Monday, December 27, 2010

A Most Significant Date!

Coming soon...

Updated 1/11/2011...

Okay, here's the news you've all been waiting for...

Four years ago today, 12/27/2011, a miracle was granted me by Heavenly Father that provided a spot for me at my adoption agency. You can read about this miracle by clicking on Part 7 of My Story on the right of this blog.

Today, Heavenly Father bestowed upon me the greatest miracle so far:



Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas To All

I waited until today to open all my cards and even my Secret Pal giftl Jie Jie's first gifts along with Apple's from the Oct. and Dec. Secret Pal gift exchange!

Thank you, Secret Pal. I lost it when I saw the Hello Kitty pajamas! It made Jie Jie seem so near. Thank you!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Childless Christmas

I'm really feeling it this year! My desire to be a mother, to have a child, a family, is enveloping me.

I can hear a little voice calling me mama. I can feel a tug on my shirt as a little one clamours for my attention. I go to sleep each night feeling like I'm going to be awakened by a cry in night that I will have to respond to.

I can imagine a little face, eyes wide, mouth in a wonderous O, as the tree is lit for the first time. I keep feeling like I need to bundle up myself and a little child so we can walk over to my little town's Christmas Tree Lane and see all the lights and visit Santa.

I have presents that should be wrapped and placed under my tree to be opened in the morning by small hands.

I feel like I should have bought a pink bicycle to go under the tree for a certain little six year-old.

Next year...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

100 Good Wishes Quilt - Another One

Back in the beginning of my adoption process, mid 2007, I participated in a quilt square exchange and received about 50 squares with little "wishes," or inspiring notes, to go with each square. These are to be used to make a quilt for Apple. I plan to ask friends and family to contribute the rest when I'm closer to referral time.

Meanwhile, I realized I need to get started on one for Jie Jie. I'll repeat the same legend that I posted then:

There is a tradition in northern China called the "Bai Jia Bei." In Mandarin, it's 百家被, which literally means Quilt United by 100 Families. 家 is the character for both family and home. The following is a story of the origin of the Bai Jia Bei...

"The last Empress of the Qing dynasty was a mere concubine, until she had the good luck to birth the Emperor’s only son. When forced to leave her baby alone for a while, she conceived a plan to protect him from the senior wives and obligate the other powerful Manchu families to back his claim to the throne. "From the head of each of the highest one hundred families in the Empire, she required a bolt of the finest silk. From the silks she commanded the palace tailors to cut one hundred small pieces and from these make a robe for her child. Thus he belonged, by symbol, to one hundred strong and noble families, and under their shelter the gods would fear to harm him."

I would like to invite anyone who is interested, to participate in helping me create Jie Jie's quilt. She will probably be 2 1/2 to 7 years old. The square should be of cotton fabric and be cut to at least 8" x 8". It does NOT have to be prewashed if it's good quality quilter's cotton, but it should be if you aren't sure. This is to prevent shrinkage once it's sewn into the quilt. Then, make a "wish" to go with it, a little note, verse, poem, prayer, etc. with a piece of the fabric stuck to it so it can be identified in the quilt.

Please send it to my business address at:

New Conceptions
P.O. Box 2155
Alameda, CA 94501

If you'd like to receive a square and wish from me for your own child's quilt, please include a little note and your address and I'd be happy to send you one.

I see this quilt, not as a safeguard against my child's life, of course, but as support and a blessing for myself and her as we become a family.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Aging Out

What does this mean in the China adoption world? I was mistaken in that I thought it meant that when a child turned 14 years old they were evicted from the orphanage and turned out onto the street.

What it really means, is that a child is no longer available for adoption.

So what happens to the children who grow up in orphanages? We know that some, horribly, do end up on the streets doing whatever they can to survive, and others, working menial jobs with terrible working conditions and barely any money for it. Some, however, and it's a growing number, have some higher education and find better jobs. Many children, and I don't know what percentage, are trained in something that can support them.

My agency's China coordinator and his sister grew up in an orphanage. Several girls right now, through various charity organizaitons, are being sponsored so that they can attend nursing school. Some have become teachers. Some have ended up working in the orphanage they grew up in, becoming an ayi (aunty) and caring for the children.

I just read a story about an 11 year old girl who found the orphanage herself and begged to live there because her father beat her. They took her in and she says she's very happy now. She goes to school and is doing better than she did with her father by far.

I am not trying to paint a rosy pictures of life in an orphanage or life after growing up in an orphanage, but to give examples of improved situations for abandoned Chinese children and show that there is hope for them.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Healthy Preschoolers in China SWIs?

As I look at children on all the lists and advocacy sites, I wondered what happened to the "healthy" children ages 3-10, who used to be the Waiting Children. I asked a person who is with one of the charity organizations in China and she said that in the last four orphanages she's visited, there aren't any more "healthy" children. She said that they are the ones that have been adopted during the past several years. What she said she sees the most now are 80% boys with special needs and the rest girls with special needs.

This is consistant with what I have been seeing on the current Shared List of children. The majority of them are boys.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

44 Months Waiting for Apple

When I began my adoption, my agency told me that the current wait was 24 months and getting longer. I never gave any though to how long "getting longer" would be. As I approach the four year mark in four months, I think the numbers are looking pretty long. The amazing thing is that is doesn't FEEL that long. I'm thankful for that.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Waiting Child Program

I explained the regular adoption process I was going through to get Apple in the beginning of my blog. Now I will explain the Waiting Child Program process. Keep in mind, however, that it is constantly changing, with three major changes occurring in just the last 4 months.

The children on the Waiting Child list are mostly children with special needs. The special needs may or may no be what we, in America, would call special needs since many of them can be corrected with surgery or even just left alone. Some examples are:

A malformed external ear with or without ear canal involvement.
Extra or missing fingers and/or toes.
A large birthmark, scar or portwine stain.
Malformed hands, feet, arms and/or legs.
Heart conditions (ASD, AVD, Tetrology of Fallot, etc).
Brain conditions (major to minor brain damage, hydrocephalus, microencephaly, etc).
Chromosomal conditions (Down's Syndrome).
Spinal cord conditions (variations of spinabifida).
Malformations of the genitalia and/or anus (atresia, fistula, ambiguity, hypospadias-boys).
Intestinal disorders.
Cebral Palsy.
Cleft palate and cleft lip.
Athrogyposis (joint disorder).
Club feet.
Blood disorders (various anemias)
Hep B / HIV
And many, many more...

Many on the Waiting Child List are older and healthy. Older is around 10 to 14. At 14, children "age out" and are no longer allowed in orphanages. I don't know what happens to them, but for many, I'm sure it's not good.

What one sees on this list is the following:

A number
A gender (male, female, hermaphrodite)
Date of Birth
A condition, which may be badly translated
Date the child was placed on the list
How long a family has to get the dossier logged in (some have to be logged in already, others have 3 months and others have 6 months).

An agency can click on a child listed as above and open their profile which contains more information, such as:

A photo (often not current)
Name of the orphanage
Scans of medical forms, lab results
More details on medical condition
General description of the child

Most of the time, the information in the profiles is NOT current and an update must be requested. This is what complicates the process and why many agencies do whatever they can to buy their families more time to consult physicians, etc. Often, too, the information isn't completely correct. The condition may be less severe than stated or more, it may even be completely wrong. One child may be diagnosed as autistic when, in fact, they are deaf.

The children on the Waiting Child List are split up on many different lists:

Shared List: The list that all agencies can view at the same time. Any agency can lock a file from this list at any time for any of their families. When a file is locked, it disappears from the Shared List for 72 hours. If a family proceeds with the adoption, then the file never shows up again. If a family doesn't proceed, the file automatically comes back to the List at the end of the 72 hour period. A family may only lock a file one time.

On the Shared List, children who have been on the list for more than two months or have a particularly severe special need have a designation Special Focus. If a family is interested in adopting one of these children, CCAA allows them to take 6 months to get their dossier logged in (some families find a child before starting the adoption paperwork). If a child has a very minor special need, CCAA requires that the family already have a dossier logged in. In between, is a three month deadline to be logged in.

Individual Lists: Agencies can request files from the Shared List to go on their Agency-specific List. The intent of the Individual List program is to allow agencies time to advocate for specific children for three months, basically, to find them a family among their client families who have an interest in adopting a child with a special need. A file on an Individual List is completely controlled by the agency whose list it's on. The agency will show the file only to the families they choose or may post it on a list accessible by their clients. Some have a list viewable by anyone, but interested parties must inquire at that agency about that child to get more information. Agencies get the files for three months. Sometimes the time period can be extended by special request.

