Thursday, April 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Audrey!

My girl turns 11 years old today. We couldn't be
more proud of her or more happy to call her our daughter!
We love you, Audrey-Girl!

A Little Bit of Hope

I received two emails from our agency today and both seem to indicate that so far CCA* is only issuing precautions for those about to travel. There doesn't seem to be any real evidence that referrals will be delayed (besides the fact that we don't have one yet and no news about any on the way...) Our agency also said that the Director of the Matching Room has been away this week due to the Labor Day holiday and expect that is why there is no referral news. We won't know anything else until next week. Here's hoping that the swine flu situation will stabilize and that we'll hear some good news soon!

Clear as Mud

The following statement released today by CC*A doesn't specify whether referrals will be delayed this month or not and doesn't really say whether travel approvals will continue to be issued either. It seems to say that if you were planning to come soon, your agency may suggest that you postpone your trip. But if not, when you're here, go to the hospital if you get sick. Hopefully, our agency will be able to clarify for us soon.

Date of Release: April 30,2009   Source: CC*A

Adoption agencies:

Currently there are cases of human infection of the swine flu found in some countries and regions. With the high infectivity of this disease, children are susceptible to it for their low resistance. In order to avoid cross infection during the process of adoption registration and protect the health of children in orphanages as well as the adoptive parents, we hereby announce that:

Adoption agencies are required to counsel the adoptive parents who have received Notice of Coming to China for Adoption to postpone their trip to China for the registration procedure.
The validity period of Notice of Coming to China for Adoption issued between March 1 to April 30 this year is prolonged from three months to five months (There is no need to update the paper).

Adoptive families are advised to follow the arrangement of local registration authorities and cooperate during the entrustment of child for the harmony period and the adoption registration process.

If adoptive parents feel unwell during their stay in China for the registration procedure, they shall go to the hospital for medical checkup in time and report to CCAA about relevant situation.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Not Sure What To Think

It's been a rough day. I had a bag of chocolate for breakfast and an In-n-Out burger for lunch... Since the last post, an agency in Canada has confirmed the bad news. However, I did email our agency and they said they have no confirmation of any delays from CCAA. In fact, they expect to receive a few travel approvals (TAs) this week. Not sure if it's reason to be optimistic or just an indication that they are not yet in the loop of what's going on. RQ reports that an agency has been in contact with CCAA and that they have confirmed that there will be no delay. Just when we thought the roller coaster ride couldn't get any wilder! We should have some more info tomorrow as it is the day before CCAA takes off for their Labor Day holiday and the day we would expect referrals to be mailed if all is well.

My thought for the day: "Adoption is not for sissies!!!"

What Next???

Yesterday, I was complaining about no news. Today, I'd rather have no news that what I've just read. There are reports that several adoption agencies in Spain have received notification from CC*A that referrals will not be sent this month due to the Swine Flu outbreak. I am numb.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

All's Quiet on the Adoption Front...

No news today. Nothing on the web and not a peep from our agency. The chocolate in my referral basket is being put to good use...

Monday, April 27, 2009

An Amazing Gift...

My sister, Janine ('Bean' to me and 'Aunt Nini' to my kids), surprised us this past weekend by sending this beautiful ladybug quilt that she made for Meili. I knew that she had purchased fabric a while back and had the project in mind but between her full time school psych internship and finishing up her master's degree, I never expected that she would have it done so soon. I'm still trying to figure out where she found the time! I am just not a person who cries (I find yelling to be much more effective...) but this gift brought me to tears. What an amazing gift-thank you, Bean!

I love the cherry blossom fabric that she chose for the backing.
Our Aunt Nancy helped Janine do the quilt stitching
and Janine embroidered the tag above by hand!

Is this our week?

So far this morning, no emails from our agency and no news on the web about a confirmed cut-off date or any packages being sent. It's still looking like Friday the 1st or Monday the 4th. We're in the home stretch!

*UPDATE: Our agency sent an email earlier today that said that they have not received any updates from CC*A-no indication that matching has begun, no news about packages being sent, nothing about a possible cut-off date. No worries-this could still be our week. Last month, they still had no info as referral packages arrived throughout the world. At this point, it really could be any day.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Noah's Baptism

Today, Noah was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It was a special day shared with family and friends. We are so proud of Noah for the decision he made and know that his Heavenly Father is proud of him too.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The First Rumor!!!

Someone has heard through the grapevine that an agency has told clients that the cut off is the 14th! Of course, it's just a rumor. Let's hope it pans out. A 6 day batch would be wonderful!

Update: RQ has rated this rumor as an R1. Even though it probably doesn't have any merit, it is nice to be in the rumor phase of the referral cycle. It's one step closer to our call!

