Sunday, July 29, 2007

6 Years

Vacations are always way too short. Jen and I had a very relaxing vacation last week and we even got a bunch of stuff done around the house. We got a new computer and a new desk for the office. We didn't pay much attention to the Chinese Adoption rumor boards which was kind of refreshing. I did take a quick look earlier tonight and it doesn't look like there are any new rumors out there. There is a chance that referrals could arrive this week though. We are not expecting more than 7 days to be referred though, that would bring us to November 21st. But there is a fairly good chance that they won't even get that far. Jen and I also celebrated our 6 year wedding anniversary on Saturday. We went out for dinner at a local Italian restaurant. Every year on our anniversary we buy each other the traditional anniversary presents, the 6th year is candy so I got Jen a box of chocolates. We decided that since we were buying a new computer and desk we would keep the gifts small this year but I always cheat. So I sneaked a diamond anniversary band into the box of chocolates. Jen had been wanting an anniversary band for a while but she really wasn't expecting it so it was quite a surprise for her. Here are some pictures of the ring....

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Grace's Nursery

We finally have the nursery pretty much finished. There are still a couple empty walls but I think we are going to bring some things back from China to fill them up. We started working on this room a few years ago when we first started thinking about starting a family. We had just painted it and put up the chair rail though, the room has been pretty much empty since. Jen usually makes all of the decorating decisions around here because, well, I have no decorating sense whatsoever. The room doesn't really have a theme, Jen just wanted it to be very feminine but not too pepto bismol pink, which probably would have been my choice So on with the tour...

We bought (well Jen's parents bought the crib) the bedroom set last summer during the tax free holiday in anticipation of having Gracie home this fall. Teddy will just have to hold down the fort until she gets here. The crib bedding set is called paper dolls. The little white man next to the changing table is a diaper genie for those who haven't seen one. Looks like a little robot, too bad it doesn't actually change the baby.

More dresses and loot. Jen has a lot of time on her hands, she actually arranged them according to size. Next week, she'll redo it according to color!!
My Aunt Barbara made this framed needlepoint. Kind of hard to read with the glare in the picture. It says "You have been chosen to be our precious Grace".

Grace isn't even home yet and she already has a small library. Plenty of books to read before bedtime.

Who says a baby can't have a chandelier in her room?

Jen's friend Sue sent us these great letters from Pottery Barn Kids so Grace can have her name on her wall. And a picture of the rug from Pottery Barn Kids.

Lucy doesn't seem to appreciate being read to. How else are we supposed to practice for Grace?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Rumors and Vacation Fun

The rumors about the next batch of referrals started flying around last week. There was a ridiculous rumor early in the week that they were going to make it into December and then another rumor later in the week that they were only going to get through 6 days. It is way too early in the month to believe any of these rumors. We will most likely be waiting another week or two for the next batch to arrive. As the time gets closer the rumors tend to get more accurate so we will wait until then to believe anything we hear. In other news we are on vacation this week. More accurately, I am on vacation this week. Jen, as a teacher, has the summer off so she has been on vacation for a while. We had an interesting start to my vacation when I went out into the back yard to mow the lawn Saturday morning and found this:

A huge branch broke off one of our oak trees and fell on my shed. Kind of a rocky start to vacation but at least I got to have some fun playing with my chainsaw. On Sunday we went up to the beach for the night and found a cool little bar in Rye, NH and listened to some live Reggae. Kind of brought us back to Jamaica a little bit, except we were drinking Sam Summer rather than Red Stripe and Pina Coladas. We don't really have any plans for the rest of the week except a little home office upgrade. Our current computer is over 7 years old and is so slow we are ready to throw it out the window, so we are planning to go shopping for a new one at some point this week. We are also planning to buy a notebook computer so that we can keep in touch with family and friends while we are in China and also so we can update this website. The notebook purchase will probably be a little while down the road but we are going to need more workspace in the office so we are planning to shop for a new desk as well with room for both of us to work at. Shopping isn't exactly my idea of a fun vacation but at least we will be shopping for technology, a little more fun than clothes shopping. Lastly, on Saturday we will be celebrating our 6 year wedding anniversary so we have a special night planned for that.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Forever Lily - An Unexpected Mother's Journey to Adoption in China

Forever Lily - An Unexpected Mother's Journey to Adoption in China

by Beth Nonte Russel

Forever Lily is the story of a woman who travels to China with a friend who is planning to adopt a baby. When they get to China the baby is younger than what the woman expects and she is failing to bond with the baby so she decides she may not want to adopt the baby. Her friend asks the author if she would be willing to adopt the baby. Her friend really distanced herself from the baby. The author, however, finds herself bonding more and more to her and sees herself parenting the child. This feeling is confirmed when she calls home to tell her husband that her friend may not be bringing home the baby and he instanly says that they will adopt her. Although this is a bad situation that finds a happy ending with Russel and her husband adopting Lily, and ultimately a second daughter from China, it's not much of a feel good book. The author recalls long dream sequences where she sees herself as a Chinese woman from centuries ago who was the mother of this baby in another life. The dream sequences are distracting and not believable. We didn't really care for how she portrayed China, its culture and its people in general. Also, we had a hard time sympathizing with the woman who changed her mind. With all that we have gone through to prepare for our adoption we find her cavalier attitude towards the baby, and adoption itself, unsettling. Of course, nobody would want a woman to parent a child she didn't feel she could. However, we feel she took the seriousness of adoption too lightly.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Brown Envelope #2

