Monday, January 30, 2006

Happy Chinese New Year!!!

I woke up this morning thinking that next year I will have to make up for my lack of enthusiasm about this holiday this year. Right now it just means closures and delays in our dossier finally reaching China! Our I-171H should have arrived at the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles last Friday. It will be closed today and tomorrow. We should be able to have the I-171H authenticated and returned to our agency by Wednesday of next week. That would mean a DTC date of February 10th. Then the celebrating will begin!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Wouldn't Ya Know It!!!

After taking matters into my own hands yesterday and hauling the kids downtown to re-certify our I-171H, the original certified document was mysteriously delivered by FedEx to our agency this morning! The tracking information shows that it was picked up at the AZ Secretary of State's office yesterday morning-8 days after they swear that it had left their building. NICE. To them it's just a piece of paper; to me that's 8 more days that our daughter lays in a crib in an orphanage in a third-world country. THANKS! ;O/

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

My First Negative Comment! I've arrived!

I have enjoyed reading other people's China-adoption websites and blogs for well over a year now. The process has been educational on many levels...I knew that it was only a matter of time before this happened to hilarious! This comment was left on my post yesterday. The comments from "anonymous" are in italics. My responses are not:

Congratulations on your new addition to the family. (Thank you!) But are you really going to name your kid Meili? (Why, yes! I certainly am.) Most Chinese people consider that name to be very "tu" which means "tacky" or "unrefined". (Great! If she lives up to her name, she'll fit in around here even better than we anticipated!!!) Maybe you should consult with some Chinese friends to come up with a more meaningful name. (Hmm...Did you read my long-winded post entitled "I think she has a name!?" If so, you would see that the name has enough meaning to suit our needs.) Meili is NOT a good name. Actually it's terrible. (So, what's your name? Maybe I'll name her after you!) I'm not trying to be mean. (Really?) I'm just being honest. (Like you were when you signed your name "anonymous?") But then again, my family is Chinese but they're from Taiwan. Maybe they do names differently in China. (Perhaps. Luckily for her in this matter, she will spend most of her time here in U.S. where just about anything goes. I have other children who have names that are far worse and are pulling it off with style. I expect that she will do the same. Just wait... "Meili" will be making a comeback!)

So...if you are currently or soon-to-be processing an adoption from China, consider yourself educated or at least informed of the negative comment inevitability. It's not all rainbows and kittens in cyberspace. To each his own!

The Earth is Back On It's Axis!

Well, at around 3pm today Cari from Great Wall called to say that our certified I-171H is probably permanently MIA. The Sec. of State claims that it was sent out through FedEx on the 17th and FedEx has no record of ever touching it. So, at 3:15 I loaded all 4 kids including 2 sick with the flu into the car and headed out on "Operation I-171H." I was prepared to drive to Phoenix and get the darn thing certified in person but when I called to get directions and office hours I learned that there is a satellite office right here in Tucson! So two stops, three dollars and 1 1/2 hours later...The I-171H is certified.!!!...AGAIN!!!!

It was actually quite easy. I was expecting a DMVesque line and hassle but instead found our way into a very small office with 1 guy at a desk. I was the only dossier-crazed pre-adoptive parent in sight.

I especially enjoyed all of the stupid comments that I received on the way up to the office with 4 kids in tow. We got the usual, "You've got your hands full!!!" and "Wow, you brought the whole tribe!" We also got a handful of that look in people's eyes that says, "Lady, are you nuts?" I refrained from informing anyone that we were there to process paperwork for #5. They may have fainted on the spot. Can't wait to hear the lovely things we will get once Meili joins the brood!

We were in and out of there in about 10 minutes-most of our time was spent in traffic and finding a parking space. It was kind of fun to see the certification process and expose the mystery of it all since our agency has done all of this for us and we had not yet seen what any of it looked like. (Whoop-dee-do!)

Tomorrow, our dossier consultant is going to e-mail to us the cover sheet for the authentication process and we will send it directly to the courier ourselves instead of paying for more FedEx shipping than this UPS-family cares to think about. We are now crossing our fingers for a Feb. 3rd DTC date!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

OK, I am officially an IDIOT!

I posted to my DTC group what must have sounded like a raging fit about the AZ Secretary of State losing our I-171H. A few fellow group members kindly reminded me that what is lost is actually a COPY of the I-171H and not the original!!! So it's not the end of the world afterall. If it isn't found by tomorrow, I'll just make another copy, have it notarized and send it off in the mail. We don't have any chance to be DTC before CNY anyway, so whats another few steps in this process??? It's just too bad that I consumed what must have been a 1500 calorie burrito before I figured this out...SHEESH!

Where, Oh Where is My I-171H???

