What in the world will I do after DTC?

There’s a good chance I’ll be done with the paperwork in a matter of days.  So few that I can count them on one hand.  Even though the light is at the end of this tunnel, it’s still hard to imagine reaching it.  I spend at least some part of each day reading, reviewing or completing paperwork. Or simply being a nutjob and re-reading, re-reviewing or re-doing it!

I decided to go ahead and high tail it to Sacramento and back today.  I’m sure I’ll be sweating my butt off worrying about getting home in time for pick ups, but I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.  I called the Notaries Division at the Secretary of State’s Office yesterday and they told me it’s just a 30 minute wait.  I’m going to pad it to 1 hour.  I drop the little guy off at 8:45 and the big kid at 9:10.  Allowing a pit stop for coffee and a prepaid UPS envelope and I’ll be on the road by 9:30.  I should arrive at the capitol around 11:00.  If I get my docs in by 11:30, I should be back on the road by 12:30 and back to Moraga by 2.  The big kid is in an after school program till 2:30.  The little guy normally gets picked up on Wednesday, his late day, at 1:45 but he can stay till 2:45, which I’m sure he’ll need to do.  I’m totally sweating it already.  So much so that I couldn’t go back to sleep after Parker kissed me goodbye at 5am.  There is no time to spare.  Parker, ironically, is working on a big deal for the state this week and they’ll be in his office today and his dinner dates tonight, so he can’t swoop out to save me if I can’t make pick ups in time.  My girlfriend kindly offered to pick up the boys if I get in a jam, so I have a back up plan but I think I can manage it.  This is where the prepaid UPS envelope comes into play. I’m going to stop and get one from my buddy Doug at the local UPS store.  I’ve seen him more in the last few months than I have any of my friends thanks to all the notarizations, copies and shipments I’ve had to make!  I’m going to have him print me up a fancy, prepaid return envelope so that just in case my documents aren’t ready by the time I have to leave Sacramento to get back to pick up the boys, I can just have them pop my docs into the envelope and send them back to me overnight.  So I’ll either walk away with them today, and if not, will have them in my hands tomorrow.  Relief washes over me as I keep my eye on the prize.  State certified documents .. state certified documents .. state certified documents.  Oh yeah.

The next step is authentication at the Chinese Embassy.  I was just going to have our agency take care of this and the previous step, but for those of you that know me, you know I’m a tad bit of a control freak and since I CAN control the timing of these steps, I WANT to, of course.  Duh!  It seems like a no brainer to knock out the last two steps myself in as little time as possible.  It really is a race now. A race to Macey folks!  She’s sitting there in an orphanage in dirty clothes watching sheep sheep and gray wolf, so you betcha I’m doing all I can to get to her as fast as I can!  Who knows how long these two steps would take our coordinator at the agency.  She’s totally bogged down right now after having been traveling for the last week or two. I still haven’t heard back from her on an email I sent on Monday so I doubt that our docs would get processed in the timing I need them to. So, if I get to bring the documents home with me today, I’ll take the little guy with me tomorrow to the embassy in the city to get them authenticated.  If I don’t get to bring the docs home with me today, and instead they’re delivered tomorrow afternoon, I’ll have to cancel my Friday morning workout (oh darn) and just take them in after I drop the boys at school.  Either way, by Friday, I’ll be done.  Done.  DONE!  Our dossier will be complete and ready to send to China (or for my fellow adoption nerds, to the CCCWA).

I’m trying not to go totally buggy about the timing, but it’s tough.  Our coordinator told us we should plan on traveling about 4 1/2 months after DTC.  If we are DTC by May 1, we should be traveling September 15.  Macey’s birthday is September 23.  Fist shaking please make it happen, close!  Both fortunately and unfortunately, however, I’ve read many cases where the LOA comes in under a month, and as many where it’s over 100 days!  I may have to wean myself off of all the blogs, yahoo groups and discussion forums as of DTC, otherwise I know I’ll totally stress and obsess about who is getting LOA and how long it took, and why haven’t we gotten ours and other things that may make me break my no wine till after the kids go to bed rule.  Once our dossier has a log in date, LID, we just have to wait for LOA.  There is nothing we can do to influence timing.  We simply have to wait.  I haven’t given a process update in a while, and there are far fewer steps now, so here goes:

DTC: Dossier to China. Party time! The paperchase is complete. This is the date our dossier is mailed to China.
LID: Log In Date. This is the date that our dossier is “logged in” or received by the CCCWA. 1-4 weeks after DTC
LOA: Letter of Acceptance. This is after LID and is the official approval from China to adopt Macey.  1-4 months after LID
I-800:  We will file this form with USCIS to classify orphan as an immediate relative.  This will be our application to adopt our specific child from China.  Not to be confused with the earlier I-800A, which was our application just to adopt.   2-4 weeks after LOA
NVC: National Visa Center. After I-800 approval, our officer will forward it to the NVC.  NVC will upload the approval into their system and cable it to the US consulate.  It will take about 1 week to cable and another week to get the letter stating it was done.  As soon as we receive the letter we send it right to our agency, who will deliver it to the consulate in China.
Article 5:  Consulate pre-approving our child for an immigrant visa. They will issue it 2-5 weeks after receipt.  Our agency will have a courier pick up the Article 5 right away and deliver it to the CCCWA.
TA: Travel Approval. CCCWA will issue travel approval 2-4 weeks after they receive the Article 5.CA: Consulate Appointment. This is the date we will go to the Consulate in China to fill out paperwork to get Macey’s visa to enter the USA!




