Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Questions Answered by the Orphanage

Angela at ladybugsnlove received a response to the questions I posed. The odd thing is, I didn't send them through Angela; I sent these questions through Ann at redthread, but hey, whatever...I'm just thrilled to have a response!

Based on the answers to numbers 2 and 9, it appears she may have been moved to a foster home. I have not been informed of that, nor confirmed it, but I am going to see if Madison Adoption Associates can confirm it for me.

Preston will be thrilled with the answers to numbers 2, 4, 5 and 10.

These simple nuggets of information are a welcome and wonderful respite from the paperwork chase.

1. Did she have a note with her when she was found?

She was packed in an apple package when she was found, didn’t have anything with her.

2. What is her favorite food?

She likes to eat snacks, KFC and McDonald’s.

3. Does she have any fears?

She is afraid of making mistakes on her lesson because she doesn’t have patience to correct it.

4. How would you describe her personality?

Long Sha Ling is a child who can’t stay still. She is active like a boy. She is not very patient. But if you tell her priciple she will follow that.

5. What are some of her favorite activities?

Play smacking cards (Angela is not sure what game it is) and racing cars.

6. Does she have a favorite color? Perhaps we can decorate her room with that color.

Sha Ling likes pink/carnation and blue.

7. What is her strongest subject in school (math, science, reading...)?

Her Chinese and English grade is pretty good.

8. How much English is she able to speak?

She can speak some simple English.

9. Would you please let her hair grow longer?

OK, we will tell her foster family let her hair grow longer.

10. Is there anything else you would like to tell us about her?

Long Sha Ling is very active. Her personality is a little like a boy. She likes to play with boys. Sometimes she has trouble with her maths, but will understand quickly after explaining to her. She is a smart child. She will learn many things if teach her patiently.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Got Someone's Attention!

I also sent the letter I shared in my previous post to Senator Larry Bomke, Representative Rich Brauer, and Senator Deanna Demuzio. Earlier today, I received a call from Senator Bomke that he would have his staff look into ways to stream-line this process (Yay!).

Shortly thereafter, a member of his staff called me back to let me know that D.C.F.S. had reported to them that they endorsed my home study last week. I made a call to our social worker to see if she’d received it, but she hadn’t yet. Hopefully I’ll have an extra reason to celebrate this upcoming holiday weekend!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Letter to the Editor

Over the weekend, it was suggested to me that I write a letter to the editor about our current hold-up to bringing Shaling home. What I composed appears below:

Our family is currently pursuing the adoption of an orphaned 8-year-old girl from China. Shaling was abandoned as a 2-year-old. Our 9-year-old son is especially excited, as he has wanted a sibling as long as he can remember.

We are frustrated because staff shortage at the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services is delaying us. We began our intensive 4-month home study in January. Our adoption agency social worker prepared the summary and submitted it to D.C.F.S. on May 10th for a required endorsement. Last year, the turn-around for receiving that endorsement was 2 to 3 weeks. Currently, it’s 11+ weeks. Those figures came from couples who are in various stages of the adoption process. We have not received our endorsement yet.

More aggravatingly, this endorsement is unnecessary and redundant. D.C.F.S. has already cleared us of any child abuse allegations and is extraneous to the remaining process. Our adoption agency is licensed to approve us for adoption, collected all of our paperwork and completed the research for the home study. They will make follow-up visits to check on us and our daughter post-adoption. The F.B.I. and state & local police have cleared us criminally. Our daughter is not a ward of Illinois, but of China. China will also be reviewing our documentation and approving us as parents. Finally, this adoption will not even take place in Illinois; it will be completed in China. The D.C.F.S. review is a duplicate of what our licensed social worker has already done and what China will do once our dossier is submitted.

I would like our lawmakers to review what seems like a “rubber stamp approval”. It is uselessly delaying children from being embraced by a loving family and is a wasteful expenditure of tax dollars. With an over-burdened staff at D.C.F.S., time would be more efficiently spent following up on the welfare of children currently under their jurisdiction; children who have no other advocates.

I’ve been told by another adoptive parent that based on her research, Illinois is one of about five states that require this endorsement. In the majority of the U.S., we would already be submitting our dossier to China, and be able to give our little girl the loving family she deserves 3 months sooner.

