Monday, March 31, 2008

It's Monday!

Ok, I know I have missed the last two Mondays (out of town and almost becoming road kill), but I did want to resume my Positive Poster blogs. 

I have been reading Kate's blog for a while now, and I love that she hasn't forgotten how long and difficult the road is even as she is getting ready to travel to her daughter!  Congrats Kate, and I hope you hear about your G&R date soon!

I'm constantly amazed at how small our little Vietnamese adoption community really is.  Meredith left a message earlier today about my agency.  After emailing we were able to confirm that we are indeed working with the same agency!  It's nice to have someone else along at the same time who understands the process (and the frustrations) because each agency and how they handle things is different.  I have a good agency, I'm not complaining about that, but no agency is perfect.  I have found it very interesting that people don't share the name of their agency readily.  I rarely see anyone link the name of their agency to their blog, and I'm not entirely sure why. 

I consider my China agency near perfect.  I say near perfect because I am now on the fourth coordinator since I began this process 18 months ago.  It's really no fault of theirs--with the China program slowing to a crawl they really can't support having that many coordinators. 

But the Vietnam process is an entirely different game than China.  With China, it doesn't matter what agency you are with you are still #28,592 on the list.  In Vietnam, depending on your agency, you might be #3 or #333 on the list.  Perhaps that is part of the hush-hush.  

I have noticed since I started this blog that I have had a number of visits from people in Vietnam.  How interesting.  If you have read this far, I'd like to say "Welcome".  If you are a part of the USCIS office and are a part of the I-600 situation, I'd like to say "thanks for stopping by, but can you please move faster?  Please?" 

VN Updates (not adoption related)

Vietnam-China trafficking on rise - Jill McGivering


The number of known cases of women and girls trafficked from Vietnam to China more than doubled last year, China’s official Xinhua news agency has said.

Xinhua said 125 cases were detected of Vietnamese trafficked into China’s Guangxi province, across the border.

This is partly due to better detection by both governments, but trafficking overall is also thought to be rising.

Analysts warn that China could replace Thailand in the next few years as the region’s trafficking hub.


And people ask me why I am adopting internationally???  The thought that my daughter or my son (or any child) could be bought and sold as a sex slave saddens and sickens me in a way I can not describe.  What do Americans think happen to girls and boys that are orphaned and are 'graduated' out of the orphanage system at age 14?  If you have no family in these cultures, you have no value and are very disposable. 


I did contact my adoption agency this morning to check on the status of my dossier (FedEx tracking showed they left it outside the front door).  Why the heck did I pay nearly $25 for FedEx to leave it outside the front door?  The scary thing is the person that answered the phone runs the agency and after rustling through the papers on his desk and the other coordinator, they couldn't find it, but promised me that it had arrived.  I was told to check back on Wednesday because it should be done and sent to SF by then.  Hmmm....I'm not sure I feel very reassured right now. 

I have the day off and in between watching movies, I am really hoping to be productive.  So far, so good.  I have made a number of phone calls and I haven't even had my breakfast yet!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Movies and adoption

I want to say thank you to the person who responded to my last post and to Kristen who confirmed it is normal (she's a teacher).  I felt like a schmuck and debated whether it was blog worthy, but it has been weighing on my mind.  I haven't heard anything further from the pastor's wife, but I will let you know when I get going with this.

I have some things I want to post on, but I'll be honest, I'm exhausted.  I feel like I just need a break.  It's more than a physical fatigue, it's an emotional exhaustion from all the stress related to the waiting for that stupid piece of paper and not have any time off of late.  I have been traveling so much the last few months and I look forward to having a full month at home.  Actually, I am praying for several months at home.  Traveling while I am "expecting" stresses me out.  It probably sounds crazy, because accidents can happen anywhere at any time (see Exhibit A). 

Anyway, I need some serious veg time.  I have tomorrow off because I worked all weekend and even though I really can't afford it right now, I'm considering taking off Friday also.  I just want time to recuperate, clean my house, finish my taxes, and begin NESTING. 