Friday the 13th

Friday, April 13th, 2007 was the second worst day of our lives.  My father-in-law died (suddenly, unexpectedly, tragically, you name it) on Monday, April 9th, 2007 and we laid him to rest on Friday, April 13th.  We’ve had a few miserable, and a couple of slightly less miserable, April 13ths, but the tide changed with the anniversary of this Friday, April 13th.  Little Macey must be our good luck charm!

This was my Friday the 13th:

After I dropped the little guy at preschool and the big kid at kindergarten, I met a dear friend for coffee.  Triple bonus morning – coffee + friend + lots of laughs.  Parker called me 3 times (another triple) while I was chatting with my friend.  I was mad at him that morning because I needed 1 thing from the grocery store the night before, milk.  He ran out to get his corrected background clearance letter notarized and then he stopped at the store for milk and wine (to take to his fantasy baseball draft).  Only he forgot the milk, which I didn’t realize until breakfast that morning.  So I thought his blowing up my phone was all about the milk incident. He hates arguments and it kills him when I get mad at him. If he could live the rest of his life without arguing with me once, he would, but I won’t let that happen. I promise.  So anyway, when I got to my car after saying goodbye to my friend, I finally called him back.  It wasn’t about the milk, but instead there was some really great news he wanted to talk about.  I’ll just say hallefreakinglujah for capital losses.  Parker was a partner in his company before it was sold last year and while it hasn’t been unicorns and rainbows, this is one little happy dance inducing result of all the crap he’s endured, and the money we’ve lost, in the last year or so.  Really, really great news regarding our tax burden, or rather, lack thereof for the first time in about, forever.

And just when I thought the day literally couldn’t get any better, it did.  I picked up the little guy from preschool and we went grocery shopping to pick up a few things I needed to make a fancier, tastier meal than normal thanks to friends braving the Bay Bridge on a Friday night to come out and have dinner with us.  After we got home from the store, I put away all of the groceries, then while the little guy was on the pot (i.e. BUSY and QUIET) I decided to call US Citizenship and Immigration Services to see why the on-line tracking for our I-800A wouldn’t work.  Not twenty seconds into the call I hear the little guy yelling “Mommy it was just a accident!”  Somehow, he managed to pee on the floor, pour water into the trash can AND pull down the shower curtain. Thankfully he heeded my one request, which was not to yell bottoms up as he normally does when he’s ready to have help getting cleaned up .. and instead whispered it to me while standing in a puddle of I-held-it-so-long-I-started-to-go-as-I-pulled-down-my-pants-pee.  I was trying to have as normal a conversation with the customs official as possible while running back and forth to get info I needed from my office space in the kitchen (because I can’t really work in the real office when all the action goes on in the kitchen) and also get the kid and the floor cleaned up as quickly as possible before there was pee tracked throughout the house.  I finally just apologized to the customs official and told her I was dealing with a 3 year old potty accident. She laughed.  She was having trouble finding our case and asked for all sorts of tidbits of info.  She kept saying she couldn’t understand why nothing was coming up.  Then music to my ears.  ”Well, I think I actually have some good news for you. Are you ready?”  Uh yeeeaaah!  ”You’re approved!”  WE ARE APPROVED!  Already!  Amazing!  I was so caught off guard by this, that I was literally speechless. I couldn’t formulate a coherent sentence.  She asked if she just made my day and I said of course, this is the best news!  She told me good luck with the potty incident and to have a very nice weekend.  I have to say it was refreshing to work with such nice people.  The staff at the Application Support Center and the woman who delivered the good news about the I-800a approval.  I had it in my head that dealing with these people would be like going to the DMV (which in California is about the worst thing you could ever experience) and this couldn’t have been more the opposite. Pleasant, friendly, helpful, I could go on and on.  Hats off to the Department of Homeland Security. Perhaps they could have a few words with the Department of Motor Vehicles.  My $.02 is that the conversation would start, and maybe even conclude, as simply as this:  ”Hi folks, we’re here to teach you how to stop being such a$$holes.”

The next step on the adoption train is receiving the actual document stating our approval of the I-800a, which is called the I-797c, from the National Benefits Center. As soon as the approval document is in my hot little hand, we will run to the UPS store to get it notarized then I’ll turn everything over to our agency.  They’ll take care of state certification, and authentication.  One caveat is that our coordinator has been traveling so I’m considering getting the state certification done myself in order to save time. That would mean I may or may not be heading to Sacramento on Wednesday.  If I can get up there and back in time for kid pick up at 1:45 and 2:30 I’ll do it, but if I can’t then I’ll let the agency handle it. I’m going to call the Secretary of State’s office tomorrow to find out the hours they’re open and about how long it would take to get the certifications done.  So tbd on the state certs.  Once everything is state certified, it goes to the Chinese embassy in the city to get authenticated then off to China.  Wow!  I can’t believe all of the paperchasing is 99% complete and we’re that much closer to little miss Macey!