Illinois lawmakers, please eliminate this dispensable endorsement. It will benefit children in need of a family, reduce D.C.F.S. back logs, and save taxpayer money.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Child of Regret and Sorrow

I am currently reading a book called Silent Tears, by Kay Bratt. The book itself is a pseudo-journal of her experience living in a city near Beijing, China from March 2003 through the summer of 2007. She and her young daughter accompanied her husband, as his company sent him there to help open up a new factory.

Eventually, she gets herself accepted to volunteer at a local orphanage, but recognizes that she needs to remain meek and mild or she will not be allowed back. That is difficult for her, as she observes some devastating situations. She ultimately spearheads a large coordinated volunteer effort, raising countless funds to get some of the babies needed surgeries and medical care.

The most beneficial part of the book for me was the Prologue, subtitled “Child of Regret and Sorrow”. I’ve struggled to understand how Shaling’s birth mother could give her up, yet recognize that any mother who would do so, must essentially realize they are not able to provide the life for their children that they desire. I also wonder what I’ll tell Shaling if she ever wants to discuss the subject. This prologue gave me some background information that should prove helpful.

The prologue tells the story of Mei Li, who at age 19 was working as a waitress and taking classes at a university. She inadvertently spilled soup in the lap of a customer out to eat with his friends. She immediately assumed she’d be fired and wondered how her family would get by, because her income was not just for her, but also her parents. She was pleasantly surprised when the customer exhibited compassion and took pity on her.

The next night, the customer (Le Ming) returned and asked her out on a date. After a year-long romance of flying kites, walks by the lake, and sharing their dreams, he proposed. He saved up enough money for them to obtain a modest apartment, as he still had one more year of school left. They hadn’t been married long when she was upset to realize she was pregnant.

They were comforted when his parents promised to help and were quite excited about having a grandson. The grandparents to be were certain the baby was a boy, because their family always had boys. Mei Li was not convinced, so Le Ming comforted her by arranging an illegal sonogram to determine the baby’s gender. If it was a girl, they would get rid of it. The day of the sonogram, the doctor backed out and refused to do it. They decided to go forward with the pregnancy. To save money, Mei Li fed Le Ming full meals of meat, rice, and vegetables, but would allow herself only rice.

The night the baby was born, his parents were at the hospital, excited about the new arrival. After roughly 20 hours of labor, Mei Li was anesthetized and a cesarean section was completed. Unfortunately, Mei Li awoke to an empty hospital in-laws, no husband, not even her baby. She repeatedly called for someone to come, becoming quite alarmed. When a nurse finally arrived, she was less than compassionate. She let Mei Li know that not only had she not had a boy, but her little girl was deformed; she had a twisted leg.

After several days alone in the hospital (not even her husband came to visit), Mei Li was released. Since she had no money on her, she carried the baby and walked the long distance home through pouring rain. She climbed the many stairs it took to get to the floor on which their apartment was located and walked in to find her husband and mother-in-law sitting at a table crying. She was shocked and dismayed, as this was modern-day China; how could they be grieving so much over not having a healthy baby boy!?

Her mother-in-law disgustedly ordered her to leave. She begged Le Ming for that compassion he showed her so much during their courtship, but he replied that she had caused his family bad luck. His father had died the night the girl was born. It is an ancient belief in China that the death of a family member on the same day as a family birth meant the baby caused the death. The little girl’s deformity only added to that belief.

Le Ming offered a compromise, telling Mei Li that if she got rid of the baby, she could stay. Stung with hurt and grief for the life she knew, the young mother left with her baby, determined to mother her, even if it meant life on the streets. She named the baby Yintong, which means “regret and sorrow”. They lived under bridges, in doorways, at train stations, etc. Their only source of income was small amounts of coins from begging.

Mei Li eventually realized that “Yin Yin” was malnourished and that life on the streets was not good for her. She had heard that orphanages for bleak places for kids, but was convinced with 3 meals a day and some warmth, it had to be better than the life Yin Yin had now. With heavy heart, she hugged and kissed her daughter goodbye and left her in a park near an orphanage.

She then decided to return to the apartment she shared with Le Ming, wondering if he’d take her back. She climbed all of the stairs again and knocked on the door. She then quickly changed her mind and started to leave, but he swung the door open and opened his arms wide, a sign of apology and forgiveness. She fell into his arms, feeling sorrow and relief. However, she knew she could never broach the subject of their baby, that it would forever be an unspoken secret.