So, the first step of this plan is getting some SERIOUS MOVIE TIME.  I will be able to watch movies and crochet and that is the fastest way to soothe my soul.  It's the repetitive motion--if it works for psych patients, it will work for me.

So, wandering down the aisle of the local video store I was amazed, surprised, excited to find a couple adoption themed movies.  The first I picked up is Angels in the Dust.  I am really looking forward to this movie, but I am also a little nervous.  I have felt called/drawn whatever verb you want to use to orphanages and orphans since I was very young.  I have never known where it would lead me and I still don't, but I have known for years that I would someday be involved with orphanage work (and this is totally unrelated to adoptions).  Anyway, the movie is the story about Marion Cloete who started an orphanage for more than 550 South African children.  Maybe I am building it up too much in my mind, but I expect to be deeply moved by this.  

angels in the dust

The next movie is Martian Child.  I briefly remember advertisements for this movie and I am curious how adoption is portrayed--especially as it pertains to singles.  My expectations are pretty neutral.   Martian Child

The last one is Death at a Funeral.  I love English comedies!  In my opinion they have the best sense of humor without dumbing things down for the viewer.  I have a macabre sense of humor so I'm looking forward to watching something on my perverse level.  

Death at a Funeral

Anyway, I'll try to give a review once I get through these.  Hopefully I get through all three this week!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Short and sweet

I am once again out of town for training. Fortunately I will be home Sunday afternoon, but I'm tired from the long day so I will keep this short--and not really adoption related.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked if I would start volunteering in the nursery at church. It has been mentioned in passing and usually goes something like (fake a high pitched voice) "you should really work in the nursery since you like kids!" This time I was told "we need help in the nursery and you are a stable person that is here routinely. We need your help." Secretly, I think they probably know it saves them the cost of one background check since they know I have been fingerprinted out the wazoo and am approved by the US government to parent children.

Welllll. It's not that simple and I'm kind of torn on how I feel about this which probably makes me sound like a bad person (and why I probably should have posted this on my slightly neurotic/fluff "other" blog). People automatically assume that you like kids if you are adopting, and I do like children--I like the ones I am related to, the kids of my friends and some other random children, but I'm not really sure that I am the "kid" person that they think I am. I do coo at cute babies when I am standing in line at the grocery store, but I don't go out of my way to spend time with babies and toddlers.

In the past I have been told by people at this church (and others outside the church) that I need "practice" with kids. That may be true, but I used to work in the newborn nursery and I teach infant/child/adult CPR. Usually when I am told I need practice it is because they are buttering me up to babysit their children (for free, of course--not one has ever paid me).

I'm not sure why I am resisting I afraid I will be taken advantage of? Yes. Am I afraid volunteering once every 4-6 weeks will actually be every other week? Yes. I actually enjoy my pastor's teaching and the worship service which is why I haven't stepped up before. Am I afraid that it might be hard to be around babies when I don't know when either one of mine are coming home? Yes, yes.

I have decided to try it. If it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out and maybe by then I will have a better understanding of why I am feeling unsettled about this. Of course, it could actually be a very good thing too. If anyone else has ever felt like this or understands better why I am feeling like this, I'd love to hear your insight.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Adoption Day--in review

For the record, two wine coolers and an extra tall shot of cough syrup does inhibit the cough mechanism, in case you are wondering. I admit, I did precisely that Monday night. I was too keyed up and had been out in the cold all day and was afraid of coughing all night (like I had the previous few nights).

Michael showed me some of the photos from Monday, but he doesn't know I hijacked a few of them and am going to be showing them to all of you! However, some of them are awesome and since my arms are too short to take a decent self portrait these will be the only pictures of me on "Adoption Day".

Pic1160 He caught me doing the happy dance at the Kinko's/Fed Ex store. The shirt I'm wearing was made in Vietnam. I just love happy little coincidences.

IMG_0171 Evidently his head hurt.

IMG_0189 Abe's looking good. There were some interesting busts. One guy didn't actually have a shirt on and another was wearing a cape. Fortunately Abe wasn't insecure about his manhood.

IMG_0201At the capital building (ok, I realize I really need to get a better sense of government because I have no idea what all our buildings are called).