Problem / Issue / Confession

I have a few issues going on right now but I’ll start with the first one, which is that my husband has 2 middle names.  What?  You think that’s crazy?  Yeah, me too. You don’t even really need 1 middle name, so why 2?  I have always thought it was a little much and now, of course, it’s causing problems.  It was inevitable.  Things were coasting along a little too smoothly for a while.

PROBLEM – Parker’s big, long, fancy pantsy double middle name, name is so long that it takes up 2 lines on his driver’s license.  2 middle names = 2 lines. Isn’t that special. But guess what happens folks?  His first and middle nameS take up the first line while his last, and more important name, falls to the line below in no man’s (i.e. not noticed) land.  So all of the final notarizations we had done were for Parker William. As in Parker Andrew William, but we don’t use middle names so of course it was just Parker William.  And his background/clearance letter from the town of Moraga?  Well, it was for Parker Andrew William.  CRAP!!!  We have documents that need to go to China in like 2 weeks. I don’t have time for mistakes and delays.  So I ran around town yesterday politely asking for new documents.  The notary kindly obliged and apologized, commenting that he thought something seemed “funky” with Parker’s driver’s license. I said “Yep, it is funky, as in 2 middle names funkin’ things up if you know what I mean.”  He got me and gave me the raised eyebrow and knowing nod.  The police chief wasn’t in yesterday so I had to stop by this afternoon.  I was really hoping they would keep the original date on the letter (February), but they changed it to yesterday’s date.  That meant a new notarization because the notarization was dated the 10th and the corrected clearance letter, the 11th.  I made Parker run out and get it done today before he went to his fantasy baseball draft.  I would poke fun at it, because it is really funny to me, but he plays with a bunch of old codgers so I’m biting my tongue instead.

ISSUE – I was totally freaking out about today’s fingerprint appointment. I was so nervous I had to pee about every 15 minutes. I haven’t done that since my first presentation at PepsiCo. a dozen years ago! (after exactly 1 month on the job).  I don’t know what I was so nervous about!  All we had to do was … get our fingerprints done. That was it!  Easy peasy. But for whatever reason, I was a total wuss about it. Maybe it’s because it’s the last real step that we have any control over?  I don’t know.  Bottom line, it’s done and over with so now we wait for the approval.  I just signed up on the USCIS website for email updates.  I’ve read that the approval may be given in as little as 8 hours or as long as 1-2 weeks.  All of this waiting is not good for my drinking habit.  Better than a problem!  Remember that and don’t judge!  We all have our little issues, people.

CONFESSION – As exciting as it is to announce we have a little girl, it’s also TOTALLY FREAKING AWKWARD!  Oh yeah, a daughter?  Are you pregnant? What, no?  Who?  How old is she?  WHERE is she?  I was at a party last night and we all had to tell the group the ages of our kids and where they go to school.  I was conflicted.  If I didn’t mention her, I would feel terribly guilty, but I don’t know many of the women in this group that well yet, so to tell them was weird!  It’s like keeping your pregnancy secret till you’re out of the woods and find out the alien in your belly is actually going to turn into a healthy human by the time it comes out, and because you’ve kept it secret for so long, it’s totally anticlimactic by the time you are able to share that it’s easier not to mention it and hope people just figure it out and then you just play stupid when they bring it up as if you thought you had already told them, but of course you hadn’t because you kept it secret and feel guilty about it kind of thing.  Not that I did that, of course.  Do you get what I’m trying to say?  And even deducting all the run-on sentences of weirdo pregnancy bs above, it’s just plain weird to say it out loud.  I have a daughter. I have a little girl.  It’s strange. Maybe it wouldn’t be so strange if I hadn’t become a mother the more conventional and natural (to me) way 2 times previously?  I don’t know.  It seems pretty ridiculous as I write it. Kind of like worrying about getting your stupid fingerprints taken.

PS! I hope you weren’t too disappointed by my “confession” not being something totally juicy like I got botox and filler.  Because I did that too, by the way.  That’s what my husband gets for working every day of spring break!


The name game and where we’re at in the adoption process

I’ll lead with the less interesting stuff… the process/paperwork.  Today we finished up the half a dozen notarizations we still needed. Not sure why we waited so long, but we did. Oh well. It’s all taken care of now.

We have our USCIS fingerprint appointment on Thursday. Can’t wait.  Especially since we get to take our little guy with us.  That should make for a fun experience for all.  He’s actually a really great and well behaved kid, but he talks a lot. Hmm, he may get that from yours truly.  And he’s LOUD!  He will say stuff loudly like “hey daddy, I saw a guy with a big, huge belly!”  when said fat guy is about 6 inches away. Or in a dressing room at Nordstrom “Mommy, why aren’t you wearing underwear?”  I do wear underwear, people, but he’s a 3 1/2 year old comedian and finds this line of questioning hilarious and it only gets worse, and louder, every time I take him shopping with me.  You’d think I’d learn!  At the end of our Target trip today, we settled into a table in the snack area.. I handed him his milk and a slice of lemon loaf and he screamed at the top of his lungs “OH YEAH, I’M GONNA PIIIIIGGGG OUT!”  So needless to say who knows what may come out of his mouth when he’s stuck at a customs and immigration office with us and a million others.  I’ll just start apologizing now.  I am not sure what to expect for final approval.  Some say it’s a week to a week and a half after the fingerprint appointment, but then a couple of people on the group that I’m being tracked with said they got theirs within hours of their fingerprints, so who knows. I’m preparing for the latter, just in case.  We want that DTC ASAP!  As soon as we get the approval, we’ll send it along with everything else for our D (dossier) to our agency.  Our coordinator will then have everything authenticated at the Chinese embassy in the city (aka San Francisco for the non-locals).

