Thursday, January 29, 2009

Positive Feeling At CCAA

I spoke more with my agency about the "positive feeling" currently pervading CCAA. It seems to have a lot to do with the fact that their new system is more automated and is running smoothly now. I remember when they moved physical locations and then started getting more computerized, so I imagine this must have led to a lot of frustration. Now that things are better, there hasn't been an overt mention of faster, more abundant referrals, but there is a optimistic feeling that CCAA will be working more efficiently.

This information was passed on to my agency directly from their facilitator in China who has direct contact with CCAA.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Note on Recent Referrals

I received a message from my agency that, while the most recent batch of referrals covered only two days, NINE families from my agency (which is a small agency) received their referrals!

Must be Chinese New Year

As I walked the short 4 blocks home from the movie theater tonight at exactly midnight, the whole neighborhood rocked with fire crackers. After the local ones subsided, I could still hear a loud continuous popping from across the estuary in the next city, followed by police sirens. It was unreal.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

An Open Letter To President Obama

Dear President Obama,

For the first time in over 6 years, I am proud to call myself an American. I'm proud to be a citizen of the United States of America and I thank you for calling me a "citizen" and not referring to the citizens of our nation as "folks."

I have seen and felt the new hope you've inspired in the citizens of the United States of America. You have indeed hit a spot within me that I have seen lacking in this country, a lack that has dragged this country down. You said today in your inaugural speech:

"In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom."

You've called upon me and the rest of America to continue the journey begun by our forefathers. To take responsibility and make the tough decisions necessary for greatness. In your own words:

"This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America."

For parents I hear a call for us to reclaim our responsibility to parent, to guide and teach our children to be secure, brave, productive, caring, and responsible individuals, lacking the sense of self-entitlement, the "gimme" syndrome of many today, young and old, but especially young. We must drop the sense of guilt permeating parenthood and be brave and strong in setting limits so that our children learn that there is a responsibility that comes with freedom. We must set an example of to service to others that our children will want to follow, not because of what they can get out of it, but what others can get from it. We must recognize that much of what is available today is not wholesome or enriching, and decline to include these things in our lives and our children's lives.

President Obama, I see in you a strong, compassionate leader, who will forge bridges and roads to peace on Earth beginning in our own homes and neighborhoods and extending to the rest of the citizens and nations of this world. Today you extended a hand of friendship to all people in all nations on this planet. This is one of the most important things you could do because my little child will not come from the United States of America, but from across the world in China, but she will become an American and I want her to be proud of that, to live in a country that sets an example of love, tolerance and freedom for all mankind. I believe you can do this because of your own heritage, your own beliefs and your resolve:

"For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace."

Today I promise to support you, Mr. President, in your pledge, because I am part of the "we" you are talking about:

"To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it."

I will donate to organizations on a regular basis who travel the world to make clean waters flow, and provide food for starved bodies and build schools and other educational programs to feed hungry minds. I will serve my neighbor. I will be a good Samaritan. I will be a strong, brave parent who isn't afraid to make tough decisions for myself or for my child. I will parent with common sense instead of guilt, limits instead of indulgence. I will be vigilant and responsible on all fronts.

"Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed..."

I will remember you in my prayers, that you will have:

Wisdom, Capability, Faith, Honesty and Integrity,

That the people you've chosen to help you will have the same,

That you will bring peace to this world,

That you will inspire and facilitate the citizens of our country to assemble the broken pieces within and rebuild our nation to sustainability,

That your family will remain strong and tightly bonded as you go about the difficult job of being President of the United States,

That you and your family will remain safe from harm and evil,

That those around you will support you in your righteous endeavors, here at home and abroad,

That all Americans will accept the challenge you put forth today and realize that the power for improvement on all fronts is in our own hands and begins in our own homes, within ourselves first of all.

Your Faithful Citizen,

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I went back to the very first post of my blog and started re-reading some of what I wrote over two years ago. As I read this post and this post I started laughing out loud because yesterday I renewed my fingerprints at the same place and didn't think twice to blog about it or even be excited about it. In fact, I kept wondering if I should have held off longer before completing the renewal of my I-600 form.

I can remember two years ago the feeling I had when that envelope from CIS arrived and how I was so eager and excited to complete the fingerprinting. I've now been fingerprinted at least FOUR TIMES for this adoption, perhaps even five or six; I've honestly lost track. Now, I feel glad to do it, it means I'm getting closer to the end, but in my head I'm saying, "Hello, how many times do you need to waste resources doing this? It's not like I've had finger transplants in the last two years!"

