Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! It's hard to believe it's that time again. How quickly time flies by except when you're waiting for your child from China! We have been waiting for 16 months and 3 weeks now. We've kept busy but the wait is still hard, wondering when we finally get to have our little girl in our arms and home with us.

I have made the difficult decision to resign from teaching. My last day was December 21. I've been teaching special ed for 19 years so I feel like it's time for me to take a break anyway. This gives me time to prepare for our little girl and be free to complete any other paperwork that we may need to take care of.

We are hoping this is the last Christmas without Marisa. We hope that next year she'll be here with us and be able to celebrate Christmas with us. It's always difficult when another Christmas, another Mother's Day, and another Father's Day goes by without our child. Hopefully this next year will be filled with many wonderful surprises, including our little Marisa from China!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

CyberShower Gift

Trick or Treat was the CyberShower theme for the yahoo! group Waiting for First Child from China. We received a cute Halloween long sleeved onesie, 2 pairs of socks, pez dispencer, note pad, glass pumpkin candle holder, Hello Kitty trick or treat bag, dark chocolate Hershey's Kisses (we won't be waiting to eat those until Marisa comes home! :) ). Our cybershower pals were Cyndi and Dean from California.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

We're out of review!!

We received an email from our agency on Thursday, Sept. 27 that August LID families are out of review!!! Our LID is Aug. 3, 2006. We are now in the final waiting stage of the adoption. We are now in the "pending referral" stage, but still have a lot of people ahead of us yet. So we could still be waiting for a while yet. The last referrals that came in had a 22 month wait. It's depressing to think that the wait could possibly get longer. It's so hard to understand how it could possibly get any longer! But we wait, not always so patiently, but we wait and pray for God's will in all of this. We have now been waiting for over 13 months. It will be 14 months on Oct. 3. So hopefully we are past the halfway mark of waiting. It sometimes seems unreal that we have actually been waiting this long. We continue to ask for your prayers as we continue on this long journey.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Waiting for one year....

Well, it's been one year now that we've been waiting. It doesn't seem that the wait is getting any shorter. The year really has gone by quickly and it has actually given Ron and I a chance to get a lot of things done. We still have some projects we'd like to complete before we bring Marisa home.

We just got back from Florida yesterday. We had spent 10 days in Florida at Ron's parents' place in Sarasota. We had a great time. We went to the pool almost every day, we went to the beach one day, went to Mote Aquarium, saw the Sarasota Reds play (they are a minor league baseball team), went out to eat every day, spent some time with my cousin Doug and saw his baby, spent some time with my aunt Erma and uncle Dave, slept in, napped, watched some movies, it was great!

Now it's back to work and school is starting again next week already! Where has the summer gone?! I've really enjoyed my summer. I was able to go to Charlevoix, Michigan and spend a few days with my college friend, Brenda. My sister and I took a trip to southern Indiana to visit our other sister and nephews. I also spent a few days with 2 other friends that live down near my sister. I've been able to finish some projects I've wanted to complete. Ron and I took a much needed vacation. So it's been a busy summer but a very nice one.

I've had a garden for the past few years, but this is the first year I've actually canned green beans from my garden! I also froze strawberries and applesauce. I want to freeze sweet corn and can peaches as well. It's so fun to do these things! I never thought I would say that!

I've decided to continue with our website here since I was having trouble with the other one in posting pictures, etc. This site seems to be so much easier to work with. So I hope you'll continue to follow along in our adoption journey!

Information about international adoption

We have learned many things about international adoption. Each country does things a little differently and have different expectations, but there are some things like the paperwork that is pretty much the same. These are some of the things that we have learned and have had to do for our adoption from China.

The Process:
I've been wanting to take some time and share a little bit about the process we went through to get our dossier together. Of course, I should have been better with the record keeping but I didn't document timeframes for each step. So I don't remember how long each step in the process was exactly.

--We began to think about adoption, more me than Ron. Then we went to an adoption conference in the fall of 2005 to learn more about adoption.
--We submitted our application to the adoption agency that we decided to use, Great Wall China Adoption (GWCA) at the end of November 2005.
--Our application was approved by the agency in early December 2005, and so the journey officially began. I waited until January 2006 to begin gathering the documents we needed.
--These are the things we needed to do and paperwork we needed to gather together for the dossier:
--write a letter to the Chinese officials explaining why we would like to adopt from China
--birth certificates for each of us
--marriage certificate
--medical forms: we each had to have a physical completed by our doctors and then a form completed and signed by the doctors saying that we are in good health and we would make good parents
--employment status letter: we each had to get a letter from each of our employers stating that we were currently employed with them, what our salary is
--financial statement: we had to complete a statement giving our financial status
--police report for each of us
--home study report*
--CIS approval -- approval to adopt an orphan**
Some of the documents we had to obtain we had to get more than one since not only did we need it for the homestudy but also for our dossier. So some things were double which of course doubled the expenses. Many things we had to complete consisted of waiting on others for an appointment or to complete something for us on our paperwork, etc. So no matter how quickly we complete what we needed to do, we still had to wait on others. Their urgency in completing things wasn't the same as ours! But for the most part things seem to move along rather smoothly.