IMG_0219 I don't remember seeing a sign beneath her so I am referring to her as "The Goddess"

IMG_0221 The top of the Monument

IMG_0239 Here, ducky ducky

Pic1235And here is star of my Three Second Story. You can't see it too well from this view since we had finally gotten through the intersection when Michael took this photo. The back end of the little red car was smashed in and the axle was broken (check out the back tire). The cop never asked for our witness statement, but you can see two of the three Russian women in the photo making sure the cop got their statement.

I had no idea the people of Indy were so friendly! Michael made a crack about forgetting his fanny pack at home and the young business man walking in front of us on the street turned around and asked, "Where are you from?" Ok, we actually fessed up that time. But the running joke after that was that we were from Minnesota (say it with a Minnesota accent) and that we got sidetracked on our way to Florida. And just so my Minnesota readers don't think I am making fun of them, Michael was born and raised in Minnesota and only moved "south" when he was 22. Strangely, my Minnesota accent is so much better than his!

I also have no sense of direction. People that know me, know this. I can barely figure my way around on their roads, but their sidewalks? Fugget about it. Michael evidently has little sense of direction either because we walked, and walked, and walked. I would stop and ask for directions and on two, TWO, occasions the people insisted on walking us to our destination. The one time we ended up walking with a graphic designer for over a mile! I would ask one person directions on the street and another pedestrian would overhear the conversation and come back and help. Wow. I have never been anywhere and been treated so well. It was kind of embarrassing that it occurred little more than an hour from home. Even in the mall I was trying to find a cookie/bakery for Michael (he's a lot like my mom and has to have something sweet after a meal) and I simply could not find it. The woman ahead of us on the escalator turned around and gave us directions. It was really an awesome day filled with awesome people.

Amazingly, my arms have not bothered me at all (from the immunizations). My legs, however, were burning and achy yesterday. We walked about 5 or 6 miles on Monday and my face is now red and peeling. I am not sure if I am wind burned and sun burned, but it is a little tender and I look like a big flake. Michael is over a foot taller than me and made a joke about me having to work "an extra 25-50%" just to keep up. So, yeah, my legs hurt.

I have just felt profoundly relieved, happy, tired and many other things since completing and submitting my dossier. Thank God it is done and now I can sit back and wait. Of course, life will be a little more boring now and you may be bored by the fluff that I write, but I'm ok with that for now. Life will get interesting once again. This gives me a chance to prepare. I really want to start on the nursery soon. I suspect that Haven will actually start out in his sister's room (since she isn't home yet) and that is where the crib is set up. With any luck he will be graduating to a toddler bed or a big boy bed by the time she comes home, but I still want to fix up a boy room. I'm going to go with a jungle theme and am so excited to do a boys room. When I painted the first nursery last year some people gave me a hard time when I painted the room blue and I bought a cherry wood furniture set. I didn't want anything gender specific and I think that was wise. Of course, Haven may some day be irritated with me because the paint I bought for his room (over a year ago) is a lavender-gray color. I wouldn't consider it girly any more than I consider the blue boyish.

Ok, this post has become ├╝ber-long because I am tired and weird feeling. Just think, if you were sitting right next to me I'd be jabbering a mile a minute and your head would be spinning.

Cheers, y'all.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Three seconds...

Three seconds is all it takes for your life to change dramatically.  Three seconds can be the difference between life, death, and new life.  Well, before I go into my three seconds story, I guess I better tell you about my day. Let's just say I'm working through all the liquor I have in the house, which right now consists of two wine coolers and the butt end of a bottle of wine. 

I got to the clinic just after 9 AM and I received my first of the two in the Hep A series and a Tdap (I think they used to be called DPTs).  Evidently the Tdap is recommended, and free, if you are around infants.  I didn't feel like telling the woman that I am adopting, so I told her I care for the nursery babies at church.  Arms are a little tender, but not bad.