It reminds me of how I've felt when I've attended FCC functions. Parents with their children are soooooo past the adoption and are now focused on raising their kids that I stopped attending these functions because I can see they'd be much more fun and relevant once I have my child. Another analogy is the first-time pregnant mom who is so into the birth experience and the mom with the newborn who is past that and focused only on the baby.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Pooch Update

She's returning to life! She got her voice back, she's showing interest in food by going to her eating spot, but after smelling the food, turns away still, but having hunger is a great sign. Best of all, I swear today she is less yellow - less jaundiced. I found her sleeping in her regular places today twice and she came up onto my lap for a good cuddle. I also saw her go into the kitchen and drink from the water bowl twice. This is very good since I haven't done a subcutaneous infusion for two days and she seems to be staying well-hydrated. I wonder how many lives she's got left after all? I love this cat too much to lose her right now; so soon after losing her sister and my Bianca. If I could rename Pooch, I'd call her Allegra because she's such a happy cat. She exudes happiness.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pooch is Not Well

This is Max, the white cat, who died Oct. 8, 2007 and Pooch. Over Christmas I left my cats for 48 hours with gravity food and water dispensers. When I returned, Pooch was dehydrated and not eating and very skinny. I "spooned" her (spoon-feed/force-feed) for a week and there wasn't any improvement. In fact, I was terrified she was about to die because she was hiding in places I couldn't find, cold, dark places. She'd also developed the "silent meow" which I believe is an indication of lack of will to live because the kitty is so far gone.

I took her to the vet Sat. the 3rd and got the bad news: liver failure. My cat, when you turned her ear in-side-out to see her skin, was yellow. When the bloodwork came back, it indicated a bad liver, which was obvious and hyperthyroid. I have pills for the thyroid - fortunately the heart and kidneys seem fine (unlike with Max) and if the liver thing is caused by fatty liver disease (meaning, the cat starting losing weight too quickly and the liver couldn't handle it), then she can probably recover in 4-8 weeks because the liver can regenerate.

Currently, I am still spooning her, though tonight I gave her "dry crunchies" and she ate them by herself and drank water. I also give her sub-cutaneous fluid infusions daily and her thyroid pill. She should weigh 10 pounds because she's a large-boned cat, but she was down to 8 lbs. 4 oz. last Saturday. Today when I weighed her, she was 8 lbs. 8 oz!!!

FYI, cats can become anorexic VERY, VERY easily. They lose their appetite and with dehydration, this can be deadly. They get intestinal cramps and nausea and won't eat. Pooch would go to her bowl, smell the food and then throw up. Once I rehydrated her and started spooning her, the digestive system started working again, but cats also develop an aversion to food when they are force-fed so I was very glad that Pooch ate her dry crunchies (kibble) tonight. I don't give them dry crunchies often because it's about the worse thing to feed a cat, but tonight I was very tired so I gave it to all the other cats and Pooch came out for it before I started preparing her wet food so I gave her a serving and she ate it all then drank water from her bowl. Tonight we both get a repreive from the spoon!

I believe that spooning, the way I do it, is definitely more humane than syringe or tube feeding so I'm thinking of making a video of it so others can learn to do it, and that's why I think Pooch ate by herself tonight. Last night she ate 1/3 serving of baby food meat and lapped chicken broth so I'm very hopeful she'll begin to eat normally by the 4 week mark and we won't have to do this a full two months. I did spoon the rest of her meal so she got a full meal.

Please send Pooch get-well vibes and prayers because I can't lose her yet. I'm still getting used to her sister Darling and my Bianca being gone (Aug. & Oct. 2008). I have Pooch and two other geriatric girls left and I'd really like one of these "original" kitties to meet my daughter.

Full Day of Adoption Talk

I was immersed today in all things adoption. First, I took the last class my agency has to offer me, Babies in Hotels. Honestly, I've learned so much from reading so many blogs that I could teach all these classes now, but it's fun to be with other waiting parents.

The rest of the day was spent at a special seminar put on by my local FCC chapter. FCC stands for Families with Children from China. The topic was Enduring the Wait. Representatives from several different local adoption agencies presented different topics, the main China topic was the special needs program. Apparently, right now, the number of special needs adoptions is half that of non-special needs and the number is growing. Here are some other interesting things I learned from one agency's China case worker who is Chinese and frequently travels to China:

1. The Hague certification requires that countries try placing their children domestically first. Thus, the number of domestic adoptions in China has climbed dramatically in one year, from roughly less than 10,000 to over 35,000. This took 25,000 children out of the international adoption program.

