Tuesday, December 27, 2005

How old will Grace be when she comes home?

Hope everyone had a merry Christmas, we did. We got a few gifts for Grace for Christmas; Jen's parents gave us a cute ladybug outfit and some decorations for the nursery and Jen's brother Stephen and family gave us some stuffed animals and books. Jen cried when she opened the gifts but they were happy tears. Now, back to my promise of answering some of our frequently asked questions.

How old will Grace be when she comes home?

When we sent our application to China we requested a 6-12 month old or as young as possible. The youngest we have seen at referral is 6 months old, and we will be traveling about 2 months after referral so the youngest she would be when we bring her home is 8 months. Since Jen and I are on the young side (China requires that you are at least 30 to adopt) we expect that we will get a child that is younger, but that is not guaranteed. There is a rule we read while researching Chinese adoption that if you are over 45 you will be referred a 18 month - 3 year old. But we have seen that doesn't always hold true, most referrals are under 1 year old. They do try to honor parents requests but I think, in general, it comes down to the ages of babies that are available for adoption at the time.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas

No new adoption news but we have been reflecting back over the past year and are amazed at how far we have come. For us last Christmas was "rough". We had just gone through our first IVF cycle and Jen was on bed-rest so we couldn't visit with our families like we usually do. While Jen and I love being together we missed our routine that we have been going for the past few years. Our families and friends were great though, Kristen and Biren came by on Christmas Eve to hang out for a while and brought us lunch and Jen's parents came by on Christmas and brought us leftovers from their Christmas dinner. So we did get to spend some time with family and friends but there was still something missing. A few weeks later we found out that our first IVF had failed and then the next two failed as well. Through all of this pain we came to the decision that we would adopt from China. Even though this holiday season there is still something missing we know that Gracie is out there and hopefully by next Christmas we will be celebrating with her.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


We got some great news today, we are Dossier To China (DTC)!!!!! This means that all of the documents and forms that we have been collecting and filling out over the past few months have been authenticated, certified, translated and sent to China. This is a huge step in the process and we are very excited. Our agency tells us that in a few weeks China will send them our Log In Date (LID). This is the date that China logs our request to adopt into their database. From there the real wait starts. Our agency says that the wait time is running about 8 months from LID to referral. Referral is when we get a picture and health information about the baby that we are matched with. So if the wait stays at 8 months we should be getting our referral in August and traveling to China in October. There is a fairly good chance that the wait times could increase going forward, but we are hoping for the best and staying positive.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Why China?

We still haven't heard anything from our agency on the certification and authentication of our documents but we are coming up on the 3 weeks so we should definitely hear something this week or next. I have felt kind of guilty that I haven't been providing updates much lately but there just hasn't been anything new. After our documents are sent to China there will also be spans of time that we have no updates so we came up with an idea to keep everyone interested in our adoption process. When we tell people we are adopting or discuss the process with them there is usually some common questions that people ask us. So, what we are going to do is answer some of the common questions that we get. We do love answering questions and talking about the process so don't be afraid to ask us anything. This is just to answer some of the questions some of you wanted to ask but did not for whatever reason. I will try to do at least one question a week....The first question....

Why China?

The simple answer is because that is where our daughter is. Sounds like kind of a smart-ass answer but it is truly how we feel. I think though, when people ask us this question what they are really asking is why did we choose to adopt from China rather than the US, Russia or some other country. When we first started researching adoption we bought a book called "The Unofficial Guide to Adoption". The book basically discussed all of the options available and the pros and cons of each country. It would seem that domestic adoption would be the obvious choice and for some couples it is. For us, though, the main reason that we decided against domestic adoption is because the birth mother or father can change their mind and decide that they want that child back. For us that was a show-stopper. Most of you know that we dealt with infertility issues the past couple years and the loss of having to give up a child that we have had in our house and bonded with was something that we just did not want to deal with. We ruled out Russia because there seems to be some instability and corruption in the adoption program. Many of the Russian children are also affected by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. We ruled out Korea because the wait is up to two years. We ruled out the South American countries because of some corruption in the adoption programs there. Adopting from China appeals to us because:

  • The program has been running for over ten years, thousands of people from the US and abroad adopt from China every year. It is a well traveled, well documented path that we feel minimizes our risks.
  • The need is the greatest. There are millions of little girls in China waiting to be adopted.
    The children are generally healthy. Very low incidence of fetal alcohol syndrome or HIV
  • They will not give us a child that they know to be sick.
  • There are great support groups like Families with Children from China that we can get involved with where our daughter can interact with other children adopted from China.
    China has such an interesting history and culture. We look forward to traveling there and learning more about it.
  • The Boston area has some great resources to teach Grace about her culture. From Chinatown in Boston to all of the museums in the area that have great exhibits on China. We look forward exploring these places with Grace as she grows up so she keeps a connection with her Chinese heritage.

