Tuesday, June 26, 2007

CCAA Visit To the US

Apparently the China Center for Adoption Affairs was visiting adoption agencies in the US last week. Our agency mentioned something about it in their last monthly update but we haven't heard anything from them about it from them yet. The purpose of the meeting seemed to be for the CCAA to see how the children are getting along in their new families. But some agencies seem to have allowed some waiting families to attend the meetings. It doesn't sound like they were allowed to ask them any questions about the wait directly but some interesting information did come out of the meetings. This information has been making its way around the China adoption forums and Rumor boards....

  • The wait times are going to continue to increase and could reach 3 years. I think we know at this point that the wait is going to continue to increase unless they start referring full months again. I don't think we will have to wait 3 years but will most likely have to wait at least 2 years in total.

  • The CCAA received 30,000 dossiers in 2006 and 10,000 dossiers through May of 2007. To calculate how many total families are waiting for a referral we would need to add in the last two months in 2005. Assuming they received about the same number per month in 2005 that is about 2,500 dossiers per month. So that comes out to about 45,000 families waiting for a referral.

  • The CCAA is currently referring 600 to 700 babies per month. So if we figure they got 2,500 dossiers a month in 2005 and they need to get through 2 months worth of referrals to get to us that is around 5000 families in front of us if they refer 600 babies a month that means it should take about 7 months for us to get a referral.

  • Abandonment of children in China is decreasing. This is definitely a good thing for the children but is one of the factors that has added to the increased wait time. It makes sense that as the Chinese economy grows and strengthens and more of the people are lifted out of poverty there will be less abandonments. Seems you can't read a newspaper lately without seeing an article about the changes occurring in China.

  • Domestic adoption in China is increasing, only 1 out of 5 of every adoptions is international. When we started researching Chinese adoption we read that one of the reasons that there were so many babies available for adoption in China was because the Chinese did not like to adopt. Apparently China has been encouraging their citizens to adopt. With a population of 1.3 billion there must be many childless couples to adopt these children. I think this has something to do with the Hague convention for adoptions that China is implementing. The basis for adoptions for the Hague is that children should be kept with their birth families. If that is not possible they should be adopted domestically and only adopted out internationally as the last resort.

  • The CCAA is trying to get more orphanages to submit babies files for adoption but it seems that the orphanages may not have the resources. The incentive for the orphanages to submit paperwork is the $3,000 fee that we pay to them. But if they can adopt these babies domestically without having to prepare as much paperwork that is probably what they are doing. There is also talk of increasing the fee to get more orphanages to submit their paperwork, although I am not sure that is the right thing to do if the babies can be placed domestically. Although if there are babies that are not being placed domestically and they are just sitting in orphanages we would be more that willing to pay an increased fee to help them get the paperwork going.

  • The CCAA is committed to the International Adoption program, they say to have patience and we will get a baby. To be honest there have been times throughout this process that Jen and I have gotten so numb and truly felt that we will never get a child. It is nice to know that China is committed to the program and is not planning to shut it down because the wait is so long

Lots of good information here, although most of it is second hand so we are considering it with that in mind and looking forward to what our agency has to say in their next monthly update. Most of it is what we have been hearing all along so there are no big surprises. With all of the above info in mind it is pretty easy to see why the wait times have increased so significantly. But we are inching closer, not sure how accurate my 7 more months calculation above is but it seems like it could be realistic. Although since we started this process the wait has consistently been 6 to 7 more months so we are prepared to wait longer or as long as we have to.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Wild "King"dom

Nothing new this week in adoption news, not really even any rumors out there, which is kind of odd. I am sure we will here some rumors this week though and will probably see referrals the week after. Since there is nothing new in adoption news I figured I would write about some of the fun going on in our back yard recently. We have been in our house for about 5 years now and although we don't really live out in the country we have have quite a few little critters taking up residence. Anyone who knows Jen knows that she is quite an animal lover, especially cats. So it was to her delight when during the second summer living here she found a litter of kittens living under our shed. Unfortunately they were feral so she couldn't run out and play with them. We didn't want them to continue to multiply so we decided to just borrow a "have a heart" trap and catch them and bring them to the local MSPCA so they could find them homes. Unfortunately we couldn't catch the mother so she had another litter the following summer. We caught the mother the second time around so we haven't had any kittens since. The next summer we had another family living under the shed, this time it was skunks. While the little babies were cute we didn't attempt to trap them. We left them alone and they left us alone. Not sure what happened to them but we haven't seen much of them lately. This year we seem to have a bit of a zoo.....