I usually try to update this site at least once a week. Sometimes when there is nothing going on with the adoption I will write about something new that is going on with us in our personal lives. Not much happened last week so I was feeling a bit guilty that I had nothing to write about. Then we got some surprise mail from China this afternoon. Nothing real exciting like referrals or anything, just a new Brown Envelope. We got our first Brown Envelope back in April 2006. The Brown envelope contains some documents that we will need to fill out for the US Consulate in Guangzhou China to finalize the adoption. When we applied for Department of Homeland Security approval they notify the Consulate who then sends us the envelope. Since the Department of Homeland Security approval is only valid for 18 months we needed to reapply so we got another envelope. On our second Dept. of Homeland Security approval we noticed that they had the number of our street address wrong. The address on the Brown Envelope was wrong as well so I am a little surprised that it got to us. We emailed the director of our agency about the address and she told us not to worry about it so we are trusting her. We just hope the mistake doesn't come back an bite us in the butt while we are in China. We had been kind of feeling like nothing was going on with the adoption lately so it was nice to get something to remind us that we are still in it.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

100 Good Wishes Quilt

What is a 100 Good Wishes Quilt?

To welcome and celebrate a new life, there is a tradition in the northern part of China to make a Bai Jia Bei, or 100 Good Wishes Quilt. It is a custom to invite friends and family to contribute a patch of cloth with a wish for the baby. Part of the patch of cloth goes into the quilt for the baby, and the other part of the cloth can go into a creative memory notebook with the wish for the child. The quilt contains the luck, energy, and good wishes from all the families and friends who contributed a piece of fabric. The quilt is then passed down from generation to generation.
Some of the people in our DTC group are doing a 100 good wishes quilt so we thought this is something that our friends and family would like to contribute to. It is a tradition to greet the new baby with a 100 Good Wishes Quilt. Although this is a Chinese tradition, it is a great tradition for any child to be welcomed this way. What a treat to read the good wishes when the child is older to know how much she was wanted!

** I found this description on a quilting website and the English teacher in Jen made me cite my source so this is not my original writing

Note From Jen:
I finished Grace’s 100 Good Wishes Quilt. I didn’t have exactly 100 wishes but I did incorporate 90 quilt squares. The making of the quilt was definitely hard work since I am such a novice. Quilt making is all about math and that’s not my strongest area so I had to fudge it a bit! However, I am glad that I was able to do this all on my own for Gracie. The quilt is far from perfect—there are lots of mistakes and uneven edges. Yet, I see every imperfection as not just a mistake but proof of perseverance when the going gets tough. The quilt may have flaws but it’s made with love and it will keep her warm in her forever family.
Thank you to all who contributed squares for Grace's quilt. I appreciate it and look forward to the day that I can sit down with Grace and show her her Book of Wishes and who gave her every square.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

CCAA July Update

We got an email from our agency on Friday that referrals arrived. They received referrals for 6 families, all girls. The interesting note in their email was the referrals were from orphanages recently opened by the CCAA. When the CCAA visited the US we heard rumors that they were trying to get more orphanages opened to international adoption. Maybe having more orphanages open will get more babies into homes and cut down the wait time a little bit. Last week we also passed 18 months since our Log In Date. The group that just got their referrals waited just under 20 months, I wish we could say we were two months away but almost an additional month gets tacked on as each month goes by so it seems like it is one step forward and one step back. We are inching closer though. The CCAA did update their website confirming that 11/14/2005 was the cutoff for the last batch of referrals. The update is below:

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Comparing The Years - July Edition

It appears that referrals have begun arriving on the west coast and cover Log In Dates though November 14th. Nothing official about the cutoff yet from the CCAA or our agency. I assume our agency will get referrals sometime tomorrow. The last few months I have posted a chart with number of days referred each month this year compared to last year. Earlier in the year there seemed to be a pretty visible trend with the two years being pretty close together. The two years don't seem to be trending as closely the last couple months but at least the chart is still trending up in general. Last year in late June/July, 13 days were referred and we are only expecting 7 days this month. Last year in late July/August, 15 days were referred and I really don't expect them to refer more than 7 days again next month as they would need to get through November 22 which is thought to be a really big day. Nevertheless I am posting the updated chart in hopes that things pick back up in the upcoming months. Which I think is a pretty good possibility once they get through November.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Projected Wait Time

No news yet on the next batch of referrals. There was a rumor floating around last week that the upcoming batch would cover Log In Dates through November 17th. Later in the week another rumor came around that someone with a Log In Date of November 17th was told by their agency that they would not be included in the latest batch. Referrals through November 17th would be 10 days which is significantly more that we have seen in the last couple of batches. At this point I think it is pretty unlikely that referrals will go through the 17th but I would love to be wrong. We are at least hoping to see a more than the six days we have seen in the past few batches. Jen was away this weekend and I had some free time to look at some of the historical numbers of the wait times and compare it to the time we have been waiting. I charted the data in Excel and the results are pretty interesting. The blue line represents the number of months we have waited. The pink line represents the maximum number of months that people who received referrals in the latest batch have waited. As you can see the lines are slowly coming together. I drew a yellow line over the angle of latest batch max wait time and projected the line of our wait time out until they intersect. This intersection is at December 2007 which in theory is when the data projects us to get a referral. Maybe a little hope that we could get a picture of Grace by Christmas.