Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Check this out: TurfNEt July 2007
(This is slow to load, so be patient, it's worth it!)
..and oh yeah. That's ME on the cover with my plants....
Monday, July 30, 2007
Online Discussion: China's one child policy
Saturday, July 28, 2007
1) For the last 8 months, I've been sending random "make friends again" notes to an ex-friend who I had a falling out with...surprise surprise, she's ignoring me. I got a bite once, but it was only about 10 words long, and was basically a "have a nice life, I'm too (busy? stuck-up?) to be bothered with you" note. Sadly, I keep writing to her...why the f@ck is that I wonder? I obviously can not take a hint.
2) However, the other day I followed up with another person I hadn't heard from for a long time. Same sort of situation (minus the falling out!!), I emailed her a bunch, but didn't hear back... I was starting to think about maybe giving up..."taking the hint" if you will, but I didn't. I kept emailing and trying to connect. Finally yesterday she called me, and reminded me why I kept trying. She simply hadn't been getting my emails, and was very glad I persisted. And you know what? I really really value this person's friendship, and I am so glad I didn't give up on her. It reminded me that sometimes people's lives get in the way, or they just don't get the note, but it is worth remembering that good friends are WORTH keeping in touch with. Thanks again, K.
I guess THAT'S why I can't take a hint. Some friendships ARE worth it...
Friday, July 27, 2007
What does this mean?? It means we're finally officially ok to adopt from China. Once the dossier gets to China, it goes to the CCAA. They sift through the family's dossiers to make sure the families/ dossiers meet all China's standards. If they have problems, or questions about your dossier, you have to fix them, or get kicked out all together. Once they have reviewed your dossier, and you havne't heard anything, that's good news. Now, we are cleared for take-off... or at least to sit on a shelf and gather dust until next summer sometime. But hey, at least WE KNOW WE'RE IN!!
People who haven't gone through it can't really comprehend the costs...and not just the money ('cause for the most part, the "old fashioned way" is still free! But if that doesn't work, well, you have to think about other options!) but also the emotional cost. Many folks out there are adopting b/c they can not/are unable to have children "through natural birth" (ok, this is a huge digression, but I hate many of the terms associated with the adopted vs. not adopted child. "Natural birth" implies that the adopted child came to a family via UNnatural birth... other terms used are of course "biological - or BIO - child" again, making it sound like the adopted baby is not actually a biological child but a... a what? not from a living being?? Since the rough definition of biological is: is any natural material that originated from living organisms. Same issue with "real child"... um, no. my kid is going to be plastic... Anyway, you were warned about this digression...)...
where was I?
Oh yeah, the cost. Anyway, I got sidetracked, but I wanted to mention we would have had this turned in sooner but we are about a brand new car shy. That's right. When we turn our dossier in, we also buy a new car...only, we don't get the car. We just get to turn over a ton of money that many people use to say, buy a new car. Oh, and you can't finance this type of expense. If I wanted a car, I could get a bank loan FOR THE CAR and pay over time. There simply isn't anything in place for adoption expenses. So, we're taking out a loan against our house. And living on beans and rice for the next 8 months. One of these days, I'd like to post about the different costs that the agency doesn't tell you about, but for now, I'd like to post something a friend of mine posted on her blog. I think she said it very well. And more importantly, she is very diplomatic. Something I, um, am not. heh.
So, here's what my good friend Noelle's Mom has to say about the cost of adoption:
Ok, I have to get on my soapbox for a moment.
This weekend I attended a friend's wedding and of course got lots of questions and comments about the adoption. I appreciated all of this for the most part...until MONEY came up. What is the deal with people asking if it costs a lot of money to adopt (and sometimes asking how much)? We get this question more often than I care to say from people we know as well as from people we don't know! I realize that most people are simply making conversation. I just don't know why this has become the "How's the weather?" question to ask when making adoption small talk.
I never know what to say. Yes, it's a lot of money. But it costs a lot of money to be pregnant and birth a baby these days, too. Nobody talks about that. The difference is that insurance doesn't cover the costs of adoption; however, there is an adoption tax credit, which helps.
I'd like to add that it also costs of lot of money to buy a car and to have and do many things that people have and do in our society - things that are obviously, crystal-clearly so much less important than/not even in the same planetary realm as children. So the cost of an adoption is really small, actually tiny, potatoes. One would think it goes without saying. Furthermore, there are grants and loans out there for people who can't afford to adopt without financial assistance.
