Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On the boat!

I'm on a boat, I'm on a boat
Everybody look at me
'Cause I'm sailing on a boat

I'm soooo excited to have that tune running through my head (minus the explicatives!). We received our Article 5 on Monday! This is the preliminary approval of Cadence's immigration file from the US consulate in China. It is required in order for China is give us our last "piece of paper" (at least stateside) - our travel approval. This process generally takes 2-4 weeks, although I know someone who is currently in week 6 of the wait. Please send some speedy vibes our way. I DO NOT want to wait that long!! After we get travel approval (TA) we will probably leave in about 2 weeks. By my calculations, if things go as quickly as possible, we could be leaving the week of August 25th. Wow! I can hardly believe we are at this point! We received the referral for Cadence 3 months ago, yet it feels like she has been part of our lives for so much longer.

As for the boat analogy, someone in a yahoo adoption group started it and the phrase for this stage of the adoption has stuck. Everyone is excited to get "on the TA boat" with the arrival of the Article 5 but just as anxious to get "off the boat" and head to China. As I've said before I have a couple of notebooks full of paperwork for this adoption. Almost 2 years ago, when I first bought this notebook to hold the growing pile of papers, Sierra drew a picture. It is a large ship in the ocean with 4 people standing on it, including one looking out of the crow's nest with a telescope. The boat is complete with a heart on the mast. I put this picture in the clear front cover of the notebook and see it everytime I do anything adoption related. Our family is on a journey. Long, sometimes treacherous & exhausting, but wonderful all the same. A journey to complete our family when we bring home one beautiful little girl from China. We're on the boat!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


So we wait! However, I did receive an email response from the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou stating that they have received our paperwork and will be issuing our Article 5 on July 26th. This is a document from the U.S. government telling China that they can issue us a travel approval (TA). Once this is issued our agency's staff will send it to Beijing and we will be "on the TA boat"! TA is what we need to make our reservations to go to China. Most TA's take about 2-3 weeks, although I've seen some families wait up to 5 weeks. Once we get TA we will probably travel in about 2 weeks. So... if everything goes as quickly as possible we would probably travel to China the week of August 23rd! Wow!! That is just around the corner!

Cadence's bedroom looks more like a nursery instead of a catch all room. I am having a swap next week to try and get rid of some of the stuff that I cleared out of that room. What friends don't take I'll be donating. I've put the baby clothes in the dresser that I have, ranging in sizes from 6-18 months. I've bought a few random items to take to China- bottles, bibs, Gerber treats, baby toys. I'm continuously reviewing and revising our travel list. Trying VERY hard to not over pack (or at least plan to over pack)! I got my Hep A shot yesterday (ouch!) and prescriptions for myself.

Brad and I have decided that Laurel won't be traveling with us. She would have a such hard time adjusting to the travel, time change, food, etc. Laurel has stated many times that she doesn't think it would be a good idea for her to go! I think she'll have fun with sleepovers with grandparents and friends. As for Sierra, we hope she can go with us but we won't know until we go to make our airline reservations and see the actual cost. She would get a lot out of the trip (she studied China all last year in school) and I think she could roll with the punches pretty well. I got practice chopsticks for both of the girls that they have had lots of fun with this week. They were challenged to eat all of their corn with their chopsticks and they actually did it!! Now that's perseverance!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Inner Mongolia

I have to admit that when I saw the Cadence's referral with "Inner Mongolia" written on it I was pretty excited. It sounded so exotic! I don't know how much of it we will actually get to experience, but in addition to being excited about traveling to China I am pretty stoked about going to Inner Mongolia too!

I do know that not many children are adopted from there through our agency. Our agency was started in 1994 and has helped process the adoption of over 8800 children from China. Approximately 24 of them have come from Inner Mongolia (IM)! Most of the provinces in China have over 100 children adopted through CCAI and some have over 1000 - so obviously this is a small amount for a region! One thing this means is that it's highly unlikely that we will have other families that we travel with when we pick up Cadence. We may travel with others for part of the trip, but not for the 5 days or so that we are in IM.

So a few tidbits for you... Hohhot City is the capital (and also where Cadence lives). The population of IM is about 23 million. They have short, warm summers and long, cold winters with many blizzards (all the more reason I want to get there SOON!). IM is renowned for its beautiful grasslands. Baotou, another large city in IM, is the hometown of Genghis Khan. It also houses the only intact Buddhist Monastery in IM. In Hohhot City there is the Dazhao Temple. Built in 1580 it houses the Silver Buddha - an eight foot tall statue of Sakyamuni Buddha that was blessed by the 3rd Dalai Lama in 1586. The Temple of Five Pagodas is also located in Hohhot. This temple has 1500 carved Buddha figures. While we won't be doing a ton of sight seeing while we're in IM I would love to see both of these places! I've read that there is a large Hui Muslim population in Hohhot. Apparently restaurants marked with yellow or green signs are Halal and it's considered a grave insult to ask for pork. Dually noted!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

No update for you!

I keep hearing this in my head with a Soup Nazi accent! "No update for you... or me". We found out yesterday that our adoption agency had asked the orphanage for an update on Cadence last month. The orphanage said that "everything was current" and wouldn't give any other information. I certainly hope she has grown some since the only info we have on her is from when she was 5 months old! Although I expected this might happen I feel very disappointed.