I picked up Michael and we headed to the state capital.  Unfortunately my GPS once again quacked out on me en route.  Michael was familiar with the area and we got there without too much difficulty.   We finally found the Secretary of State's office and unlike my previous experience with them, the lady in charge of authentications was really nice.  Within 20-30 minutes she had ALL my documents read.  And by all, I mean that I had 3 copies of every document because I am that obsessive about my paperwork.  And tomorrow, it is going back into the safe deposit box.  Yeah, I am that girl. 

We quickly moved on and found the Kinkos/Fed Ex.  I did the little happy dance at the copy machine as I finished the final rounds of dossier prep and with great excitement I turned my documents over to the incompetent looking employees behind the counter.  For whatever reason, the zip code for the town where my agency is located never shows up correctly in their system.  It doesn't matter what FedEx store you go into in the US--every one of them will tell you they can't ship to that address because it is incorrect.  We finally got through that little snafu (do you know the meaning of snafu?  Situation Normal All F***ed Up--that certainly has seemed appropriate for most of my paper chase) and I have this tremendous sense of relief as we walk out of that store.  Ahhh, I'm finally done.  Whatever happens from this point out is out of my hands. 

Fed Ex

After getting some lunch we start walking around downtown just enjoying all the beautiful architecture in the city.  We visited the state capital building:


CapitalBeautiful, right?

We walked around the downtown mall, Monument Circle and the Canal.  It was after 5 PM and we decided we probably needed to head back.  Ok, this is where the three second story starts.  We are on the sidewalk waiting for our turn to cross the street.  The light finally changes, but the three old ladies from the Eastern Bloc just stood there.  I admit, I am inpatient and after waiting a second or two, I decided to cross around them on the right.  As I was halfway through the one way intersection I see a car speeding through the red light to the right of me at a very high rate of speed.  In that moment, I knew I was going to get hit and I would likely not live through it.  Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on where you are standing) a woman proceeded through the intersection since her light was green and this other car hit her with enough impact to spin her around several times and break the rear axle of the car.  From there, he continued to careen through the intersection without stopping.  There we were, me and the three old ladies to my left in the path of an out of control speeding car.  I was frozen.  I don't know how long it took for me to register that I needed to move, but when I finally did he came within 5 feet of me and actually ran through the area where I had been standing.  Once he finally regained sufficient control of his car, he sped out of there leaving all of us a bit dazed.  Where was Michael, you ask?  Hiding behind a big metal sign safely on the sidewalk. 

Fortunately the woman whose vehicle he hit was perfectly fine.  Not a scratch or bruise on her, but her car was not drivable. 

Once we were safely on the sidewalk and the a**hole driver was long gone I turned to Michael and said, "that would have really sucked if I had submitted my dossier and died the same day." Yeah, it was really that close.

I have had so many near misses in my life.  When my mother was pregnant with me, the car she was riding in was hit by a drunk driver.    There have been so many near misses--some like these, but also, medical emergencies.  I have come to look at them as not near misses, but God's grace in once again sparing me.  For years I wondered for what. 

When my mother was very young she became very ill and nearly died.  Her mother always told her that God was saving her for something special.  She expected something extraordinary to come of her life, but at this point in her life, she has decided that the extraordinary thing wouldn't be her life, but what she brought forward.  As an infant I was also terribly sick and I wasn't expected to live.  I thought my life was spared for something, but I wasn't quite sure what.  I have come to realize that God works quietly and in ways we don't see.  There have been so many three second moments in my life (yeah, I realize the wording doesn't quite make sense) that have quietly moved me towards this place in my life and many angels have intervened in ways I was probably unaware of.  Today, I was very much aware of it. 

When my mom called to inquire about the big day I shared my "three second" story with her.  She said, "No one had better try to destroy this bloodline!"  To know why she said that, you would have to know the extraordinary things the generations of May women in my family have overcome and the miracle of any of us being alive today. 

So, there is my three second story.  If you made it all the way through, I'm impressed.   Tonight, I am grateful to be alive, grateful for these moments when I realize how precious life truly is, and grateful to someday being a mother to Haven and my precious China girl. 

And in case you are worried about my alcohol consumption...this is nothing.  You should see the bottle of cough medicine I've been working on since last week--it's like 45 proof.  Gotta love Texan cough syrup!

The night before Christmas!