I just got off the phone with the notary department at the Arizona Secretary of State's office in Phoenix. We had anticipated a 1 week turn-around time for our I-171H certification and as of this morning there is no tracking info on the FedEx website. Anyway, the person I spoke with said that it was processed and sent out on the 17th which was a week after it was recieved and almost a week ago at this point. My agency sent a FedEx overnight envelope along with it so where in the heck is that thing??? I have left a message with our dossier consultant. Surely she would have sent an e-mail if they had received it certified and had sent it off for authentication. They know that we care about the details, right?

A few hours later... I came home to a message from the dossier consultant at Great Wall saying that she also contacted the Arizona Secretary of State and confirmed what I already knew but also that they have no record of sending it out. In addition, she is having Fed Ex run a trace. So...basically, the stupid thing is lost. AZ SoS is supposed to be checking their desks and out boxes for it. I hope it turns up. It would suck nuts to have to wait for the I-171H to be resubmitted from USCIS again. AAAHHHHH!!!!! Calgon, take me away!!!!!!!!!

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Snowball's Not Gonna Make It...

My new hobby has become checking my FedEx account for signs that our I-171H has left Phoenix in certified condition and is heading to our agency in San Antonio. How sad is that? I am getting some grief from my UPS-employed husband for "consorting with the enemy." As of right now, it has not "left the building." So...there is no chance that our dossier will go to China in January. In fact, we expect that it will be delayed from being sent when it is ready because there will be no one there to receive it due to the Chinese New Year celebrations. Things will shut down in China from the 29th of Jan. through the 12th of Feb. Realistically, we are looking at a March log in date. Oh, well. It is like Matt says, "No use worrying about something that you have no control over." This patience thing sucks.

I did join the Feb2006DTC yahoo group yesterday. That is a milestone that we are happy to achieve. It should be fun-already sign-ups for a Secret Pal gift exchange. I always love a good reason to shop!

I spent this morning with Jackie (our homestudy social-worker and my new employer.) I am learning about the "other side" of the homestudy process. I am excited to get started. The only problem is that Tucson isn't exactly the hot spot for adoptions right now. We are waiting for a client. In the meantime, I am learning what I can about the adoption requirements and processes for countries like Russia, Guatemala, Vietnam etc. Very interesting...

I am off to seal the tile grout in our kitchen. Whoopee!!!

Friday, January 13, 2006

We've got a snowball's chance in you-know-where...

to be DTC in January!!! I sent an e-mail to our agency today asking about the expected turn-around time for the certification of our I-171H. The reply was that it could take a week. That means it could be done by next Tuesday, the 17th-let's say the 18th because of the holiday. We are hiring a courier to walk the document through the LA Embassy for authentication. Let's pretend that the courier receives the document on the 19th, drops it off on the 20th, picks it up on the 23rd and gets it back to our agency by the 25th. I have read somewhere in my stack of a gazillion papers that if a completed dossier is recieved at GWCA by 10 a.m.? 12 noon? on a Wednesday, then it will be sent to China that Friday. I have read on other blogs that some agencies take a few weeks to review and translate the documents before sending them out. It is my understanding that our documents have been reviewed as they have been received and I am guessing that they are translated by their Beijing office??? Any Great Waller's out there that can confirm or refute my thought process here??? I guess that we may have to just wait and see how the snowball holds up!

Time For Confession...

If you are another pre-adoptive blog stalker like myself, I dare you to leave a comment and confess how many hours you have spent (per day, week, month etc.) sitting in front of your computer and absorbing all the China-adoption info you can find. I do spend quite a bit of time blog-stalking. I'm not sure that I could even quantify the amount of time because it is a bit here and a bit there. It is probably at least an hour each day, but usually spent in conjunction with phone calls, helping my little boys with an "art" project in the office with me, or while eating lunch during their nap, etc. Anyway, its a lot-especially if you take into account that I have been up to this for well over a year! Hopefully, I'm at least being fair to those whose privacy I have invaded by putting my own blog out there. And it is educational, right? How else would I know that I need to take a pair of baby nail-trimming scissors with us to China and that the tool will double as a nipple hole enlarger? Besides, I justify the time spent by telling myself that this is how I can prove that I have the time for a 5th child! Anyway, just curious if I am alone in my obsession...

Also, can somebody tell me why I can't access the people's blogs who are leaving comments on mine? I click on their name and reach the profile information, but under the "Blogs" header, there are no blog titles to access. User error? I holler (first time I've EVER used that word in my life, I swear) for my 10 year old son whenever I need to burn a CD so I wouldn't be surprised...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

E-mail From our Agency

Hi Jennifer & Mathew,

Congratulations on receiving your I 171 H! Your pictures are perfect. You have a beautiful family! I am sending your I 171 for certification today. As soon as I get it back I will send it via courier for authentication.

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Have a WONDERFUL day!



Monday, January 09, 2006

And They're Off!!!

We did it! Our final dossier documents are in the mail to our agency! I felt like such an idiot getting choked up waiting in line at Fed Ex/Kinko's. I was prepared to ask the person at the counter for a quick snapshot of the process, but decided that the required explanation would have pushed me over the edge into complete melt-down mode and I just wasn't in the mood for that :o) I did snap a quick pic of Xander and Noah holding the envelope on our way, though.