There is another scenario I've discovered, too. If a child has particularly severe special needs, then their adoption paperwork may be made ready, but they won't be released to any list. Instead, CCAA waits for a family to request the file. The only way this child will ever be found is if a family just happens to be visiting the orphanage to get different child and happens to see this child there and falls in love enough to ask about them. Or, someone from a charity group, usually providing special medical, health or educational services, may see the child and advocate from them somehow, usually through a blog.

In addition to these lists, there are many charities who operate small healing homes or special homes for children with certain conditions that require more care than an orphanage can provide. Many of these groups advocate for their adoption-ready children on blogs and/or through programs such as a Hope Camp. A Hope Camp is when a group goes in and selects specific children to join them for a week or so doing fun activities like dancing, plays, arts/crafts, etc... The goal is to video record and photograph the children doing a wide variety of normal things to show prospective parents the child's abilities, despite whatever special needs they have. For example, on little girl with a certain type of cerebral palsy may be shown drawing a picture since her condidtion may make is hard for her to use fine motor skills. A prospective parent viewing this video will be able to see that the child's CP is very mild. The opposite may happen, a child may be featured who has extreme special needs. Either way, children are shown in the most advantageous way possible so that parents have more information when looking for their future child.

But what I've learned really happens is that it's cut-throat adoption out there. Many families and agencies, tired of the long wait for healthy children, are looking for a waiting child with the most minor special need possible. These children are snatched right up as soon as the lists are released. Agency reps stay up all night combing the list then requesting these minorly affected children for their Special Focus Lists.

In other cases, children who are particularly cute-looking, but have a more serious special need, are also pulled to Special Focus lists for families who ask them to do so in order to allow them more time to investigate the child's condition further by consulting with specialists here in the US and, often, by requesting an update from the child's orphanage. This by-passes the 72 hour limit one has to lock a file. This can be beneficial, unless, like in my case, I already knew I wanted to adopt a certain child and other families had their agencies requesting the file to their Special Focus lists in order to investigate whether or not they wanted the child. In my case, many, many families looked at the file and did not want to proceed with the adoption and the file returned to the Shared List and many agencies requested the file for their Special Focus Lists to give their families more time, even when they knew I was ready to lock and adopt, then returned the file when the families didn't proceed with the adoption. This is when you know the agency is buying families more time rather than advocating for the child for three months, because the file is returned quickly to the Shared List. This cycle happened for 11 months with the child I wanted to adopt!

Now, here's where things get sticky. What if a family sees a child on the Shared List, requests the file through their agency, but doesn't lock it because they know that it will take more than 72 hours to investigate the special need, then after a week, goes to lock the file and it's no longer on the Shared List?

The file could be locked by someone else, moved to a Shared List, or be inbetween. Then a grand search begins. I joined advocacy boards, forums, contacted charity groups who had funded the child's surgeries, and, in the end, my agency contacted CCAA directly.

Some agencies, and I have to say most of them, are willing to share a file. This means that if they have the file on their Special Focus list and family already working with a different agency wants the file, usually, but not always, because they are committed to adopting that child because they already saw the file or child somewhere else, the that family's agency can call the agency with the file and ask if they'd give it up. In my case, the first agency would not give it up. Not only would they not give it up, they were mean and rude and deceitful about it. I had asked through my agency, personal email and personal letter, if they'd inform my agency if they returned the file and they did not. On top of this, I gave their family, who contacted me personally, all the info I had on the child and they promised, in return, to tell me if they didn't proceed with adopting the child and they did not. My last two update posts on this explained what happened in the end. I at least know that the other family's agency was willing to share the file if their family had decided not to lock. Agencies that do this have my heartfelt gratitude because then I know that they really care about the children and not the bottom line where the dollars are.

Now, there are some new developments with the Waiting Child Program, the first was announced in Aug. 2010 and took effect Sept. 1 and this allowed me to be where I am. The new program is called Special Interest. If a child has been on the Waiting Child List for more than three months, they become a Special Interest Child. A family has 6 months to log in a dossier after locking their file instead of three. A waiting family, like me, can use a copy of my dossier that is already logged in, to adopt a Waiting Child, all while keeping my original dossier in line for Apple. A family may also adopt two children at the same time, but one must be a Special Interest Child. The most recent change is that a family who has completed an adoption in China within 12 months may also use a copy of that dossier to adopt another child off the Waiting Child List.

These are HUGE advances in the Waiting Child adoption program. I have read blogs of families who were actually the exceptions over the past year or two that were sample cases that CCAA let do this before making it policy. Currently, even some children about to age out of the orphanages are allowed to be adopted by single people by special request. Some of us believe that CCAA is trying it out and may possibly allow singles to adopt Waiting Children readily in the future.

So, if I have this right, the general process to adopt a waiting child is as follows:

Identify a child.
Lock the child's file.
Submit a Letter of Intent to CCAA.
Receive a letter of Pre-Approval back from CCAA.
Submit dossier.
Receive Letter of Approval.
Submit CIS documents.
Get a consulate appointment date.
Get Travel Approval.
Go get your child!

I am under the old CIS program so my CIS documents will be ready sooner than the new way it's being done. My dossier is also already in China so that cuts a lot of time off that part, too. Once I get Pre-approval on a child, I could travel anywhere between 4 and 8 months later to bring her home, probably more like 4-6 months since my dossier is already there and I'm under the old CIS program.

I don't know when I'll feel like looking at lists again and feel ready to committ to another child. There are things I'd definitely do differently next time. I've learned that it's rare to find a child on your own and actually get the first one or two that you try for, versus, the agency matching you up with a child. Yes, I forgot to mention that it's most common that agencies will present a family with several files to choose from rather than having the families search themselves.

Honestly, I'm still holding onto a small thread of hope that I'll still get the Child of my Heart, that something will whisper to the other family that she isn't meant for them. Or, likewise, it would help me if I heard a voice telling me that she wasn't meant for me. Even though I am in this weird limbo, I am still praying for guidance and comfort and I'm on a path that will help me be more ready physically, financialy and spiritually, regardless of what happens next. January through March I think are going to be major transitional months for me and I'm very excited about it since it will make me more prepared to be a mother.

Update #12 Not Good News

The other family decided to adopt the Child of My Heart. Their agency called mine to let them know they were waiting on one more doctor's report and then would most likely lock the file and submit their Letter of Intent. Since my agency hasn't heard back from them, I assume that this is exactly what they did.

My heart is aching and I cannot even imagine another child at this moment (except Apple, of course). I've tried looking at some pictures, but my heart is so full of my little almost daughter that there isn't room right now for someone else.

The only hope that is left is if this family didn't actually lock and their agency didn't let mine know, or they did lock and something happens along the way in the next several months that disrupts their process.

It's such a strange feeling to have been so committed to this and then to have it disintegrate in a second. If and when I feel ready to look at another child, I'm sorry to say it will be in a very guarded manner to avoid a repeat of this experience. I'm sorry about it, because I feel it takes an open heart to search all these files and pictures and decide if I can be the mother to one of them only to have someone else tell me yes or no in the end.

I know this now, the Waiting Child adoption arena is cut-throat. Agencies are looking for the children with the least of the special needs to grab for their special focus lists because their clients are most likely to accept these children. Next go the cutest looking children with moderate special needs, then the cutest onew with more severe needs.

I've read some amazing blogs lately written by families who adopted extraordinary children. Many children were found by their families when the families travelled to adopt their first child and visited the orphanage and saw them. Another family adopted a little girl who is still alive by the grace of God. Her little heart is so deformed that they weren't sure if she'd survive the trip home, but this little girl goes around all day long telling everyone how happy she is. She might be a candidate for a heart transplant, but I'm not sure. I'm adding these blogs to my blog list so you can read them, too.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hard Place to Be

I remember a Sunday School lesson called Faith Takes Energy. I can attest to it being true. Living on hope and faith this intensely is exhausting. A lot of good is coming from it, at least.