Since Shaling was found at age 2 ½, I have to wonder if her story may be something similar. Did her mom try to keep her, but eventually realize that she was just too impoverished to provide a life for her?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's looking like 2011

While chatting with some other parents currently in the process of adopting from China through the same adoption agency as we're using, I found out this morning that DCFS will probably take even longer than we thought to get us an endorsement on our home study. I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that I'm discouraged about that.

When we first started the process in January, the step of DCFS signing off on the home study was taking about 4 weeks for most families. Mere weeks later, that process jumped to more of an 8 week estimate. This morning, I learned that a family whose home study was received by DCFS on April 8 didn't get their endorsement until YESTERDAY, June 21...that's well over 10 weeks, closer to 11. Therefore, the staff shortage at DCFS alone is adding a good six weeks or more to our estimates.

I feel very badly for all of us that are so anxious to get Shaling here as quickly as possible. I feel especially bad for Preston, because I was just so sure we'd have her by Christmas that I've used that as our gauge for trying to help him be patient through the process.

Just as a review for everyone, here is the timeline that we were given in January:

Home Study & USCIS approval (I-800A): 2-3 months
Dossier submitted to China: 2-3 months
LID/Log In Date: 2-3 weeks after submitting the dossier
LOA/Letter of Acceptance: 3-4 months after the LID
Hague Process: new process/length unknown
This process consists of submitting a form (I-800) to USCIS, which will be approved by USCIS, at which time they will transfer our case to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou and our adoption agency will submit all required documents to the consulate & China Centre for Adoption Affairs
TA/Travel Approval Notice: 5-6 weeks after LOA
CA/Consulate Appointment in Guangzhou: 4-6 weeks after the TA
Travel to China: arrive 10 days PRIOR to the CA

Now some of those steps do overlap, for instance, we've got most of the papers gathered for our dossier submission (did that while gathering papers for our home study), so that part shouldn't take us an additional 2-3 months. Because I'm familiar with some people who went through the process last year (2009), I am aware that expecting our process to take roughly 8 months was realistic.

Unfortunately, that first step "Home Study & USCIS approval (I-800A)" isn't anywhere NEAR complete for us. Considering we received pre-approval from China to adopt Shaling on January 26, that puts us at 5 months and counting, WAY over the 2-3 month estimate. AND, we haven't even submitted the I-800A to USCIS yet, because we haven't received the home study endorsement from DCFS. Submitting the I-800A to USCIS and awaiting their response will take 6-10 weeks as well.

At this point, I suspect we won't be submitting our dossier to China until October. As you can see from the timeline above, that means China may not even send us our Letter Of Acceptance until early 2011. Our Travel Approval comes nearly 2 months after that and our Consulate Appointment another 4-6 weeks after that. Heck, here at one point we thought we *might* be getting Shaling in LATE summer 2010 and now it looks quite possible we won't be getting her until early summer 2011.

I've been trying not to say/type all of those details out, as I kept telling myself that I should remain optimistic and that perhaps some of these ensuing steps would surprise me and happen quickly. At this juncture though, in order to remain patient and attempt to help Preston remain patient, I needed to re-evaluate where we were at on the timeline.

Please pray for our little girl to keep her heart open to joining our family and to also help her realize how much we already love her and want her. One of my concerns is that with the amount of time that will pass between her being told she will be adopted and the time we actually go get her, she will think WE are the ones holding up the process. Please also pray for the three of us, that though we may have discouraging days like today, we won't let them dampen our spirits for the long haul.

Monday, June 21, 2010

100 Good Wishes Quilt Update (and Deadline)

If you are participating in our 100 Good Wishes Quilt, thank you so very much! Would you please get me your 8 X 8 inch square of fabric BEFORE Labor Day weekend, so I can deliver it to my mother-in-law that weekend? That will give her a chance to lay them out and plan how we want to pattern them to take best advantage of the various colors included. She is going to do the sewing for me.

Then, we're very excited to announce that Brock's Great Aunt Annabelle, a very talented quilter, is taking on the challenge of completing the quilting for us. If you missed my February 20 post - We've settled on a name!, Shaling's middle name is going to be Annabelle!

