Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Just Waiting On One Piece of Paper!!!

Last Monday (the 21st) we received our fingerprinting instructions from USCIS. It said that we had an appointment set for Saturday the 6th of December at 11:30 but if that didn't work for us then we could show up on any Wednesday between the hours of 8:00 am and 2:30 p.m. The December 6th appointment would have worked just fine but I liked Wednesday the 23rd of November much better!!!

So, two days after receiving our instructions, and after a failed attempt at a workout, I loaded the kids in the car and we headed out to Matt's office. We picked him up and went to the appointed USCIS office. We were expecting some grand governmental office and instead found a dinky strip mall joint. There were about a dozen people in the waiting area that looked like they had been there a while and weren't expecting to go anywhere anytime soon. We signed in though and they called our names before we could find a seat. We were fingerprinted simultaneously while Xander moved furniture and threw a cue ball around the place. (Who let him bring that in there anyway?) We were out of there in less than 20 minutes so either adoption fingerprinting is high priority there or Xander's antics earned us some perks!

Now all we can do is wait for the elusive I-171H. According to another Tucson family's web-journal, it could arrive in as little as 11 days after the actual fingerprinting. It has already been 7 for us so we could be receiving it late this week or early into the next. I am already stalking the mailbox just in case! Our first round of documents are circulating through the Chinese Embassy in LA for authentication. They should arrive back at our agency any time. When we get the I-171 we will send it along with other "stuff" and more money of course to our agency. The I-171H will need to be authenticated as well. We are planning to hire a courier to walk it through the Embassy and pay a fee to rush the document through. That could shave 3-5 weeks off of the turnaround time. When we started the adoption process, Matt and I promised each other that we would let things progress on their own time without taking any drastic measures to rush things through. Now, with the impending stretch of the wait time to referral from 7 months to 10-12 months, we want to do anything we can to get our paperwork to China ASAP! Plus, there is a chance that some of our bloodwork for our medical reports could expire soon. That would mess things up a bit. It would mean having to have blood redrawn, new medical reports made, and another fun time with rounding up a notary to take to the doctors' offices. No thank you!!!

My Crazy Boy!

I just had to post this picture which pretty much sums up the way I spend my days lately. This happened a few weeks ago: I was busy doing my housewife bit and noticed that an eerie silence had taken over the house. It was a silence of the-kids-are-up-to-no-good variety so I set out to find who and what needed parental intervention this time. After 4 kids you would think that I had seen it all or at least most of it...apparently not. I found my little Xander happy as a clam playing with his "birdie" in the dryer. When I found him he just cracked up-probably because of the dumbfounded look on my face. This boy is nuts! I thought his love for running laps on top of the dinner table was fun... If this is what he can come up with as a 2-year-old, I'm sure that his teenage years will be just great!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I Think She Has a Name!!!

Well, months ago I thought I had named our Chinese daughter only to find that my dear husband loathed the name that I had come up with. Figuring that I couldn't with this child claim rights to name her by reason of being the one pregnant and giving birth, I resigned to the fact that I would have to come up with something else. If Taylor had been a girl, his name would have been Sarah Breanne. Audrey was almost Reagan or Madison...(I was going to have a Presidential theme...) If Noah was a girl his name would have been(I can't remember) and Xander would have been Emma (Then when I'm about to give birth Rachel on 'Friends' names her baby that so I know that everyone else in the world will soon follow suit!) None of those names work for us anymore. The problem is...there is nothing else. We have had contenders that only last for a day or two then we are back to square one.

The other night Matt went to visit a family from church and revealed to them our adoption plans. He for some reason spilled the name that I had come up with and they thought that it was perfect! This somehow had an effect on him and he realized too that there just isn't another name for her. So...wife's opinion was thrown out the window. Church family's opinion hits him like angels singing the Halleluia Chorus! Go figure! Anyway, in a round-about way, I get my way so I should be happy.

