Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Carriages & Cravings

You might think that I'm going to compare the cravings I have to a pregnant woman's, right? Wrong! Nope, I don't know why pregnant women get cravings, but I sure do know why I do: I need ENERGY! Doing The Paperwork at Warp Speed while working two jobs (running two businesses) takes a lot of energy. So, when I need a little pick-me-up, I find myself reaching for some M&Ms. Yes, the peanut provides some protein and fat, along with the chocolate so the sugar is metabolized more slowly and evenly, avoiding a sugar high and sugar crash. They are also nice and crunchy which is very satisfying. Not to mention, M&Ms are very tasty, too.

After a year-long search for a more modern Swedish Emmaljunga pram on Craig's List, and missing out on four of them, I finally struck gold yesterday. I got this pram for only $100. It was an hour away from where I live, but it just so happened that one of the moms whose baby I have in my daycare, had to go to the same city on business so she picked it up for me.

I'm a serious walker and need a REAL stroller. I have an 80s model that I've used to near death, but wanted something special for my daughter. I call strollers like these "cruisers" since they can be handled one-handed and one can walk very briskly, even jog, if desired. They have a HUGE storage basket and the baby is supremely comfortable at any age and size.

The kind of stroller I keep in my car for shopping, I call the "throw and go." I like a nice Silvercross or Maclaren but haven't chosen one for my daughter yet. The Maclarens are good strollers, but I find that I kick the back of them when walking fast. I didn't have that issue with the Silvercross.

For my daycare, I have a Runabout. I couldn't live without this stroller and I've put over 2000 miles on it. For my daycare I also have 2 Maclarens (single and double) and an older model Emmaljunga Viking in grey leatherette.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

CIS Fingerprinting

I went to my nearest California Application Support Center to have my fingerprints done for CIS. Fortunately, it was very near, only about five miles away.

The building was downtown in a rather scungy section, a few blocks from the financial district, and was a simple brick structure with heavy bars, chains and locks on the windows and doors. It looked locked, but wasn't. I went in and right by the door was a clerk who looked at the paper I received in the mail yesterday and my driver's license, gave me a one page form to fill out and a ticket with a number on it.

The rest of the room was pretty bare, with a linoleum floor filled with rows of plastic chairs with metal legs. There was a TV in front showing competitive diving. It may have been a tape of the 2004 Olympics. Against one wall was a computer fingerprinting station that looked to be in disrepair. The chairs were full of immigrants from all over. I heard a lot of Spanish, Chinese, other Asian languages, and some European and Middle Eastern languages. There were individuals, but mostly families with a few kids each. Many clutched passports of various colors.

The clerk who was at the door when I walked in was replaced by a guard and now sat at another plain table against another wall that had a door leading from it. When my number came up, which is did fairly quickly, I handed him the form, which he checked against my driver's license then stamped. He then handed me back my form, driver's license and the same number ticket and sent me through the door, down the hall and upstairs to the second floor.

Upstairs was a very plain room, dark, long and narrow, with rows of the same chairs, wanted posters on the walls and another TV showing the end of some kind of Mr. Bean movie. There was also a large poster warning us not to take pictures or use cell phones, and about six other things that, had we done them, would cause our immediate forceful bannishment from the premises.

Half the room was divided into cubicles. The cubicles nearest me had two cameras for taking passport type photos and beyond them were the fingerprinting computers. Along one wall, opposite the cubicles, was a row of about seven chairs. Periodically, a woman would appear and call a number. That individual or family group would then occupy the chairs. If some were empty, another number was called. As the first chairs vacated, we were instructed to scooch down the row so another number could be called to occupy our chairs. I about started to moo or bay or make cattle noises.

When it was my turn, a tall man in a long dark blue woolly overcoat took my number ticket, form and driver's license and started to fingerprint me. Now, this is quite intimate. One is standing nearly body to body with the technician while he holds your hand and fingers and manipulates them on the platform. My guy even used some kind of spray, perhaps plain water, on a cloth, to moisten/clean my finger tips if the first try blurred.

Finally, he spoke. He asked which country I was adopting from. I sort of breathed a sigh of relief and we started a rather stilted conversation. After a moment I asked why CIS couldn't just look up my fingerprints from last month and he replied that by making people come in, it cut down of the number of people trying to impersonate others or steal identities.

Then I was finished and sent on my way with a friendly, "Your fingerprints look good; you shouldn't have any trouble."