I wonder if this is why so many little girls adopted from China are named Faith and Hope!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Update #11

My agency heard back from China today. Please keep praying because it's a little more of the same --- another agency requested the file at the same time that my agency did. CCAA gave preference to the other agency because the family interested in her was married and I'm single. I understand this, though it doesn't make me feel any better. My agency's in-China coordinator will follow up in a few days because families usually only have 72 hours to hold a file.

I still feel very positive, but it's a little hard now and then throughout the day. I'm trying to stay VERY occupied to keep my mind from dwelling on things. I've also continued my diligent praying and hope that you are still hanging in here with me on that. Your prayers are working because I've gotten this far. I have just a tiny bit more to go...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Keep Running, Rats!

While my aunty was here, we started sealing up my garage so that the rats couldn't get in. We found a nest and got rid of it, empty, thank heavens, and reattached the warped siding to the frame, with fine wire mesh inbetween in case the rats chew through the siding, and expanding spray foam over the mesh to really hold it in place.

We only got so far, so today I did another big section. It was the second-largest hole and after I was finished and putting things away, I actually saw a live rat, in daylight, mind you, running away and going under the fence into the neighbor's yard! It must have been hiding in the garage and finally saw its chance to escape before being found.

I also took down a small section of fence so that I could access my property that is on the far side of my garage and becomes my neighbor's back yard. This enabled me to access the area without having to go all the way around my neighbor's house and I was also able to run an extension cord out there and use my weed wacker to chop down some foliage that was too near the garage and trapping water against the siding, causing damage and warping. I disturbed an ant colony that was eating my framework and siding so I had to spray and next I'll need to wire and foam that spot.

When I'm finished with this project, I will make a skinny gate or removable section where I took down the fence so I can maintain that part of my property. I'm big into prevention and maintainance to I don't end up spending more in the long run.

Update #10

I am so blessed to have the Light of Christ in my life; to know there is a living God who is always there for me - no matter what. Today another prayer was answered in seconds. My agency has agreed to contact the proper authorities in China and request the file of the Child of my Heart.

It's been ten days since the file was supposed to have been released from an agency's Special Focus program, but since we truly don't know how an early-released file gets back to the Shared List, we don't know if we should wait longer or what, so we've agreed that it's time for action. Funnily enough, though, we didn't all agree together. I was going to beg for this, but they had already decided to do it!

I had put out word on boards, forums, egroups, etc... but no one came up with anything. The charity sponsoring her also hadn't heard anything, which led me to believe that her file was not with any agency.

I hope to know in a few days if I can apply to adopt this precious child.

Earlier, I felt scared, afraid that I wouldn't receive this wonderful gift of life. A short time later, I felt an elation in my heart, a blessing from God, that spurred on my hope to new heights and is still burning bright within me.

I don't presume to know God's plan, no matter how strong my faith, but I hope and pray that it is for this little child and I to be united as a family. I asked that you please pray for us, for this, but that God's will be done and we accept it with peace in our hearts.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Turkey Day!

I hope your Thanksgiving was great. I had a very nice day, cooking with my aunty, who drove up yesterday, and then eating. We made enough food for a family of 6, at least, so we'll have a lot of left-overs and I'll make babyfood and meals for my daycare kids, too.

I was hoping that my agency rep would look on the list today, magically find her file and lock it and then call while my aunty was here, but it didn't happen.

I'm off for some pumpkin pie now...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Update #9

So far, no file. The new list came out today and she wasn't on it. She can pop up on it any time, but I had high hopes since it was "new list day." If only my agency would ask CCAA directly!

This is what I need specific prayers for today, that my agency contact CCAA directly to find out the status of her file and if it's not locked, to request it moved to their own Special Focus list so I can lock it.

If anyone in the adoption arena hears anything, please let me know.

And, as always, please keep praying! She's definitely worth all of this!

Monday, November 22, 2010

About My Minivan

I LOVE IT!!! No reservations.

I love having a heater that works. Especially because over the weekend we had a winter storm from Alaska blast us with rain and cold.

I love how it handles.

I love how insulated it is. I could barely even hear the thunder outside.

I love how the center middle seat can come forward so my child will be almost next to me.

I love how strong the engine is. I made it up a hill that my old car hasn't been able to climb in a long, long time.

Update #8

So close, so close!

I had an email this morning from someone helping me who found out something this morning that should be extrememly helpful.

I'll say it again, there is a miracle at hand here, please keep praying! If I ever learn the full details of what's happening, it's going to be a terrific story to tell my child some day.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

More Details

Okay, here's the progress that's been made:

The agency holding the file in their special focus program emailed someone in charge of a group that is advocating for this child and told them that they are releasing the file back to the Shared List and that it should appear some time this weekend. That "someone," who knows how much I want to adopt this child, emailed me to let me know that I should get my agency on it, which I did.

My agency is checking the Shared List, online, all weekend long, waiting for this child's file to appear so they can lock it. Meanwhile, I've started getting the necessary documents ready so that once it's locked, I can e-submit my Letter of Intent (LOI) immediately and get the adoption ball rolling.

Please pray that in between my agency's checks, no other agency grabs this file and that my agency gets it for me!!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Update #7 Pray, Pray, Pray

All of your prayers are working! Please keep it up! It's still a little too early to go into details, but I hope to have good news to post within a couple of days. A miracle is at hand...

Have you ever laughed and cried so hard at the same time that your cats looked utterly and completely alarmed? I just experienced this today. I swear, the breath in my body stopped.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Update #6

I've yet to drive my car in the daylight, and I'm looking forward to doing so this weekend. The car-buying process was a good distraction from my adoption issues.

I do know that the child's profile has been updated, though some information still may not be available, but I don't know if the interested family's agency has received it and if they have, if they've shown it to the family yet.

Please keep praying. I have such high hopes that this little girl will be my daughter. I have made a certain request of my agency and I'm waiting to hear back from them, gotta love that word since it's my constant companion.

Meanwhile, I'm continuing along the very familiar path of waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting...

I say good morning and good night everyday to her picture and imagine a life with her in all that I do.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Car Shopping Successful

Yay! It's done! I have a new (used) car sitting in my driveway. It's a 2006 Toyota Sienna CE 8 passenger minivan. White. It already has a name. I call it The Pachyderm.

I'm thankful that I have great credit that allowed me to finance it...

...but, I'm hating going further into debt.

Want to know something funny? I have yet to see it in daylight! These pictures are from the dealer who sold it to me.

Come on a test drive!

I'll drive.

You sit here.

Center row.

Third row.

Like any smart pachyderm, it can do tricks.

It's even got some bling!

It's sure going to be nice this winter to have a heater. And, of course, windshield wipers that always work when it rains will be handy. I don't have to park it over a huge pan of kitty litter in the driveway to catch leaking coolant, transmission fluid, and oil. The radio and interior lights do turn off. The windshield does not have a crack. The door panels are securely fastened down on the inside. The bumper isn't cracked and about to fall off. I can see how fast I'm going and how far because the speedo cable is intact. The transmission doesn't slip gears either. It's got a working air conditioner, too. Wow, this is a total luxury car!!!

43 Months Waiting for Apple

One month past the 3 1/2 year mark.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

CIS is Rocking for Me

Do you love your CIS officer? I love mine! My agency told me to that my ammendment to my I-600A, to make is say two children instead of one, would take at least a month. They said that that's how long everyone else's has taken. I called my CIS officer and asked her (she has always returned my messages promtly!) and she said it will only take one week.


My ammended I-171-H arrived yesterday! Allowing for mailing time, it took one week.

Strength of Prayer

It has been tense here at home lately. This is an understatement!

Deciding to commit to adopt The Child of my Heart.
Finding that child inaccessible.
Discovering there is a small measure of hope in adopting the child.
Shopping for a new car without a way to pay for it.
Not wanting to spend a dime so I can save for The Child of my Heart.

My tension has a physical manifestation in the tight wad of muscle down the right side of my neck that won't relax and feels like a charlie horse. I call it my money pain. When I things are tight, the muscle gets tight.

I went to church last week and again today. I used to go every Sunday, but after moving into the house, there seems to be too much to do or I simply need to rest. Not any more. I need to feed my spirit to maintain the strength of my faith. Faith takes energy!

Today, one of the lessons mentioned this:

"Divine covenants make strong Christians. I urge each one to qualify for and receive all the priesthood ordinances you can and then faithfully keep the promises you have made by covenant. In times of distress, let your covenants be paramount and let your obedience be exact. Then you can ask in faith, nothing wavering, according to your need, and God will answer. He will sustain you as you work and watch. In His own time and way He will stretch forth his hand to you, saying, “Here am I.”"