The large index card with your other scrap of fabric and quote, message, poem, lyric, or Bible verse can come later...but I would prefer to get it by October 1, so I can put Shaling's scrap book together before we leave for China. We're still not sure when that will be, but we think October or November...could be later.

For those who missed my description of the quilt and the significance it holds for us and Shaling, please see my June 2 blog entry: Bai Jia Bei.

Below are some of the pieces of fabric Preston and I selected today. The first one is the fabric that will separate all of the various squares that will be included. I chose red because it is a very important color in Chinese culture. An ancient Chinese proverb reflects that importance: "An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break."

Musical notes, since all 3 of us play at least one musical instrument, and music also played a large role in Brock & I's courtship:

Preston wanted lime green:

Brock really wanted basketballs; I couldn't find them in cotton and had to go with fleece:

An Oriental-themed print I liked:

Various Chinese themed prints:

Some patriotic prints I found attractive:

Baseball prints, both red & blue, to represent Brock & I's opposing team allegiances:

3 prints I liked: turtles & ladybugs, flowers & ladybugs, and butterflies; I got plenty extra of the butterflies so I can participate in square exchanges with other adopting families

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Travel and Transition

The last adoption education course Brock & I took was on travel and transition. Transition is the period of time it takes the family to settle into a routine (can be weeks or months). The travel and returning home portion includes many of the same range of emotions as that of a birth.

We were strongly encouraged to pay attention to our own health leading up to the travel to China. The travel and emotions both tend both act as stressors. We need to get Hepatitis A and B vaccinations. Since Shaling will be with us for the majority of time we’re in China, we also need to be prepared to handle any health concerns she may have while we’re there. It was recommended that we pack such supplies as Tylenol, alcohol wipes, Neosporin, anti-diarrhea medication, an antihistamine, antimicrobial hand cleaner, Band-aids, nail clippers, insect repellant, sunscreen, a dosage syringe, and Vaseline.

There was also a great suggestion that we pack various sizes of Zip-Loc bags. A good tip was to take them out of the box and seal them all in one Zip-Loc bag in order to save space. We should also take different sizes of clothing for Shaling (since we can’t be certain of her size until we get her). We should pack snacks for ourselves and her. Also, we should bring an extra suitcase that can be pack flat inside one of ours. Post-It notes were recommended for sticking paperwork to identify what it is, especially since some of it will be in Chinese.

Other , non-packing travel tips included: packing clothes for each person in every bag, as we can’t be sure if one will get lost; take extra money; check with our bank to see if our PIN is different overseas; place copies of our passports inside every piece of luggage; bring extra passport photos.

The act of taking Shaling away from the welfare district and putting her in our family is one that evokes warm and loving thoughts for us, but for her it will probably be similar to a kidnapping. This is because the welfare district is all she knows. We were advised to send pictures and/or special items to Shaling ahead of time to get her used to the idea of adoption. We were also cautioned to not be in a hurry to put new clothes on her, as the clothes she will be wearing will be her last familiar sight and smell of the life with which she is familiar. Shaling has probably never worn new clothing and therefore, may find it stiff and uncomfortable. Therefore, we’ve laundered the new clothing we’ve already got for her.

Sleeping habits will be an adjustment as well. For starters, jet lag will be an issue when we arrive home. However, sleep disturbances and nightmares are quite common for international adoptees during the transition period. Most children have never been alone in a room, so expecting them to sleep in a bed in a room by themselves can cause anxiety. Forcing the issue, but rushing to the room to comfort them when they cry out can delay their comfort, as in their disoriented state they may be expecting one of their former caregivers, and not their new parents. Therefore, I will probably sleep with her for awhile until we feel a strong family bond forming. At that point, we can transition her to “normal” sleeping conditions.

Food and diet are concerns as well. We desire to get Shaling on a diet fortified with Vitamin D and calcium as soon as possible, in order to treat her rickets. However, we realize she will have to be transitioned into that. We will have plenty of rice available. Some adoptees tend to hoard food, as a survival technique. Since she may have suffered from hunger greatly, we are advised to have food freely available to her. Perhaps providing box for her to store a personal food supply will help alleviate her fears of going hungry. On the other hand, she may not be concerned with food at all. If she tends to refuse food and fails to thrive, we may need medical intervention.

All in all, this was one of the most pertinent and helpful courses we took. It will help greatly to have it as a resource when we get ready to travel.