I'm also starting to think that there is a good chance that referrals will arrive on or near the 1st of May since there is a National holiday in China on that day (their Labor Day.) It is customary for the CC*A to clear their desks before leaving on holiday and a similar thing happened last month. Referrals began to arrive on the day that China was celebrating Qing Ming Festival.

4 Years Ago Today...

April 23rd, 2005 was our decision day. I remember the date because we were in Southern CA visiting family and they had a combo birthday party for Audrey and Noah while we were there. (The photo above was taken at the party and later included in our dossier.) While the party was going on, my brother and his wife were at the hospital having a baby. When I look at my niece, Rebecca, (Happy 4th Birthday!) it's an interesting visual of just how long we have been at this adoption.

Earlier that day, Matt and I had attended a China Adoption conference put on by what would become our agency. We went there wanting to adopt from China and left there knowing that we would. We had also chosen our agency (but only after I cornered the director at the conference and gave her an inquisition.) We just had to figure out when to start.

I'm not sure if I've shared this before, but even though we have thought about China adoption for many years, we didn't plan to start the adoption process as soon as we did. In April of 2005, Xander was only 18 months old. China adoptions were taking about 6 months from DTC to referral (Those were the days...) and we weren't quite ready for child #5 so soon. In fact our original plan was to wait until he was 5. 'Funny' how that worked out afterall... Prior to that, I had started to have China adoption on the brain in January of 2004, shortly after my 30th birthday. Imagine my surprise when I found out about China's 30 year age requirement... We started talking seriously about adopting from China in December of 2004 and I sent away for info from several agencies in February of 2005. However, our plan at that time was to do research and gather info for a year and then apply and start our dossier sometime in late '06. We weren't in a hurry.
Attending this conference started the ball rolling at a different speed, however. Unfamiliar with the process, we had thought we could slowly gather paperwork over the course of months or years if need be but learned that we would need to instead 'paperchase.' At the end of the conference we won a free Dragon Plan (agency did all of our certifications and authentications for us) which seemed like a good thing. The catch was that the prize expired in 6 months. This was only the first of many signs that we were to begin the process sooner than planned. I began to feel that we needed to adopt from China with the same urgency that a person would feel the need to flee a burning building. I knew that we needed to begin immediately. I felt rushed and I fought it but I couldn't ignore it. It's all a bit ironic now from where we sit 4 years later. We had no idea that things would slow down like they have but someone did and I'm sure that He was looking out for us and for our girl. If we had followed our own plan, we wouldn't be about to see our daughter's face. In fact, I don't think we would even be in line.
So, when I look back at that picture and reflect back on that day, I think about how long it has taken and how hard it has been but it also reminds me that some things, including the timing of it all, are just meant to be.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Report That Matching Has Begun!

I woke up this morning and thought to myself that since it is the 22nd of the month, we should be hearing rumors anytime now. I also noted that I'm not as antsy about hearing news about a potential cut-off date this month as I was last. In fact, we can just skip the cut-off rumors and go straight to the referral call if you ask me! There is definitely a sense of peace about knowing that we are next (as long as our file isn't lost, skipped, etc.)

I promised to educate the masses about what happens in the matching room once we heard that matching had begun this month. We haven't heard anything directly from our agency but the first matching rumor has hit the web. It's hard to believe that after all of this time, Meili's file and our file are in the same room right now, maybe even on the same desk and some stranger for some reason will help determine which of China's precious baby girls will become our daughter...

Here's what RQ has to say about the matching process:

First, they review the baby dossiers and make sure there are no issues with them. We are told that they then count up all of the baby dossiers that are eligible for matching that month and then look to see how far this stack will go in the parent dossiers without sending out a partial day, and they pull all of those parent files. That is the likely cut-off date. Sometimes something happens and they don't get this far. Sometimes something happens and they get farther.

Next they match orphanages up with agencies. This orphanage has six babies, this agency has six families. These two orphanages are in the same province and have a total of 12 babies, this agency has 12 families. When they are through with this is when (I believe) some agencies start to get information about the cut-off date. Or at least it is when they used to start getting information.

And then they start matching individual babies to individual families. At some point during this part of the process most agencies used to hear from their person in the matching room to let them know how many referrals they will be receiving and from what province(s). Some agencies shared this information with their clients. Some chose not to. Recently I’ve gotten the feeling that many agencies are still getting this information but they are being given orders by the CCAA to not share this information with the families.

Just as in the review room, each matcher is assigned certain agencies and is responsible for communicating with their agencies. Some matchers tell their agency the cut-off date, some matchers tell their agency “you have X number of referrals arriving”, some matchers give their agency a list of that agency’s families that will be receiving a referral. And some matchers don’t say anything at all to their agencies.