I've discovered it's my time to be more obedient to God and to reach for the next level of ordinances He has set for me to attain. I'm asking so much of Him lately and He is definitely working overtime for me. I feel His comfort and His love for me and He has directly answered each of my prayers. He has put people in my life, even if only over the internet, who have inspired me, supported me, and who have helped me on my journey toward The Child of my Heart. So many people have prayed for me and for her and continue to do so. Please, I beg you to continue to pray for us!

This miraculous journey is in a hard phase right now. I am waiting for others to determine my fate and the fate of The Child of my Heart. This kind of waiting is much, much different from my waiting for Apple. I already know that Apple will come into my life with a certainty that is unwavering. I am secure in my wait for her because I know she will be waiting for me at the end of my long wait.

I do not know if The Child of my Heart will be waiting for me at the end of this journey. I am fighting a system I can only influence through the power of prayer.

This was a journey I instigated, a path I have to forge, a road I have to pave myself. It's not my easy road to Apple, but one I have to forge upon unforgiving ground, through thick, unyielding brush. This is the road I hope to walk soon, that will lead to The Child of my Heart. It is upon this road where I will prove that I am worthy to be her mother.

*********1 hr. 10 min. later: As I prayed a few moments ago, I suddenly realized that God is carrying me on my new road because the it is such a hard road. I am too grateful for words.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Car Shopping

Ugh, my car is gasping its last breaths. The windshield wipers barely work, which I discovered when it recently rained, and the transmission slips like the dickens.

I am looking at minivans, but they are so BIG...

I don't know what else to do unless I get something small and reliable just to get around in until my finances improve, then go for the van.

On the other hand, I do need something that can hold a lot of carseats for those rare times I need to do something during business hours and take the daycare kids. I'd also like to be able to take them on field trips again, which means the minivan.

I'm off to go tire-kicking...

Update #5

Keep praying, it's working! I have been in touch, via email, with the family who is considering the child of my heart. Yes, they seem nice, most people are, but...

They have not even seen the CCAA file! Not one single thing! Not even the picture of her affected area, pre-surgery! Their agency is holding on to everything until they get a medical update, which has taken two weeks so far without any word.

I emailed the family with all I know and they said they will wait and see what their agency comes up with and then make their decision. They have also agreed, if they don't go forward with this child, to ask their agency on my behalf to release the file so I can lock it.

God is definitely at work here!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Update #4

Good news and bad...

The good news is that her file is NOT locked. Her file is on an agency list.

The bad new is that the agency won't release the file.

It is very tempting to release the name of the agency and let everyone email and bother them, but I think that with this particular agency, that would anger them and it would backfire.

Please continue to pray. This agency can keep the file for only 3 months. If they don't find a family, then they have to return it to the Shared List. This is actually falling into my original time-frame that I had planned out, but it's still very hard to wait and see.

Please pray specifically that the hearts of those in charge of keeping this file be softened so that they release the file.

Thank you, All!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Update #3

I'm afraid her file didn't pop back up on the shared list this morning. However, I have not given up and neither has the group of very special people helping me. I did email her SWI tonight and explain that I cannot find the file and that this little girl might end up with different parents. Another thought is that her file was picked up by an agency and is now on their private list. Emails by all the right people to all the right people have been sent out. If this little girl and I are meant to be a family, then we will be! Please keep praying for us!!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Update #2: Please Pray!

It's 2:35am and I'm still up. No big deal for me, right? Wrong! I was in bed by 11:30pm tonight, slept about 45 minutes, dreamed of the child I'm hoping to adopt, in detail, and now I'm still wide awake.

I didn't mention it, but late last night, I received an email from her SWI with four pictures of her attached. She looked pretty little so I thought they were older, maybe from last winter so I emailed them back and asked. They were actually taken the same day!!! Nov. 1, 2010 and they were such good resolution that I could see the IV wounds still on her hands from her recent surgery.

I have prayed and prayed all day for strength in my faith to trust that whatever happens is right, hope that she becomes my daughter, peace to accept whatever happens, charity for the family who has her file locked and love for God and for my little child and all the needy children.

This is very, very hard...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Update #1

It's in God's hands. The file was already locked by another family. However, I think this family contacted me for more information and I let them know my intentions and still offered to share what I know with them if they are truly, truly interested in pursuing this child.

If the family who locked the file doesn't take action within 72 hours, the file is automatically returned to the shared list.

Please pray the this child will end up with the best family, even if it's not with me.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


...I've emailed my agency and asked that they lock a child's file for me! I feel very confident in my decision and feel at peace that it's the very most right thing for me to do.

Please don't pass this along in any forums or egroups yet since I want to make that announcement myself after safely locking the file.

I will keep everyone posted as news comes in.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Researching a Little Girl

There are almost 2000 children on this month's Shared List and hundreds more on agency-specific lists. On these lists are children with special needs or children who are healthy, but older, usually 10-13 yrs. old. At 14 yrs. the kids "age out" of the orphanages and they are on their own.

I have found many, many children who tug at my heart. Unfortunately, most are agency-specific, meaning only families using that agency can apply to adopt that child. However, after a certain period of time, if no one has applied, the children's files are sent back to CCAA and then they are available to all.

One little girl has stayed on my mind. She is on the Shared List and I've seen her file. She is 6.5 years old and cute as anything. Her special need is significant and private, but doesn't affect the intellect or limbs at all. No one would know what it is just looking at her with clothes on. She had surgery about a week ago at one of the best hospitals in China. She will need further surgery, but it will never completely correct her special need.

The decision of choosing a child is extremely difficult for me. I feel like I'm stepping on ground reserved for God. Some days I want a young child, others an older one. Sometimes I want the most simple special need and other times it doesn't matter as long as I can handle it properly.

I have asked myself what it is about this particular little girl that keeps her on my mind. I wish I could say it's an obvious spiritual connection, but it isn't. She is very cute, has a smile like a cute little elf. She's a little fair, with brown hair instead of black. Dozens of families have apparently inquired about her but none have locked her file and applied to adopt her.

When I've read the blogs of other families who have chosen a child with special needs, they said that when they saw the photo or read the description, they immediately knew that they were looking at their child.

When I see the latest picture of this child, taken about a week ago in the hospital, I can easily imagine stroking her little arm as it lies listlessly on the sheet, and caressing her cheek. I can imagine getting her home and bathing her, learning every inch of her, the way her ear lobes curl and the shape of her fingernails, finding her ticklish spots and making her feel good about her body that didn't form quite right. I can imagine her as a teen when her special need causes her worry socially and then as an adult when the full limitations of her condition are realized and she grieves at what she cannot accomplish on her own because of it.

And then I feel the restriction of my budget and wonder how in the world I will ever afford this and ask myself if further debt is worth it. My plan is to not have my agency search the lists for me until January when I have more children enrolled in my childcare (hopefully) and have refinanced the house, found out what my taxes are going to be like, etc...

Some people put up donation buttons on their blogs and hold fundraisers. I always said to myself, "If you can't afford the adoption, how can you afford to raise a child!" But I know better now. I didn't have the luxury of planning this adoption like I did Apple's. CCAA suddenly created a new program in August 2010 that would allow me to do a concurrent adoption as long as Apple's adoption wasn't final yet. That is the critical thing: Apple's adoption cannot be final. So, I have a small time-frame to work with. If I'd known this was coming, I wouldn't have bought a house.

Others might reason that I shouldn't pursue a concurrent adoption at all.

I'll tell you a secret: Whenever I imagined what it would be like to go and get Apple, I always pictured walking through the street and having another baby thrust at me. I've heard of this happening. And then convincing CCAA to let me keep it.

Another scenario I imagined was that I'd visit Apple's orphanage after adopting her and finding out there was an older girl who is desolate without her because she always took care of her. Orphanages often have older children help out with younger ones and the older ones sometimes become true parents and grieve horrifically when separated.

I never imagined CCAA opening a new program and just letting me adopt a second child.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Thank You

I just wanted to thank all who have been following me lately. The decision to adopt concurrently is a huge one and I'm feeling the weight of it every day. Sometimes I'm giddy with joy and other days I'm shaking scared, mostly about money.

I have not found anything cute in the stores lately, which is good since it saves money, but I have some things I bought awhile ago that I'll try to post tomorrow.