*For our home study we had to be fingerprinted at a state police headquarters. We were fingerprinted with the black ink. It was an interesting experience since neither one of us had ever been fingerprinted before! We had to meet several times with the social workers from our home study agency. In their report they included (and so of course had to ask us tons of questions) our motivation to adopt; each of our family backgrounds including education level completed, employment history, religious information, our interests, etc.; marital status and our relationship with each other, and our relationship with extended family; health status - the medical form we had completed by the doctor; our financial status; criminal history - finger printing and background check; a description of our home and neighborhood; what we've done to prepare to be a parent; references - we had to have 3 non-family members write references for us; and then they included their recommendations for adopting a girl from China between the ages of 6 and 15 months old.

**For the CIS approval we had to submit an application with our birth certificates and marriage certificate and then we were given a fingerprinting appointment. We went to Indianapolis and had our fingerprints taken electronically. Then a background check was done on each of us. After the background check came back we were sent a form saying we were approved.

All the above things had to be notarized, state certified (sent to Indy to be certified that each notary was truly a notary)--so a signed page was attached to each of our documents and then returned to us; and then we sent them to the Chinese Consulate in Chicago to have them authenticated. These came back to us with another page signed and stapled on top of each document.

Other documents we had to obtain were passports. Ron had to get one and I had to renew mine. We had to include some photos of us around the house and outside the house doing things we normally do.

All of these things were compiled and sent in to our agency in Austin, Texas. We had to have it to them before Wednesday of a week and if so and everything was okay they would send it to China the Friday of that same week. So we made sure we had it there before a Wednesday and they reviewed it and found it okay to send on Friday.

Our agency would send us chapter of the adoption manual they have as we needed them to complete the next step in the process. So to complete all the paperwork needed was outlined in detail in the information they sent us. Also, I communicated with them many times through email. I could scan things and send them in an email to see if we had completed paperwork correctly before submitting it. That was great, so then if it needed to be fixed, we could fix it before submitting it and wasting the time of having it returned to us to fix and then resubmitting it. So that helped alot.

What we're learning....
During this waiting time I am educating myself on what to expect when we meet Marisa for the very first time and what to expect after that. It is all very interesting and heartbreaking as well. First of all I'm beginning to understand the effects of being institutionalized (being in an orphanage). As good as the 'aunties' (that's what the caretakers are called in the orphanages), they can't care for all of the babies/children like parents would in their home. They have to divide their attention among many, many children and can't possibly meet all of the children's needs on demand. It is sad but a fact. And this will have an effect on Marisa. How could it not?
Many times when parents are first handed their babies in China, the babies tend to be crying, listless, won't make eye contact, have poor muscle tone. First of all, of course they are going to be crying and listless. They are being placed in the arms of a stranger and being taken away from the people they've known. Plus we don't look like them. We may even appear ugly and very scary to them. We're just thinking, 'oh this is our baby and we're going to give her a much better life than she had in the orphanage' but needing to realize it's not about us but about her and how are we going to make sure that she feels safe and know that we are not going to leave her. Something that will take time. As far as the poor muscle tone, since the children are in cribs for most of the day they don't develop the muscle tone children do when they get out of the crib and crawl and sit up, etc. But it is encouraging to learn that with encouragement and the one-on-one care the children receive after they're adopted, they develop that rather quickly.

I know once we return home with Marisa, there will be many people that will want to see Marisa and hold her, etc. But that will really have to be limited. This poor child will have gone through so much already that we need to limit the amount of stimuli and chaos in her life until she is comfortable and ready for it. This could take several months.
There are also issues with children forming an attachment with their adoptive parents. When a baby is born to a parent, the attachment usually begins at birth. Well, Marisa may have attached to her mom only to have been relinquished to an orphanage. Then at the orphanage she has either attached to an auntie or learned not to get attached to people. So we will need to try to change her way of thinking. That is why when we first arrive home from China, Ron and I may be the only ones to hold her just to help with that whole process of attachment and bonding to us her parents. I know this is going to be difficult for relatives but we need to put our own feelings aside and do what's best for Marisa. There will be time when everyone can love on her later, but at first their love will have to be shown by giving some space and time.