While we were on vacation, we got Parker’s birth certificate back.  A reminder on that… he was born in Minnesota. The Chinese embassy in Chicago has jurisdiction over the state of Minnesota so his birth certificate had to go there, instead of SF like all of our other docs, for authentication. We used a courier service to get that taken care of.  Very efficient and cost effective.

Nothing has really changed on our timeline.  We’re still hopeful we can be DTC early to mid-May, making late September travel pretty likely.  We just may get to celebrate baby sister’s birthday as a family on September 23!  And if not, then shortly thereafter.  I’m not getting my hopes up as we’ll be so close at that point, that there will be no reason to be at all disappointed.  Whatever, I’m all talk. I’ll bet totally pissed if somebody, somewhere doesn’t do all they can to get this little girl to her family by her second freaking birthday… But, with my positive face back on, I have to keep focused that we’ll have many more birthdays to make up for the two we didn’t get to share together, if in fact some dipshit loser drops the ball.

Now to the fun stuff.  We exhausted any and all possible names.  Parker was set on a few names we had picked out when we were pregnant with the boys.  We had some really cute names that I love, but not for the sweet little face we have already seen. I must say, it’s a whole lot easier to name a baby before you’ve seen it!  The names we had just didn’t fit baby sister.  Not only did they not fit, but they also got vetoed by our big kid. He didn’t like any of them. He called them weird or crazy or just simply said he didn’t like them.  He came up with a really cute name when we threw it back at him.. okay so you don’t like any of our names, what do YOU think we should name her?  His answer was Riley.  We were shocked! He came up with a good one on the fly. We thought about it but when I googled it, I discovered it is really popular and if there’s one thing we don’t want in a name, it’s popularity. Try being a Jennifer born in 1973.  It was the most popular name from 1970-1984 and ranks as the #4 name overall from 1911-2010. Jennifer was to the 70s what Emily is to the 00s. I pray for all of those Emilys that “Emster” isn’t the nickname of choice in college.  I just about puked one day when I was walking home from class and a girl drove by in a cabriolet bearing the license plate “Jenster.”  Barfity, barf, barf, barf. So, no super popular names.  Riley was a no, as were Kyle and Ryan.  Kyle is super cute and still ranks in my faves but our little girl needs a girly name!  Ryan is adorable. I worked with a girl named Ryan at a paper mill when I was in college. Yup.  But it’s a little to Irishy for our Asiany kid.  And our dear friends may name their little girl Ryan and they get first dibs anyway since it’s a family name.  We stewed over Casey for a few days but I kind of felt it wasn’t girly enough either.  I fell in love with Colette until I found it’s cursed with popularity as well.  My dear cousin came up with a great list of C names, my favorite of which was Cali, but Parker poo pood all of them.  I will take a quick sec to mention that our boys both have C names, as do all of my girl cousins on my mom’s side.  My uncle’s girls are Cheryl, Chana, Charlotte and my aunt’s girls are Christal and Cadie.  My uncle’s kids had the C names long before my aunt’s did (they’re about 14ish years apart so their kids aren’t close in age) and she didn’t pick the names because of her brother … much like we didn’t pick the names we did because of family … BUT, we almost got wrapped up in keeping up with the Cs, but decided not to at the expense of naming our daughter something we didn’t really love.  We were getting nowhere so I started coming up with all sorts of names we’d never yet considered, and which didn’t start with C, and texting them to Parker. I’m sure it totally annoyed him to get pings from me all day with nothing but lists of names. But it worked! I wore him down.  We talked about the names the night of the heavy texting afternoon, and by mid-day the following day, the decision was made. It was helped along by my friend telling me that mei mei is little sister in Chinese.  I triple checked with Parker before I made my run to Michael’s for craft supplies. I love me a crafty project, you know!  Little guy’s preschool teacher had been asking to see a picture of baby sister because he talks about her all of the time so I thought what better way than to let the boys make picture frames for their pictures of baby sister.  So, without further adieu, I’m happy to announce a beautiful name for our beautiful little girl.  Her middle name is after Parker’s hometown in Minnesota.

Macey Aurora Colvin


Spring and bloggy break

I’m back!  We spent spring break in Arizona and got our fill of fun in the sun with my family. We were sad to leave, but it’s great to be home.  We scrambled to get ready for the Easter bunny’s visit and are now trying to get our house and yard (amazing what a little rain and sun combo do for the grass and plants, yowza!) back in order before the “schedule” kicks back in tomorrow.  Boo!

We wrapped up the name game so I’ll get my thoughts in order so I can share them with you in my next post.

Hope you all had a happy Passover or Easter and for our local friends, safe travels back from spring break destinations!


And she’s 18 months old

It’s so strange to think we have another child.  Another child who we didn’t meet the moment she hit fresh air, and instead will greet her shortly before or after her second birthday.