I've been sick for 10 days with a very bad sinus cold and mild flu. I rarely get fevers when ill, but I did this time, but my sinuses are almost drained now and I'm feeling much, much better, though I did sleep half the day away today.

I wish you all could see how I am typing right now because it's typical. My cat Poppy is on my lap trying desperately to make me pet her. She writhes in my lap trying to get under my hands and when I don't stop typing and pet her, she reaches up with her paws and taps on my face. If that doesn't get my attention, she stretches up and puts her cold wet nose up my nose and nips my nose with her teeth. This behavior is repeated over and over and over until I'm finished typing. It's very annoying but so cute I can't complain.

Need Another Letter

I had a message from my social worker today. She is asking for another reference letter, preferably one from a family with an older child with a special need. I don't have a friend that fits that category. I had some friends with multiples, but they've both moved away, one to Mexico, and we didn't keep in touch.

It isn't going to hold up my homestudy, which she already sent in, but she said that three are now required instead of the two I originally submitted. It has to be notarized, of course!

I swear, I have Post Paperwork Stress Syndrome. I get the most awful feeling in my guts when I have to get documents or official letters done now. I wonder if it will ever go away.

Friday, October 15, 2010

42 Months and Counting

I've been logged in for 3 1/2 years now in my wait for Apple. It looks like I'll get Jie Jie just after the 4 year mark.

I didn't put up my jar when referrals came out last Sept. 29, 2010, so I'll add it here. Referrals were given to families logged in up to May 18, 2006.

Social Worker Visit

It went great! It will be done next week and sent to CIS so I can amend the I-600A to include two children.

I have a virus, one that brings stuffed sinuses and a fever. I HATE having a fever because I absolutely freeze so I boil myself in the bathtub, but now I'm in the sweating phase.

I plan to start refinishing the nursery furniture over Thanksgiving, I think. I also need to gut the closet and design something nice. I am getting very excited to receive this little child!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Social Worker Coming Tomorrow

I know I just had my homestudy updated in July, but it was to renew my I-600A. For those outside the adoption community, this is the application to US immigration to bring an adopted foreign child into the country.

Tomorrow's update is so I can amend my homestudy to say TWO children, one with special needs!!! Then I amend to I-600A to say the same thing.

My original homestudy has the words, "minor, sugically-correctable special needs," and I want to keep that in there in case my Apple has something that's discovered at the medical exam.

I also found out something that I'm very relieved to know. Because I'm using the I-600A and not going the Hague route, I can get an exemption for all those vaccinations required by the US for children over 2 years old. I've heard of some kids having up to 6 shots in one visit! I cannot tell you how dangerous and inhumane I believe that to be!!! Fortunately, there is legislation on the table right now that Hague families are hoping passes by Thanksgiving that will eliminate this.

I'm fighting some virus given to me by one of my daycare kids. It's sapped all my strength and I'm going to bed now!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Giddy and Smiley

I am positively blooming inside. I feel fluttery and happy. I don't know my child yet, but I am very, very, very ready to fall in love!

I did the bottoms of the garage doors today. They were HEAVY! Once I managed to get the off their hinges and wrestle them to the sawing area, I thought I'd done the hard part. Nope. Getting them back ON the hinges was super hard. The doors weighed more than I do and they are wide so every time I'd manage to get one hinge lined up, the second I reached to get one pin in, the door would fall off. The first door was so hard that I almost gave up and didn't do the second one. Light was fading fast and I was determined (will power is a serious force in the universe!) so I did it. Getting the pins out was super hard because of the rust and paint but sawing them and getting them back on was much easier than with the first door. After a year of not being able to close those doors, it was immensely satisfying to do so today.

I do love this nesting, I am beginning to have better focus. I've needed that because my brain has been so much all over the place I'm sometimes paralyzed into inaction.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Excellerated Plan

I have a new home improvement plan. No more waiting to do all those little niggling chores. I'm starting with all the doors that stick or don't shut properly. As has been my path of home improvement, I continue to have trouble with tools. Yesterday's project involved trimming off the top of a door that wouldn't fit into the frame. I've already purchased and returned one planer that just didn't work and today will return the other one I purchsed because the instructions say to hone the blade before use. I don't have anything to hone it on!!! I tried my jig saw and the blade was too light for the job and protested horrifically. I always end up using my circular saw, which is my scariest tool. The affordable ones have the blade on the outer side so it's hard to see exactly where I'm cutting. The good ones (I'm just craving a 5" one with the blade on the inside so I can see it) are expensive but I might just spring for one since I use it so much and want to be safe.

Today I'll do the garage doors that were damaged/swollen at the bottom from so much rain last winter. They won't close because of it. I'll take them off, saw them down and seal the bottom with the stuff I used on my play structure.

The good news is that I finally used my orbital sander and I LOVE it! It will make doing the dresser a breeze.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

My Child Waits

Many, many thoughts come into my head throughout the days and nights now that I'm committed to this concurrent adoption. Tonight, while driving, I suddenly realized that my first child has already been born! My first child is in China, somewhere, waiting for a forever family and probably not even realizing it.

This adoption is a lot different than my first. There is a sense of urgency to this one that I can't explain. The wait for Apple has not been hard for me. The timing has made it possible for me to do so many things that will add to the quality of our family life later on. Now, the wait made it possible for me to begin another adoption. I wonder what other monumental things might occur before I actually bring Apple home!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Answered Prayer

It suddenly hit me while loading the dishwasher that my prayer to know how many children to adopt was answered! Sometimes our prayers are answered in somewhat mundane ways, such as through a social worker.

I'm starting to come out of the shock phase, which I now recognize as being perfectly normal. When I started Apple's process, the first thing I did was go to the bank to get current bank statements and I had to run out into the parking lot because I was sure I was going to vomit. Luckily, I didn't, but I definitely remember the shock of taking such a huge life-altering step.

I've been very concerned about money, but that is also something that is starting to smooth out. It looks like the fees are not as much as I expected and my agency charged me much less for my homestudy update than I expected (over 50% less)!

I am definitely starting to switch gears here. I am not going to go to gymnastics any more, but will save that money each month. I find myself wanting to eat out, then not being able to decide where to go, then eating at home because I don't want to spend the money. I'm ready to start doing the things around the house, like planing the doors, painting and scraping door frames.

I have not decided on an age yet, but it would be convenient to find a two year old since I have the most clothes in that size and Jie Jie could use Apple's crib as a daybed. Once I find my child, it will all be much easier, I'm sure. It's a pretty big switch in gears in my head after focusing so much on preparing for one child. I think of everything as Apple's, but Jie Jie could be Apple. It's a little hard to explain... What I do know, is that this is something I can work on now, and it's free, so I'm giving it some attention now. I suppose it's all part of nesting and I'm a Super-Nester!

It's Going to Be One At a Time

My phone rang tonight (well, yesterday) at 11:45pm. Being that it was so late, I hovered by the answering machine to screen the call. To my utter astonishment, it was the director of my adoption agency! We spoke for 45 minutes. She was calling to let me know that she had spoken with my social worker and that the social worker was only willing to approve me for two children, adopted one at a time, on my homestudy update, which we will schedule for some time very soon.

My social worker's perspective is as the child's advocate. My agency director's perspective is the parent's advocate. Therefore, I will be approved for only two children for the time being. These children will be my original Apple and Jie Jie, who I will choose off the Waiting Child List, Shared List, or my Agency-specific List.

The director did promise, however, to work with me on the adoption of another child, from another country, if I find that I do want a third child after adopting my two. I think that if it was up to her, I would have my wish of adopting two simultaneously and then Apple. She and her husband have adopted five themselves and I met their youngest on Tuesday and she was amazing at 10 years old.

I have to agree that my social worker's reasons make perfect sense. It IS in the child's best interest to adopt them one at a time and give them all the time and attention. However, in certain circumstances, I think that what is absolutely best has to be weighed against what the reality is, which is that one child will get a mother and a home of her own and another child will not.

On the other hand, the new program at CCAA would probably NOT allow me to adopt two children with special needs simultaneously AND allow me to keep my dossier in line where it is now anyway.