P.S. Other courses we took, but that I didn't summarize here on the blog include: The Effects of Institutionalization, Effects of Stress in Early Life, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Malnutrition, Prenatal Exposure to Drugs and Maternal Smoking, Sensory Integration Disorder, Special Regional Considerations – China

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Culture & Identity

The third adoption training course we took was on Culture & Identity. “Visible” adoptions are those that are multiracial as well as multicultural. The parents and children do not look alike, having different colored skin, etc.

During the 1950s through the 1970s large numbers of Korean children were adopted in the United States. At that time, it was believed the best way to handle the visible differences was to ignore them, as that would reinforce the notion that “adoption didn’t matter”.

Most professionals now realize that this tactic was unhealthy. The adopted child’s cultural identity is an important part of their individuality. It is recommended that the family participate in activities that reinforce the child’s heritage.

In our case, we plan to actively participate in organized activities for families who’ve adopted children from Asia. Typically, there is at least one local group that will celebrate Chinese New Year, for example.

We were also advised to try and expose Shaling to other Asian-Americans when possible. Perhaps going out to eat at a Chinese restaurant occasionally, or looking for an Asian-American doctor.

We’ve also been prepared for the idea that Shaling is leaving behind her language, culture, and heritage. This will necessitate somewhat of a grieving period for her, even if she’s thrilled to be joining a family.

Another possible challenge for her later in life is that she will not be able to easily search for her birth parents as a child that was part of a domestic adoption would be able to do. Many adoptees feel the urge to search for biological family when they reach their 20s or 30s. We are quite comfortable with that, as it only seems natural to be curious about an aspect of your life with which you’re unfamiliar. What will be difficult is knowing how to be emotionally supportive for her when the task will be next to impossible to complete.

All in all, we feel we are ready to include another culture in our household. We’ve both read some background on Chinese heritage and look forward to learning more directly from Shaling herself. We think that participating as a family in Chinese cultural activities will be a great experience for all of us.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

More Pictures

Shaling should get her second package sometime late this week. They had to select a different bag for her, because the one I chose was out of stock. The picture below is of the contents. This Monday through Wednesday is a big celebration across China, called the "Dragon Boat Festival". Most people worked through this weekend (both Saturday AND Sunday) in order to have all three days off with their families.

Shaling received her cake that we had ordered for her at the end of April. The pictures below are of her receiving it, cutting it, and sharing it with her housemates. Notice in the latter pictures that she has the books she would have received with the first care package.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

New Care Package & Lost Form

I had planned all along to send Shaling another care package and to send it through a different service; this time through a woman named Ann at Red Thread. I found out recently that Ann was able to successfully get the orphanage staff to answer 19 questions about another child being adopted (the adopting family had asked her to pass the questions along to the staff when they sent their package).

I was excited by this, since we have not yet heard back from Shaling from the package we sent in April. So, I came up with 15 questions to send myself. I then ordered a doll set, a jade heart-shaped pendant with the Chinese symbol for love, and a bag for Shaling to keep her personal belongings in (pictures of all below).

I received a message back from Ann that she received my order and payment, but that she was afraid I had too many questions, because another family just asked so many questions. She didn't want to overwhelm the orphanage staff. So, I pared the list down to 10 questions. I haven't yet heard back from her if she wants me to pare it down any further.

On another front, I received in the mail yesterday a package from my adoption agency. It was the forms I had sent in, thinking they were ready for the dossier because they were both notarized and certified by the Secretary of State. For those who've been following that debacle, that is when the agency called me and I found out that I was missing part of my New Client Packet -- the part that told me to also get the forms authenticated by the Chinese Consulate. So, my agency sent them back to me.

Unfortunately, one of the forms, the Certificate of Financial Status, was missing. I've called them and they can't locate it either. I can only guess that one of us left it stuck in the envelope we received. Luckily it's a form that is fairly easy to recreate, but now I have to get it notarized and walked over the Secretary of State for certification all over again.

Don't ever let anyone tell you that adoption is easier than pregnancy. I've got experience with both and even with acute morning sickness, heartburn and exhaustion, the pregnancy is MUCH easier. GETTING pregnant on the other hand....