At a party the other night I talked to a woman who, with her family of course, if I’m correct, is the only other family in our town who has adopted internationally.  I may have mentioned much earlier on that I had emailed with a woman who sounds similar… rightfully so, because it’s her. It was like meeting a celebrity. I was star struck.  It was so great to meet her in person.  She put me at ease and made light of all the mumbojumbo we have to go through.  And more importantly, laughed off how weird it is to be handed a kid, whether it’s 2 minutes, or 2 years, old.  They just brought their daughter home about a year ago.  Their transition has been pretty seamless.  I’m sure ours will totally be like theirs. I mean, we live in Moraga, our families are perfect, the setting is idyllic.  Pffffft.  I know ours won’t be that easy.  They didn’t get lucky. They’re just better at this. They have done it before.  Their oldest son is bio, second is adopted, then the daughter is adopted too.  I loved just listening to her though.  I feel like as much as I try to personalize it, I get so caught up in all of this adoption talk/business that I feel like I’m talking more about a process than a person.  I know we just met our “person” a few weeks ago, but listening to her humanized it for me.  She shared lots of tips, cracked a lot of jokes and provided more moral support than she’ll ever know.  Her daughter was about 3 when they brought her home. She never once mentioned anything about the past, only how great their time has been thus far.  I can’t wait to be at that point.  Right now I’m still sort of stuck.

We’ve missed a lot of firsts in baby sister’s 18 months.  First smile. First roll.  First tooth.  First giggle.  First step.  First word.  It’s so strange to think we have a daughter who has experienced all of those things without us. Without us AND, quite possibly, without anyone else to smile back, cheer her on, or otherwise revel in her development. We are deep in the name discussion (we’ve made a decision.. more on that later.. ) and last night my girlfriend was over and she asked about what she’s been called so far and if she’ll be attached to her name.  I reminded her that it’s not like she gets talked to individually much at all, and they may or may not use her name or make a big deal about it. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully comprehend the lifestyle of the institutionalized.

Rather than stay stuck on what cannot be undone,  I’ll try to take a cue from my new friend and start focusing on the future.  Following are all of the firsts I can’t wait to share with baby sister:

  • Her smile… in person.
  • The sound of her voice.
  • Her reaction to meeting her brothers and her daddy (and the heart melting I will experience as a result)
  • Our first hug.
  • Her first taxi, train and/or plane ride!
  • Her first trip to, my universal happy place, the beach.
  • The cool, creamy indulgence that is… ICE CREAM!
  • The first time she says I love you.. to any of us! … hopefully not some random … you never know with these kids!
It will be interesting to see in which order these play out.  I’m sure we’ll hear her voice right away.   Maybe not quite in the words she uses, but in the screaming that is produced by plucking her away from her I know nothing different and was happy as a clam till you made me come here, kind of scream!  I think ice cream may speak a universal language so we may use that to bribe her. I’ve heard lollipops work great as well.  We won’t have a choice, or an impact on many of the others.  We have to get to a different province to finalize the adoption, then yet another to fly home from.  Taxi to airport, plane to next place, taxi from airport to hotel, taxi to train station, taxi from train station to airport.  Hopefully while all of this is going on, we’ll fit in some of the others.  A hug… a smile?  I can’t wait.


Strange to think we have an 18 month old!

It’s so weird to think we have another child … let alone a child whom we won’t get to meet for about 6 months … and who just turned 18 months old. We’ve missed so much of her life already.  Her first smile, her first giggle, her first tooth.  HUGE milestones when you have a bio child.  We’ll have many other firsts.  The first time she rides on an airplane. Her first time at the beach (my fave place, can’t wait). The first time she says I love you. Hopefully it’s to one of us and not some random!  And quite honestly, I’ll be tickled pink if it’s to me!  Maybe we’ll get to share with her the creamy cool wonder of ice cream for the first time!  There will be many joyful firsts that I can’t wait for.  I am sad that not only have we missed many of the others, but also that nobody was there to witness or revel in them.

I was totally exhausted on Saturday. I’ve been working on this big community event. For whatever crazy reason, I decided to co-chair it.  It was probably more work than I should have taken on, considering all that’s happened in this side of my world. But it was a really nice distraction during all of the waiting and decision making. The event, an egg hunt, was on Saturday morning and it turned out really well.  Drizzly, gray Seattle-like skies, and all!  Sort of like home for me I suppose.  Kids were thrilled and you should have seen their faces when I yelled out “go” from the megaphone.  Our boys had a blast. Parker tolerated it.  He even helped us set-up.  I felt a little bad as he’d been suffering from the flu for a few days, but we couldn’t have gotten all the much needed tents up without him!  Needless to say he took a step back in his recovery. What a guy.  After the event wrapped, we cleaned up, packed up, stuffed everything back into the storage unit and then a few of us had lunch together.  In addition to all the happy kiddos, that’s why I signed on, meeting new girls! Being new-ish to the community, I wanted to jump in, get involved and start forging new relationships. Well, that and the more involved I get out here, the less time I have to be trucking it into the city to my old life and other friends….  So anyway, it turns out many of the girls in this club have kids similar in age. I’m super pumped (yep, I said pumped.. product of the 80s-90s folks) that one of my new friends has 2 kids who will go to school with our little guy and baby sister respectively.  A built in network of friends in the making.  Love it.  After lunch I headed home to rest my weary body (thank you TRX and my new trainer who I am quickly developing a love/hate/love relationship with) and warm the heck up.  I snuggled up in a chair with a blanket and konked right out.  Which I never do.  Never.  Unless I’m pregnant, which I sure as hell am not.  So, after I woke up, I was totally groggy and I thought there is no way I’ll be able to rally and go to the party we were supposed to attend that night.  When I shuffled, yes shuffled, my cement block like legs, into the bedroom to see what Parker was doing, he said “buck up Sally, we’re going to the party. It’s the first social event we’ve been invited to and we need friends.” He’s right. As much as I didn’t want to go, only because I was so darn tired, I agreed that it would probably be fun and we do need more friends out here.  Especially mister worker bee, travelin’ man!