This doesn't mean that adopting from China is without risk. We will be dealing with and traveling to a communist country that can change the rules or close down its adoption program at any time. There is also been recent news about bird flu that concerns us a bit (I will post a question and answer about this at some point in the future). Overall though, adopting from China just seems right for us. We know the risks and are ready to deal with them.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Not really much new adoption news this past week. We did get an email from our adoption agency to confirm that they got our checks for the fees. Not much else though so we assume that they are having our dossier authenticated and certified. I'll leave you with this....something we found while surfing around other adoption websites......we though it was appropriate. Jen finally has confirmation that she is "expecting"!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

We really have something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.......We got our approval to adopt from the USCIS in the mail today!!!!! Our agency must have gotten the form from the USCIS as well because they sent us an email this afternoon congratulating us on getting approved as well as some instructions regarding what happens next. Our agency is now taking our "Dossier" of documents and having them certified and authenticated. They tell us this should take three to four weeks. With a little luck we should have our dossier sent to China by Christmas. Our agency has also suggested that we get immunized for Hepatitis A and B. This is a series of shots that take quite a few months to complete so they suggest we start now. These immunizations are not mandatory but we are probably going to do them anyway. The only other thing left for us to do is pay our agency and China Center for Adoption Affairs fees. Adoption isn't cheap but we feel it is such a small price to pay for the joy we will get when we bring our daughter home.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Family Car

We've decided to jump into this "we're going to be parents soon" thing head first and bought ourselves a station wagon. But this isn't your daddy's station wagon with the wood-grain side panels. We got a Volvo V50 Sport wagon.

We haven't felt real comfortable with our Saturn (which we traded in) and didn't like the idea of driving our child around in car that is made of plastic. We got one of the left-over 2005 models so we got a really good deal on it. Not much new news related directly to the adoption. We are still waiting for our I171 form from the USCIS. These forms seem to take anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks to process. We are at the 2 week point today so we are hoping to get the form by the end of the month. Our adoption agency posted a message on their website last week that the wait time for referrals has increased from 6-7 months to 7-8 months. They didn't give a reason for the increase just that they expect longer wait times into 2006. It is a little frustrating to hear this but in the big scheme of things a couple extra months isn't really that big of a deal.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Assembly Required

We got the replacement parts for the crib in the mail yesterday and finished assembling it today. The new replacement parts package came with a new set of instructions which was slightly different than the original instructions as well as having some spare hardware that went unused. We did finally figure it out though but it took far longer than the 45 minutes that the instructions said it would take. We needed to arrange the furniture a little differently than we planned because the room is on the small side and the furniture is a little bigger than we expected but we are very happy with the way it looks.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Baby Furniture

Busy day today, the baby furniture was delivered this morning and we are very happy with it. We started to put the crib together but found that the assembly instructions are wrong and/or we are missing some parts. We called Jordan's Furniture and they are sending us out some replacement parts so we should be up and running next week. This afternoon we went into Boston to get our fingerprints done at the USCIS. It was a pretty cool process. It is all computerized and as they take your prints they come up on a screen and then are transmitted immediately to the FBI. In about 4-6 weeks we should get our approval form from them. Once we get this form back everything goes back out to our adoption agency and they have our forms authenticated and translated and then send them off to China. So if everything goes according to schedule we should be traveling to China late summer early fall 2006.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


We are pretty impressed with the USCIS. We got a letter in the mail today to come in for our fingerprints!! We thought it would be an appointment for a specific date and time but it says we can come in anytime within a two week period. We are planning to go in this Saturday depending on what time the baby furniture gets delivered. This is good news as we didn't expect to get in for our fingerprinting for at least a couple weeks

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


We mailed out our I600A form to the USCIS this afternoon. According to their website they process these adoption forms on an accelerated basis so hopefully we will hear back from them soon. From this point forward we will be waiting on other people or agencies to process our documentation. This is a little frustrating as we feel like we have no control. But I guess all the delays in the process happen for a reason. There is a little baby girl out there somewhere (probably not even born yet) that is meant to be our daughter, if the process went any faster or slower she would not be placed with us.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