The next question that comes up is generally how the matchers match families and babies. I’ve heard from several people who have had the opportunity to speak with someone who works in the matching room. The various conversations seem to all agree that they first look for something that stands out: a matching birthday, a baby who looks a lot like a parent, or a baby who likes music and a parent who teaches music. Several matching people have stated they match by bone structure of the baby’s face and the parent’s faces (this is why they need our passport photos, so they can compare our mug shot with the baby’s mug shot). Some have stated that they used Chinese astrology, also. Once they’ve matched the obvious matches they then start to look at things like age of child requested. The age requested is not a priority for them, they feel they are matching families and not filling orders. And I have to say that they’ve done a wonderful job matching us and our Big Girl, and now I trust they will do an excellent job matching us with her little sister.

It still doesn't seem real that after all of this time the answer to the question, 'So, when do you think you will be getting your referral?' has gone from, 'Hopefully, this year.' to 'PROBABLY NEXT WEEK!!!' This is so exciting and I am so ready!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

STORK WATCH 2009-The Monthly Cycle

No, I'm not talking about THAT one! I'm talking about the referral cycle and this is IT, folks! We've been at this adoption thing for 37 months now and there are certain phases (usually with corresponding RQ posts) that each month has in common. Since this could very well (and better be!) our last time tracking the stork with such intense scrutiny, I thought I would record the psychosis here just for kicks:

  • Once word hits the web that referrals are starting to arrive in various parts of the world(April 3rd and 5th last month), we wait on baited breath for confirmation of a cut off date. (Last month it was March 8th, 2006. We are March 10th!)

  • Next comes the fun part. Chinese baby faces hit blogland and we celebrate with and live vicariously through those parents whose dreams have finally come true and tell ourselves that this roller coaster ride will end one happy day for us, as well. (I shared the joy a few posts back...)

  • Then, based on the amount of referrals CC*A was able to squeak out for the current month, RQ comes out with a PROJECTIONS post. She looks at what the CC*A has done historically (including the previous month) and comes up with 5 different cut-off date scenarios of for the next several monthly batches. Unfortunately, the recent trend is that referral batches fall somewhere in between the first two columns. The good news is that this month, every single possible scenario includes not only us but our friends who are logged in on the 13th!

  • The next question that comes to mind is WHEN the next batch of referrals will arrive. RQ saves us the mental exercise by putting out another post on the subject. Here's what she said this month: The last 12 referral batches arrived at 28, 38, 28, 35, 22, 27, 37, 36, 18, 24, 39, and 32 days. The average is 30 days, the median is 30. We see 28 twice. The shortest interval is 18 days and the longest is 39. That would mean the soonest we’d expect to see them would be Tuesday, April 21 and the latest would be Tuesday, May 12. (Based on historical data, nothing says the CCAA has to stay in this window, just that historically that’s what they’ve done.) The most likely arrival date based on time between referrals would be either Friday, May 1 or Monday, May 4.
  • Then comes the part of the month that I enjoy the least. It's when we have already eeked every bit of information that we could out of the previous batch and start to look forward to rumors trickling in about the next batch only to find that there are none. To add insult to injury, this is the time of the month when RQ resorts to reviewing vampire books... This is about where we are right now. Ugh.

  • The next thing that we can expect this month are random rumors about the next cut off date. These early rumors are usually very positive and ultimately false. We know this and yet there is something in us that makes us want to believe that a speed-up is around the corner and that this month might finally be the month that the early positive rumors turn out to be true. My head knows this, but my heart hasn't learned it's lesson yet.

  • Eventually, our agency will notify us by email that matching has begun. When that happens this month, I'll post about how (supposedly) we are matched with a baby. Ultimately, we know that Heavenly Father has chosen the child that will become our daughter but it's still fascinating to me to learn about what 'man' has to do in order to help accomplish that.

  • Within a few days of the 'matching has begun' news, we start to see rumors coming from more reliable sources about a potential cut-off date. The rumors that come later in the cycle tend to pan out more often that those that come earlier so these really tend to get our attention.

  • Then, we wait to hear on the web or from our agency that a package is on the way from China. There is never confirmation that the package contains referrals but we can usually guess by the timing that it is definitely the 'Stork' in the air.

  • Next, once our agency has our referral in hand, we'll receive a 'Stork Has Landed' email and expect to get THE CALL from our agency within an hour of receiving it. At this point, I fully expect to be breathing into a paper bag and wearing Depends...
  • During THE CALL, we will learn Meili's given Chinese name, her (probably estimated)birthdate, her measurements at the time of the report, the province in which she lives, and whether she is in an orphanage or in foster care. There are so many unknowns. It will be nice to finally have answers to just a few of our questions.

