December 28, 2011

Clarification on Previous Entry

By the way, Steve asked me to make it clear that I was joking about people feeling sorry for us and donating stuff to decorate Autumn's room. Well, he didn't actually say to change the entry, it was more the aghast look on his face when I told him what I wrote that made me think I should change it.

I think what I really want is the giant blue genie from Aladdin (the really funny one played by Robin Williams) to come in and make the room pretty and girly. But, he'd probably overdo it and make it too sparkly and Arabian princessy and I'd feel like I wasted one of my wishes. In reality, my critical nature wouldn't be happy or appreciative of anything the genie did b/c I didn't create it myself. So, instead, we're off to the thrift store this week to see what donations the Goodwill Genie left for me to create with. :-)
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December 27, 2011

New Room and Care Package

I'm doing my absolute favorite thing in the world right now. Procrastinating. Why would I do something that matters when I could be having fun redesigning our blog? Besides, the things that "matter" today include: 1) working out, 2) laundry, and 3) cleaning the toilets.

We spent all day yesterday moving our guest room downstairs to where our "school room" used to be - really it was just a storage room b/c we hadn't done "school" in there for over a year and it was piled high with things we didn't know what to do with. The old guest room is now Autumn's room. It's pretty bare-bones right now - toddler bed, dresser, lamp, little table and chairs. I'm including pictures of her room so everyone will feel sorry for us and give us stuff to decorate. If anyone has any girl's clothes (size 2T-4T) they want to get rid of, we'd be happy to take them off your hands.

We're sending a care package to her today via Red Thread China. The package includes:
-camera (for nannies to take pictures of her - hopefully)
-candy for nannies/workers
-letter we write translated into Chinese
- a doll
-a donation of clothing to the orphanage
-a framed photo of her new family (Steve just told me he needs her to see a picture of her bald-headed Baba before he shows up and scares the crap out of her) :-)
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December 20, 2011

Next Step Done

We completed the next step in the process. Our i800 form was overnighted to USCIS (US Immigration) and received today. This form is to determine if Autumn is adoptable (which she should be). The i800 is not to be confused with the i800a that we completed a while back - that determined our suitability to adopt any child. I don't know if this process could be any more confusing.

Next Steps:
1. USCIS double-checks our paperwork and forwards to NBC (not the broadcasting network like I thought - I can't remember what it stands for). (1 week)
2. NBC approves our i800 application and sends it to NVC (stands for something-Visa-something). (1 week)
3. NVC will cable our file to the US Embassy in Guangzhou, China (1-3 days).
4. NVC will send us a .pdf file to forward to our agency so they can begin processing the article 5. What's an Article 5 you ask? I don't know! I just re-read everything in my notes and it seems to be some kind of letter issued by the US Embassy. (2 weeks)
6. Wait for Travel Approval (TA) (2-4 weeks)
7. Plan the trip (2 weeks)

So, best case scenario: 2 months till travel! Yay! Crap, we have to get her room ready!
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December 15, 2011

Our LOA arrived!

Our LOA (letter of acceptance) arrived yesterday. I thought we wouldn't hear anything until after Christmas/New Year. We could travel as early as 2-3 months. So I spent four hours working on paperwork yesterday - which I wish I had done a month ago b/c now I'm up to my ears in Christmas. Today, we'll sign the LOA and send it back to our agency and they'll send it to China saying we accept the referral.

I'm also filling out some other immigrant visa paperwork. I have no idea why. I don't understand any of this paperwork. I just do what the agency tells me to do and then I ask them a bunch of question b/c I don't understand the forms. Thank goodness I have somebody holding my hand AND that my friend Christy is a step ahead of me and knows what she's doing.
Gosh, all this paperwork keeps me humble. I can't keep the I-800 straight from the I-800a, the I-797 and the DS-230. Don't get me started on the 171-H. And of course most of this has changed since the last two adoptions. There used to be an I-600 or something in there, but I don't think I had to fill that out this time. Maybe. I think. Friends who are in the early stages of adoption throw out these form numbers and ask me when I got approvals back for each or when I got my fingerprint appointments. I try to pretend like I understand what they're asking, but it's hard to hide a glazed over blank stare.

And then there are all the abbreviations. DTC (date to China), LID (log-in date), PA (pre-approval - pre-approval for what?!), LOA (letter of acceptance - but really the form states "Letter Seeking Confirmation," so why is it not LSC???), and TA (no, it's not dirty - it's travel approval). And since the last adoption they've added: NBC - which is not National Broadcasting Company - I thought we were gonna be on TV. It stands for National Benefits Center - not to be confused with NVC which is National Visa Center and has something to do with a cable - again I thought it had something to do with TV.

Then there are all the cute abbreviations that the yahoo groups/bloggers use, like: dd (dear daughter), dh (dear husband), ds (dear son), sn (special needs). I have to google them all the time to figure out what people are saying. My dh and I are taking our 2 dd's to pick up our sn ds after we get our TA, but before PP.

So if you see me this holiday season speak in English - or maybe even Chinese - I've been Rosetta Stoning. Gotta go, my 7yo ds just woke up and wants to sit on my LAP.
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November 10, 2011

Munchkin #3!!!

We found our daughter!!!

We received a referral on Monday for a 2.5 year old girl with a repaired cleft lip/palate on the left side. She lives in the Jiangsu province, about a 2 hour drive northwest of Shanghai (7 hours and 14 hours from where Josiah and Sheehan were born).

