Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Stir Fried Facts #3 - While In China......

The following is a description of the procedure for completion of the adoption in China. It is taken from our agency's web page.........

Bethany Christian Services began its China program in 1994. All adoptions from China are coordinated by the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) in Beijing. Over 100 orphanages throughout China send referrals of children available for international adoption to CCAA, who matches the child with the waiting family. Agencies are not able to influence the match. Families typically travel with other families 6-8 weeks after the referral to complete the adoption process. Bethany helps to make all travel arrangements. The stay in China is usually 12-14 days. Families have an option of first traveling to Beijing for a two-day tour of the city and the Great Wall. From Beijing, families usually fly directly to the capital of the province in which their child is located, usually staying 5-6 days to complete the adoption proceedings. From there, all families must fly to Guangzhou, In South China, for a 2-3 day stay while the U.S. Consulate processes the child's immigrant visa. Our China consultant and/or another local interpreter will guide and assist families throughout their stay in China.Our China consultant is an attorney who has been working with Bethany since the beginning of the program. She is a native of Shanghai and has previously lived in the States for over ten years. She currently resides in Shanghai.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Friday, May 19, 2006

My 2 Favorite GIrls

Here is my favorite pic of my 2 girls - Be & Diva. I have copies of this on my locker, at my workstation, in my calendar and at my computer. It just has a lot of love in it.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Getting Support While Waiting for Placement

Lots of support is out there for those of us who are waiting for the placement of a child. This past Monday, Be and I met with a local group of about 30 couples and singles who are in the 'waiting room'. Several had just received notification of placement and were walking on the ceiling. Their trip to China would be scheduled in the next 6 weeks. The couple at our table had just started the process of adoption and was scheduled for their home study the following evening. And then ..... there were the folks just like us who were waiting to hear something ... anything ... about placement of their child.

A couple had returned from China about 6 months ago with their new daughter and spoke of some of the transitions, both on the part of the new arrival as well as by their biological daughter. After 6 months, it appeared that cultures had blended together and there was balance to their family life.

We will most probably upgrade this site allowing room for links to sites we have found useful in our journey.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mothers In Waiting Day

Sunday morning, May 14, Mother's Day, found us at Disney's Animal Kingdom. After 20 years at US Airways, I was able to get a regularly scheduled weekend day off. So we decided to take in the attraction this day because 'everyone will be celebrating with mom and crowds will be down.' ---- WRONG ---- The joint ws jumpin' with mothers of every shape, size, age and ethnicity. It was a regular mom fest at the Animal Kingdom. What drove so many of them out here so early in the morning? Are they nuts like us? Even when we got out of the truck, it started. A mother from New York was the first one to greet us as she ejected herself from the car next to us. "So, you 2 get to come out here by yourselves and I have to put up with all these kids? Happy Mother's Day!" she said as she turned around and stuck her posterior in our direction while picking up 3 packs of cigarettes she dropped. "Charming" I thought.

After waiting for a security guard (a Nazi wannabe) to give a cursory glance at the contents of Be's purse, we made it through the front entrance gate. And there they were ---- swarms of mothers ------ wearing outfits that should only be worn in the privacy of their own homes (do I REALLY need to see THAT much of her?) ----- yelling at their children, demanding the attention of everyone else coming through the gate and blocking the narrowing path because 'we have to have a family meeting'. Then, it dawned on me. When Joanna (we decided on Joanna for our China doll's name) becomes part of our family, we can become those very people! Only we can make a game out if it ----- something like "Revenge of the Tourists". It could be very entertaining to observe those around us as we stop in the middle of the walkway while pushing the stroller, blocking the path. We could walk 3 across and gawk and maybe point in different directions - and then get in an argument because "I TOLD you it was the other way."

Wait! Fantasyland is in another park! We still have to make our way through all these Griswolds and ride Expedition Everest! (pic is at the top of the page - I still haven't figured out how to upload the pictures in the middle of the text, so they're all at the top. Perhaps if I pay for the upgraded version of this blog, it will have that feature.) Great ride! We figure we'd better get it all in now, before Joanna comes as thrill rides will be few and far between for a while.

So, we left the park at about noon - they were actually GIVING out carnations to the mothers. I thought they'd want at least 7 bucks for them. On the way back, we swung by Sea World and viewed the new Shamu show "Believe". We had seen one of the rehearsals a few weeks back and wanted to see the finished product. Fine show.

Too much fun for one Mothers In Waiting Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all - even to the one on the parking lot from New York who mooned us in broad daylight.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Translation, Please?