Ok, it's not really the night before Christmas, but I feel like a kid again anticipating tomorrow's events!  It probably sounds silly to most, but this road has been so long and started long before sending in my application.  It feels as if I this is the culmination of years of heartbreak and great joy and it's all coming down to this.  I knew when I started the journey towards my daughter that that was only the beginning.  She was going to open my eyes, my heart, my everything to a whole new world--and she has.  I have such love for these two children that I have never met and who have likely not yet been born.  It's such an interesting place to be--how do you fall in love with someone you have never met?  How do you have such faith that they exist?  And how can a person possibly explain this to another person who hasn't been there himself? 

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The weirdness continues

My dreams were a jumble of baby related things again last night.  Instead of the pregnant belly, I was receiving gifts far and wide from people--baby clothes, bibs, and maternity clothes.  Maternity clothes?  Seriously, if this continues I might have to pee on a stick just to be sure. 

I completed the last of my notarizations this morning.  Yippee!  One more stop--state authentications!  Michael volunteered to come with me Monday--I don't need a baby-sitter, but to be honest, I hate to celebrate something as monumental as this by myself.  Haven has been seriously cheated on the photos so far, but I will try to make up for it on Monday.  I think we might tool around town taking photos and just enjoying a sunny day.  No baby shopping, I swear!  I am looking at buying some jewelry--again, I need to wait until I save some extra moola.  Of course, I could just do my taxes and make some quick money (quick, if you consider waiting 4 weeks).  I would really like to have something with my kids' names engraved on it.  Of course, nothing has permanence quite like a tattoo. 

Some photos from this afternoon:

IMG_0166 IMG_0109 IMG_0135 (1)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Negativity on the yahoo groups

Wow, has any one else noticed the upswing in negativity on a particular yahoo group devoted to Vietnamese adoption???  While I find the overall community more closeknit, I've been horrified to find that they are biggest group of flamers!  Before I began the process, I was directed to two different groups--one that researches the agencies and another devoted to VN adoption.  On the latter, I posted once and was so horribly flamed by people that didn't have a clue about the subject that I quickly got off that group!  Currently, aside from my agencies, I belong to two VN adoption groups.  One that I find very supportive and informative and another that flames repeatedly.  The only reason I read it at this point is because I find it so funny.  These people are so quick to flame someone else's opinion (or fact) and then end it with a prayer for their ignorance.  Really, if I didn't feel it was inappropriate I would paste parts of their messages here.  I was actually reading their posts online to my mom last night for entertainment.  Unfortunately I suspect the time is quickly coming that I will have to sign off that group also.  I really don't get any good information from it, and it probably isn't appropriate to mock them.  It's really sad, too, that we can't all get along.  This could be such a good resource for adoption and prospective adoptive parents, but I think they are all so stressed over the current state of adoption affairs in VN and they are lashing out at each other.  No one can tell fact from rumor and most agencies aren't any better at disseminating the correct information because, honestly, we just don't know anything right now. 

So, once again, Positive Posters will resume on Monday (sorry the hiatus, I had some challenges with my work laptop last week) and I thank you for all your support and encouragement the last few months.  It really, really, really has made a huge difference.  Thank you. 

Baby crazy

Seriously.  I have baby on the brain and it unfortunately has become a 24/7 problem/blessing.  Several nights this week I have dreamed not only of babies, but that I was pregnant.  Huh?  Where did that come from? 

To be honest, I've never contemplated getting pregnant.  I always knew that my family would be formed through adoption and as a single woman, getting pregnant outside of marriage would not be the best set-up for me.  I had a weird dream this week that I was single.  Adopting. And pregnant.  It was bizarre.  In the dream everyone was telling me what a miracle it was (unless I'm giving birth to the spawn of Satan I'm quite sure it would not have been an Immaculate Conception), but the whole time I'm wondering what to do.  The next night I was dreaming again about babies.  This time I dreamed my sister was pregnant with a boy (which reminds me....I better call her) and I was also pregnant (this time joyful, but still single). pregnant belly

There are several reasons for this, I'm sure.  Perhaps the biggest reason is my joy at finally getting on the list!  The thought that I might actually see my son's face sometime this year just put me right over the moon!  I have waited so long to have a family that being this close, finally, is almost painfully beautiful.  Although I actually watched this show in between the two nights of these dreams, I am sure that watching Jon & Kate + 8 didn't help matters.   I have to admit, it actually scared me off of wanting to try ANY fertility drugs.  I've always wanted to have a house full of kids, but this, this was panic inducing.  I was reassured to learn that they felt the same way until they were faced with possibly losing the entire pregnancy.  I guess you get over it quick. 

