually we have two potential travel partners, Sophie and Gary are registered 11 days after us, so we have "bookends", and it's likely we'll be traveling with one couple, if not both. Only time will tell which way it goes.

Friday, January 12, 2007


January 5, 2007
Paula Zahn Now featured a segment on the new rules regarding international adoption from China. The so called panel of experts was really a panel of idiots, Ms Zahn included. They laughed and joked their way through a very sensitive subject, offending and denigrating every adoptive parent in the world. One panelist a law professor from Seaton Hall University was there mainly to promote her agenda that everyone who adopts internationally is racist and discrininatory whether they realize it of not. A so called journalist from Chicago, Roland Martin joined her in branding anyone who adopts overseas when there are African American children available here at home as racist, "preferring to adopt their 'porcelain dolls' from China because they think they are prettier and smarter".

Paula Zahn and her other panelist were no better, especially the taglines proclaiming that "many will be too fat, poor and ugly" to adopt from China. Even FOX News would have been ashamed to have aired that mess. CNN has had a reputation for solid reporting and responsible journalism, but that reputation has died, and Paula Zahn is the killer.

In two followup shows, there has been some backtracking, but still the issue has been badly handled, and the public misinformed. For such a sensitive issue to be handled so frivolously is irresponsible at best.

Unhappy Anniversary

Today marks the one year anniversary of our adoption application documents being registered with the China Center of Adoption Affairs office in Beijing. It is a most discouraging anniversary, and we are not excited or celebrating with abandon. When our dossier went to China, we were sure we would have Miaya home well before this past Christmas. At worst, we thought we might be in China to be united with her around Christmas of 2006.

I have been working on her room again, got the new closet mostly done except for doors, and when painting the inside I noticed the paint was mixed November 12, 2005. Each day that passes brings us a little closer to the day we are united, and while each day may pass quickly, the days in total pass slowly. We have the feeling of far too many seasons passing, and the anticipation becomes both more intense and more abstract, as if the whole adoption is more of an idea than a reality. We both begin to get the feeling that people wonder if we are really going through with it, or just talking big and not acting. The hardest part of building a family this way is nothing to show for it until the big day. No belly bump to watch grow, just marks on a calendar.

When we bought that paint and the still unassembled crib we were so optimistic about when our dear daughter would be in our arms, now we still have optimism but it is tempered by the knowledge that we are now a year older and our arms are still empty. We do not hold anyone to blame, the process is still working, just slower, but our time will come. It would be very easy to become bitter and angry, but it would solve nothing, and only cause more stress. We have a small but growing collection of clothes and other baby goodies waiting for her, the fruit of clearance sales and optimism.

There was a time not that many years ago when I could not even conceive of ever becoming a parent, then I met Kimberly and suddenly that possibility became a reality. This adoption did not come easily, we tried many things, then suddenly this seemed such a good fit, and the final decision became very easy. We often remark that nothing has come easy for us, it took us many years to find each other, and it seems somehow apt that this process is grinding so slowly.

We began this process 18 months ago when we began researching adoption options, and then applying to an adoption agency, then collecting all the documents and sending them to China. In that time, somewhere, a couple has met, married, and had their first child.

We're still waiting.

With no obvious end in sight.

Monday, January 01, 2007

It'll soon be a year

An anniversay we will not be celebrating with joy -- or with Miaya! January 12, 2007 will mark the one year anniversary of our dossier (adoption application documents) being registered at the China Center Of Adoption Affairs office in Biejing. At that time, we felt confident we would either have her home for Christmas, or be in China picking her up.

The slowdown in the pace of matching children to applicants seems to have several causes: an increase in the number of inter-country applications, decreasing number of of children being abandoned, and increasing numbers of domestic adoptions in China. Opinions on all theses factors vary depending on the source. China has an estimated 1,000 orphanages or Social Welfare Institutions (SWI), of these, about 250 are participating in International Adoption (IA). The other 750 SWI's do not participate for various reasons. Many apparently do not meet certain minimum standards for child care, and it has been reported that many of them are not aware of the IA program.

According to various reports, the SWI's participating in IA have seen decreases in abandonments, especially for children without special needs. There is also a waiting list for domestic adoptions in China as well. Chinese officials are working to bring more of these other institutions up to standards so they can participate in IA as well.

It is diffcult to see this anniversary approach, especially with no firm end in sight. If the rate of macthing stays the same, we may not get our referral until August or September of this year (2007). A 19-20 month wait for our referral, plus another 6 to 8 weeks to get all the approvals and arrangements to travel. A very long wait from when we began paperchasing in August of 2005. Then it was 6 to 7 months wait time to referral, had things stayed the same, we should have already been back with her several months ago.