Sunday, March 25, 2007
We are making some progress on getting our paperwork together to renew our USCIS approval. We have been dragging our feet a little but we have some time to get the application in so it is no big deal. The first time around we made extra copies of all of our documents so we can just use those to renew, so that should save us some time. Since we are nearing the end of the month referrals should be out soon. We don't expect to hear anything this week, most likely next week or the week after. We are tempering our enthusiasm for this batch as the last 7 days in October have many families logged in so we are hoping they get through at least October 31st. November is rumored to be a big month as well so we are expecting the next 3 - 5 batches to be smaller than normal.
Posted by Steve and Jen at 10:44 AM
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
China Ghosts - My Daughter's Journey to America, My Passage to Fatherhood
by Jeff Gammage
In China Ghosts the author tells the story of how he became a father to a daughter from China from three distinct perspectives. The first part, as he and his wife paperchase for their daughter, describes how he was initially very happy living a childless life. He saw no need to give up his freedom and take on the responsibility of a child. But to appease his wife he agrees to adopt a baby girl from China. His perception changes drastically once he receives his referral picture and travels to China to finally meet his daughter. The second perspective is when the author begins to bond with his daughter and finds a part of himself that he didn't know existed. He finds himself a changed man, not just that his life has changed now that he is a father but a profound love that has changed his very soul. The third and probably most interesting part of the book is when the author explores some of his conflicting feelings about his daughter's adoption. He is very grateful for the gift that China has given him but at the same time realized that the adoption of his daughter has caused great pain for his daughter's birth family and ultimately for his daughter who most likely will never have the chance to meet them. Most books about adoption from China are written by women so it was nice to read something from a male point of view for a change. I would definitely recommend reading this book, it is very well written and a pretty easy read.
by Jung Chang
In Wild Swans, Chang tells the autobiographical story of three generations of Chinese women, her Grandmother, a warlord's concubine, her mother, a high level communist official and herself and their struggles throughout the 20th century. The story focuses mostly on Chang's family struggle and persecutions throughout the cultural revolution where, prior to, her parents held powerful positions. Through Chairman Mao's policies this powerful family suffered greatly so it is unimaginable how much peasants must have suffered at this time. Through the book the author tries to tow the communist party line but slowly begins to realize that it is her own government that is causing the suffering that she has seen and and has endured. Toward the end of the book, after Mao's death, the government starts to open up a bit and the author leaves China to attend university in England where she she still resides and is currently the director of Chinese studies at London University. This book is not really an easy read but it really gives you a sense of the struggles that even this politically connected family endured during the very recent past. Makes you really feel for what the peasants had to deal with during this time.
by Peter Hessler
River town is the story of a Peace Corps volunteer, Peter Hessler, who travels to Fuling China to teach English in a local college. Peter is the first Westerner to live in Fuling in over 50 years. He is met with much curiosity in his travels around town while getting to know the local customs and culture. In time though he is able to immerse himself in the town and becomes good friends with some locals and many of his students. Much of the book centers around his classes and interactions with his students as well as his interactions with locals in Fuling and other cites he travels to during his time off. This book is a pretty easy read, Peter has good writing style and injects quite a bit of humor into some of the uncomfortable situations he gets himself into. One of the more interesting aspects of the book is the difference in Chinese and Western teaching styles. As Peter tries to nurture his students and get them to think for themselves and question common Chinese beliefs his Chinese tutor shows him the Chinese way of teaching by giving him a stern 'Budui' (wrong) whenever he mispronounces a word. It is a great study on many of the differences of Western and Chinese culture. The author has written another book on China called "Oracle Bones" which is on our "To Read" list.
Will The Boat Sink The Water?
by Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntao
We bought this book as light reading for our last trip to Jamaica, it wasn't so light. The book is written by two Chinese journalists and has been translated into English, the translation is good but the subject matter is pretty heavy. The book was banned in China but is said to have sold 10 million copies on the black market. The authors travel throughout their home province of Anhui to see how the peasants are fairing through China's recent newfound prosperity. What they find isn't good. The book tells through a series of stories how various peasants feel that they are being treated unjustly mostly due to over taxation and try to go up the local government chain of command to get their issues resolved. They are met with jail time, beatings and even death. To be honest, I did not enjoy reading this book, although I think it does show some of the hardships that Chinese peasants must deal with on a daily basis and shows haw far China has yet to come to become a truly modern society.