Most people who are adopting would be sending a completed dossier to their agency and be days away from having their paperwork sent off to China. That is not the case for us since we are utilizing our agency's dossier preparation service. They will see that the I-171H is certified and authenticated for us. Once that is done (3-5weeks?-I'm tired of guessing at these things and being disappointed!) then our completely certified and authenticated dossier will go to China on the following Friday. It is very nice not to have to worry about that part of it all, but now that I have a better understanding of the process, I would never pay for the service (we won a free package at an adoption conference so we didn't have to.) The main reason is because I am a control freak and would have loved to track the documents through myself and see what the end result looks like. It really is not a difficult process-especially for type A's like myself. And I would have loved to have a picture of the completed monstrosity for Meili's scrapbook-I know that she will get over it sooner than I will... far as we are concerned, THE PAPERCHASE IS OVER!!! I did hear a cyber-rumor that the wait time is expected to jump to 13 months. So, don't worry-there will be plenty for me to gripe about in upcoming posts!

Saturday, January 07, 2006


It FINALLY came! The I-171H arrived in the mail today-Happy Birthday to me!!! If you are following along, you may have noticed that I have been out of the blogging loop lately. That is partially because we were busy with the holidays and out of town visiting family in California and partially because I had nothing on my mind but the fact that that piece of paper had not yet arrived. I received a few e-mails after my last post that put my woes in perspective so I just couldn't continue with my rant-I just couldn't think of anything else to post either...

Anyway, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!! We enjoyed a wonderful Christmas this year. I was so proud of my children. In an effort to simplify life and concentrate on the true meaning of the holiday, we scaled things down quite a bit from last year. The kids were happy and so thankful for what they received. Taylor said, "Man, we're spoiled!" and Audrey couldn't stop saying thank you. That evening was spent cleaning, doing laundry and packing for the trip to CA the next day. I don't think that we will plan to leave on a trip the day after Christmas ever again!

We had a great time in CA. We went to the beach and walked around and had lunch- even though it was overcast and had been raining. We visited the Pacific Asia Museum, went to the LDS temple in Newport Beach, visited Matt's brother Todd and family and had dinner with Jenn's brother James and family. We brought Audrey's Karaoke along and sang probably more than we should have. Debbie got us all hooked on fresh ground, whole grain flour and fresh rolled oats (Did you know that oats don't come the way we see them in the Quaker container?; they look like rice until they are rolled flat.) It looks like my birthday money will go toward purchasing a grain mill, oat roller and a Bosch for making bread dough. It is pricey but a good investment for our family. We had turkey for New Year's Eve and Matt and I creamed the pants off of everyone at "Tribond" at Jennie's house. Of course, we also ate our way through Southern
California as usual.

The past week has been spent readjusting to reality. Last night we had a babysitter and Matt took me to Pei Wei(an asian diner) for my birthday. While we were eating, we noticed a family walk in-a grandma and a grandpa and a mom and dad with their newborn Chinese daughter. She was adorable but watching them made me sad-sad that Meili will not be raised in family where she would physically "blend in" and for the feelings that she may or may not have about that. Also sad that I will never see her or hold her when she is that young. We will both miss out on so much. But, we will have so much as well and that is what to focus on, I suppose. We joked that someday we will bring "Mei-mei to eat at Pei Wei"...oh well, it was funny last night. We also went to see Memoirs of a Geisha, which turned out to be better than reviews had led me to believe.

Today's highlight was of course receiving the I-171H. It arrived at 1:01 p.m. and our bank closed at 1:00, of course. I did find a branch a bit further away that stayed open until 4:00 on Saturdays so I was able to rush off and have a copy notarized. We are going to add a few photos to our dossier documents (realized that the pictures need to each have at least one adoptive parent in them and a few that we had set aside just had the kids) and send them all off to our agency on Monday. The I-171H is the only document in the current mailing that will need to be certified and authenticated. That could be done in just a few weeks-we plan to hire a courier to walk it through the last stop at the Chinese Embassy in LA. A January DTC is still possible, but a February DTC is much more likely-especially if Chinese New Year means a shut-down at the embassy.

So those will be the next few (and last few) hurdles until our paperwork goes to China. After that, I wasn't sure what or if I would continue to blog. However, since the referral wait times are fluctuating so much, I thought it would be a good thing to journal our daily happenings to be able to look back and see what we were up to at the time of our daughter's birth.

Another thing that I will be doing to pass the time while we wait for our daughter is training to become an Adoption Home Study Case Manager. Can you believe it??? I have gone from dreading my own home study to getting ready to provide them for other people! How weird is that??? I am actually very excited about being involved in helping other families prepare to bring their children home. Besides, I think and talk about adoption all day long. I might as well put the effort to good use and earn a little while doing it. We could use the extra $ as we prepare to travel. Know anyone in the Tucson area that needs a homestudy???