I'm finally home.  I split out of class early today, got to the airport with my mom + 1 other person in tow.  We managed to get an earlier flight and I was home in time to see the sun go down.  It is so good to be home!  Now, I get to start making lists...

  1. Get my 171H and copies notarized tomorrow.
  2. On Monday, get my immunizations.
  3. On Monday, get my dossier authenticated.
  4. On Monday, get my dossier submitted to my agency!
  5. On Monday, start clearing out Haven's room (currently it is my computer/study room.
  6. Start on lifebooks for both kids.  Poor Haven got cheated because my camera was broken during the largest part of my paperchase.  That, and VN does not require the roadtrips that China did.   

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What's in a name?

PAPs and APs frequently discuss their children's names and the topic often revolves around mixing a Western name with an orphanage name. Personally, I don't think I will do that. When I chose the name for my daughter, I wanted a name that represented her culture, but also her link to my family. Fortunately, her name is also a common (and easy to pronounce) Chinese name. I decided to NOT use an orphanage name because I wanted her to have a name that was given with thought and love in mind. I wanted her to have a name that her birth mother might have chosen. In addition, I have given her a "Western" name, but no one in my family or circle of friends uses that name when referring to her, they use her Chinese name.

Haven is no different. While I am not giving him a family name per se, I am giving him a name that represents something to my family. While it means "a place of safety" or "refuge", it has a much more personal meaning to me, just as my daughter's Western name does. But I did want to give him a Vietnamese name as well.

In both Chinese and Vietnamese cultures, you name your child after the attributes that you hope they will have. Little girls are often named after things that reflect their beauty, while boys are named for character traits. In Vietnamese culture, especially, the middle names represent these traits.

In January I found a document I had saved on my computer under my daughter's adoption file (yes, I am obsessive and I keep files everywhere--but Thank God or I wouldn't have had my 171H copied onto my thumb drive). Even before I had completed and submitted her dossier, I was already looking for a name for my son. I kept coming back to Haven Duc. Duc has several different meanings, but the ones I liked most were moral and good. I thought it was interesting that it represented desire as well. I have prayed for this son for so long, and yes, I have desired and longed for him. It just seems right. Right now, those that know about the adoption are referring to him as Haven, but I suspect that I will probably call him Duc (several pronunciations for the name depending on what part of the country you are in, but I prefer the Dook pronunciation). So, I'm putting it out there now...Haven Duc. It just seems right.

Right now north Texas (where I am) is flooding due to a storm that rolled in during the night. It has rained non-stop and Dallas-Fort Worth Airport has cancelled all flights. I pray that things improve by Friday so we can come home. Since the weather is crappy, Mom and I went to Babies R Us. Yes, I finally got to celebrate the way I wanted.

A little gift from Oma. Since it is so much cooler here than Vietnam, Oma thought Haven would need something to keep him warm. Thanks, Oma!

And from mama.

Yeah, he's going to be one fly dude.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The luck of the Irish

Wow, I thought Saturday was a fabulous day, but today got even more interesting. I had emailed my agency guy last night to let him know that I had received my 171H, but because I am out of state, I can't do anything about it for another week. I asked what the waitlist was looking like so I had an idea of how long to expect.

During my mid-morning break I checked my email. My coordinator was on the ball and emailed back to say that if I faxed my 171H to him, he would place me on the list until I was able to send my dossier. And....I'm now number 10 or 11! Oh my goodness! I'm so excited. I've been absoluately distracted from my training all day! So, hopefully I will receive a referral before September 1st. In the meantime, I'm going to start making lists of all the things I want to get done.