But enough about that. The main reason for writing this post has to do with a pretty terrible comment I got (and this is the first time I've actually gotten this one) that started with, "When you buy your baby..." -- this is the MYTH I want to dispel. I really didn't know how to respond to this, and I basically didn't. I've never been quick with words, and I have been feeling very frustrated and regretful ever since that I didn't say something. So I will do my small part to set the record straight, at least in blogger land:
Adoption is a long, complicated process, involving numerous agencies, both governmental and private. Lots and lots of people from the adoption agency, local government, the federal government, and in our case, China, play a role in the process over many months and sometimes years, and of course all these people have to get paid for their work. Some of the specific costs include:
-adoption agency application fee (someone has to review the application and give the initial approval for the family to adopt)
-home study fees (parents have to be interviewed multiple times by a social worker as well as fill out tons of paperwork and write short autobiographies)
-medical costs (parents have to have medical exams done, and the baby does as well before being brought home)
-paperwork costs (multiple copies of birth certificates, marriage licenses, background checks, etc. must be obtained, and everything has to be notarized)
-citizenship & immigration fees and fingerprinting (the U.S. government also has an application process to adopt internationally, and it expires after 18 months, so we'll get to do this again - oh joy!)
-certification & authentication fees (all the paperwork has to have official approval from the secretary of state)
-adoption agency fees (usually charged in 2 installments - they do a lot of work on behalf of families to educate us throughout the process, prepare dossiers and facilitate adoptions with China)
-dossier and legal fees in China (processing and finalizing the adoption)
-passports and visas (the parents and the baby have to have them)
-travel expenses, including agency guides while in China (2 weeks for China adoption)
-donation to child's orphanage (covers cost of caring for the child and helps them improve their facility to care for more children - the amount is extremely reasonable, and Chris and I (and I'm sure all adoptive parents) completely support it)
-post-placement home study report (the social worker returns at 6 months and 12 months)
This is not an exhaustive list, but hopefully it illustrates how many people are involved in orchestrating an adoption and that families are paying for NUMEROUS SERVICES -- NOT FOR A BABY. I really thought our society at large understood this, but apparently not. This was an educated (and by the way, nice) person, who made this comment to me. And Chris had a doctor tell him at a first appointment last year, "Some people think international adoption is buying babies." Would that be you, Doc?
The way to dispel a myth is to talk about it, so hopefully I've reached at least a few people who were in the dark. If others do the same, then little by little, this whole "baby-buying" B.S. will go away. Fellow adoptive parents, I promise to do a better job on the spot next time!
P.S. If you're asking about adoption costs because you, yourself, are interested in adoption, no problem! You might just want to make that known. :)
I couldn't have said it better myself, which is why I let K say it for me!!
Thursday, July 26, 2007
So I went home and sewed ALL DAY. I completely pieced a new baby quilt!! It was the best therapy! It also helped me "connect" with the new baby. I already have like 3 quilts for Baby M. But they are HER quilts. I haven't thought much about making anything for the new baby. Again, I think b/c I am still not feeling connected, and still feeling a little guilty... but this quilt is our first for the new baby, and it was the perfect thing for my yucky work day.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Also, we had a professional photographer (and good friend!!) take some "family" pix the other day for our dossier. Here are a few that will go to Vietnam, and in the baby's life book. (Thanks again. B!!!)
(Hey, Kelly - oops, I mean, Secret Pal. ;-> -, check out the BIG version of the 3rd picture...notice my necklace? I LOVE it, and have been proudly wearing it all the time!! )
Saturday, July 21, 2007
- 3 pounds butternut squash, quartered, seeded, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 9 1/2 cups)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons dried rosemary, crumbled
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- nine 7- by 3 1/2-inch sheets dry no-boil lasagne pasta ( I actually prefer the "old-school" cook-yer-self ahead noodles)
- 1 1/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan (about 5 ounces) (I use a blend of fontina, parm, and asiago)
- 1 cup heavy cream (I never use the heavy cream, but you may need a little extra milk if you don't use it)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Garnish: fresh rosemary sprigs
preparationPreheat oven to 450°F. and oil 2 large shallow baking pans.
In a large bowl toss squash with oil until coated well and spread in one layer in pans. Roast squash in oven 10 minutes and season with salt. Stir squash and roast 10 to 15 minutes more, or until tender and beginning to turn golden.
While squash is roasting, in a saucepan bring milk to a simmer with rosemary. Heat milk mixture over low heat 10 minutes and pour through a sieve into a large pitcher or measuring cup.
In a large heavy saucepan cook garlic in butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Stir in flour and cook roux, stirring, 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in milk mixture in a stream until smooth. Return pan to heat and simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, about 10 minutes, or until thick. Stir in squash and salt and pepper to taste. Sauce may be made 3 days ahead and chilled, its surface covered with plastic wrap.
Reduce temperature to 375°F. and butter a baking dish, 13 by 9 by 2 inches.
