Friday, March 30, 2007

Dossier Has Arrived In China!

Whew! I am SO relieved! I had an irrational fear that the plane would go down over the ocean and all my paperwork would be lost.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Our Daughters

This was the subject line of the email Cady's mom used in her first email to me! She said that because our group is so small that all of our babies will probably come from the same SWI. They may be as close as siblings, possibly even crib pals. I'm so glad to *meet* yet another person who knows what I'm going through. Cady's family has the distinct advantage of having done it once before and now is exactly where I am in the process with their second adoption.

Each step I take on this remarkable journey gives me the sublime feeling that I'm carrying out what I was put on this earth to do. I know that I have prepared myself my entire life for this. I don't know how many times I can type this or say it or write it, but it's as natural and right to me as drawing my next breath of air. I know that my life will be so enhanced and that life itself will take on a whole new meaning for me when my daughter is placed in my arms. Already, my perception has begun changing.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I Found a Family in My Group!

I've spent hours watching YouTube Gotcha Day videos tonight and reading some of the blogs I've not read in awhile. What a surprise I got when I opened The Cady Chase, a blog I followed from when Scott and Karen were in China last year, and read this, knowing they lived in the Sacramento area...

"We are officially waiting parents for our second daughter. We received a phone call today from our agency that our documents were all translated and authenticated, and were FedExd to China yesterday, or in adoption terms, we are DTC (documents to China) as of March 26th. That's Scott's mother's birthday too."

I scrolled down the page and when I saw this binder from Heartsent, I immediately knew that they are the Fair Oaks family in my group. I believe this is another miracle. I feel like I already know this family, even though I really don't. But I soon will and we will share one of the most momentous days of our lives together.


I called my agency today to get a status report and the news was fantastic...

My dossier was sent to China TODAY!

It has been 11 wks. 5 days since I had my first meeting at Heartsent Adoptions, Inc. and received my paperwork binder.

It was one of five dossiers sent, meaning five families make up this group. For my agency, all members of the group receive their referrals together from the same province, but not necessarily the same SWI.

However, one family in this group is expedited. They are probably Chinese or have specifically requested a child with special needs. They will be matched to their child sooner than the rest of us and will have their child home probably before we even come close to receiving our referrals.

So, I will be travelling with only three other families, which is very nice. I am the only single. The nearest family is from Fair Oaks which is near Sacramento. One family is from Southern California and the third family is from Virginia (maybe it was Georgia).

My dossier should arrive in Beijing on March 30, 2007. My agency will let me know when it arrives.

I Could Have Been A Pioneer

Okay, so it's not a covered wagon driven by oxen, but I got these boxes to DHL, which was a 1 1/2 mile walk. I tied the wagon to the stroller with a rope and simply pushed my stroller as I usually do. It took three blocks to get into a good stride and get the feel of the wagon, but it worked like a charm. Now I know what I'll do if I get two more kids in my daycare this summer. I actually do have a lovely red sun cover for my wagon for when there are children in it.

These boxes contain Eliza's Emmaljunga pram. The big box in front is 37" x 24" x 15.5" and contains the chassis, wheels (removed) and toddler seat. The second box is 31" x 21" x 14" and contains the bassinet, apron, boot and both sun hoods.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Thursday, March 22, 2007

My Adoption Timeline

Feb. 23, 2006 - I accidently found the blog Waiting for Sophie and, within days, knew my daughter would be born in China.

March 26, 2006 - Began writing in my special motherhood journal.

May 29, 2006 - Attended a Memorial Day Barbeque with tons of Bay Area single-mom families who have adopted from China.

Dec. 18, 2006 - Read online that CCAA had new adoption guidelines that would exclude singles as of May 1, 2007.

Dec. 22, 2006 - Called several agencies to beg for a singles slot without having a clue how I'd afford it, and not worrying about it.

Dec. 27, 2006 - Heartsent Adoptions Inc. called to tell me they had a slot for me!

Jan. 4, 2007 - First meeting at Heartsent Adoptions, Inc. where I turned in my Application, Application Requirements, Adoption Questionnaire, Autobiography forms and received my paperwork binder.

