Friday, April 30, 2010

Training & Wrapping Up the Home Study

Brock & I need 4 hours of training to wrap up our Home Study so that we can move forward with the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration paperwork, and then the dossier for China.

We're meeting with some couples from a local adoption support group, SCIAPA (South Central Illinois Adoptive Parents Association) this Sunday so we can discuss their adoption experiences and glean some advice.

We are also going to the monthly In His Hands Orphans Adoption Outreach meeting Monday evening.

If we combine those with an internet webinar, we should reach our 4 hours and be able to conclude the Home Study early next week!

That is huge for us. A copy of the home study has to be included with our I-800A (the form we send in to USCIS). There are also roughly 10 or 12 other documents that have to be sent in with it, as well as $830. We have all of the other stuff ready to go, so we'll mail it as soon as we receive our copy of the home study.

After several weeks, we should receive an approval form from USCIS. We need to combine that with about 15 other documents to be included in the dossier for China. Most of the documents for the dossier have been notarized, but also need to be certified by the Illinois Secretary of State.

Once we send the dossier off, our time line becomes a little more clear. After a few weeks we should get a Log-In Date (LID) from China (confirmation they received it and are reviewing it). Then, anywhere from 2 to 4 months later, they will send us a letter seeking confirmation that we want Shaling. That will set off the process of arranging our travel.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Voice of Experience

I recently joined an online group of people who have gone through adopting children from China or are currently somewhere in the process of doing so. I'm finding that getting that informal, personal side of things is very helpful. One woman in particular posted some information I wanted to share with my family and friends. I received her permission to do so. She brought home a 12-year-old daughter from China over the winter.

Remember, the information she is providing is based on her individual experience. It may or may not pertain to our experience with Shaling. It just seemed like information that is beneficial to have tucked away to be used if needed.

She says that the positives about adopting an older child from China are:

. Our daughter feels like we saved her life every day. She obviously has a memory of how bad it was (not only that it was bad being in an orphanage, more how sad she was not to have a family.

. She has had a long time to treasure what the concept of family is in her mind, and she treasures that she now has a committed one. This weekend my daughter told me a sad story. She went to a school near the orphanage. She would longingly watch the daddy's drop off their children for classes. She saw them hug their children and describe how they're looking forward to picking them up that night. One day, when she was 10, the teacher assigned an essay describing the student's fathers. She worked it out so that she did not have to go to school the day they were due. She was there the following day to hear the papers read. She has dreamed and dreamed about how wonderful a father must be.

. She has a strong sense of living and loving together with her siblings (Chinese culture is big about the older siblings helping the younger ones). She fits in right away when our family is with other families, helping and enjoying the younger children (because she helped with them in the orphanage)

. She is a big helper and shares chores with her siblings.

. China wants to do an excellent and professional job (although "professional" for them might be different from our "professional"). This may mean that the information you receive may not be accurate; but at least you received some information. (Let me add that our daughter's information was not a gross misrepresentation. Some of her information even the authorities did not know).

. Because of our adoptions, our other children's worldview is greatly expanded. This was not our intention; but they have such a big heart now that it is a given for them that they will adopt one day.

. Our daughter now has a wonderful future.

. Our daughter is very smart and very quick to learn and understand things. She has learned English in 4 months.

She says the negatives are:

. Navigating around the misconceptions their "teachers/ nannies/social workers" told them in China, such as: "Americans adopt because they are paid by the government to do so", "Americans are so unleashed with their emotions your parents will each have one or more additional lovers", "If you are bad, or if your parents find out you are not the age on your birth certificate they will send you back the orphanage (they are told that the parents have a 6 month return policy, if they don't like you)",

. Navigating around the misconceptions our adopted child developed on her own (regarding the second bullet point above)

. Chinese teaching style is external or strong authoritarianism vs. internal motivation. What this means is it is very difficult for them to make a decision on their own. They have never been allowed to do it. They are taught by rote memorization instead of drawing conclusions. This is difficult when they are older and in school they are required to analyze literature, write essays, etc. They want to know where the model is so that they can copy it. (I homeschool)

. Our daughter never bonded with a family. She had a very bad experience the first part of her life: she somehow was raised as a servant in a farming family. She lived on the kitchen floor, was fed one meal 4 times a week, and was beaten and terrorized. She finally ran away (this is the part of the story the orphanage does not know, because she lived in terror that she would be returned to that family). Then she had a few foster family attempts. We are the first family fully devoted to her. When you read about ANY older child adoption, if they never bonded with a parent, then they need to grow and develop through the natural bonding stages of an infant. So, although her intellectual age is somewhere the age of a teenager, her emotional age, at times, can be that of a baby or a toddler. It is great if you can read about this so that you are prepared. IT is not scary. IT makes total sense. I have read that in this process with an older child, it may take 3 years to get them up to their biological/emotional/ psychological age. I don't think our daughter will take that long; but it's nice to have an idea. IT also helps for siblings to have some appropriate information about this.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Trivia: Categories 1 & 2

I thought some might find it fun to read some of our trivia categories from our fundraiser. Posting all ten at once would be overkill, but I thought I'd post a couple a day. The odd-numbered categories were loosely tied into our adoption theme, while the even-numbered categories were entirely independent.