It all took exactly thirty minutes as the clerk at the door told me when I first entered the building, accepted my form and asked.

Things Adopted Children Wish Their Parents Knew

This was the title of the class I took today at my agency. It was very interesting. The main points were:

  • Always be honest in an age-appropriate manor. Never presume to guess and give answers that are not certified facts. For example, "Your birthmother loved you so much she wanted you to have a good home." Unless you know this for sure, don't say it because it may not be the truth. A birthmother could have been the victim of sexual crime, may have been a teenager. Just stick to facts and admit when you don't know something.

  • Be your child's ally in their process of figuring out what being adopted means to them. It's a life-long process and it needs to be acknowledged.

  • Realize that the process your child goes through is strictly his/her own and that you may be going through a process of your own.

  • The connection the child has to his/her biological family is intensely personal and primary. The connection the adoptive mom has to the biological mom is through the child, therfore, secondary.

  • Don't deny the differences in genetics, race, etc. This needs to be directly addressed. Prejudice does exists in the world even if it doesn't exist in your own home.

  • Cultural exposures shouldn't be limited to the adopted child, but integrated into the entire family.

  • The process of understanding what being adopted means is very fluid according to life stage. A child will focus of different stages of the adoption at different developmental stages, for example, wondering how old the biological parents were, then, later, the legal process of adoption. At each stage, a new greiving process may emerge.

  • Children (even as adults) view their adoptive parents as their "real" parents and the parents they were born from as their biological parents, even those who have met their biological parents. In most cases, adopted children will set definite boundaries and make it clear to their biological parents, usually the mom, that he/she doesn't consider them their parent. The parents who raised them, cared for them when ill, saw them off to school and did all the things parents do, are considered the "real parents."
The adult adoptee leading the class recommends the following books, but with this word of caution:
    Adoption has been viewed by each generation differently. In the U.S., in the past, children often were not ever told that they were adopted. Then there were phases of minimal information given, and, eventually, open and international adoptions. Through each of these stages, views also changed from denial, hostility toward the birthparents, tolerance, acceptance, and more. Books reflect the attitude of the author based on the cultural views of adoption pertaining to the author's time. While the information in many of the books is good, sometimes the delivery, author's perspective, may be very forceful, even militant, or, just the opposite.

    ·Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew
    ·Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self

Friday, February 23, 2007

It Came, It Came!

It's been EXACTLY two weeks since my homestudy was sent to CIS to join my I-600A, the form I sent to the Department of Homeland Security: Citizenship and Immigration that is the "Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition," and today, I received this:

It's my appointment to be fingerprinted! It's one of those milestones in the adoption paperchase that come from an OFFICIAL office.

WooHoo! I'm so excited and relieved! One of the other waiting moms on one of my egroups, using the same CIS office in San Francisco, got her appointment in just one week and her I-171-H came in only one more week. I was starting to wonder about mine, but kept reminding myself that it was President's Day last Monday so there may be a delay. I even prayed about it, asking that it arrived today, and it did.

Okay, I'm now going to open the envelope and read what it says now that I've danced up and down the walkway outside, spun around, scanned the envelope, emailed my friend to tell her and, started my blog post about it...

YES! I can go tomorrow, Saturday, and get my fingerprints taken! Mind you all, this is the second time. It's also required for the homestudy. Heaven forbid one agency dare to share with another even though it's all on computer. No, they need to charge another chunk of money to do it all again. But you know what? It's worth it because I'm going to be a MOM!!!

My Story, Part 6: One Year Ago, The Adoption Decision

My Motherhood Journal

One year ago, to this exact day, on Feb. 23, 2006, I was searching online for nursery links to send to my youngest sister, BZ, who wanted to know more about baby things as she and her husband planned to start their family, and I came across the blog Waiting for Sophie.

I'd only read one other blog before and didn't know much about them, but I was compelled by a strong force to read this entire blog, which I did over the next week. I remember hearing a voice in my left ear as I read, but I didn't pay attention to it since I was busy reading. Then, one night as I knelt by my bed to pray and write in my journal, I heard the voice say strongly and clearly, "Your daughter is in China." It was at that moment that I realized that's what I'd been hearing all week.

I knew that voice, I've heard it before, it was Heavenly Father speaking through Still Small Voice of the Holy Spirit. I glanced heavenward and laughed. "You've got to be kidding me!" I exclaimed aloud, rather indignantly (though I also felt excited and scared at the enormity of it). After all, I was still getting my business restarted after taking a year off, I had debt, I was getting to be a serious competitive fencer. This was the last thing I expected to hear. But I couldn't deny it any more than I could stop breathing.