We got our approved homestudy document back from our agency on Friday. Our next step in the process is to send the homestudy document, the I600-A form and copies of our birth and marriage certificates to the USCIS(INS). Once they get our documents they will set up an appointment for us to come into Boston to get our fingerprints taken. The fingerprints are sent to the FBI for background checks on us. Once we check out OK, they will send us another form called the I171 which is our official document giving us permission to bring our daughter into the country. The I600-A form is interesting, it is 6 pages long, the first 4 pages are instructions about how to fill out the form. We also recently found out that the fee for filing the form will increase by $20 on Wednesday. We are planning to delay filing the form until Wednesday and pay the increased fee so we don't have to rush and try to get it in by the deadline. Hopefully we will get our approved I171 sometime in late November to early December.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Chinese Culture Workshop

Will this rain ever stop.....We attended a Chinese Culture Workshop at the Boston Children's Museum today. This was an event that was sponsored by our adoption agency and an organization called Families with Children from China. There were about 100 people there, all at different stages of the adoption process and some that have had their little girls home for many years. It was nice to talk to these couples and hear about their experiences and have someone who can relate to what we are going through. In the morning, a professor of Chinese Studies gave us a presentation on the 4000 year history of China, this was a little condensed as the presentation took about 45 minutes. Then a Chinese Language teacher gave us a quick speaking lesson. She mostly taught us phrases that will be helpful when we travel to China such as "where is the bathroom". We butchered all of the pronunciations and don't remember any of them but we have handouts that we can refer back to before we travel. They were supposed to have a catered Chinese lunch but that didn't happen and we just had sandwiches. After lunch they gave each table a Chinese object which they had to learn about and then tell the rest of the groups what the object was used for. Our table was given some Chinese New Year decorations that give the families luck for the year. The last event of the day was a showing of a Chinese movie called "To Live". This was the story of a regular guy in modern China. It had subtitles but from what we could tell it was a drama/comedy. Wo zou le. Zaijan....That means goodbye.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Homestudy is almost complete

Our social worker sent us our completed home study document earlier this week for us to review. We had a few corrections to make and Jen met with her today to go over those corrections. She is now sending the document to our adoption agency so that they can review and sign it and then we get it back. We assume at this point we have been approved but I guess it is official when we get the signed form back from our agency. Once we get it back we send it along with a few other documents and forms to USCIS to get approval to adopt from the US government. Woohoo!!!!! Things seem like they are really moving now.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Last Homestudy Meeting

We had our last (we think) home study meeting today with our social worker. We gave her all of the forms and documentation that we have filled out and collected over the past couple months. She was pretty impressed with how fast we have gotten everything together, most people take much longer I guess. We still have a couple forms we are waiting on that we will hopefully get in within the next week or so. Once everything is turned in our social worker will give us our home study document and then we can apply to the US Immigration Service to get permission to bring our daughter into the country. We also got a call yesterday that our baby furniture is in and will be delivered on November 5th.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Big 30

We reached an important milestone in the adoption process today. Jen turned 30, this is important because China requires that we are both at least 30 in order to adopt. Our agency allowed us to start the process before Jen's 30th birthday but we would not be able to send our info to China until her birthday. We are still waiting on a few more documents to come back once we get them we can schedule our final homestudy appointment.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Closing a door

We had our follow up meeting today with our doctor from the Fertility Center. This meeting was just to discuss the results of our last failed IVF. We were a little nervous going into the meeting knowing that we would be telling the doctor we would not be continuing with fertility treatments for a while. He took the news really well, congratulated us and seemed genuinely excited for us. He told us a story of a conference he went to where there was a plane full of couples coming back from China with their little girls, and they were all so cute. He is surprised though that IVF hasn't worked for us yet. The next steps, if we decide to continue with treatments in the future, would be chromosomal testing on the embryos to test for abnormalities. They would perform a normal IVF cycle but do a biopsy on the embryos before transfer and only transfer the best ones. We had a good feeling coming out of the meeting knowing that we were closing out that chapter and moving forward with the adoption. We know that it is something that we can go back to and maybe the technology will be better when/if we are ready to try again.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Jen's Home Study Meeting