Famous Adoptees

1. In addition to appearing in over 800 commercials for his fast food restaurant chain, this famous adoptee started a foundation for adoption in 1992.

2. While married to Jane Wyman, Ronald Reagan adopted a son. What was this son’s first name?

3. Name the biblical character adopted into the Egyptian royal family after his mother hid him in a basket.

4. Name the Christian music artist who is a strong advocate for orphans. He adopted three girls from China, including one who died in a tragic accident in May 2008.

5. Though not technically adopted, Gerald Ford did have his name legally changed to match his stepfather’s name. What was his birth name?

6. What former U.S. presidential candidate has 7 children, the youngest of which, Bridget, was a 3-month-old orphan when her future mother brought her home from a Bangladeshi orphanage run by Mother Teresa?

7. What is the first name of Joan Crawford’s adopted daughter who wrote the book, Mommie Dearest?

8. Madonna filed papers to adopt David Banda after traveling to what land-locked African country to raise funds for an orphanage?

9. In addition to their three biological children, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have three adopted children. Maddox is from Cambodia; Zahara is from Ethiopia. What country did Pax call home at birth?

10. What modern country music star, adopted as an infant, was born Audrey Perry and raised in Star, Mississippi?

Go Figure

1. Who was the first female gymnast to score a perfect “10” in the Olympics?

2. On March 2, 1962, Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors scored 100 points in a game against what team?

3. In Abbott & Costello’s “Who’s on First?” routine, eight baseball fielding positions are mentioned. When keeping a scorecard, what number is used to represent the position not mentioned?

4. In 1987, Bill Cosby wrote, produced, and starred in a movie that spoofed spy movies. It was so bad that Cosby himself recommended people not waste their money to see it. What was it titled?

5. “76 trombones led the big parade”. How many cornets were right behind?

6. When the midget, Eddie Gaedel, took an at-bat for the St. Louis Browns, he wore the bat boy’s uniform. The bat boy, Bill Dewitt Jr., is currently the majority owner of the St. Louis Cardinals. What number was on the uniform when Gaedel took his at-bat?

7. In the song, “Twelve Days of Christmas”, six different types of birds are gifted. By the end of the 12th day, how many TOTAL birds has the singer received?

8. In the movie “The Blues Brothers”, Elwood used the address for Wrigley Field as his address. What is the street address for Wrigley Field?

9. Assuming the champion doesn’t come from the “play-in” game, how many games in a row does a college basketball team need to win in order to be champions of the annual NCAA March Madness?

10. Only once has there been both a horse racing and a baseball Triple Crown winner in the same year. The baseball player was Joe “Ducky” Medwick and the horse was War Admiral. What year did this happen?

Answers Below:

Famous Adoptees
1. Dave Thomas
2. Michael
3. Moses
4. Steven Curtis Chapman
5. Leslie Lynch King, Jr.
6. John McCain
7. Christina
8. Malawi
9. Vietnam
10. Faith Hill

Go Figure
1. Nadia Comaneche
2. New York Knicks
3. 9
4. Leonard, Part 6
5. 110
6. 1/8
7. 184 (12 partridges, 22 turtle doves, 30 French hens, 36 calling birds,
42 geese-a-laying, 42-swans-a-swimming)
8. 1060 West Addison
9. 6
10. 1937

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Well, this weekend, I finally organized all of the clothes sent up by my cousin Traci for some clothes sent home with me by my friend & coworker, some clothes purchased for Shaling by my mom, Sue. My mom-in-law, Nancy, helped me with the organizing. I also purchased some new socks and underwear to complete things.

First, here are the clothes I plan to take along when we go to China. We'll have her for nearly the entire two weeks we're there.

Below are some photos of what awaits Shaling:

Finally, here is Preston and Grandma (Brock's mom)showing off material from which Grandma plans to make a sundress for Shaling next year:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

We attended an Open House at Preston's middle school Tuesday evening. He proudly showed off some artwork, his locker, some poetry, how organized his desk was, etc. What he didn't show us, but Brock noticed and pointed out to me, was a paragraph Preston had to write about a life changing event. Some kids had written about when they moved or when they started school, etc. Preston wrote about a future life changing event. He excitedly discussed how he was going to become a big brother and get a sister from China. He says it will be like having a friend over every day and that he really hopes they're good friends, because that would be great. I know I'm a biased Momma, but I found that so touching and can't wait to include that paragraph in a scrapbook.