The name (drum roll please!) is Meili Grace (Chinese Name) Bouton. I like Meili because it sounds American enough when you say it but it does in fact have a Chinese meaning. "Mei" means 'beautiful' and we can call her "Mei-Mei" for a nick-name which means 'little sister.' The kids have been calling her this (and "China Girl" and "Xiao Fu"-the little girl's name in the 'Big Bird in China video) for over a year now so we are sure that it will stick. "Li" means strength which we are sure she will have after surviving abandonment and her first months in a third-world orphanage. I have always liked the name "Grace" but had a hard time with it as a first name since all of my children have 2-syllable first names and it just wouldn't go. It is one of those "old-lady" names that I love like Audrey and I actually have a great-grandmother named Grace on my Dad's side so we squeak a family connection in there as well.

Whenever I have dreamed about our Chinese daughter, her name has always been "Lily." Whether this is some message from above or not, I don't know. But I do know that I am not particularly fond of that name (Matt , in high-school tied for valedictorian with a "Lily" and she weaseled him out of it...long story-apparently we are still scarred by the experience.) I did learn, however, that in China when a girl's name has 'li' somewhere in it, that child is often referred to as "Li-li." So, problem solved. I think her name will cover it all.

If you are a family member and don't like this name-remember what Thumper says in Bambi...Besides if you got used to "Xander" this should be a piece of cake.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Another Adoption Update

Well, things are moving along nicely in the adoption department. We received our certified home study from the court on Wednesday so we were able to send off our first set of dossier documents to Great Wall. They got the docs today and we received an e-mail saying that everything looks great and they would send them off for certification this afternoon.

A copy of our home study also made its way to USCIS this week so we are anxiously awaiting our fingerprinting appointment from them. We could have the elusive I-171H in a few weeks. It (and more money of course!) is the only thing that we need for the second and last set of documents for Great Wall. Then we sit back and wait (and shop!) A December DTC (Dossier To China) date doesn't seem likely so we are crossing our fingers for January. That could translate into an August referral and an October travel date if current trends hold. We aren't in a super hurry-we do have four children including a two-year-old currently keeping us busy. However, we MUST avoid travelling in November or December since Matt is owned by UPS during those months. It wouldn't be a great thing for his career to take off for 2+ weeks during "peak."

Since Matt and the kiddipoos were off today, we drove to Phoenix/Sun City to meet Jenn's parents at Jenn's Grandma's house. We stuffed ourselves at Sweet Tomatoes and enjoyed looking at pictures from Jim and Judy's trip to China. It was unbelievable! We recognized many of the backdrops from the "Big Bird in China" video. They even brought us some souvenirs. Can't wait for the big souvenir we'll bring home next year!

Monday, November 07, 2005

China Adoption News

The following was sent to us in an e-mail from our Home Study Agency:

Over the past few weeks there has been a terrific increase in dossier "log-in" at CCAA. They've gone from processing about 800 referrals per month to 1500. Needless to say, this may result in a slow-down on the referral time. CCAA is not open to processing more than 1500 referrals a month, and as more families submit dossiers, the time may lengthen to eight months or more.

It is important that we all understand a) that international adoption is increasingly appealing and acceptable among US families and b) that foreign nations are not thrilled to be sending more children overseas for placement. Add the pressure and the resistance and you get -- slow downs, moratoriums, shut downs. In biology, you would call it stasis. In adoption you call it headaches and disappointments.

There is no light on the horizon. The Hague Convention will make adoption safer for children by filtering out child trafficking and ensuring pre-adoption education but also more expensive for agencies and families. Please always plan on the possibility that you will encounter delays or that your process may be more complex than originally anticipated. That is just the nature of adoption, both international and domestic adoption. Being realistic is the best hedge against anxiety and heartache. this good news because there are more families that want to adopt children from China? Or is this bad news because we may not be bringing our daughter home as soon as we thought that we would? When we attended the "East Meets West" China Adoption Conference sponsored by Great Wall last April, word was that the CCAA was working feverishly to reduce the ENTIRE PROCESS down to nine months. Who knows???