Jan. 6, 2007 - LiveScan Finger Printing done at my local police station for child abuse & criminal checks. Ordered certified birth certificates.

Jan. 7, 2007 - First Homestudy interview with social worker.

Jan. 9, 2007 - Medical exam done.

Jan. 10, 2007 - Gave blood and urine for lab work.

Jan. 13, 2007 - Second Homestudy interview with social worker. Certified birth certificates arrived, I sent them to Heartsent.

Jan. 17, 2007 - Took the following completed documents to Heartsent: Passport Photo Page Copy and Photocopy of Birth Certificate.

Jan. 24, 2007 - Mailed I-600A to CIS and sent a copy of it along with the following completed documents to Heartsent: Employment Letter, Financial Statement, Financial Statement, Reference Letters, Guardianship Information Form (short form), Guardianship Information Form (long form), Bank Deposit Varification, Insurance Verication for Child and Self, I-134 Affidavit of Support, Certification of Identitiy, Medical Letter.

Jan. 25, 2007 - Third and final Homestudy interview with social worker at my home.

Jan. 27, 2007 - Attended required agency orientation meeting then went to San Francisco for the FCC Between Two New Years party.

Feb. 1, 2007 - Sent completed Employment Letter to Heartsent.

Feb. 5, 2007 - Sent the following completed documents to Heartsent: Application for Adoption Letter, State of Single Heterosexual Status.

Feb. 8, 2007 - Completed my tax returns for 2004, 2005, and 2006 (yes, I got behind, but not anymore) and sent them to Heartsent along with my Police Clearance Letter.

Feb. 9, 2007 - Homestudy sent to CIS.

Feb. 23, 2007 - CIS Fingerprinting appointment notice arrived in the mail.

Feb. 24, 2007 - Got the CIS fingerprints done and proof sent to Heartsent. Attended my first class at Heartsent.

March 3, 2007 - Attended my second class at Heartsent with my sister BZ.

March 12, 2007 - Took the following completed documents to Heartsent: Photographs, Passport Photos

March 20, 2007 - Received CIS I-171-H, notarized it at Heartsent and Heartsent sent it and some remaining documents to the Secretary of State to be certified.

March 27, 2007 - ***DTC*** Dossier sent to Beijing, China!!!

March 30, 2007 - Dossier arrived safely in Beijing!!!

April 15, 2007 - ***LID*** My dossier is logged in at CCAA!!! This means that I am officially "paper pregnant."

September 2008 - Mailed I-600A to CIS for renewal.

January 13, 2009 - Got the CIS fingerprints done for the second time.

January 20, 2009 - Received renewal of my I-171-H.

April 28, 2009 - Officially out of the Review Room!

July 15, 2010 - Got the homestudy update fingerprints for CIS renewal paperwork, DOJ, CAI & FBI.

July 16, 2010 - Mailed I-600A to CIS for renewal, again.

July 25, 2010 - Social worker came to visit my new home to update my homestudy for CIS renewal.

September 3, 2010 - Got the CIS fingerprints done for the third time.

September 1, 2010 - Called Heartsent to inquire about adopting concurrently through the new Special Interest Program.

September 19, 2010 - Attended Older Child Adoption Class at Heartsent.

October 6, 2010 - Received renewal of my I-171-H, dated 9/21/2010.

October 9, 2010 - Attending class at Heartsent on Neurodevelopment

October 14, 2010 - Social worker visit for homestudy update for my second child adoption.

October 31, 2010 - Committed to adopting my *second* child, spent three months trying to lock her file.

December 27, 2010 - File finally locked!

December 30, 2010 - Sent Letter of Intent (Child Care Plan) to CCAA

January 11, 2011 - ***Received Pre-Approval!***

January 14, 2011 - I signed the Child Care Plan and Letter of Pre-Approval and it was sent to China the same day

January 21, 2011 - ***Received Letter of Approval!***

February 22, 2011 - ***Received Travel-Approval!***

March 25, 2011 - Left for China!

March 28, 2011 - ***Family Day!!! Received My Daughter!***

December 16, 2011 - Sent an email to my agency outlining an adoption plan for a teen girl, requesting their support and service.