I had to celebrate with a little something for Haven and this is what I found tonight:

to all regular blogheads

HALLELUJAH!!!! Great Balls of Fire!!!!!
No more whining from Erica. She finally got on THE list. We celebrated with a dinner out and some shopping.
from the g'ma, auntie, oma, laulau, grandma etc.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Greetings from Dallas!

Mom and I arrived this afternoon and after a leisurely evening this is what I'm facing:Unfortunately, I think this is what she is facing. It seems that things in Dallas and the surrounding areas close at 5 pm--which is when I will be getting out of class and returning to the hotel. I had hoped that she could keep herself entertained during the day and then we spend our evenings exploring the area. So, if anyone reading is familiar with the Dallas/Lewisville area, please leave me a message! I'd love to know if there are things that we can do in the evening together besides shopping.

This is the face I left this morning:
How sweet is that face? Poor thing knew what was coming next.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Fabulous Day!

I've had a fabulous day. I haven't slept well for the last 3 weeks and I certainly haven't slept more than 6 hours in one night so sleeping a full 8 hours last night was magical, baby, magical. I didn't have my violin lesson this morning so I was free to get up late, putter around the house slowly, and shower long enough to get a bit pruney. Ahhh, what a great start.

I'll admit, I guard my dossier with my life. Last year when I went to Hong Kong in the midst of the paper chase for my daughter, I rented a safe deposit box to store my documents in the event that any natural disasters took my house. Since I am leaving again for training tomorrow, I thought it best to notarize the last document (sans the document-that-won't-be named) and secure it in my safe deposit box.

I have to admit, the day was off to an awesome start and it wasn't even noon! I met Kelli for lunch at Sandra's for some really good Vietnamese food. I have finally had some pho and I really liked it. I won't tell Sandra, but Vietnamese meatballs taste exactly like Chinese meatballs. A very good experience and always a pleasure to spend time with another PAP that understands without having to say it. Having that connection is priceless and since we are with the same agency I think there is a chance we might travel together.

Although I ordered my new digital camera over a month ago, it has yet to arrive. Since we don't have any large electronic stores in my town I thought it best to shop in Indy and Kelli recommended Fry's Electronics. Wow. That is the largest electronics store I have ever seen and the salespeople are on the ball. While I wasn't able to find the camera I had originally ordered, I found one that will more than meet my needs. After telling the salesmen what I needed, he guided me to a Panasonic and a Canon, and as you know, I've really been wanting a Canon. I purchased a Canon PowerShot SX100 IS and it is sweet. It recycles very quickly between shots (most important feature--I can't wait to catch all those "first" moments with Haven), has a built in camcorder, 10X zoom and 8 mega-pixels. Like I said, sweet. From the moment I turn the camera on until I take a photo is only a second or two. Wow, what a departure from my Kodak. I could make a sandwich in the time it took from on to pic and I could eat the sandwich in the time it took to recycle between photos. And the photos are amazing. Very clear. Ok, that's just my little plug. This will definitely be the camera going with me to VN.

I didn't think my day could get any better, but wait, it does. The sun is shining as I pull into my driveway. I check the mailbox and lying right on top, a thick envelope from USCIS. My heart was racing and I was feeling very nervous. I didn't remember my 171H being so thick when I received it for my daughter. With shaking hands I open it and this is what I see:

I was so afraid it was going to report another screw up, but it wasn't! My I-171H is here! I have been approved for 1-2 children!!!!

Unfortunately I will be out of the state for the next week and I won't be able to do anything until March 24th, but what a relief to know it is finally here.

Thank you everyone for listening to me whine for the last 4 months. I never thought 4 months could take so long! Posts may be a bit slim next week due to my training schedule, but I will try to take an occasional photo and post it for you all to enjoy.

And now a photo from my mommy weekend a few weeks ago with Kristen:

Bloomington 001

Friday, March 14, 2008

A dad issue?

Now back to our regularly scheduled more obsessing!