Can't wait to ask for directions when we finally get to go to China!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Stir Fried Facts #2 - The Lifebook

What is a lifebook? 1) It is collection of memories of your child's journey into your family. 2) It is a great way to keep busy during your wait and have others be involved in the process. Why not ask friends and family members to participate by making a page in the book for your child? This way it keeps them involved in the process and helps show the child how much they were loved and anticipated! 3) It may become your child's most coveted possession... A lifebook basically is a scrapbook (photo album, journal, or collage) documenting your child's journey to your family through adoption. A lifebook can be many different things and no two are the same! It can capture your child's life prior to the adoption, include copies of adoption paperwork, journal entries from the adoptive parent(s), photos of your travel, cultural information, messages from siblings and family members, a list of "firsts," and a lot more. Every child has curiosities as to where they came from. Regardless of how the child joined your family, it's their story! A lifebook can help adopted children understand their life story and how they fit into the family.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Stir Fried Facts #1 - The Referral

Periodically, we receive info from our agency's home office regarding our adoption from China. The items may help other adoptive families so we are including some in our blog ... happy reading ... Don & Be

Q: What is a "referral" and what is the process? A: A referral is the much anticipated answer to all of our prayers. It is the matching of an orphaned child with their forever family. Once your dossier is received and LID ("logged-in") at CCAA (China Center of Adoption Affairs), it gets translated. The dossier is then placed in the holding area. When it is time, the referral is made by matching families' dossiers with children's paperwork. God's Plan for your family is already in the works! The "referral" itself is the child's information on paper. What's next? Note: Each branch may operate slightly differently in order to better serve the needs of their families. Depending on your branch office/social worker, your referral process may vary slightly from the process below. Please check with your social worker as to "what to expect." The rererral process: When a referral arrives at Bethany-International from CCAA, it is a celebration of joy! The referral typically arrives among a group of referrals for Bethany families across the U.S. whom all share the same LID (log-in date) or multiple LID's. 1. International sends an email to all the branches and social workers whose families are in this "batch of referrals." We notify them with your family name, the child's given name, gender, given date of birth, and the orphanage & province your child calls home. You then get "the call".... we hope you are ready!!! :o) 2. We review the paperwork and the referral is overnighted to your local branch office/social worker. You will then schedule a time in the next day or so to meet with your social worker to review the referral and sign the acceptance documents!!! 3. The original referral documents are yours to keep. The acceptance documents are then overnighted back to Bethany-International. 4. Once Bethany-International has received all of the families acceptance documents, they are forwarded back to CCAA. This prompts the preparation process for travel invitations and then travel. The referral presentation: When you meet with your social worker to meet your child "on paper," please bring the following: 1) The name(s) you have picked out. Your child's new given name will officially be written on the acceptance document at this time. 2) A check for $xxx.00 written to "Bethany Christian Services" for the acceptance fee (China Consultant Fee). If you are accepting a Child of Promise, this fee is reduced to $xxx. 3) A list of any significant changes that have occurred in your household since the home study has been approved. These changes may include but are not limited to; new employer, new job, decrease in annual income, criminal, health, moved to a new home, additional persons in the home, etc... your social worker will also ensure that your fingerprints will be valid for travel. *Tip: In preparation for your referral and travel, please check your I-171H for the expiration date of your fingerprints. This date is located at the bottom of your I-171H form. Fingerprints are valid for 15 months out from the date you were printed. These prints must be valid through your travel dates! With lengthening referral and travel timeframes, most families are needing to be re-fingerprinted. Please check with your social worker for specifics. The referral USUALLY consists of: 1) 1-3 original, color photos; these photos may be current or within a few months. 2) The English translation of your child's Chinese name. 3) Your child's alleged abandonment site & story (if available). 4) Your child's height, weight, and approximate date of birth. Please remember that these children are abandoned and therefore approximate dates of birth of given based on an admittance medical exam. 5) Any and all medical information & social history since the child came under orphanage care (including eating/sleeping schedules, personality, etc...). Some referrals contain less, some contain more information. Usually within a few weeks prior to travel, we receive updated measurements of the child. Not all families receive updates. Please remember that we cannot guarantee that the measurements are 100% accurate. Just like here in the U.S. when your baby is taken to the pediatrician, there are many factors that influence the measurements... two nurses can measure the same baby and come up with different measurements. Some factors that may influence discrepancies in measurements are: -The child's weight may be altered if she/he is pre or post a bowel movement. -The child's weight may be altered depending on how many layers of clothes she/he has on. -The child's height may be altered if she/he cannot lay completely still or flat for the measurement. -Different medical professional may measure slightly differently. *Tip: Have a pediatrician ready to review the referral. We do not require you to seek a medical review, but if there are questions or concerns, we do recommend having a medical consultation with a ready physician. In addition to the actual referral information, you will also receive a "clear envelope" at the time of referral. This envelope contains the documents you will hand carry to China with you for the adoption. It also contains a "Post Referral Travel Packet." In the PRTP, you will find the visa application forms that each person traveling will need to complete and send for right away. There are also some other travel tips you may enjoy. Please read this PRTP thoroughly. You may have also heard of the "brown envelope." Some families receive the "brown envelope" while others never do. There is no rhyme or reason to the randomness of the "brown envelope." The "brown envelope" is generated from the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China and contains embassy documents. If you do not receive the brown envelope prior to receiving your referral, please notify your social worker. She/he will provide you with the contents, no worries :o) We hope that this information helps prepare you for your referral. For those of you awaiting the referral of your precious child... please use this opportunity to read adoption books, journal, build an adoption website, attend the education & preparation your branch offers, connect with other adoptive families, and scrapbook/lifebook your child's adoption story. Please pray for the BirthMother who has just chosen Life. We are unaware of her experiences and pray that she is safe and loved. She too, is praying that the child finds a good family to provide for all the needs that she cannot. Please pray for the children... that they may be found quickly, be cared for and loved. Imagine... around the same time that you are recieving your LID, your child may be entering the world...