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Not Losing My Mind (At Least Not Today)

I’ve received words of encouragement from a few loved ones in regards to last Tuesday’s blog entry, “Another Missed Step”. The step I missed was that in addition to getting my forms for my dossier notarized and certified by the Secretary of State, I also have to get them authenticated by the Chinese Consulate. In sharing my frustration over discovering this step, I may have misled some to think that I caused us a delay.

In fact, I did not cause a delay. I was working ahead of time on a future step (sending the dossier to China). I cannot take that step yet, because I’m still waiting on DCFS approval of the home study (which needs to be included in the dossier). In fact, the dossier also has to include approval from U.S. Citizenship & Immigration. I cannot apply for that approval yet either, because it also requires the home study to be complete.

My frustration was in realizing that obtaining the authentication from the consulate was going to add yet more time to our process.

After talking to another representative at my adoption agency, we came to the conclusion that the instructions for getting my forms authenticated by the consulate were not included in my packet. For some reason, that part of the packet they send out was missing from not only my packet, but several other client packets as well. She emailed me the information I need today. The plus to that is that I felt better knowing I wasn’t losing my mind.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Timeline Clarification

I don't think I can clarify the timeline we're on often enough (for myself, let alone our many supportive family members and friends).

From what I can gather from the various parents I interact with on my Yahoo groups, this is a rough estimate of the various steps we have left:

We're expecting final Home Study approval from DCFS in mid-July.

After that, we will apply to USCIS for approval to adopt an international child. This will take 1 to 2 months.

Then, we will send in our dossier to China and wait for an LID (Log In Date -- notification they've received it). This takes 1 to 2 weeks.

Next, we will await a Letter of Approval from China. This takes 7 to 10 weeks.

Next, we apply to USCIS for approval to classify Shaling as an immediate family member. This takes 2 to 4 weeks.

We also apply for Shaling to get a visa. The U.S. consulate in Guanghzhou will issue something called an Article 5, which states she is eligible to receive a visa. This takes 2 to 4 weeks.

We will need Travel Approval from China. This takes 2 to 4 weeks.

We will then travel 2 to 4 weeks after receiving the travel approval.

As you can see, we still have a LOT of hoops to get through, but most of them are on timelines out of our control. That is perhaps the most difficult part of the entire process. I am now set on thinking that we will be traveling to get Shaling over the holidays (either Thanksgiving or Christmas).

Friday, June 4, 2010

Trio of Trouble

While talking to other parents who are adopting or have adopted from China, I’ve heard some exasperating tales of woe.

One woman shared that she had called the state where she got married to order a copy of her marriage certificate, but what she received in the mail was a birth certificate – and she was NOT born in that state.

Another family has hit a ridiculous brick wall. They have a child that was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome over a decade ago. As a family, they went to counseling to learn how best to deal with it. Their Home Study agency is insisting on copies of those records, but the office where the counseling took place cannot locate them. They also are refusing to write a letter stating that they cannot locate them.

The latest story involves a family much further along in the process than us. Their dossier was at the Chinese embassy in Washington awaiting a stamp of approval so that it could be sent to China. It was rejected because it included wording that a previous child had been adopted from Taiwan. China does not recognize Taiwan as a country. That portion of the home study had to be rewritten re-notarized, re-authenticated by the Secretary of State, re-authenticated by the Chinese Consulate, re-reviewed by USCIS, and then sent back to the Embassy.

Normally, that sort of change would involve a whole slew of new fees, including a $340 fee to USCIS (as well as a new form, requesting a change). Fortunately, this family was able to get that waived.

I never cease to be amazed at how cumbersome this process can be. As I've said before, background checks and the like are definitely necessary, but the amount of paperwork (and duplicate paperwork) required is ridiculously much. I'm convinced it causes an untold number of children NOT to be adopted that otherwise would be, just because families become unwilling to go through the headaches and uphill climbs.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bai Jia Bei

Today's blog entry is an email, posted verbatim, that I'm sending out to our family today:

Hello all,

Our adoption process is going well, but we have a long ways to go. The rest of the process is filled with periods of time where we have to wait for responses from governmental agencies before proceeding to the next step, etc. In the mean time, I’ve joined some internet groups that are made up of other people adopting from China. I’ve learned a lot of good information from these groups.