So, I'm going to be very grateful that I will be able to have two children and that the process is about to begin. Once I lock a child, it takes only 6-8 months to get them. I now have to decide what age child I want. It's a lot harder than waiting to be matched. There are just so many children to choose from that it breaks my heart not to choose them all. I will be praying that I will know the little one when I see the pictures. Please remember me in your prayers. Choosing a child and becoming a family is something I could only trust to God.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Giving Up Extracurricular Activities

I wonder why it is that when people find out I'm adopting, especially now that I'm trying to adopt more than one child, one of the first things they say is, "Well, you won't be able to fence and do gymnastics and take Mandarin classes."

Did not one of those people consider that I'm doing those things to fill time and improve myself in preparation of becoming a mother? Did they not consider that I'm EAGER to spend my time with my child?

Why don't these people say things like:

Story time is precious.

Taking the children to the park in the evening after work is the highlight of my day.

Bath time is a riot of fun!

Watching your child sleep is magical.

I'm not even going to get into the people who go on about how bad tantrums can be and how little sleep parents get because, honestly, it seems par for the course and I welcome it because it's all part of parenting and I want to be a parent!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New Program Uncertainty

My agency, along with all the others across the U.S., is trying to figure out exactly how the new CCAA adoption program works and where there is wiggle room. It seems like every agency has a different interpretation.

I dropped by my agency yesterday to speak with the agency head about my intentions for my concurrent adoption. She is going to have her coordinator in China find the right person to speak to in order to get the real scoop. I don't know how long this will take.

I've discovered that there are tons and tons of children I could easily fall in love with. There are so many things considered special needs that just are not because they are completely correctable with surgery. I'm utterly astonished!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Current Reading

I've started the next book in my quest for information. It's called Our Own: Adopting and Parenting the Older Child by Trish Maskew.

I am about half way through it and it's VERY informative. I like how the author writes about each issue, what it is, how to identify it, and how to deal with it. I think this author goes into more detail with the possible solutions to the issues than many authors do and that the solutions are practical and easy to implement. She uses a LOT of examples from a variety of families. At the same time, she also gives parents tips on taking care of themselves and coping mechanisms.

The Primal Wound gave great descriptions of the issues and some solutions, but Our Own, I feel, expands on the solutions, provides more detail and examples.

This book will definitely be a ready-reference on my bookshelf!

What if...

...Apple isn't a baby? What if I find her on the Waiting Child List?

If I adopt two or three children, I wonder which one she'll be?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Still Thinking

I'm still thinking about and researching this next adoption choice. Today's task involved calling my medical insurance company and asking for some help understanding the policies. Why aren't these things taught in school - along with financial literacy? Tomorrow I have further calls to make and this Saturday I will attend another class at my agency called: How to Support Your Child's School Success. Although I've always intended to homeschool Apple, if I adopt an older child who has already been in school, she may have an expectation of continuing that and it might be right for her. I will only know when the time comes.

Every few days I learn something more that makes me change my mind about the ages of the children I'd seek or if I should try for one, two or just stick with Apple as an only child. Honestly, though, I am hoping that I can adopt two at once, plus Apple later. For the past few days, I've been leaning toward an older girl 6-8 yrs. old and a younger girl around 1 1/2 yrs. old (2 yrs. when I bring her home). From what I've read, having a large gap and being a single mom means that the girls will not be competing for the exact same thing from me.

I realize that at first, the older one needs to be allowed and even encouraged to regress so that I can baby her and complete some of the neurodevelopmental processes she missed out on, but long-term, it seems that this age spread is good. Bonding with two at the same time also has its own challenges so it might be especially rough at first.

One advantage to an older one and much younger one is that Apple will be spaced more naturally so I'll have two little ones and one big one. This will work out for the bedroom layout of my home, allow hand-me-downs in clothing (have to live on a tighter budget with three!), and this will also prevent me from filling up my highest income daycare spaces (my own children count in my childcare ratio). I can ease into the teenage years with one and have a little breather before the next, hopefully learning something that will help me with the next. I like the thought of having special things I can do with my older child that only she and I can do because she's older. Same with the little one.

I'm liable to change my mind the more I learn, so this is only the thought of the moment.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Older Child Adoption Class and More

Yesterday I attended a class required by my agency for those wanting to adopt an older child. They consider an child older over two years old. As with most of the classes I've attended, I feel it's just a repeat of what I've learned so far and I feel well ahead in my preparations for parenthood. My social worker has said I'm at the head of things, too. I was the ONLY one with a list of questions and brought of two topics that my social worker greatly expanded upon.

Now to the more part of this post. I am actually considering adopting two children at the same time as well as continuing my adoption of Apple. I would really love to do this, but the financial aspect is what is holding me back. I just don't know if I can afford health insurance for three children and myself. I am going to investigate options this week. I'm not very knowledgable about health insurance so I will probably contact an insurance agent. I would appreciate any information from you readers about getting good deals on insurance. What should I look for and where do I look?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Forty-One Weeks Logged In

Wow, three years and five months down!

Jie Jie: Next Step

My agency has confirmed that I am eligible to do a concurrent adoption from China of a child from the Waiting Child List. The list is a list of children with special needs of all degrees as well as healthy older children.

A concurrent adoption will not change my adoption of Apple. I will maintain my place in line for Apple. It won't expedite it or slow it down. However, I will not have to submit another dossier. The concurrent adoption will "ride" on Apple's dossier, apparently.

The ultimate question in the adoption equation is, "What is best for the child?"

There are advantages of being an only child and disadvantages. I've imagined life with just Apple and I have imagined life with Apple and Jie Jie. Honestly, it's easier imagining a future life with both girls. I can only imagine Apple as the younger sister, too, not the older one. This is very surprising to me since, until three weeks ago, the most likely second child scenario involved a domestic adoption of a newborn after Apple's been home for awhile, something I haven't really contemplated, but thought would be my only option.

The next step is to go through a process to help me learn more about it. This Sunday just happens to be a class on older adoption at my agency, run by MY social worker. These classes are arranged specially when there is a need. I find it more than coincidental that there is one of these classes right away. I don't like to think of these kinds of coincidences as "signs," but rather as miracles or blessings.

After the class this Sunday, my social worker will give me something she refers to as homework and reading recommendations. Then we will meet. I am very glad for this. The decision to adopt Apple was easy and clear since I heard the Still Small Voice so clearly and many miracles and blessings paved the way. The idea to adopt Jie Jie feels like it came from me, rather than God, but it's strange that as I type this it feels wrong, that it did come from Him. Either way, though, I know His blessing will be over it since I am praying diligently on this matter. To have help is this decision from my agency support system is important to me since it's such a HUGE decision. I feel better knowing I'll have guidance and a process to go through that will dedicate serious time and effort to thinking about Jie Jie and what's best for her. I would appreciate your prayers, too, specifically for:

Knowing if adopting two children is right.
If so, to be able to know my daughter when I begin looking on the list regardless of her age and ability/disability.
That all things necessary for a smooth adoption happen (money, timing, etc.)
That out transition to family life be a smooth as possible.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mandarin Classes

I began Mandarin classes today at my local adult school with a fantastic teacher. I actually took this class three years ago, but didn't move on to the next level because I stopped to care for my TuTu. After that, they were always on the wrong night or I was too poor or moving, etc...

I'm super happy that I can take them now and I have a greater aptitude now that I've done it once already. I think because of the possibility of Jie Jie I'm also more inspired and motivated to learn.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Are You Rich?

I sold one of the plastic play structures I no longer need for my daycare now that I have the wooden one here at my new house. A man and his 6 yr. old (or so) sone came to pick it up. The little boy had to go potty so I let him into the downstairs daycare area. He came out and asked if he could try my swingset. His dad gave permission so he tried it. He looked around some more. He came up to me and asked, "Are you rich?"

I replied, "No, very far from it. Why?"

He answered, "Because you have all this stuff."

I guess my place looked like FAO Wonderland to him.

I explained to him that I am a daycare provider like his mom (she's just getting started) and that during the week when moms go to work, they bring their kids over for me to take care of and then it's like a preschool here. I also explained that for a couple years before buying my house, I did what his mom did and looked on craigslist for items I'd be needing and when I found them, I stored them until I moved.

He was very cute and very smart in such a good way.

Jie Jie Thoughts Reponse

The comment to my last post was very thoughtful and I will address some of the points brought up because my thoughts flow easily when I write/type.