I wrapped up another online adoption course, Travel and Transition. I find it fascinating how in a lot of the readings I've completed I run across something that seems so logical it should be common sense, yet I haven't yet thought of it.

For example, I'm bringing some new outfits for Shaling with me to China (and it is suggested I do so, as she won't have but an outfit or two). I'm anxiously looking forward to giving them to her, as I'm sure she hasn't received much (if ANY new clothing) and I think it will be a treat for her. However, it is suggested that I don't get in too big of a hurry to have her change out of her old clothing, as it will smell familiar and comforting to her. It is one more part of her she'll have to give up. It is also suggested that I launder the new clothing before taking it to her, as new clothing is usually much crisper than old clothing. The feel of it may be very unfamiliar to her.

I was also intrigued to read that often, children adopted from China are traumatized by the thought of sleeping alone in their own room. They've never slept in a room by themselves, had their own room, etc. It is suggested that perhaps I start out sleeping with her until she has at least partially bonded with us. Then, we're to be very reassuring that we still love her as we encourage her to partake in the American custom of sleeping in one's own room, alone.

I just finished reading the book, Adoption is a Family Affair!, by Patricia Irwin Johnston. It is the book that was most recommended to us. In fact, it was suggested that we purchase it and pass it around to family members. It is very easy reading and I'm hoping I can talk some family members into reading it. There are some excellent, practical suggestions for friends and extended family members included. That being said, the tone of the book was a turn-off at times. I felt that occasionally the author was a bit condescending. Unfortunately, that affected how thoroughly I read certain sections.

I have my work cut out for me this weekend. I need to go through three large tubs of clothing that my Aunt Betty brought up last Saturday when she attended our trivia night. They came from my cousin Traci and are clothing that came from her younger daughter, Ashley. I am excited about organizing them into drawers and Shaling's closet.

Well, I'm off to select another book to read, as I've got to do two more book reports.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Holy Cow...we were absolutely bowled over by the love and support we received at our trivia night & silent auction fundraiser last night. Generosity was showing in so many different ways...organizing, the labor of setting up & cleaning up, financial donations, emotional encouragement, prize donations, baking, volunteering for child care services, and more.

The financial bottom line is that we raised over $4200 in one night!

I took too many pictures to embed them here, but I did upload them to Photobucket. You can peruse them here:

There wasn't much time for recuperating today. After Sunday School and church, we had Preston's first ever piano recital. He made us so proud. I also took some video of his performance:

Clown Car

The Playful Pup/The Friendly Cat

Thanks so much to all!

Friday, April 16, 2010

I have now completed five online courses:
  • Attachment & Bonding
  • Culture & Identity
  • Malnutrition
  • Sensory Integration Disorder
  • Special Regional Considerations: China

That last one was very interesting...going over the politics, social issues, health care, etc. of China.

I found it intriguing to find out that China doesn't like a lot of publicity about their adoptions. Also, adoptions from China began in 1992. I guess I didn't realize how recently that had begun.

Next, we just need to find some in-person training to attend. Once we wrap that up, wrap up our online training, and wrap up our book reports, the Home Study will be complete.

Well, tomorrow's our big fundraiser. I'll be sure to post about it on Sunday or Monday. I plan to take some pictures as well.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I’m looking for some help in spreading the word about our trivia night. I’m very pleased with the items we’ve received for the silent auction portion. If you know of anyone who might be interested in bidding, but not necessarily playing trivia, please let them know that they can drop by and place a sealed maximum bid in an envelope for any item in which they’re interested.

Auction Items include:

4 Cardinal box seat tickets for the June 28 game versus the Diamondbacks

4 Cardinal-Cub tickets for a September game

A basket of Tim Wilkerson merchandise

Lia Sophia jewelry (bracelet, chain, and slide)

A box of CAO cigars ($135 retail value)

A quilted purse

A quilted wall hanging

A candle basket

A silk floral arrangement

A sealed 1984 Super Bowl Coke bottle

A Cubs-themed basket

A Build-A-Fredbird

The trivia is THIS Saturday, April 17, at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6 p.m. It will be held at the Rochester United Methodist Church (on Walnut in Rochester). The trivia night itself is $10/person, and we do have some partial teams (maximum 8 per team), so even if you don’t have a full team, but you’re interested in playing, come on out. We currently have 26 teams signed up, so we’re expecting a good crowd. Child care, provided by licensed day care teachers, right on site for a free will donation.

Monday, April 12, 2010

We ordered some books for our required book reports. They came in over the weekend.