The latest interesting nugget of information is about something called “Bai Jia Bei”, or a 100 Good Wishes Quilt. This tradition comes from the northern part of China and involves friends and family members contributing patches of cloth and good wishes to the newest member of the family. Part of the cloth goes towards making a quilt for the child, while the other part, combined with the good wishes, goes towards a scrapbook. The quilt is believed to contain luck, energy, and the good wishes. It is then passed down from generation to generation.

I do NOT quilt, nor do I scrapbook, but yet I’m going to take a stab at this project. Shaling is from the southern part of China, but will not have a baby book, nor even baby pictures, EVER in her life. I think this project would be a lovely substitute that would be a lasting reminder that she is loved. It is my intention to pay someone to do the sewing that finishes up the quilt, but I will put the scrapbook together, as I have friends who are scrapbookers and think I can get advice with that part.

If you would like to be involved in this project, here’s how to do it:

1. Choose any 100% cotton fabric that you like. It can be from old clothing or new from a fabric store. It could be a bit of fabric that you've used to create something else wonderful for another member of the family, or it could represent something meaningful about you. For example, if my Grandma Bloomfield were still alive, perhaps a scrap of cloth with a nursing emblem, or from my Great Aunt Annie, one with a Doberman Pinscher. From my Grandma & Grandpa Barkley, it could have been one with flowers or a deck of cards. From Brock’s Grandpa Devall, perhaps a military insignia and from his Grandma & Grandpa Reynolds, perhaps something that represented agriculture. Or, the fabric could be related to your wish. Please don’t feel obligated to run out to buy new material, as in China, these quilts were originally made from old garments of family and friends, so the child could be surrounded by them.

2. Prewash the fabric so it shrinks and is clean; then iron it so that it is straight enough for cutting. Cut one 8X8 square from the fabric. Also, cut a scrap piece of that same fabric that you can attach to your wish card.

3. Write a "good wish note" on any size of index card (or construction paper) and attach the scrap piece of fabric. The wish can be your own words or thoughts, a favorite poem or quote, a blessing for Shaling, a prayer, a favorite verse, or anything else you would like her to know. Keep in mind that she will read your note numerous times during her life. If you feel creative and want to decorate it, that would be great too. It can be as simple or elaborate as you like. If you would like, you can also include a picture of yourself so she can see who sent the wish.

4. Please drop me an email or give me a call to let me know you’re participating and also how many squares (perhaps you want to contribute one square as a household, or perhaps you each want to do your own personal square).

Please feel free to share this with family members not on our email list (Mom, please have Dad print this out to share with Grandma Coonrod & Aunt Donna; Darlene, please share with Uncle Bob, Aunt Betty, & Aunt Sandee; Nancy, please share with Annabelle). Thanks for taking time from your busy schedules to help us create this special keepsake. We hope Shaling will cherish it her entire life.

Thank you!!


Brock, Amy, & Preston

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Another Missed Step

So, today I got a call from our adoption agency informing me that I'd missed another step. It's amazing how many steps have duplicate names, making it easy to miss them.

Most of the forms we will need for our dossier for China have to be notarized and then later authenticated by the Secretary of State. I found out today that they also have to be authenticated by the Chinese Consulate in China.

The fee per document for state certification is $2 in Illinois and $5 in Minnesota (Brock's birth certificate). The fee per document for consulate authentication is $20 or $40, depending on how quickly we want the forms back.

There are 13 documents total that this applies to (inter-country adoption application letter, home study report, 2 birth certificates, marriage certificate, 2 medical examinations, certificate of financial status, 2 police clearance letters, 2 employment verification letters, and U.S. Citizen & Immigration Services approval letter).

I have all of them but the home study report, the USCIS approval, and Brock's birth certificate (we went it to Minnesota for the certification late last week and should be getting it back soon). I'll be sending all but the home study report and the USCIS approval in to the consulate as soon as possible and select the $20 option. As soon as we get the home study report (mid-July????) I'll send it in at the $20 option as well, plus I'll then send off our request for USCIS approval. Once we get USCIS approval, I'll send that in at the $40 option in order to continue our process quickly.

Through my phone conversation, I also discovered that for families from Illinois who are adopting from China, our completed dossier has to be signed off on by the Secretary of State before it can be submitted to China. This step adds about 6-8 weeks. I'm sitting here quite discouraged right now as I realize we'll be lucky if we get Shaling home before Christmas. I'm wondering why our informational paperwork gave us an initial estimate of 6-8 months.