Through the month of March I was reading and reading and starting to seriously research adoption. Here's the list of books and a video I poured over:

    · China's Lost Girls (video)
    · The Lost Daughter's of China
    · Post Adoption Blues
    · Family Bonds
    · Welcome Home
    · Beating the Adoption Game
    · Meeting Sophie
    · Adopting in China
    · Is Adoption for You?
    · Attaching in Adoption
    · Cross-Cultural Adoption
    · The Chinese Adoption Handbook
    · Handbook of International Adoption Medicine
    · How to Adopt Internationally
    · Yes, You Can Adopt
    · The Complete Adoption Book
    · The Single Mother's Book
    · Single Parents By Choice

Books I've read after starting the adoption process:

    · The Waiting Child
    · Wanting a Daughter, Needing a Son

I even looked at adopting from other countries, but kept feeling that divine prompting telling me that my daughter was in China. It also reminded me that I've felt certain I'd climb the Great Wall of China ever since I was in the third grade.

Here's exactly what I wrote, March 26, 2006, in my special motherhood journal, a blank journal book I've kept for years and years for when I would become a mother:

"When I looked online at the different countries with good adoption practices, I kept being prompted that my daughter will be in China."

I began praying about this. Mostly I asked if these feelings had something to do with the fact that my sister was starting a family. I didn't think so. My other sister had actually given birth in my house, and I caught the baby and really helped her prepare, so, if anything, I'd have felt it then.

I prayed even more. Then I remembered an important promise God made. He won't ever ask us so do something without providing a way. Suddenly, with surety, I knew I was to go ahead with adopting. My main concern, after thinking about not providing my child with a dad, was financial and I have faith that this will be taken care of. Amazingly, within two weeks, I filled all my daycare slots with full-time babies! Business also picked up with my pattern company, New Conceptions.

March 26, 2006 Journal Entry:
"The path to adoption is long and hard and expensive and I am by no means currently ready. But, I have faith that if this is what the Lord wants me to do, he will provied a way as per His promise."

I am excited, terrified, and so much more, but all I have to do is remember God's promise and know that I am doing His work and he will provide a way then I have peace with my decision. Time doesn't matter, the age of my child and physical state doesn't matter, because I KNOW that I will be given the child that is MEANT for ME. Yes, I'd like a tiny little baby on the surface of my mind, buy in my heart I know that the child I get is just right for me and that I'm just right for that child.

One of the things I'm most thankful for is that I am self-employed and will be able to be at home with my child. This has always been very important to me. I have let my neighbor watch China's Lost Girls and asked what she thought and she was very supportive. I told her that I'd count of her for practical support and that I'd like her daughter, now 12, to babysit now and then for me. Last night I told another neighbor and she was so exited she was bouncing up and down and also offered to babysit. This meant so much to me!

May 7, 2006 I spoke with the bishop of my ward (in the LDS church, we call the pastor the bishop). He told me that I was on the right track with all the prayer and research I was doing and to keep him posted. I am counting on the members of my church to be part of the "village it takes to raise a child."

May 13, 2006 Journal Entry:
"I wonder if Pharaoh's daughter was married when she found Moses and decided to keep him."

I've thought about how this will impact my competing in fencing and have even found support there by talking to others who've seen moms nursing on the sidelines between bouts. However, I am fully prepared to take as much time off as needed for my child's needs to be met and will gladly make the changes in all areas of my life that will be necessary once I'm a mom. I look forward to it will all my heart!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

My Story, Part 5: Hobbies and Interests

Late afternoon at Half Moon Bay

Besides just about anything having to do with babies, there are many other things I like to do.

I am a competitive fencer. I took it up 5 1/2 years ago, at the age of 33, and realized I loved it and was pretty good at it so I started competing for the first time in my life in a sport, except for one gymnastics tournament when I was 14 or 15. I have competed in two Summer Nationals, 2005 in Sacramento and 2006 in Atlanta.

I love to read for knowledge, pleasure and relaxation. I prefer a wide range of subjects, but for relaxing, there's nothing better than a good mystery romance in the bathtub!