So I hopped into the shower.  Warm and steamy.  Only to have it semi-wrecked by a naked little body appearing a few minutes later sweetly asking to accompany me.  I shouldn’t complain as soon enough he’ll be horrified by the sight of his naked mama and vomit a little in his throat at the thought of showering with her!  So we took a nice warm steamy shower.  I even blow dried my hair and put on makeup, including eyeshadow.  Wowzers.  Parker got the boys set up for the night. Gotta love a daddy dinner. Now, mind you, Parker’s a great cook, but babysitter nights = warmed up food only.  Chicken noodle soup, meatballs, fresh-baked biscuits, raspberries and pears on the side.  Glad we ate elsewhere. While I like all of those foods, there’s no way in hell I’d eat them together at the same meal!  Maybe pair up one or two of them at one time, but all 5, never.

We headed out in the rain to the party.  Walked in to a fun and comfortable, somewhat hilarious, welcome.  A guy after our own hearts “If you don’t like it, tough shit. If you want something else, get it yourself.”  Loving it!  These new friends make wine together with a couple of their friends. I think Parker knows how it works, but I assume it goes something like this .. one of them grows the grapes then they all pitch in to have some wine made.  Saturday night was their annual tasting party. I’m growing more fond of this town as I type.  As soon as I put my rain jacket away (I did say Seattle-like) another of my new friend’s came and told me you have to come meet so and so.  So and so adopted a little girl from Taiwan. And I said oh yeah, I know her, we’ve emailed back and forth. Thanks to our big kid’s kindergarten teacher who put us in touch.  I grabbed a wine and headed over and had the most delightful time getting to know her and another one of their friends.  And eating yummmmmy food and drinking yummmmmmy wine!  The woman who just (well, not just, her daughter has been home a year) adopted was so great and grounding.  Their story has been a great one and I really hope ours goes as well. She gave me great perspective and we laughed over how freaking stressful all the paperwork is.  I love that in the midst of all of this stress and worry, I walked away feeling uplifted and less overwhelmed.  At the end we’ll have a little girl and be laughing over the silly things she does over next year’s release.  Well, that is if we can keep in good standing with the new friends and make the cut again!

Earlier on, even as recent as a few weeks ago, I worried what it would be like to raise baby sister in this community but as each day passes and the building block of another new relationship goes into place, I’m beginning to think this really is the right place for us.  A wonderfully welcoming community. Nobody takes themselves too seriously and the things I worry about are just that, things only I worry about, not things that anybody else is even considering.


Words for a birth mother

I have a whole new post just about ready to go but I just watched a clip that made me screech to a halt and start anew.  I’ll put up the other, fun post, tomorrow.

I just watched a clip from the show Smash.  It’s towards the end of an episode and Julia (Debra Messing) is reading a letter she wrote to her daughter’s birth mother.  I don’t know what the context of it was as I only watched this one tiny clip. But as good (and admittedly cheesy) TV proves, it was powerful.  And haunting.  I can’t recall the words exactly but I’ll try to give you a good feel for it…

She’s reaching out in a letter to her daughter’s birth mother.  She tells her that she will guard her like a lion. She will raise her with love.  She will protect her from the wounds of loneliness.  She will be a child of two lands and will wear that knowledge with pride.

There’s a part of me, a big part of me, who can feel these words already.  But there’s another part of me, the lioness, who cannot freaking imagine leaving a baby in a field to DIE!  We are unbelievably fortunate that our little girl did not die.  Who does that?  It’s beyond me.  I don’t know whether I want to hunt her down and shake a little sense in her K-town style, or simply ask her why would you, how could you, do that to a baby struggling to live. What forced you to do something so inhumane?  To a little girl. To our little girl. MY little girl?  What kind of mother does that? But I can’t be too angry, right?  Because if she hadn’t done that, if she couldn’t have done that, then I wouldn’t be given this chance.  Like many things along this path, this is hard to reconcile.  I should be happy, but there’s a part of me that is angry for my little girl’s sake.  Or maybe just pissed off that this world is so effed up that you can leave a kid in a field and it’s somehow acceptable.  Where the heck are we?  It’s two thousand freaking twelve people!  I don’t care that you live in a communist country. There is no excuse for abandoning your child!

DEEP BREATH…. Sip of chardonnay …..