2. China's economy in the cities is thriving so families are willing to pay the penalty fees for having more than one child.

3. It is believed by this agency employee that in the far future, China may only allow special needs kids to be adopted internationally. Please note that this is only this person's opinion.

4. Most special needs kids listed at minor, have virtually no special need. Meaning, the thing called a special need is either completely surgically fixed or is considered a super easy fix here in the U.S. Or, it's strictly cosmetic, like a scar or birth mark.

5. The agency rep also believes that the wait will increase to 4-5 years.

On the positive side, no other agency believed that the wait will grow that long or stay that way. They do think it will hit three years, which is logical given that it's currently at 34 months. As I stated in a previous post, though, CCAA is contacting SWI directors and encouraging them to make more children paper-ready for international adoption.

All agencies with a special needs and waiting child program encouraged all waiting parents to consider switching to special needs if they felt they could accept a child with a special need. They stressed that the common special needs in China are considered very minor here and even had a few kids there today and had their parents speak about it.

We also had agency reps present information on domestic adoption. Again, currently, there are more expecting moms than there are families to adopt the children these moms want to relinquish. They discussed the fact that there are many myths surround domestic adoption, the main one being that birth moms commonly change their minds and take the kids back. This is actually rare and all but a couple of states have strict laws as to the time-frames when birth moms can change their minds.

An interesting fact, you can change agencies without having to lose your I-600H status. You simply renew with the new agency's name on the form when you renew it normally, as long as you haven't let it expire.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Directly from my Agency...

"In China we have seen some news in recent weeks! China has increased the orphanage donation for adoption and CCAA has begun to contact orphanage directors to get babies ready for referral. We are hoping this is signaling a speedup in China adoptions soon! This new policy took effect January 1st. The donation has been increased from $3,000 to $5,000. Please contact us for more information about this change. At Heartsent, we are still seeing child referrals at about 34 months following dossier receipt, unless a family qualifies for expedite service. The government of China is solidly behind foreign adoption and we see no long term problems there. We all await hopeful news that the new adoption policies will encourage adoptions to speed up again. See the CCAA website for other adoption details about new regulations from May 1st of 2007:"

Fashion Friday #9

Our first mother-daughter dresses, not matching, but complimentary. I've had mine for several years but thought of it instantly when I saw this Cornelloki dress in size 2 at my friend's second-hand store. I rarely get very good pictures of the clothing I've posted on my blog because I get around to blogging and taking pictures at night when I have to rely on the flash instead of natural light. Over the weekend, if I can, I'll try for a shot of this dress in natural light and a white background.

To see the lace detail, click on this photo.

Divine Performing Arts

I just came back from seeing this, to learn more check out these links:

It was excellent! I can't wait to take Apple if they come again when she's old enough. The costumes were very beautiful. I'll go every year that they come now that I know about them.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Night of Remembrance

Jan. 3, 2009 was the 1 year anniversary of my TuTu's death. At the time, she said she didn't want us to have a memorial service for her and I hated that. On Jan. 3, last Saturday, I had a Night of Remembrance so that those who would have come to a memorial service to gather and we could have a celebration of her life and pay respects. It was great!

There was a beautiful singing performance of Kanaka Wai Wai, a Hawaiian song, and I spoke, my Aunty spoke and I'd asked three others to speak then two more did when I offered the microphone to anyone who wanted to say something. There was plenty of food and it was a time to remember my grandmother with love and joy.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Welcoming 2009

Happy New Year!

From the moment I started Apple's adoption process my life has never been the same. It suddenly jumped out of the nice predictable 15 year rut I'd been living in and started racing through time. I'm still reeling from the events of 2008, but I know that I'll survive 2009 as I survived 2008. I'm looking forward to the possibilities a depressed economy brings, lowest mortgage interest rates in 37 years rings loudly with me since there's nothing I need more than to buy a home. Need is the right word since both my businesses have outgrown my apartment.

I'm looking forward to starting ice skating lessons on Tuesday. I'd like to get good enough to join the ice dancing class after that and then the St. Moritz club which is a group of ice dancers of all ages and abilities that meet once a week.

Since I can't predict my life any more, I don't know what else lies around the corner for me. Will I lose more cats this year? I still have three geriatric girls left. Will CCAA speed up the number of referrals? Will I find a home and have the miracle of getting the loan?

As I face the first day of the new year, I wonder what life has in store for me and for the world in general. Can humanity lay down weapons and find tolerance and peace? Will humanity step up and nourish the earth rather than suck it dry? Will the world be a better place than it is today on the day I bring my daughter home?