This little guy is usually lounging in our yard when I get home from work, he doesn't seem to be too afraid of people given that he let me walk right up to him to take this picture. Make me a little nervous for him with some of the other animals in the area.

I am not exactly sure what this thing is but we think it is a groundhog. It has dug a hole in my yard that is about 8 inches across, we are pretty sure that is where he lives. He is really shy though, I had to sit on my deck for about an hour and sit really still waiting for him to pop out.

This is the guy that makes me a bit nervous for the bunny. It is some type of hawk and it is huge. There are actually two of them that live at the bottom of our street. We had an incident with him last summer when I was out on the deck with our cat Lucy and the hawk landed on the tree branch above her and was contemplating swooping down on her. They kind of stared each other down for a few seconds and Lucy arched her back and fluffed up her tail to appear intimidating. I was really curious to see how it was going to play out then thought better of it and brought Lucy inside. I really doubt the hawk could have flown away with her but I really didn't care to find out. We also have an opossum living under my neighbors shed at the corner of my yard, although he is not very photogenic and only comes out at night so I haven't been able to get a picture of him.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Oracle Bones - A Journey Through Time In China

Oracle Bones - A Journey Through Time In China

by Peter Hessler

Oracle Bones is Peter Hessler's follow up to River Town where he writes about his time in the Peace Corps teaching English at a college in China. Oracle Bones follows some of the author's students and friends as they try to make their way in the fast changing China of today. There is also the story of an Uighur (Chinese ethnic minority) friend of his that emigrated to the United States right before the September 11th bombings. The book jumps back and forth between these stories and those of the archeologists who studied the Oracle Bones. Oracle Bones are ancient animal bones or turtle shells that were heated until they cracked and the cracks were used to tell the future. It is thought that the writing from these cracks is the oldest written Chinese language. Sadly, many of these artifacts were destroyed during the cultural revolution. If you read River Town the book may seem a bit repetitive as the author recycles some of the stories from his first book. I did enjoy the book but not as much as River Town, Oracle Bones is a bit more fragmented and doesn't really have much of a flow to it. I am sure there many connectiions and parallels that can be made comparing the past and future in the book but most of it wasn't too obvious to me. I am looking forward to Jen reading the book. With her being an English major she may pick up on more than I did.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Top 10 Ways You Know You've Waited Too Long For a Referral From China

Not much new in adoption related news, we are still two or three weeks away from the next batch of referrals. Not even much for rumors this month which is probably a good thing. Jen finished up school for the year last week so she is getting started on her summer vacation. We really don't have any big plans for this summer though. One of Jen's goals for the summer is to finish Grace's 100 good wishes quilt. Jen and I were joking around the other day about how much longer we have been waiting for a referral than we originally expected so I challenged her to come up with a David Letterman Style top ten list to post, pretty funny I think....

Jenny's Top 10 Ways You Know You've Waited Too Long For a Referral From China:

10. You've stopped telling people you're adopting from China because chances are the next time you run into them you'll still be waiting.

9. When someone tells you a far off date in the future as 12-18 months you think to yourself "wow, that's coming up so soon!"

8. You know people who have had two kids in the time you've been waiting for a referral from China.

7. The last Olympics were happening when you started trying for a family and there's a good chance you'll be in China for the '08 Olympics there.

6. You know couples who have gotten engaged, married and had a baby all while you've been trying to start a family.

5. You try out all the baby stuff on the cat to "practice"--and you take pictures to post on your website because there's no other news to report.