The Good Earth
by Pearl S. Buck
"The Good Earth" tells the story of a peasant farmer and his family living in China in the early 1900s. The story begins as the main character, Wang Lung is about to get married to a servant named O-Lan working for the local landlord. The young married couple are very poor but through hard work they are able to acquire some land and become relatively prosperous. They have a few children and life soon gets difficult when famine hits. The family most go south to find food and work. They find themselves begging and doing menial jobs to just scrape by. The country is embroiled in a revolution at the time as well so Wang must be careful not to get caught and forced to fight in the military. The family gets caught up in an uprising of local peasants who loot a rich family's home. They find coins and jewels and are able to get back home to their land. With their looted coins and jewels they are able to buy more land and eventually buy the house where O-Lan worked as a servant. Toward the end of the story Wang Lung is so prosperous that he no longer has to work his farm and lives the life of a rich man. He takes some concubines which causes problems with his wife and children. It is sad to read throughout the book how O-Lan is treated but I think it is probably pretty realistic to how women were treated at this time. This book was written in the 1930s but we really enjoyed it. It won a Pulitzer prize and recently was rediscovered by many on Oprah's book club. The book was also made into a movie in 1937. Due to the lack of Chinese actors at the time the main characters were cast as Americans but it was still pretty good. The author of the book, Pearl S. Buck grew up in China but went to college in the United States. Interestingly, she founded the first international interracial adoption clinic in the United States. The book was re-released in 1935 as a trilogy called the House of Earth. The two sequels are called Sons and A House Divided. I have yet to read them but they are on my "to read" list.
Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems
by Richard Ferber, M.D.
I think I first heard about "Ferberizing" a child in the movie "Meet the Fockers" where they sort of exaggerate the methodology with DeNiro's character. The basis of this methodology is to allow the child to teach herself to fall to sleep without the help of the parents. This involves letting the child cry a little longer every night until she can sleep through the night without any intervention of the parents. For us, we will be trying to create attachment and a bond with Grace so the Ferber method is contrary to attachment parenting. We cannot let just let Grace cry as this would not foster her trust in us. With that being said, I think once we feel Grace has formed an attachment we may be able to use some of his approach as we see fit. Some parts of the book are a bit dry when he discusses the stages of sleep. There are some good sections on night terrors (what they are and how to handle them). Overall, I thought the book had some good information. I probably will need to reread sections of the book when we have Grace home and are actually dealing with sleep problems.
Are Those Kids Yours?
by Cheri Register
Apparently, "Are Those Kids Yours" is a question many parents with children adopted from other countries hear when out with their children. The answer of course is a simple "Yes". But that question says a lot about how families created through international adoption are perceived in our society. The book was written by a mother of two children adopted from Korea. In the book she examines the ethical issues surrounding international adoption and the importance of teaching them about the heritage and culture of their birth country. She uses experiences she encountered raising her children to illustrate some of the joys and and challenges families formed through international adoption will face.
The Waiting Child
by Cindy Champnella
A friend of Jen's mom sent us this book after learning that we were in the process of adopting from China. This is a really amazing story of a family that adopts a four year old girl named Jaclyn. From the moment Jaclyn learns to communicate with her new family she begins to lobby them to get "her baby". Her Baby was a younger little boy back in her orphanage who she protected and took care of. I won't ruin the ending but will say it is a really sweet story that shows the unbelievable spirit of little Jaclyn.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
We got an email from our agency this week with instructions for renewing our USCIS approval. It is pretty much the same process as the first time around only this this time it should be easier as we have all the documents we need, we just need to make copies of them. We are hoping to get it all together and sent out within a week or two. Jen is also getting ready to start working on Grace's 100 good wishes quilt. She went out this weekend and picked up a book on quilting and is trying to decide on the design. Just a reminder if you want to send us a quilt square and haven't yet make sure you get it to us by April 1st.
Posted by Steve and Jen at 10:45 AM
Sunday, March 11, 2007
We reached another milestone in our adoption journey last Monday, 14 months since our Log In Date. Referrals came in on Monday as well. Our agency received six referrals, the CCAA also updated their website that they have matched families with Log in Dates up to October 24th. We are slowly creeping closer to our referral. Based on current projections it is still looking like we may get our referral by the end of the summer. Although November is suspected to have a bit more Log in Dates than the past few months so it may take longer to get through, which would push our referral into the fall. That means we could be traveling to China around the holidays, Christmas in China sounds good to us. Update from the CCAA website is below:
Posted by Steve and Jen at 10:49 AM