Clothes, toys and material things are superficial, but in my mind, I need to have a clear separation between Apple and Jie Jie and the fact that there are two little lives at stake, each deserving the thought and planning as the other in all aspects. I have bought many things for Apple. What can't be conveyed through simple pictures of objects, though, is that each thing represents time I spent thinking about my future child, planning, daydreaming, and preparing myself to fall in love with her. This is what has been most important to me when I shop for Apple. It's taking time out of my life for her, which, when she comes, will be replaced and increased to time spent with her.

From before the beginning of this adoption journey, I actually knew more about the issues of older child adoption vs. infant adoption because I used to teach piano lessons to three children who were adopted, one as an infant, and a brother/sister who were added to the family at 7 and 8 yrs. old. It really unbalanced the girl who was adopted as an infant because the older two had exposures to things that were completely foreign in this household. The abuse and neglect that these two children had suffered was apparent. In dealing with them and talking extensively with the mother, I got a very clear picture of the challenges this family faced and had a front row seat, so to speak, to the ongoing issues that persisted even after high school.

Throughout the years of waiting for Apple, I have read many, many older child adoption blogs, and read many, many books pertaining to older child adoption. I never posted much about this interest because I never thought I'd have the chance to adopt an older child. I have joined older child adoption egroups. I would not consider an older child from anywhere except China, either, due to the common exposures Easter European children frequently face, and other programs are cost prohibitive and more complicated, but I also know that Chinese children an not immune to these things.

I was extremely excited to be able to attend the premiere of Wo Ai Ni Mommy and be able to talk with Donna, Faith's mother, participate in the Q&A and speak with Donna afterward. At this time, I still considered all information gathering to help me be a better mother to Apple. I didn't realize yet that the possibility of a concurrent adoption was on the horizon.

Although I'm not adopted by my mother, I look like it enough that it was something strangers frequently asked my entire childhood. My mom is 1/4 Japanese and 1/4 Hawaiian. I grew up in a mixed-race household. We didn't label it as such, but the prejudices my mom faced were felt. I also had 4 step-fathers, one of which adopted all my siblings, but not me due to my father not relinquishing his rights. I am so glad to finally understand myself better through all of the studying I've done to prepare for Apple because many of the attachment/bonding/feelings of loss, etc... I've experienced FIRST HAND and I never knew, growing up, that it was these things that caused me to develop in certain ways and how to deal with them now!

Another very, very close family friend adopted an infant boy over twenty years ago. The child never assimilated into the family well, despite being their first child, and is now a dependent adult who lives with them. I am sending them a copy of the Primal Wound because this book is what they needed. When their son was little, there wasn't the awareness that there is now and he was diagnosed with every disorder from AD/HD to bi-polar and many in between. From what I know now, he is the stereo-typical case of the adopted child who acts out. He fits the model so perfectly that the Primal Wound could have been written by him. I was there, in their house, the first time the police showed up at the door due to something their son did and his mom said, as she approached the door, "I knew this day would come." On another occasion, I saw this boy, as a teen, nearly rip the door off their fridge because he was annoyed by something his mom told him to do that was very minor.

I am a planner and a researcher. I plan for the worst and the best, as far as possible. The most sobering books I've read to date are The Handbook of International Adoption Medicine, The Primal Wound and The Primal Connection. I have attended ALL the classes at my agency TWICE because I like to keep in touch with other waiting parents, and each time, I learned something new. I am extremely well-prepared to face what Jie Jie may come with and it does scare me. Apple may come with serious issues, too and this is scary. But I consider this risk a normal part of adoption and I've got a support system in place in case I need it. Adoption is risky. It is difficult. In some cases it's disastrous to a family. In most cases, however, it is not, and it's possible to have a happy, healthy family, with well-adjusted happy, healthy children.

A very important part of my life, the part that lead me to start Apple's adoption, is my faith and trust in God. My adoption path has been miraculous. Things have happened that go far beyond coincidence. The possibility of a concurrent adoption is not an impulsive decision, it's a wonderful blessing.

Jie Jie Thoughts

I read some of the comments on Rumor Queen on her post mentioning the new Special Interest child list. One comment did say that a single woman did adopt concurrently so I'm continuing to give this much thought and research.

The more people I tell about it, the better because it helps me think of it more and more to hear myself talk about it. I'm getting some valuable insights from moms with more than one child, too.

Here are some things I thought about today...

1. If I adopt a much older child, like a 10 yr. old, she will be 11 or 12 by the time Apple comes home. Will it be harder with that large of an age span to bond as sisters and develop and strong enough relationship that will last through adulthood? Remember, if Jie Jie goes to college at 18, Apple may be only 7 yrs. old.

2. If I adopt a toddler or preschooler, do I give her the things I've bought for Apple or buy for her specifically in mind. I began to imagine Jie Jie in Apple's crib and that was fine, but what about Apple's bedding? What about the baby doll I bought for Apple? I feel VERY loyal to Apple and in the things I've done to specifically prepare for HER. I don't feel that way about the clothes. In fact, adopting a toddler means I already have most of her clothes.

3. If I get an older child, do I put her in Apple's room then move her later to the "small" room or put her in my current room, which is the only room that can accommodate two children? How would Jie Jie feel being moved for Apple. I know this happens to bio kids all the time, but if I have Jie Jie for only a year and then Apple's referral comes, Jie Jie may feel displaced.

4. If Jie Jie is over 8 years old, she will have been in school and have highly developed Mandarin skills, reading as well as writing. I want to preserve this and I think the only way to FULLY preserve it is to enroll her in Chinese school, higher a tutor (my own Mandarin teacher comes to mind), and I plan to bring back as many children's books from China as I can pack. The public library also has a Chinese branch with good selection. If Jie Jie is not in school when I adopt her, I will homeschool her as planned with Apple.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Oranges Galore

Remember this post? I am STILL picking oranges and it's five months later! Not only that, but the tree is also filled with new, growing oranges that have already reached golf ball size. The tree has grown so much this summer that it's hard to see the ripe oranges because they are a foot or two deep into the branches now.

Fashion Friday #26

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

BIG Announcement

Due to recent changes at CCAA, I MIGHT be able to do a concurrent adoption of an older child and still stay in line for Apple, even as a single woman. The being single part is the catch that I'm having my agency checking on.

According to my agency, which is still scrambling to figure out these new changes, I MIGHT be able to have the concurrent adoption "ride" on my currently logged in dossier and merely make an amendment to my 1-600A.

The idea of adopting an older child is something I've thought about in a sense of, "What would I do if...", never thinking it might be possible. After spending the summer with an 11 yr. old girl in my daycare, and having her after school for a couple years now, tutoring her, dealing with the times she's told lies, etc..., I always said to myself, "Pay attention and learn because it's experience that will help me be a better mom when Apple is older." I also often had thoughts along the lines of, "If this was MY daughter, I'd do things THIS way."

I think it became closer and more personal after attending the premiere of Wo Ai Ni Mommy last March. I didn't really connect my inquiry at my agency to the new announcement at CCAA last week, but that must have triggered something in my subconscious. I've also been looking at clothes for older girls for several months now without really knowing why, since I never planned to shop for Apple past the occasion special size 4.

On a practical note, I have no idea how I can afford an adoption right now, but I know that if it's the right thing to do, that will work itself out.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Even More Fingerprints

I remember my excitement at receiving my first CIS related paperwork, the paper saying I could get my fingerprints done which I even noted in my timeline. Now, I can't remember the day the envelope arrived this time around.

I finally opened it yesterday and was dismayed to find that, instead of a window of days, I was assigned a fingerprinting appointment for Friday, Sept. 24 at 8am. I cannot take off work, or several others must take off work since I am a childcare provider. Fortunately, today I only had three kids and had my assistant watch them while I went to the CIS office to see about changing the appointment. I'd tried calling but never could get a live person on the line.

I easily found parking, which is rare, and turned out to be a lucky omen because when I went in, the guard at the door said they weren't busy and to talk to the boss "at that table over there" and see if he get fit me in. I was in, done and out again in only 24 minutes! I think this is the 6th, 7th or 9thth time I've been fingerprinted since Jan. 2007. Now that I'm trying to think and remember, I realize it's been so many times that I've lost count!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Heartsent Afternoon

Today was my agency's annual party for all families who have used their services. In the past, it was called An Asian Afternoon, but now that my agency has so many domestic, African and European adoptions, it's now A Heartsent Afternoon.

We each bring a food dish from our adoptive countries and then there is a show afterward put on by one of the local Chinese dance troups.