Pour 1 cup sauce into baking dish (sauce will not cover bottom completely) and cover with 3 lasagna sheets, making sure they do not touch each other. Spread half of remaining sauce over pasta and sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan. Make 1 more layer in same manner, beginning and ending with pasta.
In a bowl with an electric mixer beat cream with salt until it holds soft peaks and spread evenly over top pasta layer, making sure pasta is completely covered. Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan over cream. Cover dish tightly with foil, tenting slightly to prevent foil from touching top layer, and bake in middle of oven 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake lasagna 10 minutes more, or until top is bubbling and golden. Let lasagna stand 5 minutes.
Garnish each serving with rosemary.
I met for coffee with a good friend of mine (check her out!) and she was telling me how she was expecting to have an infant in her home soon...and all the STUFF you need. I tried to ignore it at the time, but then last week, I downloaded a list of "must have baby stuff" off-line and started glancing at it over the week. Then, the coolest thing happened. My UBER cool "secret pal" sent us a box of MUST HAVE BABY STUFF!! She must be a mind reader, 'cause she sent me a "starter-set" of baby stuff! So, I have a few items to check off my list. I can't tell you how cool it is to actually start collecting this stuff. I've had to put China out of my mind now, and being able to focus on a baby, and a country again has helped my emotional state a lot. And now that we are roughly 7 months from bringing home a little one, I can legitimately start collecting "Stuff" again. In fact, since we have very little, we need a lot. I've been overwhelmed by how much is needed, and frankly, that I have zero actual knowledge about "baby things". My secret pal sent me a box of stuff, and the coolest thing? she put notes on them so I new what to do with them, and tips on how to clean them, or use them... (I have to admit, I actually KEPT the notes taped to the items, so I don't forget!!).
So, for you Mom's out there, what's your list of say, your 5 fav things for your 4-5 month old babies? Or, hell, how about your short list of "must haves". Help me out! I'm armed with a charge card (until DH takes it way ;->) and I'm ready to shop.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Oh, and quickly, we went back and forth about boy or girl, boy or girl. So, we went with "no preference" for VN. We expect to be referred a boy, b/c there are fewer families asking for boys... there you go. ;->
Monday, July 16, 2007
But first, let me back up - for those of you NOT engrossed in this strange adoption progress. As many of you know, for our first adoption, we had to file an i-600A (orphan petition - which turns into the i-171H) with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS - a branch of Homeland Security), and we received that one piece of paper almost everyone has to wait for before they can send their dossier to their agency. After 15 months, your federal fingerprints expire, and after 18 months, the i-717H expires (why they don't expire together is beyond me, but you have to have current fingerprints to have a valid i-171H). Our fingerprints for China 's I-171H expire this Wednesday. You remember I was complaining a few weeks ago that we had to fill out a whole NEW i-600A for Vietnam, and given current wait times this would put us behind roughly 4 months, but then I heard about a NEW form called an i-824, which changes our CURRENT i-171H from China to Vietnam. We FINALLY got all the paperwork sorted out, and last week I FedEx-ed the form to CIS in order to get the form there before our fingerprints expired this week. Last Friday, the damn form (along with the check!) got returned to me b/c CIS was confused... I was so sick, b/c that meant that the paperwork wouldn't actually be at CIS in time before our fingerprints expire... Anyway, fortunately, I was given the direct line to the person in charge of the CIS office here, and called her to plead our case. AND IT WORKED...at least, to some extent!! I received this in my email box today:
Again, I feel like we HAVE to get this dossier done sooner rather than later, given what I've been hearing about other programs (I've heard some STRONG rumors that Guatemala is getting closed and that programs aren't accepting any new applicants, Russia is also closed, and well, China is totally F-ed...), Vietnam is going to get busier and busier with dossiers... which is wonderful. But I am tired of waiting.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Here are a few more pictures: Heather warming herself by the "fire".
Heather and Victoria "walking like an Egyptian".
Friday, July 13, 2007
I am so glad it's Friday!! Man, this has been a long week. And while work is kicking my butt today, I have a rocking good time planned for this evening. I'm throwing a "murder party" (think: clue) and it's with 6 of my favorite people. Plus, it's set in the '80's!! I promise to take tons of pictures, as it should be a hoot.
I'm serving a full meal, and I need to get my butt in gear as I haven't started prepping anything yet!! Well, I do have my costume ready, I already have big hair but I still need a head-band...
Dinner: Butternut squash lasagna with from-scratch white sauce
Hot buttery garlic bread
Fresh greens salad
Drinks: Yes - Many and often
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
- Then - Cutting the Cake
- Then - One of my favorite pictures from the wedding: me and my Grandfather (who passed away not long after this picture was taken).