I play the piano, too. In January I purchased a lovely little used Chickering console piano off of Craig's List. I'd been looking at it since Nov. 18 but things kept coming up, like having to have my wisdom teeth removed and the transmission replaced in my car, then, my adoption. Suddenly, though, everything came together and I was able to get it. The people I purchased it from will be life-long friends. The previous owner's mother was born and raised in China, having a father in the ink/dye import business. In 2004, the previous owner and her mother travelled to China to see where her mother lived and grew up. She actually gave me two 10 yuan bills that she had left. And, she has a friend who just came back in October with her daughter and I met them at the FCC Between Two New Years Party.

A piano in the home is very important to me. I have such great memories of my mom playing and me playing and singing around the piano, duets and holiday songs, when I was little, chopsticks and Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater. When I think of raising my daughter, I know it's a miracle that things worked out the way they did for me to now have this piano.

If I could ride across the Pacific Ocean, I'd be in China!

I enjoy Nature, and can't wait to take my daughter to Ocean Beach for the first time. I love horseback riding, though I don't get to do it much. I ride my bike instead of drive when I can (I've had a baby seat on the back of it for years), and walk frequently.

I sew clothing very well, hence the pattern business, but can sew just about anything. I also knit, crochet, smock and do other hand-sewing. I'm looking forward to smocking and knitting during the long wait for my referral.

I love dolls. I love baby dolls, Barbie dolls, and doll houses and miniature dolls. If my daughter doesn't like dolls, that's fine by me, but if she does, we are going to have a blast making doll houses and doll clothes!

I dabble in photography and have the most practice and skill photographing births and newborns.

I enjoy cooking and baking from scratch and usually cook once a week for the week and freeze stuff. It sure saves time when it comes to doing the dishes.

My Story, Part 4: I LOVE Cats...

...and I have 9 of them!

When I was a little girl I told myself that when I grew up I'd have as many cats as I wanted. Once I grew up, I thought four would be a good number but I went from two to too many and then down to six, which was great. I didn't feel a change getting number seven, but I felt the eighth.

I don't have my kitty soul-mate any more. Her name was White (photo above). She chose it herself. I wanted to call her Sugar. She died almost two years ago and recently I realized I'm mourning the fact that she won't be with me when I become a mother. She was an excellent mother to her one and only litter of five kittens and the ones she nursed as her fosterlings (Sunshine, even though she was four months old, Pooch, Darling and their brother Freddie).

Currently, I have the following feline members of my household, in order of oldest to youngest:

Meow (14, F, mother of Sunshine)
Sunshine (13, F, daughter of Meow, half sister of Max)
Darling (13, F, sister of Pooch)
Pooch (13, F, sister of Darling)
Max (13, M, son of White, half brother of Sunshine)
Bianca (10, F)
Rose (7, F, hand-reared from about 1 week old, shown here in the bowl)
Velvet (1, F, hand-reared from 5 weeks old)
Sammy (1, M, hand-reared from 24 hours old)

I make my own catfood, raw, about every three weeks. It takes me 3 1/2 hours and it's a lot of work, but it's worth it, and I've been doing it for over a year. Darling would have died since she cannot eat grain or produce. She suffered malnution for 10 years, with no help from vets, and, eventually, excrutiatingly painful, nearly fatal, infammatory bowel disease, before I figured it out. If you want to see pictures of my first large batch of catfood being mixed in my Big Red Baby Bathtub, click here and go about halfway down the page*. It was the only container I had that was large enough. Now I use a Sterilite blanket bin and have an 18" paddle to stir it all with.

I don't view my cats as my babies, or even my children, but as feline members of my family, best friends and companions. My hand-reared cats, though, are a little different. Even though Rose (in the glass bowl above), who I got when she was about a week old, still sucks my finger at night, it's her only concession to viewing me as her mother and she definitely identies more with being a cat than being my baby. Velvet came to me at five weeks and she'd already had a very good mother. She was very traumatized and took a long time to bond fall in love with me, but she has. She knows she's a cat and feels quite superior to humans. Sammy, the newborn baby on my hand, was no more than 24 hours old when I got him. He still had his umbilical cord attached and it stayed for another 10 days. Even though he's becoming a Man-Cat, he still sees me as his mom and will even still take a bottle if I offer him one, which I don't. He has VERY fond memories of me raising him and, though he seems to know he's a cat, still views me as his mother and gives lots of kisses.

*Update: The pictures on this site have changed, but the testimonial is still there.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My Story, Part 3: Earning a Living

I own and operate two home businesses. My main bread and butter comes from my licensed family home daycare business which I've had for 10 years. Up to now, I've taken care of 4 children 0 to 12 months. Since I'd like to increase my income and not have any babies around the same age my daughter may be when I bring her home, I'm expanding in July to 3 babies under 2 and 3 toddlers over 2.