One of them, Adoption is a Family Affair, is recommended to be shared with family members. It deals with what relatives and friends should know.

The other, The Lost Daughters of China, was a national bestseller. The subtitle is "Adopted Girls, Their Journey to America, and the Search for a Missing Past."

We plan to get started on these this week.

We are in the final countdown towards our big trivia night. It was confirmed today that we are going to have Cardinal baseball tickets on the silent auction. We have a wall of soda in our garage. I have printed out answer sheets, trivia rules, and table centerpieces (numbers). We have several errands to run this week to finish up.

I've been really bothered by the story out of Tennessee about the mother who adopted the little boy from Russia last September. He developed some disturbing behavior disorders, but instead of taking him to a counselor, she and her mother put him on a plane by himself back to Russia, with a note that she no longer wanted to be his mother. Russia is ticked off and has suspended the license of the adoption agency involved. I can only imagine the heartache.

Friday, April 9, 2010

I think we are good to go for clothes for now. My mom purchased some items at JCPenney. My cousin Traci from Bunker Hill is also donating some clothes that her daughter has outgrown, many of them new or nearly new. I'm anxious to be able to pick out "girly outfits".

The trivia night is really coming together. I've finished the PowerPoint presentation and I'm excited about the way it looks.

This morning, I stopped by a store called Cigars for Aficionados, because the WFMB morning show was broadcasting live from there. They were allowing people to sign up to win Cubs tickets. I registered and then proceeded to tell Sam (Madonia) that I was going to go to Milwaukee tomorrow to see the Cardinals play. He then told me to grab the microphone and go on the air.

We discussed a St. Louis radio show host who is already bagging on Tony La Russa this season, my trip to Milwaukee, and how I was going to go to Washington, D.C. this August, but cancelled to save money towards the adoption. He then had me explain about the adoption and our costs, etc. I also described the upcoming trivia night and some of the silent auction items that will be included.

As I went off the air, Dave of Cigars for Aficionados gave me a box of cigars for the silent auction. The box would retail for $135. I was overwhelmed to receive such a generous unsolicited donation.

We met with Sara, who is interning in social work, last night to initial off on the home study report.

As I keep saying when people ask me how the adoption process is going, things are going slow, but sure!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Random Tidbits

For the purposes of the Home Study, a record of Preston's immunizations was requested. Brock found that in a file at home and I ran a copy, dropping it in the mail this morning.

I made my first clothing purchase for Shaling. I bought her a "Marco Island" t-shirt during our trip. I'm feeling fairly comfortable purchasing size 8-10 for shirts, size 7 or 8 for pants, and size 4 for shoes. I won't purchase much ahead of time, but I would like to take a pair of shoes, some underwear, some socks, and 4 or 5 outfits with us to China.

We get her the second day (the adoption completes the second day of the trip). So she'll be with us for two weeks over there and it's my understanding she'll only have a limited amount of clothing.

I'm in the midst of converting my trivia questions into a PowerPoint presentation. I'm really getting psyched about the trivia night, expecting it to be a lot of fun. We've got some great items for the silent auction: a basket of Tim Wilkerson merchandise, a Lia Sophia bracelet and necklace set, candles, a gorgeous homemade purse, a floral arrangement, some artwork, a quilted wall hanging, a sealed Coke bottle commemorating the 1984 Super Bowl, and hopefully, 4 box seat Cardinal tickets (I don't have them in hand yet, but have been promised them).

I've got 3 adults and several teenagers lined up to help with the child care. I've received some soda donations. We've been promised a wide variety of baked goods for sale. We might be able to obtain the use of a slushie machine and sell slushies. So far, I've got 26 tables reserved. I'm looking forward to what I hope is a lively evening.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Well, I started the Internet adoption training courses while we were in Florida. I've now completed two of them: Attachment and Bonding & Culture and Identity.

I knew China made it particularly problematic for children to find their birth families due to the prevalence of child abandonment, but I assumed it was difficult to find the birth families in just about any country. I found it interesting that in some countries, the birth mothers have to provide information about their own birth and any siblings the child may have. In Guatemala, the mothers surrendering their children have to give a DNA sample, as well as a lot of biographical information.

I learned that most adopted children (even if adopted in infancy) don't grasp the idea that they've suffered a loss (loss of a birth family) until school age. Since we're adopting a school age child, I wonder if she's already begun coping with that loss.

However, since we are adopting her at an advanced age, she will for sure have to deal with the pyschological loss of culture and language. It is suggested that we try and incorporate occasional Chinese meals in our lives. We should also include some Chinese toys and/or dolls that resemble her. We will also celebrate things like Chinese New Year with other local families who have adopted Chinese children.

Brock and I have slowly come to the realization that we will be a multi-cultural family in more ways than just appearance.