January 6, 2010 - Sent in I-600A renewal request, amended for 2 children.

January 9, 2012 - Visit with social worker seeking approval to adopt 13 year old daughter. Social worker does give approval!!!

February 9, 2012 - Sent Letter of Intent (Child Care Plan) to CCCWA

February 15, 22012 - Received Pre-Approval from CCCWA

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

C.I.S. Approval Arrived Today!!!

WooHoo!!! Yes, sirree, I'm going the Happy Document Dance!

Today I received my "Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition," the much awaited I-171-H form!

I'd just been on the phone to A., the China coordinator at my agency, and a few minutes after hanging up, she rang me back to tell me that it had just arrived in their daily mail. The agency receives a copy and so do I, but my mail is delivered in the afternoon and the agency's mail is delivered mid-morning. The first thing I felt was a brief sense of relief and then a major brain switch to logistics. I needed to get to my agency ASAP but I was working, meaning, I had to bring my four daycare babies with me, then as I knelt down and offered a prayer of thanks to the Lord, I was overcome with humility at His greatness in fulfilling his promise to me and I started bawling like a baby.

It was just after noon when I got the call and my daycare babies were just starting to wake up from their morning naps. I got them up, changed and fed them in record time, loaded all four into carseats and was at my agency shortly after 2pm to sign and have the forms notarized that pertained to this I-171-H form.

While I was there, I read my homestudy, which was quite nice and a bit different than I imagined it would be. It was much more simplistic than I expected, my life story crammed into neat paragraphs under specific headings and that was it.

A. also showed me what the certification document looks like and the authentification seal from the Chinese Embassy that's placed on the back of that document, since some of my documents have already been certified and authenticated. The photo doesn't due to Chinese seal justice.

Certification from the Secretary of State of California

Authentification seal by the Chinese Embassy (actual size ~3"x5")

As of this moment, the forms in my dossier that require certification are already enroute to my agency's Sacramento office to be taken to the state capitol, having left my agency at 3:30pm today by Fed/Ex. How is that for efficiency! They will be returned to my agency's local office this Thursday and taken immediately to the Chinese Embassy in San Francisco. Authentification takes 2 to 4 days. It is predicted that my "group," those families whose dossiers are also ready, will be sent to China March 26, this coming Monday, unless my authentification holds the group up (shh, don't tell anyone it was me), which means they will be sent March 27 or 28. I can't wait to see my arrival in Beijing date since it may very well be on April Fool's Day.

Monday, March 19, 2007

My First Video: Sammy and His Softie

This is my first attempt at using You Tube and the video setting on my digital camera. Sammy is my youngest cat, 18 months old, and I hand-raised him from a newborn kitten. When he was little, I kept this piece of fake fur in his "incubator" and he nuzzled, snuggled and nursed on it. Now, he doesn't really suck on it, but does hold it in his mouth and kneads it. He used to drag it around, but now I only occasionally find it on the floor.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Getting Used to Waiting

I'm still waiting to receive my I-171-H form, the one that gives me CIS approval to bring a foreign orphan into the United States. I was getting very anxious about it and fought the feeling, telling myself that if I truly had faith that God laid out this road for me, I shouldn't feel anxiety. Well, I'm only human, and I have been praying about it, then, yesterday, when I checked the mailbox, a calm, peaceful feeling suddenly came over me and I knew that everything is fine and that the form will come in time. I'm very relieved to feel this peace.

Waiting is the one thing I'm going to be a pro at by the time Apple comes home. The wait for the I-171-H is only the first of many waits. The next big wait is for my log in date with CCAA and after that, the BIG wait for my referral. Lastly, the wait to travel to meet Apple.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


On Monday, I had one daycare baby out on vacation and two out sick. Since I wasn't well either, I cancelled my fourth baby and rested all morning long. By about 2pm I started feeling better and decided to take the final documents to Heartsent (my agency). They weren't really documents, but the passport photos and life photos that are required.

While I was there I asked about the crucial time-line I'm up against in relation to the fact that I've not received my I-171-H yet. The China coordinator, A., said that she's not worried, but that she'd fax the CIS agent in charge of my file on Tuesday and see if she can expedite it anyway.