Today Jen had her individual home study appointment at Panera. It also went really well. I spent about an hour and 40 minutes talking with the social worker. We had a lot to discuss since my family is so big, there were many topics to cover. She thinks I am a very fortunate person to have such a loving and wonderful family and I agree. We talked about the same issues she covered with Steve and it was tough to come up with areas of disagreements, usually they include shoes, football or cats!! Next steps are getting the last few documents signed and sent in and then wait for the homestudy document to be compiled.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Steve's Home Study Meeting

Steve had his individual home study appointment today, it went really well. We met at the Panera Bakery in North Andover. She basically took the autobiography that I wrote and used it as a guide to discuss aspects of my life; childhood, school years, college, career and the relationship between Jen and I. She wanted to know how Jen and I resolve conflicts, that was an easy one because we don't have any, just kidding. We discussed the death of my father and the death of a friend of mine. Also discussed some happier things like why I think I will be a good parent and some of the things I like to do as an individual. The meeting lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes. After the home study I had to go across the street to my doctor for an appointment to get a physical to prove that I am healthy enough to parent a child. The physical was pretty basic but I have to get some blood work done to make sure I don't have HIV and about 17 other diseases, I guess this is a requirement from China.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Notary Public Fun

Who would have though that finding a notary public would be the most difficult task for us thus far? Jen spent this week making phone calls to notary publics trying to find one to sign a couple of documents for us. We finally realized that our bank has a notary on premises and she was able to take care of it for us tonight. These documents were additional background checks and some legal documents for CAWLI. We are pretty much done with the bulk of the paperwork for now. We need to get our physical/health forms completed, which should be complete within a week or two.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

CORI Checks

Mailed out our forms today for our CORI checks. These are just background checks to ensure that we don't have criminal records. We also sent out the forms to the people that we have asked to provide references for us.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

First Home Study Meeting

We had our first home study appointment today, it went very well. We first sat down and discussed some of the paperwork that we need to turn in. Then she asked about our reasons for adopting and specifically adopting from China. She also asked us some mandatory questions from INS regarding child abuse, drug abuse and alcohol abuse. Then we gave her a tour of our house, we think she liked it. We spent the last few days cleaning and Steve spent all weekend repairing the patio but she didn't even go out onto the deck. Lucy was even fairly well behaved, she initially jumped up onto the table a few times and came inches away from drinking from her glass but we stopped her in time. So we dodged a bullet on that one. We then banished her to the basement for the rest of the home study. The meeting lasted for about an hour and fifteen minutes. Our next steps are our individual home study interviews, Steve's is on September 15th and Jen's on the 19th.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Social Worker Called...

We got a call from our social worker today. Our first home study appointment is scheduled for next Tuesday. We will probably be spending the next few days cleaning up the house and yard.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Intake Meeting

We attended our Intake Meeting today at the CAWLI office. It was basically just a meeting to go over all of the forms we have to fill out and answer any questions we had. We also gave them our first big check to pay for our home study and post placement services. We should be getting a call from our social worker next week sometime to set up our first meeting. We can now start digging in and filling out some of these forms.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Baby Furniture Shopping

To take advantage of the Massachusetts tax-free day this upcoming weekend we decided to pre-order our baby furniture. We picked out a crib, changing table and dresser, probably won't be delivered for at least 2 -3 months. This is the set, but we chose a caramel finish rather than white. We also got started on our paperwork; we have written our autobiographies and have dug out our past three years of tax returns.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Intake Package

We received our Intake Package from CAWLI today. It is huge, 43 pages of documents and forms that we need to fill out to complete the adoption. We have a meeting on August 17th at the CAWLI office for our Intake Interview where they will explain the intake package to us. Thanks to everyone for the positive feedback and words of encouragement that you gave us on the guest book. It is really nice to get so much support from all of you.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Our Story

We are Steve and Jen. We met in May 1997 and were married July 28, 2001. After a couple years of being married we decided it was time to start a family. After almost a year of trying on our own with no luck we decided to get some help from a fertility specialist. Six IUIs and two IVFs later we decided that starting a family was what was important to us. We planned to try one more IVF and in the meantime look into adoption. The Third IVF did not work, and as much as it hurt we have so much to look forward to in getting our little girl from China.

After all of the heartbreak that we had been through with the failed fertility treatments we decided that domestic adoption was not a good fit for us. We did not feel comfortable with open adoptions where the birth mother still has a role your child's life. The birth mother can also change her mind and decide that she wants the child back after he/she has been in your home and has attached (this seems to happen very often). We've had so much loss lately that we would hate to have an adoption interrupted or wait longer since the wait can sometimes take years.

