Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Making Real Progress

We just love getting email from our agency.....they emailed this afternoon that they have confirmation of our visa appointments at the consulate. So we now have a confirmed travel date of May 22nd. We should have our flight info shortly!!!

We also got our passports/visas back from the Chinese consulate in New York today. They have actually been trying to deliver them since Monday but we weren't home to sign for them. Nice to have our passports back in our possession and get a big step out of the way. We really lucked out on the visas though. Right after we send them the consulate enacted some new requirements for getting a visa, unfortunately I think some of our travel group got caught up in it. Sounds like just more red tape, which we are all used to, but it is pretty frustrating.

Lastly, it appears that our second care package was delivered to Grace this week. We got the same info as last time that they were unable to deliver on the first attempt but successfully delivered on the second attempt. Not sure why or what exactly that means but hopefully at least one of the care packages got to her.

This past month has really been a whirlwind. It is hard to believe that three weeks from tomorrow we will be leaving for China!!!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Travel Approval

Our agency emailed us this morning to let us know that travel approvals have arrived!!! This is a pretty big step in the process as they can now make our appointment at the consulate and then book our flights and hotels. We are still looking at a potential travel date of May 22nd but we will know for sure sometime this week.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Who is this woman that I am living with? It is definitely not the woman I married. She is flitting all around the house. Organizing this, packing that, cleaning places in the house that have never been cleaned. Ordering me to do this and that. Lots of the breakable non baby safe items in the house have been shuttered away and replaced with soft, safe, brightly colored toys and baby care products. Definitely nesting behavior. I truly expect to walk up the stairs and find that she has built a nest with all of the stuff she has bought this week.

And do we have lists: packing lists, shopping lists, and to-do before we leave for China lists. With just over 3 1/2 weeks until we leave it is all feeling very real now. There is still lots to do but organization-wise I think we are in pretty good shape.

Our passports/visas are on their way back to us from the New York Consulate but they are currently hanging with Elvis in Memphis, Tennessee. Makes sense I guess since it is "Graceland" after all. Not sure I completely understand shipping logistics but somehow it is faster to go to Tennessee first from New York rather than straight to Massachusetts. Either way we should have them back this week.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Review Room vs Matching Room

It has been a while since we have heard anything about the progress of the review room. Since the CCAA doesn't provide updates to the public via their website anymore, we have to rely on our agencies who get the info through a private site. A bunch of agencies have notified their clients that the CCAA has updated their site and have reviewed dossiers for families with Log In Dates through December 31, 2006. I posted a chart a while back that compares how many months families have waited to get through review and how many months families have waited to get a referral and have updated it below with the latest data. As we all know the Matching Room is creeping up every month with families receiving referrals this month waiting around 27 months. The Review Room seems to have hovered around 15 months for the past year. Families with Log In Dates in November 2006 waited a little longer and the wait for the December 2006 families is back down to just over 15 months.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More Care Package Confusion

When we sent out our first care package and realized that it may not get to Grace so we requested signature confirmation on the delivery of the package. The signature confirmation came today and it said that no information on the package could be located. Not sure if this is because they can't get that info in China or because the care package didn't get there. I am leaning more toward "it didn't get there". The second care package is on it way though so hopefully we have better luck with that one. Guess we will find out in another week.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Getting Closer

Grace is 7 months old today. Kind of tough to think about her getting older and all we have is a couple of pictures of her. We wonder how much she has changed since her picture was taken. We wonder if we will recognize her when we see her for the first time and we hope that she is being loved, fed and well taken care of.

We are getting closer though. In fact, a month from today we will be leaving for China. Assuming that everything is still on schedule, we have no reason to believe that it isn't, a month from today we will be getting on a plane to see our daughter's face for the first time. Still no word on our travel visas. We are assuming that everything is fine with the new visa rules or we would have heard something by now. We will probably give the travel agency a call next week if we have not heard anything by then.

This week Jen is on school vacation. She is using the vacation to finish purchasing items from our packing list. Everything purchased has made its way onto the bed in our spare bedroom. The pile of stuff is getting huge and there aren't even any clothes in the pile yet. I was looking through the pile last night and I didn't even know what some of the things she bought were used for. I think we are probably going to have to go through the pile a couple times to trim it down a bit.

We also decided this week to send Grace out a new care package. After we sent our original care package out a few weeks ago I read online that sometimes care packages won't be accepted at the orphanages if there is a dollar value on the customs form. The orphanages have to pay the customs tax on this value so they will sometimes reject the packages. We put a value on the package and noticed when tracking the package that delivery was attempted and was unsuccessful, then a few days later it said it was delivered. Because of this we decided to put another care package together and mailed it out today with $0 value. We hope at least one of the packages will make it there. If they both actually make it there we may even get two cameras full of pictures of Grace.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

3 Year Plan

Jen and I are planners. Rarely do we go into a situation without a plan in place. We usually do plenty of research, discuss our options and then move forward with our plans. Although life sometimes throws us a curve and things don't turn out as we expected we feel a lot better with a plan in place.

One positive that the long wait to adopt has afforded us is plenty of time to plan and prepare for when Grace is home. One big thing we have been planning is for Jen to be able to take the next school year off work to stay home with Grace. With potential attachment issues we thought it would be great if Grace could have mommy home with her as long as possible. Jen's contract actually allows her to take up to 2 years off for child rearing. Although at this point we are only planning 1 year off, we will reassess next year and see where we are. Another positive of the long wait is we have been able to build up a little buffer in our bank account so the year without Jen's paycheck won't be a financial worry.

As a teacher Jen actually has a great job for a working mom. We discussed her being a stay at home mom briefly but she really loves her job and really doesn't want to stop working. It just wouldn't make sense. She has summers off, and a week off in December, February and April, plus all holidays. Her school also has a great and fairly inexpensive daycare on-site that we will be able to use once Grace is potty trained.

That probably leaves a year between when Jen goes back to work and she can use the in-school daycare. At this point we are planning to put Grace in a local daycare for about three days a week and possibly have the Grammys take care of her for a day or so a week. We know how much they are looking forward to spending time with Grace.

As for me I am planning to take two weeks off for the trip to China then three additional weeks when we get home. I do get 4 weeks vacation a year so that should leave me some time off this summer. After all, someone has to work to pay for all of those little dresses and shoes that Jen has been buying.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


We have been having a lot of anxiety lately. It is a different kind of anxiety than when we were waiting. More like just worrying that something is going to go wrong and we won't be able to go get Grace. I am sure it is normal to feel this way, but it will probably continue until we are home with Grace.

Last week we were really anxious about the care package we sent to Grace. We mailed it last Monday and we were able to track it to China. Then last week I read on one of the boards that you are supposed to put $0 for the value on the customs form or it won't get delivered. We gave an estimated value of the contents. Then on Friday we saw on the package tracking that delivery of the package was attempted but not accepted. So we spent last weekend worrying about that. Fortunately on Monday the tracking said the package was delivered so that makes us feel a little better. We realize that Grace may still not get the package but we would hate for her not to get it because we screwed up.

This week's anxiety is regarding changes in the Visa process. We mailed our Visa application through a courier last week. We heard as of this Monday the consulates are requiring itineraries and hotel bookings with your applications, we weren't aware of this. I assume this is because China wants to make sure people are coming for tourism and not to protest the Olympics. We don't have any of our reservations yet as our agency doesn't book it until we get our travel approvals. We haven't heard anything from the courier yet about needing additional info so maybe they got it in there before the requirement. I am pretty sure they will make exceptions for people traveling for adoptions but it is just something else to worry about.

Just gotta keep telling ourselves 5 more weeks.....

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Other Lu

Oh, how her life is about to change........

For the past 4 years our cat Lucy has been given all of our attention. Our friends and family who have met Lucy know she demands attention. In a couple of short months that is all going to change. There is going to be another little girl in our lives who demands our attention.

Lucy has been a pretty good sport through this whole adoption process, waiting patiently to meet Grace. Must be nice to not have a care in the world and just lay around the house all day.

There were some rough times for Lucy though, she had to act as a product tester to ensure that all the baby products we bought were safe enough for Grace. She gave the Baby Bjorn her meow of approval.

She even enjoyed her rides in the stroller, in fact she didn't want to get out. Last month we moved her litter box from the finished portion of the basement to the unfinished part. She wasn't happy but she muddled through without any accidents. There will be more changes to come, rooms she is restricted from and less time sitting on laps. But we really think Grace and Lucy will get along just long as the baby doesn't pull her tail Lucy most likely won't bite the baby.

Jen put together a little video montage of our favorite Lucy moments. She wanted to practice video editing in preparation for Gracie's video. She used our favorite singer Ray Lamontagne's version of the song "Crazy" in the background. For those of you who have had the pleasure of meeting our Lucy you know how appropriate this song is!

Saturday, April 12, 2008


So now that we have Grace's referral and know where she is from we have started to try and learn a little more about her province. Jiangxi is located in South Eastern China and its climate is considered sub-tropical. So the weather should be very comfortable when we travel there next month. Jiangxi was also where the last season of Survivor China was filmed.


The capital of the province is Nanchang which is in north central Jiangxi. I believe we will be staying in Nanchang while we are in province when we meet Grace for the first time.

One of the sites that Nanchang is famous for is the Tengwang pavillion. This structure was first built in 653 AD but has been rebuilt many times since. We have been told by other adopting families that have traveled to Nanchang that this is one of the sites that we will visit.

Nanchang is also the site of the former world's tallest Ferris wheel called the Star of Nanchang. I think they recently built one in Singapore that is a bit taller. We rode on the London Eye on our honeymoon so I am hoping we get to ride this Ferris wheel while in Nanchang. Although Jen seems to have developed a growing fear of heights so I am probably not going to get her on this with me.

About 100 miles east of Nanchang is Yifeng SWI, where Grace is currently waiting for us. The picture above is the building where the babies live. A family who recently traveled to Yifeng took this picture. Not sure if we will be allowed to travel to Yifeng but I really hope we can. Would be good to have an opportunity to see where Grace has been living and thank the nannies who have been taking care of her for the past 6 months.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Falling In Love.....

During our past 27 month of waiting we had this idea in our heads of who our daughter was. I am not sure I ever pictured exactly what she looked like but I think we really were in love with this idea of "Grace" our daughter in China.

Then last week we got the picture. Finally a face to put with the name. No longer just an idea but a real beautiful little baby who is going to be our daughter. We look at her picture and wonder what her personality is like. We hope that she is happy, warm and well fed (looks like she is). Now our love for her has grown, tenfold. She is now our daughter and we are completely in love with her.

In about 6 short weeks we will be traveling to China to meet her for the first time. We will finally be able to hold her, to kiss and hug her. We will be first time parents so I am sure these first days won't be easy as we fumble along. But as the days pass I am sure our love will grow more and more. From an a picture... to our daughter coming home with us, it has been a long ride but we are completely in love with this little girl and she is 100% worth it.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Our little pumpkin has grown

We received an email from our agency this morning with updated measurements from this month. According to the measurements sent she is 17.6 pounds and 26.7 inches. So she is a pretty good sized baby even on the American growth charts. I read somewhere that they weight the babies with their clothes on so the weight may not be accurate. All of those layers must weigh a couple pounds. But she seems to be health so we are very happy.

We also got some translated info from her referral. Lots of great info about her day to day schedule. It also mentioned that the nannies call her baby Huhu....too cute. It is such a treasure to have this information, almost like reliving referral day all over again, only Jen couldn't miss the call this time...

I am not sure what to call this phenomenon but every time we look at her picture she just seems to get cuter and cuter. I am not sure how this is possible but it is really happening. And she is pretty damn cute as it is.

Oh, and thanks to Kevin and Kimberly for the comments about care packages getting safely to Yifeng. Nice to know that there is a good chance that Grace will get what we sent her.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Stuff to do

Adopting from China is always hurry up and wait. The paperchase is a whirlwind of activity for 3 or 4 months. Then you wait and wait and wait.....There are some updates to do along the way but mostly just waiting. Now that we have our referral it is back to hurry up. We now have stuff to buy and forms to fill out. I think it is better to be busy than not, makes the time go by faster.

We started our to dos this week by applying for our travel visas. Interestingly there was an article in the local paper today that China is limiting some types of visas due to the Olympic protests. It doesn't look like it will affect us though as they are only limiting multiple entry visas, we are only requesting single entry.

We also put together and sent a care package to Grace. Unfortunately we heard from another parent who recently traveled to Yifeng SWI that her care package did not arrive. No way to know if she will actually get it but we really hope she does. In the care package we included an album with pictures of us and our families, a stuffed spotted kitty, a panda rattle, a disposable camera, a soft blanket, a list of questions and some candy for the nannies.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Comparing The Years - April Edition

So another month of referrals has come and gone and it was another disappointing number of days referred. The CCAA referred up to January 9th, so only five days were referred this month. Two of those days were on a weekend with very few people logged in so that makes the batch appear larger than it is. The average number of days referred per month for the past year is still hovering around 6 days. See the chart below for the number of days referred per month back to May 2006.

If we overlay the above chart by year (see below) the similar yearly trend continues to present itself. Most glaring is the month of April which has had a lower number of days referred for the past 2 years. In April 2007 we saw 2 days referred and in April 2006 we saw 5 days referred. So this year appears better than last year but if you factor in the weekend probably not much better. The good news is that the number of days referred in the past has seemed to pick up a little bit after April. According to the online polls the next couple days are pretty big so most waiting parents are expecting another small batch. More potential good news to look forward to is that the end of January 2006 has a span of 9 days with no or very few families logged in. So when the CCAA gets to referring those days we should see a larger batch than we have seen in a very long time. Possibly 10 or more days.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Best Day Ever - Part 2

So after getting the call Jen called me at work. She started her conversation with "Hi Daddy". I kept it together pretty well and tried to write down the info she was giving me. The most surprising part was her age. She is just over six months old. All of the babies in our group are very young, which seems opposite of the recent trends. And we just love her Chinese name...Lu Hu....So cute. We also found out that she is from Jiangxi Province which is in southern China.

We had our appointment at 3:30 so I had about an hour left at work to get a couple things done. I tried to eat lunch but didn't really have an appetite. Jen met me at work around 1:30. She greeted me with tears, a big hug and a kiss and we headed into town. Friday was a really rainy and dreary day in Boston but it didn't matter much to us. We felt like the sun was shining on us all day.

We got to our agency about a half an hour early so we expected to have to wait. One of the employees brought us into an office, told us to sit down and handed us a package. And there she was. Our daughter. We immediately thought she was the most beautiful baby we had ever seen. We have a few minutes to look at the pictures and some of the paperwork and then Lillian the director called us into her office and gave us a little more of the translated information. We will be getting updates in about a week and she told us we hope to travel on May 22nd!!!

We both left the office with the biggest smiles on our faces. The other people on the T must have been wondering what was wrong with us. I felt like showing everybody our referral picture but I refrained. On the way home we stopped at our friends Biren and Kristen's. They have been one of our biggest supporters through this whole process so it was nice to see how happy they were for us. We then headed over to Jen's parents to show them pictures of their 12th grandchild. They were so excited and agreed that she is their cutest grandchild yet....just kidding. Then we were off to our last stop at my Mom's where she, my sister and cousin James were waiting anxiously to see Grace's picture. They fell in love instantly just like everybody else.

At this point we were exhausted and also hungry so we stopped off at a nice restaurant and had quiet dinner and a couple glasses of wine to relax and reflect on our day. When we got home we were overwhelmed by all of the blog comments and emails we had from everyone, and they hadn't even seen her picture yet. We would like to thank everyone for their kind words of congratulations. At present count we have over 50 emails and almost 100 blog comments. We just can't get out an email to everyone so please know that we have read and cherished every wish. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

The only thing left to do was update the blog with Grace's picture and make a few more phone calls. By 11:30 Jen and I were just wiped and ready for bed but at the same time we didn't want the day to end. It really was the best day ever!!!

What a weekend it was. Jen and I keep wondering if this is just a dream. Everything seems to have worked out so perfectly. We are so used to waiting we expect to wake up and still have another month to go. We took a trip to Babies R US today to get some of the age appropriate stuff that we couldn't buy before since we didn't know her age. And, of course now we have dresses.....lots of little dresses with flowers and bows......Jen is in absolute heaven.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Best Day Ever - Part 1

The only way I can describe the last few days is by comparing it to being a kid and waiting for Christmas. Yesterday morning was just like Christmas morning when your parents made you wait to open your presents. But what a wonderful present she is.

So our day started very early as I had to work. Jen took the day off since as the week wore on she was getting more and more frantic. By Friday she was just about ready to drop so she wouldn't have done anyone any good in front of a classroom.

I got to work pretty early but right away there were some rumblings that referrals might be arriving. Around 9am I saw that someone had reported that referrals were arriving in Spain. I immediately called Jen to wake her up to tell her to be ready, the call may be coming today.

About an hour later I checked one of the boards and saw that someone in the US had gotten the call, on second look I noticed that that someone was Kristin from our agency who shares our Log In Date. My heart almost jumped out of my chest. About a million things ran though my head....We are going to get the call.....I need to call Jen, no, I can't she may be getting the call right now....I am going to be a dad. I waited a few minutes and called her. She picked up the phone and said "Kristin got the call!" I said "I know, OK Bye."

Jen called me about ten minutes later. I expected to hear Congratulations Daddy or something. Nope, she asked if I had gotten the call yet. Apparently our agency had called Jen's cellphone but the call got disconnected. Then they called our home phone and that got disconnected as well. Jen kind of panicked, emailed me and then called me. We decided that she should at least call the agency back and leave a message that we lost the call, but are home waiting.

About ten minutes later (the longest 10 minutes of Jen's life) she was able to talk to the director of our agency and got some basic info about Gracie Lu Hu. Fortunately for us we have most of this on video. It makes for pretty funny watching, albeit not for Jen. See the video below:

Part 2 tomorrow.......

Friday, April 04, 2008

Introducing Grace Lu Hu

Chinese Name: Zhuang Lu Hu
Date of Birth: 9/22/2007 (one day before Jen's birthday)
Province: Jiangxi - Yifeng SWI
We are just ecstatic. Will post about our crazy day later in the weekend. Isn't she the cutest thing ever?!?!

We Have A Daughter

We just got the call. Her name is Luhu and she is just over 6 months old. We are going into our agency this afternoon to get pictures and additional info. We are over the moon!!!!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Quiet Day

Yesterday there was definitely a buzz in the air with the rumors starting that referrals may have been mailed. The adoption boards were all very active with rumors, good and bad. Today is was just really quiet, almost like a hangover from yesterday's buzz.

It still seems like there is a small chance that referrals will arrive tomorrow but more likely that they will arrive on Monday. But we are preparing for them to arrive tomorrow just in case. I will update as soon as we hear anything. I know our blog stalkers will want to know ASAP. You know who you are.....

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Something on the way?!?!

Today was a long day. Jen made an Italian dinner and I came home and cracked open a bottle of wine. We really needed the "whine".

The big rumor today was that referrals may have been mailed. The big question is when they will get here. If they were mailed from China on Wednesday the likelihood of them arriving in the US on Thursday is pretty slim. It is more likely that they will arrive on Friday. But there is also a pretty good chance that we will have to wait until Monday. What is a couple more days after waiting 27 months? We can do it.

As I was reading the rumors that something was in the air from China a song that has been playing lately popped into my head and now I can't get it out. The first line of the song is what got me but the rest of the lyrics are pretty appropriate as well. Here's our song of the week.


Nothing Left To Lose

Something's in the air tonight
The sky's alive with a burning light
You can mark my words something's about to break

And I found myself in a bitter fight
While I've held your hand through the darkest night
Don't know where you're coming from but you're coming soon

To a kid from Oregon by way of California
All of this is more than I've ever known or seen

Come on and we'll sing, like we were free
Push the pedal down watch the world around fly by us
Come on and we'll try, one last time
I'm off the floor one more time to find you
And here we go there's nothing left to choose
And here we go there's nothing left to lose

So I packed my car and I headed east
Where I felt your fire and a sweet release
There's a fire in these hills that's coming down
And I don't know much but I found you here
And I can not wait another year

Don't know where you're coming from but you're coming soon

I can still hear the trains out my window
From Hobart Street to here in Nashville
I can still smell the pomegranates grow
And I don't know how hard this wind will blow
Or where we'll go

** Bold for lines that really relate to us

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Still Nothing

Lots of rumors about the cutoff date today but nothing about referrals being mailed. We worry that if we don't hear anything by Wednessday we could be waiting until next week. I can't believe it is only Tuesday....Gonna be a really long week.