I cannot say enough good things about my agency and I highly recommend them. They have been so understanding and supportive of me and very professional. Phone calls are always returned and every step I've had to take in the paperchase has been clear.

Monday, March 12, 2007

When Mama is Sick

I was sick yesterday. I am allergic to synthetic fragrances. Imagine how many are out there in hair products, laundry products, lotions, soaps, perfumes, deodorants, cleaning products, air fresheners, candles, etc... Sundays are pretty hard since I go to church in the morning and most people bathe and apply their scented products in the morning. After church I felt the need to relax so I took a long drive up 101 to Petaluma and browsed in a shop or two before heading south to Sausalito and doing the same.

By the time I got home, I had a horrendous headache caused by some kind of sinus inflammatory reaction and felt like I'd been socked in the eye if I touched the area. I tried eating and taking some medication and watching a DVD, but it worsened and I started going into shock. I started shaking like crazy and shivering with cold then raced to the bathroom and vomited. There went my medication, down the toilet. I got into a hot bath and fell asleep for a few minutes then forced myself to get up and feed my cats before falling into bed.

I kept thinking, "How would I be able to care for Apple if I'm sick like this?" Then came the thought, "That's what friends are for."

All I need to do is remember that I have a great support network of friends and a my church family is always ready to help. All it takes is one phone call and someone will be over to help, no matter what. I am not alone. As part of deciding to adopt, I asked my friends and neighbors if they's be willing to help me and they all said yes. Some even volunteered before I asked.

I'm grateful to my friends for the love and support they've shown me, especially now as I prepare to become a mom.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Thank You for Your Comments!

I'm so glad to be receiving comments and to know that my blog is being read. It feels wonderful to be able to share my journey with old friends and to make new ones and be a part of the adoption community.

As I read other single adoption blogs this past year, I realized that I've finally found my niche. I'm not strange because I laid my own wood floor and love my drill. I've discovered that there are other women who do their own home repairs, refinish furniture and have become or are becoming single mothers by choice. These women, like me, are not anti-man. I think that most of us would love to be married; it just hasn't happened, that's all.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I live, there is a large community of single moms who have adopted children from China and other countries. There is an egroup and I discovered this last year and joined. I attended the group's Memorial Day barbeque last year and the waiting moms gather for dinner every month or so.

My daughter will have a wonderful peer group of girls just like her, who were born in China and adopted by a single mom in the United States. She will meet girls her own age and many who are older. I'm relieved by this since I know that she will have issues that only others in her situation can know, and, perhaps, the older girls can help her through some of it.

Friday, March 9, 2007

About Referrals

I am often asked how old my daughter will be when I get her. It actually varies. I watched the referrals come in throughout 2006 and for those who asked for a child "as young as possible", or "under 12 months," which are the common words used on the official documents, the youngest I saw at referral was 5 months old and the oldest was 14 months old.

When the referral comes, it comes from CCAA to my adoption agency. My agency will then call me. Since I have a local agency, I will go right away when I get the call and see pictures, read the information sent and sign the official acceptance. If I didn't have a local agency, the agency would phone and also send the pictures and information by email, followed by a Fed/Ex envelope. Many people take a picture of the Fed/Ex man.

As far as I know right now, in the referral will be pictures, usually not current ones, a brief medical report, province and SWI where my daughter is, her Chinese name and a general personality profile.

After I accept the referral and it goes through the process it needs to in China, I will probably get updated information and possibly current pictures.

I must warn you all now that sometimes the referral pictures are not cute. I mean, not cute AT ALL! Babies are photographed when the photographer comes. If they are sleeping, they are woken up. If they are sick, surprised, scared, have had their head shaved or partially shaved due to lice or easy maintenance, it doesn't matter.

The babies are frequently dressed is layers and layers of mismatched clothing. Babies in northern provinces or who are photographed in the colder months, look like the Michelin Man. They are so bundled up that they can't really move their arms and legs so their limbs are sticking straight out.

Some referral pictures are darling. The baby looks cute and healthy and the clothes are more Western. None of it matters because the babies all change once they are with their forever family.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

China Adoption Terms and Acronyms

Here are some of the terms commonly used in China adoption referring to things involved in the process.