Well, on the upside, our paperwork is processing like it should be. Basically I am just keeping tabs on everyone that should be getting the correct papers from one place to another. I really don't even know if we have to sign anything else before we go! We are getting ready to send in for our visas.

We have recently had to have some difficult discussions about whether to bring Sierra and Laurel with us. We have been planning that they would join us from the beginning, they have their passports and their immunizations. Unfortunately, travel costs have increased exponentially. Both international airfare as well as in-China travel have increased by 50-60% than when we first looked at things. We are going to wait before making a final decision, but it just might not work out right now. I know that one day we'll go back to China to visit when Cadence is older, so they'll get to go at some point... they were just planning to go now.

Friday, July 2, 2010

I-800 Provisional Approval

Yippee!!! I found out today that we received our I-800 provisional approval (different from our I-800A). This means the US consulate has approved Cadence to come to the United States. The US consulate should then send it on to NVC (National Visa Center) who will then cable it to Guangzhou. While I've understood all of the legal stuff and timelines up to this point for some reason my head is spinning with this part of the process! Maybe because it means we'll be actually traveling to China to bring our daughter home soon! We are still looking at an August timeline. Sierra is hoping to celebrate her birthday there (8-28)!

At this point I'm getting our visa paperwork together. Interestingly it cannot be mailed off... it must be hand delivered. While I contemplated making a day trip to deliver this and then hit the zoo in DC I decided to just suck it up, forget the stress of additional driving in an area I hate to drive in, and pay a courier service to do this for us. I am also watching fellow adoptive parents discuss the (very high!) airline ticket prices that they are currently seeing to get them to China. Yikes!! I'm simultaneously saying a small prayer that Brad will be able to start working - soon!

On a lighter note, Sierra came home with a stack of pictures that she had drawn recently. She drew a cute on of her and Brad on a motorcycle and wrote "Coolest Dad Ever" at the top. Another one had two hand prints with the thumbs overlapping and a heart above it. It said "mom" above one hand, "daughter" above another, and "connected" written in between. Made my heart melt to see that! Another picture is a large Ying Yang she drew with smaller ones stamped all around. (I don't know if she is aware of the significance of the symbol). It says "To: Cadence. From: The sister that loves u most." Have I mentioned how much I love my girls?!! I'll see if I can scan them and post them later.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hepatitis, typhoid, malaria... oh, my!

Today has been a day that I have dreaded for weeks. Referral day - wonderful! Paperwork - tolerable. Vaccinations for Sierra and Laurel - shoot me now!

Thanks to the amazing individual that came up with the flu-mist Sierra has been able to avoid shots for a few years. Laurel still talks about how she screamed through her kindergarten shots from last year. There is a wonderful nurse practitioner in our pediatrician's office who specializes in international travel. After telling her where we are going she informed me that the girls would need Hepatitis A vaccine and they recommended typhoid vaccine. There are pills for typhoid but we found out that they are big horse pills that cannot be crushed up and I knew the girls wouldn't be able to swallow them. So, it looked like they were lined up for 2 shots.

I decided not to tell them until we were on our way to the doctor's office. I knew they would be very worked up and stressed about it, so why prolong that?! As we were pulling away from Sam's Club I tried to break it gently - both for their sake and mine.

Me: Girls, we have a stop to make. Sometimes in other countries there are diseases that we
don't have here. We have to take medicine to make sure that we don't get catch these
diseases and get sick.
Sierra: What kind of diseases? Wait... we have to get a shot?!!!

Dang, she's quick!! Cue, immediate sobbing from both girls!

Me: (Deep breath) Yes, you have to get a shot. You can't take a pill for it, it has to be a shot.
Sierra: What kind of diseases? I want to stay in America!
Me: We can't stay in America. We have to go to China to get Cadence.
Sierra: What about Canada? Do you need to get shots to go to Canada?
(Laurel still sobbing in background)
Me: No, I don't think there are any shots you have to get to go to Canada.
Sierra: Well, let's just meet Cadence in Canada.

She tried so hard to find a way out of this! Poor kid! But their fate was sealed as we continued down the road. They had stopped crying by the time we arrived and actually had fun playing at the magnetic insect table. Finally their names were called. Laurel had already volunteered to go first. They brought in the tray with the shots and we set Laurel on the table. Two nurses were there and said they were going to give the 2 shots at the same time. Sierra was sobbing & Laurel screamed as I held her hands and they gave her a shot in both thighs. Now it was Sierra's turn and she decided to utilize her stalling tactics.

Sierra: Mom, you said it was only one shot. Only one shot!! There's two! You said only one!
(I don't think I specified two, but I never said just one!)
Me: Sierra, let's just get this done quickly. Laurel's done. Let's go get ice cream afterwards.
Sierra: I need to sit down. Let me sit down first.
(Sierra sits in the chair. I spot Laurel huddled in a corner behind another chair, sobbing).
Sierra: Wait, I need a drink of water. Just give me a drink of water first!

Needless to say, I quickly held her arms while the nurses gave her a shot in each arm while she hollered too. It was AWFUL!!! I think everyone in the whole office heard them - maybe even you did too! The tears continued and we made our way out the front door and promptly to Ben & Jerry's... because ice cream makes everything better! Right?! I'll have to remember that when I get my vaccines too!