I've also learned that parenting will be very different for an adopted child compared to a biological child. From the things I've read, the child may question where they belong, have difficulty dealing with the whole issue of being relinquished and are they going to be left by the adoptive parents, finding their identity especially in the teen-age years could be a very difficult time. So are just some very different issues that we, as parents, may be facing compared to things you've come across with your biological children. It will be very important for Ron and I to have decided how we will tell Marisa about how she came into our family and what happened before in China. We always want to be open with her but put things in a positive light because none of this was due to a mistake she made or something she did.

As I'm learning, it's not just about taking a child into your home, giving them a family, and loving them, it will take much understanding and trying to figure out what the child is thinking and how they can be made to feel secure. I realize that we may not have these issues with Marisa. Some parents have these issues with their adopted children and others don't. I do feel it is important to be educated and know what to expect and what the warning signs could be to these things. I'd rather be prepared and not need the information, than to not be prepared and feel helpless.

Gifts from my secret pal

To help pass the time, I have joined several Yahoo! Groups. One group is for people with a DTC in July or August 2006. So we will probably get our referrals around the same time. One thing this group is doing for anyone that wants to participate is Secret Pals. There is a different theme for each month. It is fun getting that gift once a month. It gives us something to look forward to. It's fun sending a gift as well. I have posted pictures of the gifts we received from our secret pal.

For the month of September my Secret Pal sent some books, and she painted letters of Marisa's name. We need to hang those up in her room.
My secret pal always includes something that is Mary Engelbreit. She also wrote that when her little girl plays she likes to pretend to be "Mary Huber". I just thought that was so funny!

For October's theme, my Secret Pal surprised me with a pretty pink hooded towel, some washcloths, letters to play with in the bathtub, a pink rubber duck that tells if the bath water is too hot, and a small Mary Engelbreit photo album.

November's theme was ladybugs.
Aren't these ladybug boots just adorable?!?! I just love them and can't wait for Marisa to be able to wear them!

For December: Great bedtime gifts from my secret pal! The Mary Engelbreit book - The Night Before Christmas, and 2 music CDs.

For January: Wonderful mealtime gifts! 2 bibs and plastic disposable cups and bowls with lids, along with spoons.

For February: We received some cute little socks, hair bands, and the cutest ladybug sunglasses! Also, another Mary Engelbreit book!

For March: Some calming and fun music to listen to with Marisa. Also, some cute Mary Engelbreit note cards!

For April: A pretty picture frame, a very nice photo album to display all those photos we'll have of Marisa some day, and note cards with an M on the front for either me or Marisa to use.

For May: Nice things for traveling - wash mitts, pacifiers, ladybug keychain, toy keys, and another little photo album. We are going to have so many nice ways to display the pictures of Marisa.

For June the theme was toys. My wonderful secret pal sent a cloth purse that included toy lipstick, debit card, coin purse, mirror, cell phone. She also sent a maracca. Plus a small Mary Engelbreit photo album and stickers. :) The purse is sooooo cute! I can't wait for Marisa to be able to play with it!

July was the final month of our secret pal exchange. My secret pal sent me this beautiful Mary Engelbreit print. She also revealed herself. Her name is Rebecca from New York. I really enjoyed receiving her gifts each month. She sent such nice gifts for me and Marisa. Now I can't wait to frame this print and hang it in Marisa's room.

The Wait....

Now that our dossier is in the hands of the CCAA (it was sent to China on July 14, 2006), we wait till they can get to our file to match us with a child. Once a match is made this is called a referral. The CCAA will send our referral with a group of referrals to our agency. Our agency will then contact us. The referral will contain a picture or pictures of the child, the age, and some limited health and misc. information. There could be the slight chance that even though we asked for a girl, they could match us with a boy and we would be fine with that.

Our dossier was officially logged in at the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) on August 3, 2006. We sent it over to China on July 14, 2006 and then it had to be officially logged in. The log in date is the date that we use to keep track of the progress of our paperwork and we'll be able to see when it's getting close to our turn for a referral.

1/3/07: The last referrals were made for all those people who had LID dates for September 2005 (our LID is 8/3/06). It is being reported that we could have a 15 to 16 month wait for a referral. I hope it doesn't get much longer than that. I'm hoping that soon they will have referrals for those with LID dates for October 2005. I hope they have referrals for the entire month of October but sometimes they just do referrals for a couple of weeks.

2/1/07: More referrals have come in up through about the middle of October 2005 LIDs. For our agency there were 39 referrals with 36 of those being girls and 3 boys, and there was also one set of twins.

6/6/07: There have been referrals coming in for several dates each month and I haven't been keeping up with listing them. At this point China has matched children through LIDs of Nov. 7, 2005. So as you can see there is a ways to go before they hit August 3, 2006. Now the wait is being said to be 18 months. That would mean we would have 8 more months of waiting.

