Monday, June 28, 2010

Why China?

I have been asked this question quite a bit, so I thought I'd give you some insight into our decision. First, I have always thought that maybe one day I would adopt a child from China. I'm sure a large part of that has to do with the family that I first babysat for where the idea of adoption came into my life. I was 12 years old. They had a biological daughter, a son from Guatemala, and twin girls from China. As I grew up, I just figured that adoption would be part of my life... and it felt like China would be too.

After Brad and I decided that we were going to adopt to expand our family, I decided that I needed a more systematic approach rather than just "going with my gut". Unfortunately, I've never been great at trusting my instincts. So first I started to look into options stateside. Doing a domestic private adoption never really crossed my mind. There are a lot of people out there who are unable to have children of their own. They are trying to bring home babies through private adoption and I didn't feel like I would want to take away an opportunity from someone else... especially someone who had no children yet. I have also seen some heartbreak when a birth mother or father decides that they don't want to give their baby up. This process was not an option for us.

I decided to look into the foster care system. Brad and I agreed that we would want to adopt a girl who was under 4 years old. One big requirement was that parental rights be terminated by the time this child came into our lives. I cannot imagine the heartbreak of bringing a child into your home that you hope will stay with you forever and then having to give her back (possibly to a less than optimal home life). I definitely couldn't bear the thought of Sierra and Laurel dealing with this too. It wouldn't be fair to cause so much upheaval in their lives. I looked at various state and country wide websites and organizations. I finally called a local social worker who organized foster care in our area. She reiterated the conclusion that I had come to with my searches... it would be next to impossible for us to bring a child home through the foster care system. The goal of foster care is to eventually reunite children with their biological families. Typically, with the younger children especially, when their parental rights are terminated their foster families will adopt them. We just didn't feel we could handle bringing a child into our home who might be taken away. I hold foster families in the highest regard to be able to love and care for children temporarily and have the strength to let them go.

So on we went to explore international adoption. As I said, I felt a strong pull to China, but wanted to look at all the possibilities before we made a decision. We bought a great book that kind of outlined that different requirements for each country. They vary greatly and can be a little quirky! Most countries have specific requirements for the parents' ages, how long they have been married (if marriage is required), how many other children are in the house and minimal income. China also has a maximum BMI! Other countries' specifics require you to live in the country for a period of time, own land there, certain age difference between you and the child! Something else that we considered was how many times we would travel to the country before we brought our child home (once for China) and about how long we would have to be there (14-17 days for China). At the time we thought that the girls would not be coming with us, so it was important that we not have to travel extensively. We did consider overall cost of the adoption, which varied GREATLY from country to country. Something else that was appealing about China was that the whole system is very regimented. You know exactly what to expect both cost-wise and timelines. Some countries have a very corrupt system that can be difficult to navigate in order to bring your child home.

I was very thankful and relieved when I realized that China would indeed be the best fit for us. Everything seemed to fall into place. I guess I just should have gone with my gut from the start!

On a side note as I double check my horrible grammar before I post this, Sierra and I were driving to swim practice today. We were discussing my desire for her to be married before she has children. She asked if you had to be married to adopt a child. I told her that some countries will let you adopt if you are single but that you have to be married to adopt from China. Sierra said that was sad that some people couldn't adopt if they wanted to. I agreed and we talked about my good friend Lisa who jokes that she'll never be able to adopt from China because she doubts that she will ever get married. Sierra quickly responded, "She can come live with us and we can share Cadence with her!"!! She is a sweet girl! Wonder if Brad would agree to that?!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Monkey brain...

Go ahead, ask me why I'm stressed! I dare you! To save you the potential wrath that may befall you if you catch me at that exact wrong moment, I will go ahead and fill you in. Most of you who know and love me (you do love me, right?!) are aware that I am generally Type-A, slightly OCD personality. I like to have order and structure surrounding me as well as many little lists and post-its to keep my life organized. My memory is terrible and on top of working night shift I typically feel a little frazzled and a lot less organized than I'd like to be. With the in's and out's of daily life (girls' swim and karate, babysitter schedule, my work hours, cleaning house, doing laundry, preparing meals - well, you all know what this stuff is like!) running through my head, I now have "prepare to travel to China and bring home new child" to the list. This equates to sleepless nights (and days) due to my "monkey brain" that won't stop running around lately!