I have so much experience with babies and small children that my friends and friends of friends call me first to ask advice before calling their doctors! I can't wait to put it all to good use on my own child. Best of all, I won't have to send my child out to daycare, but be a stay-at-home mom to her.

I also own my own sewing pattern business called New Conceptions, which is 8 years old. I started this business when one of my daycare children needed a better cloth diaper and I realized that the pattern was very much in demand. My pattern line has grown considerably since then and I'm looking forward to publishing more and more patterns. The little guy in this picture was my model for my patterns Baby Essentials and The One-Hour Bodyshirt. His smile was guaranteed every time.

To accommodate a larger daycare in my two-bedroom apartment, I moved all my sewing equipment, which is considerable, to a commercial office, and I'm loving it.

I am also a birth and postpartum doula, lactation specialist and lay midwife (for friends having "unassisted" births at home). I currently don't practice commercially since I don't want to be awakened in the middle of the night, however, I still provide care for close friends.

In the past I've taught piano lessons and coached gymnastics.

Monday, February 19, 2007

My Story, Part 2: My Faith

I am Christian. I was born and raised a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am fortunate enough to have a grandmother who lectured in world religions and who taught me never to follow anything or anyone blindly, but to seek truth wherever it can be found and do my own research. So, when I became an adult, I stopped attending church meetings and felt my relationship to Heavenly Father was between He and I alone.

After a couple years, though, I realized there was something missing in my life. I was ending a serious relationship and prayed frequently for guidance in my life. One day, as I sat in the sun on my front steps conversing with God, I realized that in order to become closer to Him, I needed to do the things He has asked me to do. One of those things was to gather in worship.

Long story short, I found a great place to live and started attending church again, where I met some great friends. I've since moved again, about 25 miles up the road, but one of these friends, over 14 years later, has written one of my adoption references. And another, a CPA, did my Statement of Income, another paperwork requirement since I'm self-employed.

I know that I am on God's mission and that it is my privilege to become this child's mother. I'm not a religious nut or fanatic, but a person of strong faith who must give credit where credit is due.

My Story, Part 1: History

Originally written May 19, 2006:
Growing up the second of five children, I always wanted a large family myself. As a young girl, I imagined being married at 18 or so and having 4 children about two years apart. Then I was going to adopt.

Reality: I'm 37 and single, living in an apartment, with debt, and I'm self-employed.

In my early twenties I thought I'd have artificial insemination if I was still single at 27. When I was 27 I realized I still have plenty of time for Mr. Right to come along. When I reached 30, I realized I was glad that Mr. Right and children hadn't come along since I'd learned so much about myself and wanted to work on myself a bit more so I'd be a better wife and mother when the time came. Basically, dumping all the stuff my mom had dumped on me and realizing my family had problems I didn't want to be a part of.

I decided to have a rich full life starting now and to be happy and content. After all, if I wasn't happy and content alone, how was I going to be so with someone else?

I cruised along, started another business on top of the one I had. I took up fencing and learned I was good at it and started competing. I kept myself fit and healthy so I'd be a fit old lady, and, just in case, have the best chance for a healthy pregnancy, birth and baby, but knowing I'd be happy no matter what.

Because I work with babies, I have a real sense of what is involved with daily care and expenses. Since I care for them in my home, an apartment, as a licensed daycare provider, I have a real sense of the limitations of my living space, my energy level, etc...

Also, ever since I was 12, when my baby sister outgrew her baby things and my mom was giving them away, I got to keep a couple pieces for my dolls. I ended up putting those things into my hope chest, which was a cardboard box. I've kept it and added to it all these years and when I was in my early twenties, and thought for sure motherhood was just around the corner, I added even more to it. Several years ago I decided I should get rid of it all since I didn't think I'd ever have kids, but I was only able to sell off some of it, just enough to have the room I needed, but still keeping all the best pieces. Now I know these things will be used on my child.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Welcome to My Blog

Dear Family, Friends and Those Who Are Visiting,

I'm so glad for the incredible opportunity I have to become a mom. I have been consciously preparing all my life for motherhood, and now that it's finally happening, I'm overwhelmed with a myriad of thoughts, feelings and paperwork! With this amazing internet technology, I will chronicle my fantastic journey and I invite you to follow along.