Monday, May 01, 2006

From the Archives ... "Adoption? Why Now?"

Originally posted in August 2005, we moved this item to the top of the blog for new visitors who may not be able to dig down into the archives to read our story......

Don here............For the past 20 years, Be and I have had the world at our disposal with my airline job. We've climbed the volcanos and did the scuba thing in some pretty exotic locales. We essentially had our retirement early on in life. We are both fortunate for this luxury when we 'had it in us' to enjoy the benefits............I remember the day about 6 years ago ..... Be and I were standing on the pier at Daytona Beach and as we looked out over the ocean, we turned to each other and began to reflect on all we had done and what the future could possibly hold for us. We were thankful to God for His remarkable goodness to us, but the element of children had not been in the mix. The topic of adoption came up, but it was left for discussion and prayer in the future. Then it hit .............My mom died in December 2000 leaving behind my dad who never had to function independently (he relied on mom for EVERYTHING). During mom's long illness (congestive heart failure) prior to her 'graduation' to be with God, there were many flights up and down the east coast (thank the Lord for free flight benefits) to attend to her needs and to be with her just in case God called her home. After her passing, (Be and I were both with her as she walked into eternity) there were the flights up and down the east coast to ensure that dad was OK. In May of 2003, dad came to live with us, occupying the spare room on our first floor. He had trouble walking (I tell him that he has an allergy to gravity - he doesn't find it as funny as I do) since 1995 (even though he continued to drive -oy!) and as he continued to deteriorate, it was obvious he could not be left alone while Be and I were at work. ........... During his residence with us, Be's cancer was diagnosed and the mastectomy with subsequent surgeries and reconstruction left even less time for dad. He moved into Madison House Assisted Living Center about 1 mile from our house. What a gift! We can walk the dog over there to visit and we have no worries about his care. In addition, Be is cancer free and our lives began to resemble something normal....... cut to March, 2005 ...........We are on the road to Lakeland, FL (about 60 miles from Orlando) ........ we are in bumper-to-bumper traffic due to construction (it looks like the road to Baghdad Airport) .... fortunately, it's late March and the weather allowed us to roll down the windows and enjoy a cool evening for a change..... we have been basking in our freedom from the worries of the past several years ....... I'm 30 pounds fatter and Be looks like a million bucks ...... she's driving as I read to her from Max Lucado's "Come Thirsty" ..... he refers to Ephesians 1:4-5 ..... "Before the world was made, He chose us, chose us in Christ, that we should become His adopted sons and daughters through Jesus Christ......." .... the scene on the Daytona Beach pier flashed on my mind's monitor ...... I shot a look at Be ....... I think it hit her at the same time ........ and we drove and read on. We were in high gear for the Steven Curtis Chapman concert in Lakeland. We even left early to to allow for the traffic that had now come to a complete stop ("free parking on I-4") ..... but, we began to move and arrived in Lakeland about 2 hours before concert time. We sat back and had a great steak dinner (OK - Be had salad - I had steak) and parked our car in a remote area so we could escape the glut of traffic leaving the venue at the end of the event. "Casting Crowns" opened the show followed by Chris Tomlin and ending with SCC. Toward the end of the evening, SCC offered a rather lengthy video presention on adoption. It hit me. It hit Be. We were no sooner out of our seats (conviction by Lucado, Paul -of Ephesians fame- and Chapman in about a 3 hour time span) than were talking about how to begin the adoption process........ that weekend, we began the internet search on agencies......the following week, one of our best friends asked "Hey! Have y'all ever thought about adoption?" ........ "Well, as a matter of fact" .......... we decided on Bethany Christian Services (65 years experience with placing kids) and we are now in month 13 of the process. We liked their philosophy, initial presentation, encounters with the staff and overall environment of the organization.More ramblings/reflections/prayer needs/updates/parsley/sage/rosemary/thyme as the process continues ........ Thank you for making it to the end ......... God Bless ......... Don