Since I've been feeling bad this week, I wasn't going to go even though I really wanted to, but then I saw Catherine's referral day videos and just had to drag myself out and have some Apple Time. I'm very glad I went. I stopped at an Asian market on the way and bought a few food items since I wasn't able to cook, and it was sufficient.

There were free teddy bears for the kids so Apple now has a super soft golden teddy bear.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Revenge of the Dead Tooth

What do you get when you have the worse migraines ever for five straight days, a tooth ache that feels like three more teeth need root canals, and ear ache that throbs, and a sore stiff neck?

A flash infection along the nerves that started at the site of the root canal!

I had no idea that infections can run along nerves. I kept waiting for my face to swell and get tender or my gums to puff up or ulcerate or something, but no, the infection runs along the nerves throughout your head, spreading and travelling until you thing you'll pull a Tom Hanks on Castaway and yank out the offending teeth with your own ice skates or pliers. When those thoughts ran through my head and sounded reasonable this morning, I knew I needed to call the endodontist. They kindly gave me a prescription for antibiotics, offered me one for a narcotic pain killer starting with Vic, which I declined and I regret a little (I've never tried it and don't know if it will knock me out or loopy or what) and soon I will feel much better. Apparently, I'm in the luckly 20% this happens to.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Dead Tooth

I had a root canal yesterday. I haven't had a cavity since I was a kid (and only 2), but my wisdom teeth grew sideways on the bottom and one of them broke into the enamel of the molar next to it and the poor tooth got a cavity below the gumline. I was supposed to have the root canal done the month I was buying my house, but it stopped hurting, which I'm sure was God's blessing, so I didn't get it done. Suddenly, a week ago, it started throbbing in the middle of the night so I had to get it done. I was again blessed with the fact that no further decay had occurred during this time period of over a year.

The endodontist I was referred to also turned out to be extremely good and gentle. It was as pleasant an experience as it could possibly be. It seemed very high tech and totally cool (please forgive the California Valley Girl vernacular) and so interesting that I wished I could have watched in a mirror. I'm going to try and find an online video of a root canal to watch.

Psychologically, it was bizarre for me to have my tooth killed. I was reassured, however, once I saw how deeply the root was buried in my jaw bone. The first picture is the before x-ray. The tiny dots on the left of the tooth show where the gumline is. The second x-ray is after the procedure. The space in the middle of the tooth is cotton and the temporary filling is the solid white part. The cotton is for the dentist to use as a guide to stop drilling out the temp. filling so he doesn't disturb the permanent fillings in the root. My dentist thinks he can fill the tooth rather than crown it. I certainly hope so since the difference in price is about $800. I think the root of the tooth now looks like it's got Barbie legs in it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

40 Months Down

However in the world did 40 months pass so quickly? Families expecting referrals this week have waited 51 months. Do I have only 11 months left or should I add an extra month for each month and give myself 22 more months? That's less than two years, coming to around June 2012.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Exciting Referrals

Each month now as referrals come out, there is more and more meaning in them for me as I watch families, whose blogs I've been following for over three years and some I've even met, find out who their child is. Next up is Buttercup, whose blog link you can find in the right side menu. One of these days, I'll be holding my breath in anticipation of "The Call," but for now, I'm very, very excited for all of my friends who are there right now.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Apple's First Mommy-Made Diaper

Step 1: Clean off sewing machine table.

Step 2: Cut fabric and begin assembly.

Step 3: Complete assembly and start to get excited.

Ahh, the finished product!

Okay, so it really took more steps that that. This diaper is a knock-off of a very expensive diapering system that is very popular right now. One of my daycare babies uses these and I've grown to like them a lot so I drafted a pattern from one and made the knock-off. I deliberately made an exact copy for this first diaper but for the rest I plan to simplify the inside pocket area. I will be using this diaper system along with my own PooPockets, which are a bit more eco-friendly.

More details on the knock-off diaper:
The diaper consists of two parts, the part that you see and a removable absorbent inner pad. The part of the diaper that you see has the outer (the nice lavender with the snaps) which is made of a thin waterproof fabric and is lined with an inner microfleece that will wick the wetness away from the baby to the inner absorbent pad that is inserted between these two layers. The whole diaper is used once, washed, then reused, but when laundered, you remove the inner pad. This makes it cleaner to wash and faster to dry. The outer is best hung to dry so the waterproof layer doesn't break down in the dryer. You can also add as many absorbent pad layers as needed, less for regular use and more during naps and at night. The snaps are used to change the size of the diaper. It is adjustable to three different lengths without getting too bulky.

PooPockets diaper are all cotton and used with a waterproof cover made of the same fabric as the above diaper. The only difference is that the cover can be used several times (unless soiled) before laundering since the diaper is changed each time. This means you only need a few covers, which are made with the high-tech polymer fabric, and then several cotton diapers, which are greener to produce and are biodegradable when no longer in use.

I've made hundreds of diapers over the years, for design purposes, sale, for fun, even for my hypothetical future child. But this particular diaper is the first I've made for Apple in particular.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Making Empanadas

I had empanadas for the first time last week when my employee brought them to work. Her mom made them (she's Filippina) but my assistant didn't have the recipe or really know how to make them and her mom wouldn't give her the "secret recipe." We decided to find a recipe online and make them ourselves and our first attempt turned out very, very well. We gave one to her mother who said they were better than her own! Now, I don't know the woman well enough to know if she's exaggerating or not, but they were truly delicious!

The recipe I used was not the one I found online, but what I did, exactly, to modify that one according to what I had in the way of ingredients on hand. You can put any filling inside meat, veggies, bean paste, fruit, etc. It's essentially a tiny turnover.

Chicken Pot Pie Empanadas a La K
2 1/2 c unbleached flour
3 tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/2 c salted butter (1 stick)
3-4 tbs ice water

Egg Glaze:
1 egg
1 tbs water

1 lb. cooked chopped chicken seasoned to taste
1 c cooked peas
1 c grated cooked carrots
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
about 2 tbs water the chicken made when I cooked it

I used a Bosch mixer to mix the crust. Add all dry ingredients and mix. Chop the butter into 2 tbs. segments, add to dry ingredients and mix until it looks like coarse crumbs. Drizzle in iced water slowly, while mixing until it forms into a soft dough. It may not completely round up into a ball so feel it and see if it's pliable like play dough, if so, it's ready. Form it into a ball, cover with waxed paper and chill for 30 minutes.

Combine all filling ingredients.

Heat oven to 400*F.

Roll dough out with a rolling pin (I do it between two sheets of waxed paper) to less that 1/8" thick and cut out 3-4" circles. Spoon 1-2 tsp of filling into the center of each. Fold in half, sealing the edges. Using a fork, press the edges about 1/4" in or crimp and fold with your fingers to make a rippled edge. Place on waxed paper covered cookie sheet.

Combine the egg with water and lightly beat. Brush on the top surface.

Bake 20 minutes or until golder brown.

This crust is great for pies, too!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

This & That

My social worker came today and it took most of the visit just to show her the house. She was impressed! I was even impressed because when I show it to people for the first time, I see it through different eyes than I do on a day-to-day basis.

My most pressing problem of the moment is my lawn mower. It started sputtering when I was using it today and then it died. I got it going again a few times, but then that was it. I couldn't get it going to mow the front grass. It has gas and oil. I need to get online and troubleshoot about spark plugs and see what I can find out.

I also have been trying out a new gadget. I bought one of these:

Nesco American Harvest FD-1018P 1000 Watt Food Dehydrator Kit

I don't know why I thought of getting one before since I'm swimming in fruit from all of my trees. My fencing instructor is the one that put me on to it. It would have been great last season for all the tomatoes and peaches. This year, I'm drowning in plums. I tried drying them, but they are too sour so I made the most perfect fruit leather, first try, with them after adding an apple and banana to the plum puree. Now I'm ready for my apples, which will be ready next month, and I'm going to make beef jerky like crazy. I love having more snack options for my daycare kids.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Social Worker Coming Tomorrow

Since I moved, my social worker has to come visit in order to update my homestudy as part of my I-600A renewal. Unlike a lot of you, it seems, I love my social worker. Everyone with my agency has been absolutely fantastic; it's like they are all members of my family. I couldn't ask for a better support and guidance team.

I'm looking forward to showing off my new home. It's such a far cry from my little apartment.