Here are pictures of Marisa's room.
We found this nice crib at Babies R Us and the matching dresser. We painted the room a sage green and put up this pink border. It's hard to see but the border has cute butterflies and other cute bugs on it.

It doesn't have to be costly to decorate the room and have it look nice. The lamp shade and valance I found on clearance but they look so nice in the room. The little Chinese doll sitting on top of the dresser was handmade in China.
This piece of furniture Ron had and so we are going to use as the changing table. I still have to get the pad but think this will work nicely.

The blanket hanging on the crib is a blanket that my mom and I made. I plan to take it with us to China when we go to get Marisa. I found this very pretty red fabric and knew I wanted to make a blanket out of it for her. I also made the dust ruffle and the fitted sheet for the crib. Right now the crib has a baby quilt on it that my grandma made.

The bookshelf keeps getting more books. I love books and hope to pass the love of reading onto Marisa.

About us...

Ron and I met on a blind date. Ron's cousin and wife live neighbors to a close friend of mine. They decided we should meet. We were both so busy that we didn't find a day that worked for all of us till the end of the summer (in 2001). Well needless to say, we hit it off and were engaged on April 19, 2002. We were married on August 3, 2002 -probably the hottest day of the year, or at least most people would say that!! Our church wasn't air conditioned at the time, so it was kind of miserable but a very memorable day! :)

Ron works as a shop supervisor at Lue Manufacturing, Inc. They make countertops and cabinets for residential and commercial customers. He has been there for many years. I continue to work as an elementary special education teacher. I have been at the same school now for about 14 years or so, I think. (It's hard to remember once you've been there what seems like forever!) The field of special education has made many changes over the years, so my job continues to change as well. I really enjoy the children that I work with.

Ron and I both enjoy doing home improvement types of things. The past few years we have been working on our landscaping. I suppose as home owners there is probably always something to do in the area of landscaping, but for the most part we have things the way we want them. I enjoy gardening. I have a nice little garden that Ron and my dad put in surrounded by a small picket fence (to keep out unwanted critters!).

We both enjoy movies. When we were dating we saw a lot of movies. Now that we're married it seems we don't find the time to go see many movies. I guess that's what happens.

Ron is a big White Sox fan. He enjoys collecting anything that involves the White Sox. I love anything Mary Engelbreit, which is what I've decorated the kitchen in.

I also enjoy doing things on the computer and continue to learn to do new things. I have really enjoyed putting together this site for our family and friends. I continue to learn how to add things and do new things to this site.

I really love animals and Ron wasn't a big fan when we first got married. At the time I had a cat, Tasha, who was about 13 years old. She had been with me through all of my moves and ups & downs in life after college. I loved her like my child. Ron came to like her but was unsure of her since she was old and had arthritis. I also had a guinea pig. I would've never thought I would fall in love with a rodent!! My students begged me to let them bring one of their baby guinea pigs to school to keep in our classroom as a pet. I wasn't so sure about that and told them that they had to be responsible for cleaning the cage and feeding it. So one of my students brought an all black baby guinea pig to school and they named him Domino (not quite sure where that name came from since he was all black!). Well, he won my heart and eventually I brought him home to stay. Ron wasn't so thrilled about Domino but it was a package deal when he married me. :) Well, Tasha died a couple of years ago and Domino died about a year ago. It was so sad, especially Tasha's death. But now we have Zoe (pronounced Zoey), a stray kitten that Ron found and wished he wouldn't have. Seriously though, we love Zoe and are glad to have her a part of our lives. Maybe someday we can add a dog to our family. I would love to have a small farm! Don't think that will happen if Ron has anything to say about it. But he is starting to enjoy animals a bit more. :)

We began thinking about adding (children) to our family. We weren't getting pregnant so we decided to look into adoption. Adoption has been something that I have thought about for awhile, but Ron wasn't quite so sure. I knew that if he wasn't really for adoption, that I would just take that as a sign from God that we weren't to adopt. We did our research and went to a couple of workshops. One of the workshops we went to helped Ron to become interested in adopting.

We looked into both domestic and international adoption. We decided not to go with domestic adoption due to the possibility of birth parents changing their minds about giving up their baby for adoption or wanting the baby back after we've had the baby for awhile. We also realize that there are many children in the US foster care system. I really feel for those kids but we just didn't feel like we could take on those children with all the emotional things they're dealing with. There are also many children from other countries that are without families and live in orphanages. We felt like this was the best option for us and felt led to adopt from China. Either way it's a long process and every family has to decide which option is the best for them.

So we've started the long journey....

Friday, March 23, 2007

Still Waiting.....

At this point in our adoption process we are still waiting for a referral. We've been LID (which means are paperwork was logged in at the CCAA in China) since 8/3/06, so that makes it 7, almost 8 months that we've been waiting.