The other part of me somehow has to find the graciousness in it. The selflessness in such an act.  Did she do it to save her?  The slim chance that someone would find her “in the bush” and help her?  Or did she do it out of fear?  Or was she forced?  By family?  By a husband who desperately needs the help of healthy, strong, male hands?  Or did something go tragically wrong with her, forcing her into distress and an early delivery?  That would be my worst fear. As ticked off as I get when I think about it, I also hope my little girl’s mother is happy and healthy and lives a good, long time.  But sadly, I will never know.  And even more disturbing is that baby sister will never know.  I have first-hand knowledge of what that feels like. The not knowing, the wondering. But what I do not have is any feeling of abandonment.  I was cared for in a hospital by nurses and doctors that surely were smitten with my toaster head, squinty eyes and creepy freakish 2 pound 9 oz body.  A few months later I was taken in by a very caring foster mom for a few months before I was handed off to a very loving forever mom and dad.  Now I know we can make up for most all of what she’s been through by being in an orphanage, but when the questions bubble to the surface, as they’re bound to, about her family, about her story, I don’t know what I’ll say.  Will I find peace with it?  Am I harsher in my thoughts and reactions because I was adopted?  Or is it because I’m a fiercely protective, obsessive mama bear who would never abandon her cub under any circumstances?  I don’t know.  Thankfully I have some time to figure it out.  Even if it’s just a few months after we bring her home and she starts asking things in English!

I have thought about what I would say to her. To the birth mother.  The words come easy, because they’re much like the words I would say to my own birth mother, should she ever want or need to hear them.  I would want to put her at ease. To close the wounds and start, or finish, the healing.

To the woman who gave my little girl life,

Although we will never know each other, I am thankful for you.  I am thankful that you gave a home to my baby girl for as long as your body could keep her. I am thankful she survived an early trip to the outside world, and I hope you made it through safely as well.  While you couldn’t keep her, for many reasons, I’m sure, we are happy to be able to welcome her into our lives and provide to her a family and a home.  We promise to afford her every opportunity and pleasure in life. We will protect her.  We will guide her. We will teach her.  And most of all, we will love her with everything that we are.

Please take comfort in knowing our little girl is strong.  She is a fighter. She is a survivor. She is a sister and a daughter.  She will have an amazing life.  Thank you for doing your part and allowing us the opportunity to do ours.  You never again have to wonder.  You never again have to worry.  Let go of any guilt you’ve carried since that difficult day.  Let your conscience be free and may your heart begin to heal.  She is alive. She is safe and she is loved……….

With deepest gratitude,



A little bit about baby sister

I jumped right to the end of the story but realized after lots and lots of questions over the last couple of days that I didn’t fill in the missing pieces from the middle of the story!

So here goes. Baby sister was a preemie.  Just 1kg or 2.2 pounds upon intake.  They think she was less than a day old when she was found “in the bush.”  Abandoned in the bush within hours after birth. Can you even comprehend that?  I can’t.  And I won’t let myself because now it’s my little girl we’re talking about!  The commentary on her report states this:

“The child was abandoned in the bush to the north of…. because of swollen soft tissue of the left tempus; widened brain fold of bilateral lobi frontalis with skull CT check and was sent to our institute upon picking.  On admission, the PE showed:  premature baby with 1kg in weight, obvious short and thin, poor elasticity of skin, not able to suck, cyanosis all over body, body temperature keeping in low level without warming up, closed eyes tightly, both ears were stick to head firmly..”

It goes on a little after that but thought those first few sentences are the most interesting.  It sounds dire, right?  But it’s not really. The soft tissue swelling is, of course, the most concerning part of her report.  However, if she was born with it, it could be birth trauma (even preemies can make for difficult deliveries) or it could be benign fluid build up. It’s actually good news that she had this upon intake, versus an acute event that may prove to be a traumatic brain injury. That still COULD be the case, however, so we aren’t doing a happy dance just yet. Only time will tell.

As for the poor elasticity of skin, not being able to suck, closed eyes tightly and both ears were stick to head firmly – those are all just results of being born too darn early.

Cyanosis is explained by the info below. If blood is properly oxygenated, it is red and flesh is then pink. If it isn’t, then the skin turns blue.

Respiratory Distress Syndrome 


Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) of the newborn, also known as infant RDS, is an acute lung disease present at birth, which usually affects premature babies. Layers of tissue called hyaline membranes keep the oxygen that is breathed in from passing into the blood. The lungs are said to be “airless.” Without treatment, the infant will die within a few days after birth, but if oxygen can be provided, and the infant receives modern treatment in a neonatal intensive care unit, complete recovery with no after-effects can be expected.
Another tidbit of positivity:  body temperature keeping in low level without warming up.  Sounds bad, but it’s actually a good thing!  Why?  Well, because it’s the body’s way of protecting itself.  The brain requires less oxygen at lower body temperatures.
There’s good and bad to be gleaned from all of this.  On the upside she may just keep growing and developing just fine. Or, if there is something funky going on in that brain of hers, that is a result of the cause of the swelling, then it could manifest itself in a learning disability as she starts school and hits the next big temporal lobe growth spurt.  If we are fortunate to make it through that one unscathed, we still aren’t out of the woods!  Nope.  It could still come out in high school as she develops executive function around 16-18 years old. (Wikipedia says the following about it: Executive function is an umbrella term for cognitive processes such as planning, working memoryattention, problem solving, verbal reasoning, inhibition, mental flexibility, multi-tasking, initiation and monitoring of actions.)