·Paperchase - working hard on all the paperwork
·Dossier - the collection of paperwork that is sent to China
·CCAA - China Center of Adoption Affairs
·DTC - Dossier To China, when the dossier has arrived in China
·LID - Log-in Date for the Dossier into the CCAA system
·Waiting Mom - What I am after LID
·Referral - When the child is matched to the waiting parent(s)
·SWI - Social Welfare Institute, orphanage
·Embassy Appt. - Appt. at U.S. embassy in China to get baby's visa
·CA - Consulate appointment, same as embassy Appt.
·TA - travel approval (to go pick child up)
·Forever Family - Adoptive family
·FCC - Families with Children from China

A common conversation or email might go like this: "I'm about finished with my paperchase. I'm hoping to be DTC in a couple of weeks and think I'll get my LID about two weeks later. I hope the wait for my referral doesn't get any longer."

China Adoption: The Basic Process & Paperwork

There are many steps to the adoption process that I am going through. Some steps weren't required a few years ago and others were. I will outline the process I am currently subject to, which has already begun changing for those coming after me.

The simplest outline is as follows:

    · Finding an Agency
    · The Paperwork (Dossier)
    · Dossier Logged-in in China
    · Matched to a Child (Referral)
    · Travel to Adopt Child

Finding an Agency:
I was fortunate that events lead me to my first choice agency. I could have chosen any agency licensed in California whether or not the agency actually was in California. As mentioned in my previous post, singles can only comprise 8% of any agency's China adoptions. There are frequently waiting lists and/or lotteries for spaces. Once the agency is chosen, once must apply to it and there is a fee for that.

The Paperwork:
The paperwork is tremendous and consists of two main parts, the homestudy and everything else.

Here is the list given to me by my agency just to start:

    · Heartsent Adoptions, Inc. application
    · Application Requirements
    · Adoption Questionaire
    · Autobiography
    · Tax Returns (past 3 yrs)
    · I-600 (application for a US citizen to adopt a foreign child)
    · LiveScan Finger Prints for child abuse check
    · LiveScan Finger Prints for criminal check (uses same prints
      as above)
    · Birth Certificate (3 CERTIFIED copies)
    · Photo copy of birth certificate
    · Photo copy of Passport
    · Medical Letter (exam, CBC & TB test, 3 copies signed
      and notarized by the examining doctor)
    · Employment Letter (requires 4 copies, 3 notarized & signed by
      a CPA)
    · Financial Statement (4 pg. form, notarized)
    · Financial Statement (1 pg. form, notarized)
    · Reference Letters (from 2 different non-related people, both
    · Guardianship Information Form (short form)
    · Guardianship Information Form (long form)
    · Bank Deposit Varification
    · Insurance Verication for Child and Self
    · I-134 Affidavit of support
    · Certification of Identitiy

Add for China:
    · CIS fingerprints
    · Application for Adoption Letter (2 notarized copies)
    · State of Single Status (2 notarized copies)
    · Statement that I'm heterosexual
    · Photographs
    · Passport Photo Page Copy
    · Passport Photos
    · Police Clearance Letter (2 notarized copies)
    · CIS I-171-H (Approval notice)(2 notarized copies)

The Homestudy is done by a licensed social worker who meets with the adoptive parent(s) a specified number of times and at least one meeting takes place in home. In my case, I had three visits. The first visit was to get acquainted and discuss my reasons for wanting to adopt. The second visit focused on my family history from birth, who my parents were and my relationship to them, siblings, friends, etc... A manadatory question is asked at this time, something to the affect of, "Have you ever been physically or sexually abused or involved in domestic violence?" If the answer is yes then one must provide a written statement describing the abuse, how it was handled and how it affected or affects one's life. The final visit involves discussion of one's parenting ideas and practices. The home visit involved checking for a knowledge of child safety, indoor plumbing and electricity, not how much dust is on the shelves or how many material things are in the home or anything like that.

Also, as part of the homestudy, live-scan fingerprinting, a criminal background check and child abuse background check are required.