- Now - Before going out to dinner on Friday
- Now - Tod at the Soda Shop (we had Coke floats and played some cards)
Monday, July 09, 2007
|We have received the next group of matches in our hands today!! The CCAA, as stated on their website, have matched through November 14, 2005.|
Also, June 2006 is currently in the review room! That's pretty exciting, other than it used to be, once you hit the review room, you were roughly 6 months from referral. Now, it's more like 16 months...
(I am still going to post pictures, honest!! I just haven't taken the time. I'm neck deep in government CIS forms with no end in sight...)
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Today we're poking around a little town outside of Raleigh with an honest-to-god old fashioned soda shop (or is it: shoppe?). Oh, AND a very good quilt store that I only ever get to once a year b/c it's outside of my roam-zone. I'll be hunting for material for Baby #2 (who is technically baby # 1, as you all will recall my previous post on this! but we haven't "named" VN baby yet, so s/he will be baby # 2 for now... confused? I know I am). Tomorrow we're heading to the beach!! Fun!
I'll post pix later this weekend, promise!! (ok, NOT from me at the beach, but other pix, definitely!!).
Now, go out and hug someone you love.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
TG someone took pitty on me and gave me an email address for someone who might possibly be able to help me in Charlotte (thanks Emily!). I guess if you whine enough and loud enough, good things happen!! But they sure as shit don't happen on the phone on a government help line...furthermore, if you need to call the Charlotte CIS office for anything OTHER THAN reporting an illegal alien - you're out of luck.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Ok, SP, forgive me for being late with these pix. I loved the package, and esp. your letter. It was wonderful to get!! I've been pretty busy, and frankly, sort of depressed, so I haven't spent any time with my camera, until tonight! Here is a picture of my June Secret Pal gift. You always have the most clever (and awesome) stuff. It was good that "they" matched you to me, since you know kids stuff and I don't. It's obvious you put thought into your gifts, and I hope you enjoy picking them out as much as I enjoy receiving them. This month I especially enjoyed the package. I don't have ANYTHING like the bowels or the bath stuff (I loved the crab mirror!!! In fact, I had to fight Uncle Phil off of it when I opened it, 'cause he wanted it in his bathroom!! LOL). The blanket is SOOO soft and now I have one for Baby M, and one for the new baby too! Thanks again.
I don't know where you live (other than you must be in Yankee country, or possibly the mid-west, since you told me one time it was cold where you were when it was nice and warm here... see, a CLUE!!), but I do hope one day to be able to meet you and your family.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Wow. And you are still reading? I wonder what the draw is. You should go read someone else's' blog. You know, one of those "life is wonderful with my adopted Chinese baby" blogs. There are plenty out there. All sunshine and light... like the ones I've been reading. Bleck. I need a dose of reality. Where's the vomit? Where's the screaming tantrums? Maybe THAT would remind me why I am GLAD I'm still waiting... ok. no. that wouldn't make me glad either. *sigh*
Maybe tomorrow I'll be back with something worth reading. until then, where's that bottle of gin...?
Monday, July 02, 2007
Here's where we are in our paperchase, for those of you interested.
Paperwork we are "chasing" for:
- New I-600A/ 1-171H from CIS with embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam - WAITING FOR THIS
- Local Background checks - done
- Marriage Certificate - done
- New Medical forms - done
- New Employment verification - done
- Homestudy Update - done
- Vietnam Application (multiple copies)
- Vietnam Application to complete a post adoption updates every year for 18 years
- Color Copies of our Passports
- New Photos of us, including a photo of the front of the house
- New passport photos, 3 sets each
The next step is to have all documents notarized and then once this is completed it goes to the NC Secretary of State for authentication. Next, everything goes to our agency, then it gets authenticated, translated, and off to VN.With the wait getting obscenely long with China, I am trying to get this done as fast as possible, but we are currently hung-up with CIS. We still don't have a fingerprint appointment, and once we do, it'll probably be another 3 months before we can do this. Our 171-H should come fairly quickly after this, but that still puts us nearer to late-August, or early September. The good news? Once our paperwork goes to VN, a referral SHOULD come fairly rapidly (based on what our agency has been telling us, we should expect a referral anywhere from 3-6 months after we send our dossier to VN).
I am still hesitant to get excited for many reasons, but I have been tentatively reaching out to a few families here in our area that have children from VN, or are expecting referrals any day now. I have all but "given up" on China. We weren't pulling our dossier, of course. We're there until they tell us we can not adopt from China, or until they give me Baby Magic, but I just can't keep thinking about it. When I do, I see red. We were fortunate to be with an agency that allows us to adopt in the mean-time while we wait for China to get off it's ass.