We're thinking we'll travel to China in 4-6 months. When I showed the boys her picture and said - I think this is your new little sister, their faces lit up with the biggest smiles. We're very excited!

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September 26, 2011

Paperwork sent to China!

Our paperwork was sent to China on Friday! Yay!

Now we wait for a LID (log-in date) from China (the date China actually logs in our paperwork). The date is usually a few days after we send our paperwork, but we won't know the LID for about a month. Now our agency can start trying to match us with a child. I heard that there is a list coming out today. We'll see what happens. :-)
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April 08, 2011

Update on Adoption

We had our first home visit yesterday with the FRC (Family Resource Center) social worker. The social worker basically comes to your house for a few hours, asks a bunch of invasive questions and then looks around to make sure your chemicals/medications are up high or locked (which, of course, none of ours were) and that our smoke detectors work (worked perfectly) and that if we had a fire in our house and the doors were blocked that the kids would have some way of getting out (I told her that they should jump out the window - a broken leg is better than being on fire - I don't know if that was the right answer).

We are working with CAWLI (China Adoption With Love, Inc.) for the placement portion of the adoption. They are located in Massachusetts. We chose them because we heard they were great and they are cheap. My friend Christy did a lot of research and is knowledgeable in all things adoption, and she and her husband are also starting the process to adopt their fourth child. So, I'm just doing what she's doing.

So here's how this works:
- we complete our home study and get fingerprinted (get cleared by the FBI) - takes about 2 months (we're about half way or more through this now). This also includes the 10 hours of training we need to get on things like: what to expect when you adopt and what problems could possibly arise when adopting from China - this is basically red tape to make sure everyone is on the same page. They don't account for experience - that we have adopted two children from China already. We don't have a special training certificate for that, so it doesn't count. It also doesn't count if you're in two adoption support groups, have read 20+ books and watched multiple DVDs on adoption. It counts if you've sat in a classroom and listened to a speaker talk about adoption- or parenting-related issues. Lame.
- FRC must submit our home study to CAWLI, DCFS, us, and some other place for approval - about 4 weeks
- then we submit our home study with our Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child (I-800A form) - takes 2-3 weeks
- get fingerprinted again
- receive approval to adopt (receive form I-171H) - about 6-8 weeks after being fingerprinted 2nd time.
- CAWLI will process our dossier (all our paperwork/home study) - get it translated, notarized, certified, authenticated - 3-4 weeks
- CAWLI sends the dossier to China
- wait for referral - the time for this depends on the number of children that the CCAA (China Center for Adoption Affairs) puts on the viewing list that match the child with special needs we feel we're equipped to handle (girl, age 0-3, born with cleft lip/palate and/or orthopedic issues like club foot, missing limbs, and others), as well as how fast our reps fingers are at CAWLI. CAWLI waits in the middle of the night for the list to come out on a pre-determined day - given by CCAA - then the different agencies basically compete against each other to "lock-in" a child for the families they're representing (therefore, the need for fast fingers). The lists come out about 1x/month. This method doesn't seem right somehow, but this is the way China is doing it. So, our wait for a referral could be a few days or months depending on how many other families in the world are waiting for a child with the same needs as we are and how many children are available with those needs. Cleft lip/palate is the most common special need seen. Our rep at CAWLI thinks our wait may be on the shorter side because we are open to a child up to age 3, but because we are seeking a girl, that could make it a longer wait.
- after we get our referral we send our acceptance letter of the referral to China and plan our travel - about 8-12 weeks.
- spend 2 weeks in China.

So, to sum it up, we're looking at least 7-12 months before we would travel to China.

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March 16, 2011

Heading Back to China!

Well, it looks like we're heading back to China, so I figured I'd resurrect this old blog to share about our journey with those interested.

We did a lot of research, not really intending to go back to China, but ended up narrowing down our options to Ethiopia and China. The week we began to ask questions of agencies we were told that the Ethiopia program would probably be cut by 90% that week! Ninety percent fewer adoptions?! Sad, especially because of the reasons for that cut. So, off to China we'll go.

We've been working on our home study paperwork for the past month and are preparing to submit an application with a placement agency this week (we have to use an IL agency for our home study, then any other agency for our placement - meaning they help place the child in our home). We're hoping to adopt a girl born with cleft lip/palate (CL/P). The boys are absolutely set on having a little sister. I was surprised by this. The way things are working in China, we could possibly travel in about a year, maybe less to pick her up. It all depends on how many girls with CL/P are on the list to adopt.

I recently read that 36% of orphans with a special need in China have CL/P. I also read that birth defects are up by 40%(!) over the past 10 years in China. And it is estimated that 1 in 8 to 10 children born in China have birth defects. Shocking! So many children. The orphanages are being overburdened. "Special needs children get abandoned because of the stigma associated with disabilities and/or because of medical costs. Extended family, espcially the mother-in-law, will insist that a disabled child be abandoned becasue the child is considered unlucky, a curse on the family. Children with visible disabilities will be refused education, and when they grow up will have difficulty finding a job. Medical costs can be too high for a family to bear -- there is no health insurance, no free health care in China." Here is a link to that article:

I'll try to update our blog as things move along. If you subscribe to the blog then you won't have to keep checking back, you'll just receive an email when I publish a post.
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