It will be a relief to exit this cycle and begin a new adventure in parenthood but our thoughts will never be far from those who continue to wait to become parents and the children who continue to wait to become part of a family.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Party in Blogland!

It's been so fun over the last few days to see blogfriends who have been waiting as long as we have finally see the faces of the little ones that they have been waiting for for so long. I'm linking a few below to share the joy:

I've been following this blog for a long time. So cool to click over there and finally see that cute little SMILING Asian face!

These women were logged in just two days before us with our same agency. So, not only have I been able to watch their dreams come true over the past few days, I've also been in on the 'on deck for referral' agency emails and now know exactly what to expect next month when it is OUR TURN! I've been taking notes such as: Agency emails that a package should arrive by 1pm. Package arrives at 10 am!....etc. So happy for you guys!

She was my awesome Secret Pal and is now the proud Mama of Lilli. What a cutie!

This fabulous woman that we've actually met in the flesh also received her referral. I'm still waiting to see her face but I think today is the day!

This blog friend (and faithful commenter!) has also received a referral for a little girl and we're waiting on the edge of our seats to see a picture!

Yesterday, some of these folks were still awaiting their referrals due to a package delivery problem. (It wasn't UPS is all I can say! FYI-Matt has made a sales pitch to our agency to switch over to 'Brown.' It may be time for a follow up...) I spent the day shampooing carpets and only let myself check the web between rooms or between water changes. It made the time go by fast and kept me motivated to finish! Who knew that chore could be so much fun!

Congratulations to all these new or 'new and improved' families!!! Wishing you safe and speedy travels to bring those babies HOME!!!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Odds and Ends

  • Just came back from a Chinese banquet put on by my Mandarin instructor at a new Chinese restaurant across town. It was an 8 course authentic adventure in Chinese cuisine and delicious! Let's just say that I'll eat just fine in China. I ate duck and lived. And serving yourself some fish while it is staring at you is really not that big of a deal... A new favorite is Cong You Bing. It's a green onion-pancake type thing-sold on the street in China apparently and a popular breakfast item in Taiwan.
  • I start another 10 week Mandarin course next Thursday. My skillz have gotten rusty and I need to get back into the swing of things before we go to China. The good news is that the native Chinese that we were eating with tonight told me that my pronunciation is very good-there's hope!
  • Last week we went to HIGH SCHOOL orientation for Taylor (We're officially old...), Jr. High orientation for Audrey, and registered Xander for Kindergarten. Our kids are going to be spread out over three schools next year. Add a new baby to the mix and it's going to be wild. (I can't wait!) Xander was asked to count to 100 at the registration to which he replied, "Would you like me to count by 10's or 1's?" I think he's going to be just fine... We are waiting to see if he will have full day Kindergarten or if they will have to scale back to half day to pare down the budget.
  • Taylor is participating in Track this quarter. Today they had a clinic at the high school. A couple of coaches there asked Taylor for his name. He thought he was in trouble but they wanted to recruit him for Cross Country and Track at the high school next year. He's very excited!
  • Audrey has announced that she wants to play volleyball. This is the first time that she has shown interest in a sport. I think she'll do great-If she stays on her current growth curve, she'll be 6' one day! We have a net set up in the back yard and she's been practicing every day. I would love to enroll her in volleyball camp this summer but still can't say for sure when we'll be in China. In fact, we can't really enroll any of the kids in anything this summer while we are in China limbo.
  • Noah officially starts his baseball season this weekend. It's going to be fun to watch his games!
  • On the adoption front, it looks like it's another whopping two day batch this month. That leaves just two LIDs to go before they get to us. I seriously thought that I was mentally prepared to not be in this batch but I was surprised at how upset I was at the news. Part of me REALLY wanted to be in the same batch as my March 7th and 8th blog friends. I think that makes it a bit worse-feels like the party of the century is about to happen and I'm not invited. I've had a bad two days but I'm ready to suck it up for another month. It doesn't change the fact that I'm truly happy for those who are about to see their babies' faces for the first time next week. Besides, we're NEXT!!!
  • I have great friends and family. Many have called to see if we are 'in' or not this month even though they were afraid to ask. A mom of one of Audrey's friends hung her head (and half of her body) out of her car window in the drive-thru line at Mc D's yesterday just to yell, "Any news about your baby?!!!" I'm grateful that so many are still along for the ride with us.
  • I'm also grateful that April of 2009 will go down in history as the busiest month we've ever had. We've got Easter, two birthdays, a baptism, two sets of houseguests, cub scouts, baseball games, two school field trips, Mandarin class, and the list goes on. It should certainly help pass the time until the next batch of referrals come out. Did I mention that we're NEXT???