Through our research we both separately decided that Chinese adoption was really calling out to us. The more research we did, the more Chinese adoption just seemed right. There are hundreds of thousands of infant girls abandoned in China every year. There are many myths surrounding the abandonment of these little girls. It is a complicated issue that has a lot to do with China's population control (one child policy) as well as a cultural bias favoring boys. This bias comes from the fact that when a boy grows up he is expected to care for his elderly parents. A Chinese girl grows up, marries and is expected to care for her husband's parents.
The process of adopting from China should take us about a year if everything goes well. We have found an local agency called
China Adoptions with Love that we will be working with. We found this agency through an article we read in the Boston Globe about a couple who used them to adopt from China. Read the article here.

The following are the steps that we will be going through in this process

  • Attend Orientation - Done
  • Apply to the Agency - Done
  • Attend Intake Interview - Done
  • Home Study - Social Worker will visit us in our home to decide if we are fit to parent - Done
  • Apply to USCIS - This is a US gov't agency that decides if we can bring a child into the country - Done
  • Get criminal background checks and fingerprinting- Done
  • CAWLI takes the dossier of documentation completed above, authenticates them, translates them to Chinese and sends them off to China- Done
  • At this stage we will be considered dossier to China (DTC) and the wait is about 8** months to get a referral- Done
  • Referral - we will get a picture and some basic information about our little girl.
    Travel to China - 4 - 6 weeks after getting our referral we will travel to China to get Grace. We will be there for about 2 weeks. Usually includes sightseeing, travel to province to get our daughter, travel to Shiamen Island to the consulate to finalize everything and then go home.

We plan to request a six - twelve month old (this is the youngest we can request) but there are no guarantees on the age. In general the Chinese adoptees are in good health and transition well into American families. The process will be a long and bumpy road but having our little Gracie will make it all worthwhile.

**At the time we started this process the wait was about 8 month. By the time we get our referral we will have waited 27 months. More than three times longer than we initially thought.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

A negative and a positive

Today is a happy and a sad day. We learned this afternoon that our third IVF has failed. As much as this hurts we were waiting for this outcome to apply to CAWLI to start the adoption process. The application will go out in the mail tomorrow

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Our Timeline for Grace

6/29/2005 -Attended orientation at CAWLI

7/31/2005 - Sent application to CAWLI

8/17/2005 - Attended intake meeting at CAWLI

8/30/2005 - First Home Study Meeting

9/15/2005 - Steve's Individual Home Study Meeting

9/19/2005 -Jen's Individual Home Study Meeting

9/29/2005 - Final Home Study Appointment

10/12/2005 -Received preliminary Home Study

10/23/2005 -Received completed Home Study

10/26/2005 - Mailed I600A to USCIS

11/5/2005 - Got Fingerprinted

11/23/2005 - Received USCIS approval

12/14/2005 - Dossier sent to China (DTC)

1/5/2006 - Log In Date (LID)

4/28/2006 - Received Brown Envelope

6/4/2006 - Attended Parent Travel Advisory Group Meeting at CAWLI

10/25/2006 - Home Study Update Complete

11/3/2006 - Through Review Room

12/27/2006 - Mailed USCIS to request re-fingerprinting appointment

1/23/2007 - Got Re-Fingerprinted

4/2/2007 - Mailed I600A renewal to USCIS

4/11/2007 - Received new USCIS approval

7/16/2007 - Received 2nd Brown Envelope

10/20/2007 - 2nd Home Study Update Complete

2/20/2008 - Mailed USCIS to request re-fingerprinting appointment

2/18/2008 - Got Re-fingerprinted again

4/4/2008 - Referral Day

4/7/2008 - Mailed Visa application

4/28/2008 - Received Travel Approval

4/30/2008 - Recieved Visas

5/22/2008 - Leave for China

5/26/2008 - Family Day!!!!!

6/4/2008 - Home

CAWLI Orientation

We attended the orientation at China Adoptions with Love today. It was a really good experience. Because of all of the research that we did we didn't really learn anything new but we felt really prepared for what we will be embarking upon. Interesting cross-section of couples at the orientation. We were definitely the youngest couple there and were surprised to learn that most of the couples already had children at home. We went out to a great Chinese food restaurant across the street afterwards.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

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