I believe that most of the domestic documents are to become part of the homestudy, including the three years worth of tax returns. In the case of international adoption, the homestudy is sent to CIS (Office of Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration) as part of the supporting documents to the application to bring a foreign orphan into the United States.

The Dossier:
All the paperwork put together is called the dossier. Most of the documents in it must be sent to the Secretary of State of the state they came from so they can be certified. Then they are sent to the Chinese embassy for that state or area and are authenticated. After this, the entire dossier is sent to the China Center of Adoptions Affairs in Beijing, China, where it is logged-in on their computer.

Matched to a Child:
After the dossier is logged-in, it goes through the review of the Chinese officials and eventually ends up in the matching room where the child is chosen. This is called the Referral.

Travel to Adopt Child:
After the referral is accepted by the family, and the family gets the embassy appointment in China at the U.S. embassy, and a couple other things occur, Travel Approval is issued and the parent(s) go to China for about two weeks and pick up their child.

My Story, Part 7: Starting the Adoption Process

While recovering from having my wisdom teeth removed, which wasn't really that bad, I spent a lot of time online and decided to check in with the adoption egroups I'm on. Suddenly, my world stood still, the breath caught in my throat, my heart skipped several beats and then started racing - I read that, as of May 1, 2007, the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA), would no longer allow single people to adopt. I went into my bedroom, knelt down and prayed to know if this meant that I wasn't supposed to adopt after all. I did not receive an answer, just a big blank.

Over the next several days, I prayed and researched. I figured if I didn't hear from God that I wasn't NOT to adopt, then I needed to proceed on what I'd last heard loud and clear, which was that my daughter is in China. I called agency and agency after agency. I think I called 8 or 10 in all and only two offered me any kind of hope, however meager, ACCEPT and Heartsent Adoptions, Inc. Both were local agencies.

ACCEPT offered to speak to their China Coordinator when she returned from China and Heartsent offered to send me an application and information for Guatamala and Vietnam and advised me to call back in the middle of January 2007 in case more married couples for China started, which would increase the number of singles they could take.

It's probably important at this point to explain to those of you reading who aren't familiar with international adoption, that each country has requirements pertaining to the selection of adoptive parents. For China, only 8% of an adoption agency's total yearly adoptions from China can be by single people. As a result, agency's generally do one of two things, have a first come, first serve waiting list, or hold a lottery of applicants once a year and compile a list of winners for the whole year.

So, realize, here I am in the middle of December, one week after most agencies have held their lotteries, needing to start immediately in order to finish the paperwork, by the CCAA deadline that would exclude singles, and I hadn't planned to start the process at all until the end of 2007!

I did continue to pray and to renew the energy I put into my faith. I refreshed my diligence in attending worship service and took a closer look at myself to make sure I was doing the best I could in all areas of my life. It paid off. On December 23, 2006, in the late evening while looking at Vietnamese adoption online, I finally heard that dearly familiar voice, ever so softly, whisper, "Your daughter is in China." I knew then that I'd somehow meet the deadline, though I hadn't a clue how.

Christmas came and went very low-key for me. My car was still at the shop, halfway through getting a new transmission. I stayed home and relaxed, spending a lot of time online, reading, etc... On Christmas night I had an urgent feeling that I should call Heartsent but the next day I didn't remember to do so. By the time I went to bed on December 26, 2006, I had a burning feeling that I NEEDED to call Heartsent right away.

First thing I did in the morning on December 27, 2006 was call Heartsent and leave a message. That evening at 6:40pm the phone rang. It was the director of the agency who I'd spoken to before. She said that over the holidays a single woman who was in their adoption program got engaged to be married and decided to pursue adopting as a married couple and that I can have her spot in the program!!!

I started shaking as the adrenaline hit full force. Then I started crying. Then I felt like I was going to throw up. I was ecstatically happy, surprised, relieved, shocked, and so much more, but I was "IN". I was told to call Heartsent on January 2, 2007 and make an immediate appointment.

At 4pm on Thursday, January 4, 2007 I stepped into Heartsent Adoptions, Inc. for the first time. I met with the director "V." and China coordinator "A." and received a large, well-organized binder of the paperwork I needed to start doing immediately. Both V. and A. were friendly, efficient, welcoming, and very excited for me. I left there in a daze of joy.