So while she’s doing amazingly well (our doctor’s words!), it doesn’t mean things will stay that way. She is special needs and just because she seems physically and mentally healthy now, it doesn’t mean that her special need will go away or never again be apparent.  We’re hoping for the best and healthy future for her.  But we’re prepared to parent her should she develop a learning disability, impulse control problems, mood issues or at worst, mild to moderate mental retardation.  We will do everything we can to aide in her development.  We are going to assume she does have some sort of brain injury and do what we can to help stimulate her brain accordingly. The brain has an amazing ability to repair and compensate itself so rather than just hold our breath and wait to find out what’s going on, we’ll assume it’s there and tackle it proactively!

Cheers to baby sister 3/20!
Now to the current status of our new family of 5.  We FINALLY told the boys. Yes, long after everyone else found out, but we had to make sure, sure, sure!  Parker had a work dinner on Monday  (PA day) so he didn’t get home until after the boys had gone to bed.  Then on Tuesday he skated in just in the nick of time for me to make it to a workout class I just started.  After that we all met at our favorite Chinese restaurant (the one from CNY where they give you a bag of organic produce on your way out!).  By the time we got home we went right into the bedtime routine. Didn’t even think about baby sister.  ack!  Then during the first story at story time, the big kid asks “I wonder how many days until we get to see baby sister?”  CRAP!  Parker and I looked at each other with our oh crap faces and I mouthed “go grab the pictures.”  When  he got back with the photos I said to the boys that we are going to skip the other stories because we have a surprise.  As we showed them the pictures, their faces were absolutely, stunningly priceless. Biggest smiles, ever.  Big kid said how cute she is. Little guy said he would let her snuggle his beloved Nemo.  He also followed it up with “And I will give her all the toys I don’t like anymore.”   If you know him, I’m sure you’re laughing right now.  He really is very sweet.  And sassy.  Big kid asked what her name is. I told him she has a Chinese name, and that we really need to figure out what in the world her name will be.  He then asked what her Chinese name is and I told him Feng Yuning.  ”What?  That’s so silly.”  Yep, we think so too… Especially since we don’t even know how to properly pronounce it.  So now we’re deeply involved in the name game.  It’s even more frustrating this time around because instead of dealing with just 1 (difficult and unreasonable when it comes to names) person, now I’m dealing with 3 total buggers (who are all way too opinionated)!  

Yay, yay for PA!

This just goes to show, you never really know when the process is going to surprise you. I spent the morning much like any other Monday morning. Dropped off the little guy, then the big guy. Hit the gym.  Ran some errands.  Picked up the little guy, had lunch and a promised trip to Starbucks.  We then hit a cute little shop in the creek for a much needed booster seat for the big kid. He may very well be the almost 6 year old still riding in a car seat.  Like, full-on, 5 point harness car seat.  I know, I know, but he’s alive.  So there!  Why not stay as safe as possible for as long as possible.  But I caved after too many “Mom, my seatbelt’s stuck.”  ”Mom, pull over, I can’t get my straps on.”  This morning was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  On M/W/F mornings, I put our little guy in the big kid’s seat because we do a drop off and he has to be on the side closest to the school.  The seatbelt in my piece of doo doo car ALWAYS, read ALWAYS! gets stuck.  So I opened the door to let him in and told him to wait for me to put the seatbelt on. Of course he didn’t wait.  As I’m putting my stuff in the trunk I hear “Mommy, I need help, the seatbelt is stuck.”  Long story short, I had to take the car seat OUT of the car in order to free the seatbelt. I’m done.  I’m over it and the car seat is lucky it’s not floating down the creek right now!  After that I had had it and thought that’s it, today is the day.  So with little guy in tow, we picked up one of the only booster seats available with the latch system.  Yep, two thumbs up for safety!  Mission complete, so we headed back to pick up the big kid. He does a super fun “critters and clay” class after school on Mondays. I haven’t yet seen the fruits of his efforts but he’s told us that so far he’s made a moose, a turtle and a rhino. I can’t wait to see them, especially since they’re these mysterious creatures he creates in a class that I’ve yet to see anything come out of.  After we got home, I made the boys busy themselves with getting the mail and taking some of the packaging to the trash while I removed the car seat from the car.  Two seconds of installation later, and the new booster seat is in and ready to ride.  Take that seatbelt!

After we came inside, I sorted the mail and saw two letters from homeland security.  One for me and one for Parker.  Nervously I opened them.  I was hoping they were for fingerprint appointments but they could have been RFEs, which are requests for evidence (read:  delay).  Whew, fingerprint appointments.  Thankfully, we got the same appointment time on April 12th.  It’s fine but I would have much preferred earlier, of course.  I sent Parker an email right away telling him to clear his calendar for that day because we cannot miss this appointment. If there’s one thing he’s not good at, it’s getting out of work on-time for anything but .. more work! .. so I had to be stern.

Two seconds later, an email came in from our coordinator. The subject line was in Chinese, so it could have been anything.  But the body of it contained these magical words:  ”Dear Jennifer:  I received your PA today.  Congratulations.”  WHAT!! Yay, so we can (we are now pre-approved) adopt her and with that, here she is: