Saturday, December 20, 2014

Oh happy day!

It seems like we've been singing "Oh Happy Day" around here a lot. It's my son's current favorite song and it describes perfectly the "day" we are having today. We received our immigration approval in the mail, oh happy day!  Only a few more hurdles to jump and then it'll be in China's hands to allow the travel to pick my little girl up. I feel like I'm on the way down from the big mountain I climbed. It certainly can't come soon enough. My little girl will be two years old in just a few short weeks. That's two years in an orphanage. Two years without a family. Two years without knowing someone will love her forever. Two years. Ugh it's painful to think about. Not only because she's my daughter, but because there are millions just like her that will continue to wait. Some beyond the two years my daughter has. Every child deserves a family. Every child deserves to be unconditionally loved. 
Yay! Immigration Approval! 12/20/14

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Making progress

It goes without saying that adopting takes great patience. It's now been one year exactly from the very first time I thought about adopting internationally to where I am today. For me time has flown by, but for others it seems like it's not going fast enough. I'll be the first to say I wish I could fly right on out to China today and pick up my daughter, but the truth of the matter is a lot goes into bringing foreign born children into the U.S.A legally. I did however get one step further this week!  My homestudy is officially done! It's really been done for a few weeks now, but proof reading and editing takes awhile I guess. Anyway, I received the official copy which means I am able to send my immigration paperwork to homeland security.  This paperwork is very important, because it gives the approval for my daughter to enter this country and become a US citizen. My adoption will not be allowed to move forward without this approval. Throughout the adoption process, myself and families who are also going through the adoption process stay connected through various networks of social media. You become friends with the common interest in adopting and ultimate goal of bringing your children home. Through my new found friends the timeline of immigration approval stands at around 60 days. That just means, on average of those who've already gotten their immigration approval, it's taken 60 days. So I'll be counting down my 60 days starting tomorrow, because that's when I estimated the paperwork would arrive at the office of homeland security. Now in the meantime I have tons of things I can be doing.  Having an approved homestudy opens up a lot of doors. I can now apply for grants and loans specifically to bring my daughter home. I kind of equate it to trudging up a steep hill and now I've reached the summit. I'll be sitting awhile up here on the summit, but at least I'm not climbing the hill. So in these 60 days of waiting, I'll apply for some grants and finish finalizing paperwork that needs to be submitted to China with my approval. That's where we're at now. To be continued....

Homestudy approved!

Mailing immigration paperwork

Thursday, September 4, 2014

International shipping

One of the benefits of being matched early in the adoption process is being able to send care packages. However, international shipping is confusing. Thankfully my local post office was extremely helpful. Hopefully my daughter will get her care package in 2-3 weeks :). 

For those who are reading this and are adopting internationally, care packages are a great way for you to send your child something personal about yourself and the family they are about to join. I personally have been receiving numerous tips from others who've adopted internationally and this was highly recommended.  So if you're taking notes.... In my package to my daughter I included:
1. Clothes... Of course. It's an easy choice for children.  For appropriate seasonal clothing, I did study up on climate in the particular city my daughter resides and when seasons change there. I was already given measurements a few months back, so I sent two different sizes just in case. 
2. Lovie....  We call them lovies here, but any type of blanket the child can hang on to and sleep with. A comfort object. 
3. Gloworm.  Really any toy would do, but we have about three of these laying around so why not.
4. Photo album.  For my daughter's photo album I choose a Sassy baby photo book and placed pictures of her, myself, her brother, her grandparents, her aunts and uncles, etc in the book. I labeled each picture with the Chinese writing of who we were going to be to her. For obvious reasons it's helpful to send pictures of the family to your adopted child, but sending it with the Chinese discriptions and names gives the nannies at the orphanage an opportunity to tell your child who you are if they have a chance. I highly recommend this. 
5. Disposable camera. If you're like me and had to think about whether they even sold these in stores, you'd be happy to know that they still do.  This was recommended to me by my agency. With the camera I sent a note asking my daughter's nannies to capture pictures of her everyday life at the orphanage. This will give my daughter memories of her life before she came to America and will help her hold on to her Chinese identity.  I highly recommend this. Remember to write your child's name directly on the camera. 

A few other helpful care package tips:
1. Address the package in Chinese. It'll get there faster. Your adoption agency should be able to give you the address in Chinese. 
2. Purchase duplicates of everything you send. Even if you request the items be returned, it's not a garentee. So if your child gets really attached to the toy you sent and doesn't come with them when they leave, it's just another thing they've lost. Bring all duplicates to China when you pick your child up. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Paperwork! Paperwork!

The paperwork process of adoption isn't a fun and exciting one. If I posted everyday it would continually say, still working on paperwork. Weeks have gone by of paperwork and I feel a little closer to my daughter. I'm approximately two weeks, maybe three from completing my homestudy. This is a major step, because a completed homestudy allows me to apply for grants and file my adoption with U.S immigration. Filing with immigration and getting their approval to bring my daughter home is the last step before finalizing my paperwork, sending it for approval with the Chinese consulate in Chicago and then sending it off to China. It seems so much closer then it was just two weeks ago. Anyway that's where we are right now. I hope I have much more exciting news next time. 
 To fill the void here's a picture of the day we found out China approved us to adopt my daughter/ his sister

Before our approval from China I spent time preparing Austin for our adoption from China. I know this is going to rock his world. I'm not sure he remembers what it's like to have a sibling. It's been almost a year now that he's been an only child. One of the first things we did was visit the children's museum. It just so happens they just opened a display about China and it's culture. We spent several hours there, learning and taking in the place my daughter/ his sister currently lives. We learned a lot, but China is huge and full of culture and customs that I've never heard of. We certainly will be spending more time learning about China before she comes home. 
I thought this was a cute idea for reveal, but we went another direction. 

Learning to care for abandoned pandas in China. 
Chinese culture
Chinese statue 
Playing chinese bells 
There's even a computer where you can place your face in traditional Chinese makeup and outfits. 
Regardless of whether you are adopting from China, it's a great display of culture and the country. Please go visit! 

More to come later.....

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Here we go again!

Adoption.... I revealed last week a shocking surprise to most, that I indeed was adopting again. This time from China. Back in November 2013, I decided to once again expand my family through adoption. Having an "only" child never really registered in my life. I began researching different ways of adopting and just thought at the time I would adopt again through the foster care system. While there were many ups and downs, I knew I could emotionally navigate it once again. So I informed my foster care agency that I wished to foster to adopt only at this time. Let's just say that information wasn't met positively. I knew the agency was in desperate need of foster families and to lose one just didn't make their day. Needless to say I became the last person my agency looked at for placement. I thought for sure there were numerous children living in foster care just "waiting" for a family of their own. I wasn't looking for an infant. I simply asked for a child who was indeed "waiting." I knew this could mean many different things. Most likely a child with special needs, a child with emotional issues, a child from an abusive and neglectful home. I spent years fostering "those" kids. I just knew in my heart, I was ready. I was drawn to that word, "waiting." Getting pretty much nowhere with my foster care agency, I started searching for "waiting child" adoption programs. I was amazed at how many I found. Of course all these were international adoption programs and I began thinking "what if." What if I pursued one of these "waiting" programs. I had always wanted to adopt internationally, but never thought it would be feasible as a single woman. I began researching different countries and the agencies that represented them. I took into consideration the travel time that would be required and how much work I’d have to miss. A big consideration is if they even excepted "single" applicants to begin with. After all my research I felt I knew all there was to know about adopting. I waited some more. I thought surely my foster care agency would come through. All together, my foster care agency sent me profiles of four different children that needed homes. In the end other adoptive families were chosen for them. The first week of December 2013 rolled around and still I had no conclusive answer on how I was going to move forward. One morning I woke up and just said "go for it." Obviously consciously and subconsciously I had been thinking about this. I called an adoption agency that I had researched thoroughly. I knew the moment they told me about their "waiting child" program in China it was the one for me. I was directed to fill out a family profile and a "medical list." The medical list was a list of any and all conditions a child may have that I would consider being matched with. Now, because I am in the medical field I knew quite a bit about the conditions I was considering, but I could see how this list could be overwhelming to others. I sent my paperwork in and they asked me to wait. Waiting was hard. I chose from the beginning to not tell anyone of my decision to adopt internationally. This choice was made based on China's rule that a single applicant must meet certain criteria to adopt and some exceptions or leniency was given to some. I met all, but one. The criteria states that your youngest child in the home must be 6. Well Austin is 2, so I would have to be matched with my child from China and then specifically ask China if they'd give some leniency in that one criteria. China often makes exceptions for their "waiting child" program, so I proceeded with my hopes of adopting from China. I waited and waited. It seemed like an eternity. The wait ended in April 2014 when I was matched with my daughter. I was secretly thrilled. I instantly fell in love and became concerned for her well being like I would be for any of my children. I had to make a decision to accept her within the week and specifically write a letter to China asking for permission to adopt her. I reviewed her file and shared my concerns about her medical care with our local children's hospital. I moved forward, writing my letter of intent to China the following week and again I waited for a response. The agency warned me the wait would be long and it sure was. Weeks went by and nothing. I was beginning to think China didn't like me. That they didn't want me to adopt a Chinese child. Confirmation finally came in the form of a "pre approval" on July 11th, 2014. Child said "yes." I think I literally created a hole in the ground from jumping up and down so much. I told my family two days later. It's no easy task to adopt a child internationally. Even a child that has spent her entire life in an orphanage. It's going to take months of paperwork and a lot of patience, but she's totally worth it. I'm ready. I believe this journey is meant to be. I'm excited and fearful for many reasons. So everyone get ready, because I'll be talking a lot about my journey and my daughter who just happens to live in China right now.