First, we have the paperwork. I had thought most of this was done last year when we turned in our dossier to China. Wrong! We felt comfortable taking our "leisurely" time to do that paperwork since we couldn't have the adoption to happen until after Brad was done with school. Now he is almost done with school, but more importantly, we have seen our daughter's face. We look at her picture every day, think about her every night, and talk about her often. We wonder if she is hungry or well-fed, clean and dry, being hugged or held. We need to have her home - now. So, while CCAI is telling us to hurry up and turn in paperwork, we feel an urgency to do so. In addition to the paperwork being rushed, the process is still just as picky! I had to redo a form recently because I did not write it all in "capital letters" as it called for. Really?!!

Secondly, we need to get her room ready. It is currently the guest bedroom/catch-all room and will remain that way until mid-July when our wonderful babysitter, Jordan, no longer comes over at 5am and goes to sleep there when Brad leaves for clinicals and I am work. I have worked on cleaning out the dresser drawers (I unearthed an ENTIRE drawer full of picture frames!) and closet, but before I get too far into that process I need to reorganize the basement storage room to house all of the stuff that I will be moving out (winter jackets, clothes for bi-annual consignment sale, pictures to scrapbook). Luckily I love the sage green and don't have to fit "paint the room" into the agenda.

Thirdly... well, I'll just start to write out all that goes round and round in my head on a daily (if not hourly) basis of my "to do list" before we travel to China to bring Cadence home. Maybe if I write it down here my brain will let a little bit of it go!

- organize swap to get rid of said picture frames found in dresser and of items cleaned out of
basement storage room
- read books on international adoption
- read books on attachment
- research about cleft lip/palate needs that we may have to deal with in China and shortly
after coming home
- learn basic Chinese
- learn basic sign language
- scrapbook something... anything! Laurel keeps asking where her pictures are as she looks
at the sorry amount of pictures that I've managed to get of Sierra into an album
- start Cadence's lifebook
- sew her blanket with adorable fabric I bought and made her lovey out of
- make travel list and buy items for traveling to China
- make sure Sierra and Laurel have plenty of entertainment for epic flight to China
- make sure we pack food so that Laurel doesn't starve in China
- become expert-like photographer for monumental trip to China
- make sure I have the right equipment to be expert-like photographer
- make sure dog has vaccinations up to date so she can be boarded while we are away
- make sure kids and Brad and I have correct vaccines for traveling
- plenty of back-up batteries (cameras, computer, DS's) and well as adapters to charge
electronics while in China
- learn to meditate so I won't be so stressed while planning for trip to China
- try to find semi-stylish passport/money holder
- read everyone else's blog in case they give that magical piece of advice or experience shared
that will make Cadence's transition easier
- figure out answer to debate if I should have still pictures or video taken of the "Gotcha
- buy diapers
- buy cleft palate bottles
- copy all necessary documents that I may possibly need while we're in China (spread between
2 3-ring binders and one accordion folder)
- come up with a better organizing system
- try to prepare for how different life will be with a toddler running around
- put something fairly interesting on blog
- get Brad to fix computer so pictures from camera can be downloaded (or uploaded, I never
know which!) and then put on blog
- get all major household projects done before we have a toddler running around

Um, okay, I think that covers about 1/3 of my mental to-do list!! Whew, I do feel a little better writing it down!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June 1st, 2010

I just got an email saying that our adoption agency received our Letter of Acceptance (LOA)!!! Yippee!! I think I have had a perma-grin since I found out! It will be overnighted to us and we need to sign it then send in our I-800 paperwork to immigration. Luckily I have most of the I-800 paperwork filled out so we will get this sent out this week. The email also came with a 19 page packet of "homework" for me to review as well as the link for an online presentation for travel orientation! In addition to trying to get her room ready, taking a karate test (myself, Sierra, and Laurel) and starting swim season... well, let's just say we'll be busy! So happy to be at this point though! CCAI hopes that we will travel within 10-13 weeks!

Yay! One step closer to bringing Cadence home!