4. You automatically convert the time to Beijing time in your head because you think maybe the CCAA is working on referrals.

3. Your nursery bedding has been discontinued.

2. You've had to dust cobwebs off the changing table in the nursery.

1. You've gone on your last childless vacation.....5 times!!!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

17 Months

We almost let slip by that last Tuesday was 17 months since our Log In Date. The CCAA also updated their website last week to confirm that the cutoff date was November 7, 2005.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Comparing The Years - June Edition

We got an email from our agency this afternoon that referrals have arrived and covered Log In Dates through 11/7/2005. They received 8 referrals this month, 7 girls and one boy. The CCAA still hasn't updated their website but we are pretty sure that 11/7 is the cutoff as other agencies are reporting it as well. So this means that they did 6 days of referrals again this month. Not the increase that we were hoping for but at least it is not less days. Last month I posted a table comparing the number of days referred last year to the number of days referred this year. There appears to be a trend over the past 8 months although there are a few anomalies here and there, this month being one of them. I do think it is worthwhile though to keep an eye on it in hopes that the upward trend from last year continues into this year. Although based on the number of Log in Dates thought to be in the rest of November I fear we will continue to see a few more small batches. I have created a chart for those that are more visual that paints a pretty interesting picture.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Our Visitors

Still no news on the next batch of referrals, we are hoping that we will hear something at some point this week. The early rumors were that this batch was going to be really big and get through the middle of November. While this would have been great and we would love to see it happen we really never believed it. Early last week there was another rumor floating around that they were going to only get through 2 days of referrals. Then there was another rumor late last week that they were going to get through 6 days which is probably more likely although we hope that they get through at least a couple more days than that. We got some interesting mail this past week in the form of a check from Google for the ads I have up on this site. I put the ads up about a year ago not expecting to earn any significant money. My earnings started out kind of slow but over the past 6 months I have been averaging around $10 a month. We are obviously not going to be able quit our jobs and retire from the advertising but a couple $100 checks a year are a nice little contribution to Grace's college fund. I am actually a bit surprised at the amount of traffic that this site gets. We started this site just as a sort of journal for our friends and family to keep track of our progress with the adoption. But it turns out more than half of the traffic to this site is from people we don't know which is fine with us as we really like following along with other people's adoption websites as well. It does make me a little nervous though that we get so many strangers looking at our website since we have some pretty personal info up here and we plan to post pictures of Grace once we get them. I started tracking all visitors to this site about a year ago just to make sure I wasn't getting any weirdos visiting the site. The tracking software I use allows me to see all kinds of cool info about who is coming to the site. Although I can't see exactly who is coming to the site it gives me a pretty good idea. I can see the city and state where the the computer is that the visitor is coming from. I can see the Internet Service Provider (Comcast, AOL) that the user is using or if the visitor comes to the website from a work computer I can see the company name. I can also tell how the visitor got to our website, if they linked from another website or if they found it through a search engine I can see what they typed it to find it. Maybe it is just the computer geek in me that finds this interesting but I thought you might find some of these statistics interesting as well

This is the main statistics summary screen. Since I started tracking I have had almost 8,500 visits to the website and those visitors viewed my pages over 23,000 times.

I have been averaging about 250 visitors and 1000 page views a month. Although the last two months my traffic really increased because the chart that I created comparing referral trends last year vs. this year got posted on all kinds of other adoption websites and really increased my traffic.

What I find most interesting is where the visitors are coming from. The dots on the map above represent where the last 100 visitors to my site are from. The majority of the traffic comes from the US but I get a significant amount of traffic from Canada, Europe, Australia and even China. The first time I got a visit from China I got a little nervous as I thought it could be the China Center of Adoption Affairs checking up on me but I think it was just a parent in China getting their child who went to my site. Last month our website was posted on an Chinese adoption forum in Denmark. I tried to get on the website to see what they were saying but the website was in Danish so I couldn't read it and figure out how to register. So if you don't know us don't be afraid to leave us a message on our guest book and say hello.