During this week, my 94 year-old grandmother was visiting me and I didn't tell her what was going on. I didn't want her to start telling others since I know she can't keep a secret. On Fri. my grandmother was staying overnight with a friend, so I took advantage and started the first thing on my paperwork list that I could and ordered the necessary certified copies of my birth certificate and went to my local police station to get fingerprinted and start the backgroup check for my homestudy.

I was on my way at warp speed.

As of today, I am completely finished with all the paperwork. I am waiting for a form called the I-171-H which comes from the U.S. government office pertaining to immigration. It's the form giving me permission to bring a foreign orphan into the country. Once it arrives, all my paperwork, called the dossier, will be taken to the California Secretary of State and be certified, then it's taken to the Chinese Embassy to be authenticated. Finally, it's sent to China.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

My Sweet Apple

I had a sort of epiphany on Monday afternoon as I stared at the pram taking up most of my tiny diningroom. I am finally THERE!

In my mind I've always had an idea of what financial freedom would be like. It included things like a lot of money in the bank, no debt, being able to buy what I need and, sometimes, what I want for wanting's sake, no money worries at all. It was having six months of living expenses at hand and all the other Rich Dad, Poor Dad philosophies. Well, that idea has now changed.

During the last seven years, during which I worked very hard on my businesses, I've felt like it was two steps forward and three steps back financially. I spent many nights wondering when I'd ever get ahead, if I'd ever get ahead. I couldn't feel the true life-altering benefit of my laboring until now.

As I looked at my pram, I realized that in only three months, from December 2006 to February 2007, I had the financial resources to pay in full the removal of all four of my wisdom teeth, a new transmission for my car, purchase health insurance, and pay more than half my adoption expenses to date, one year before I'd planned to even start the process and with 8 days notice. I had the credit history to get what I needed immediately when I needed it so as not to deplete my reserves completely, purchase a piano, the pram and a nice area rug, the last three items being optional. And, I still have a small reserve. Equally important, I had relationships with friends and those in my neighborhood, like at my bank, who were happy to help me, eager to be a part of my adoption journey.

Yes, I have arrived. My new definition of THERE is now this:

Having the means to afford the emergencies and critical situations that unexpectedly arise.

Having the reputation to secure the means from other sources when needed.

Having a wide base of relationship: with friends, acquaintances and professionals and a strong, reliable history with them.

Being able to snap up some of the little "biggies" that come along before the opportunity expires or someone's fast than I on Craig's List.

I suppose the bottom line is that I am managing my finances rather than my finances managing me.

I shared this with a friend of mine and she gave me the analogy of growing an apple tree from a seed.

The tiny seed is placed in the ground. It's out of site. You water it. It's still out of site, but you water it more. After some time passes, a tiny shoot appears. You water it and, perhaps, add fertilizer. A long time passes and the shoot gets larger but in no way resembles a tree yet. Still, you water it. After a very long time, the shoot becomes a little tree. No apples yet, though. You water it. More time passes. By now it's a year or more, probably more. One day some apples appear in the tree. All excited, you taste them, after they ripen, only to find them bitter and sour. Hmm. You water the tree and add fertilizer. Another year passes. There are apples again. You taste one but are braced this time. Yes, they are still bitter and sour. Add more water - again. Year three or more comes along and so do more apples. You decide to taste them again. Surprisingly, the apples are sweet! They are very good apples. You are please and keep watering and feeding your little tree, which continues to grow and produce even better apples.

All that time the tree was growing slowly above ground, it was also growing below ground. The system of roots was growing to support the tree and nourish it.

This is what the last seven years have been for me with my businesses. I was only seeing half the growth! I didn't realize that the longevity of a business has value along with the amount of visible growth. I didn't realize that a good credit history has such high, high value. Most of all, my businesses were suddenly very visible on the outside so that people and large companies found them and placed orders for patterns and wanted to be part of my expanding daycare.

I have roots, I have a strong trunk, I have sturdy leafy branches, I had some very sour apples, and now I am blossoming. Soon I will have my sweetest Apple, which is what I'm going to call my daughter in this blog until I know what her permanent name will be.