I love the Austin Powers 3 movie.  I can't say much about the other two because they really didn't do much for me, but I can quote whole sections of #3 (I agree, Preparation H is good on the whole/hole)...don't get me started.  Anyway, there is this entire scene devoted to Austin's dad issues and if you remember (or if you don't, just watch the video below) it was the theme throughout the entire movie.   

And today while I was reading some movie reviews in my local paper, I came across a review that said something to the effect that the two main characters had serious "searching for a Father Figure" issues.  Which brings me to this question--how does a child develop such issues?  Are these children (in both these cases, boys) born into it or is it something that develops?  Is it because they had deadbeat dads that forgot to pay child support or pick them up on Friday nights?  Were they abused by their fathers or were their fathers abusive towards their mothers?  Or were they products of unmarried mothers? 

As a single woman I did not enter into adoption lightly.  It was something that I wrestled with, but I felt that God was calling me to do.  To say it is has tested my faith, well, as you have seen by my rambling obsessing posts it has been a stretch.  But I knew then what I still know now--that I was meant to do this.  Regardless of what my future holds, these children were meant to be a part of it.  But where does that leave them?  Will they be angry that they were not adopted by a married couple?  Will they regret not having a father? 

Most research about fatherless children does not take into affect other things, in fact, most of their focus is on poor, under-educated women who are generally down on their luck when they become pregnant.  Yes, it is true, that these children do not fare as well as children from two parent households where the financial situation isn't as dire.  People try to blame our social ills on dead beat fathers, but the truth of the matter is that roughly 50% of children live in a single parent household.  Have all these kids become deviants?  I don't think so, but it is still a concern of mine and how I can create an environment in my home where my children will benefit from positive role models.  My children will be around my father, brother-in-law, close male friends, men from church and if I think my children are still lacking, I will look at other things that I can do. Of course, I'm always open to ideas from others.

And to end my deep thought for the day, here's more Austin Powers!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

March 24th it is

Ok, I promise, swear, cross my heart...this will be my last post about that piece of paper until I get the paper.  I broke down and contacted my local USCIS officer and she said she began working on it on Sunday (wow, she is working overtime!), but my SW agency did not include their license.  I didn't arrive until today and because she has citizenship interviews today and tomorrow she won't be able to process it until tomorrow night. 

So, on March 24th, I'm going to get up early.  Go to the bank to complete the last of my notarizations, get my immunizations, and drive to the capitol city to authenticate everything.  That's my plan and I'm sticking to it.  Strangely enough, even with yet another delay, I think I will see God's hand in it someday.  I hope that on the other end of this journey I will finally understand.

Oh, and as soon as I get my 171H, I have to apply for a new one for my China girl since my prints have already expired.  Yah!  I get to ride this roller coaster again. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

One Last Night of Obsession

Since I just bought the soundtrack to Phantom of the Opera I really wish that was the kind of obsession I was talking about.  Have you ever paid attention to how dirty the some of the lyrics are?  Well, a single girl has to have some sort of thrill.  Anyway, I liked this lyric:

Past the point of no return -
no backward glances:
the games we've played till now are at an end . . .
Past all thought of "if" or "when" -
no use resisting:
abandon thought, and let the dream
descend . . .

Anyway, it kind of reminded me of my franticness tonight.  I believe I am near the point of no return.  Soon this will all be behind me and my dossier will be sent to the country of my son's birth.  I went through all my documents again tonight and lined them up in the order that the agency has them listed.  The only thing that still needs notarized is my employment letter and of course, the document that shall not be named.  I checked the blog of another family that applied about the same time I did and was fingerprinted after me.  Evidently they were told today that their document that shall not be named is in the mail.  Surely mine can't be far behind.  I just pray that it arrive before Saturday.  For anyone reading this, please say a prayer for me.  If you have followed my journey from the beginning you know how much I just need to be done. 

Nothing new

Obviously I have a singular focus these days.  I apologize to those that are expecting to here something other the 171H watch. 

To cheer up a colleague today a group of us split out of work early to watch Juno.  I actually chose the movie even though I have already seen it.  Somehow, it really meant more to me this time.  My colleagues are easily 15-25 years older than me and they made comments throughout the movie about the crazy acting adoptive mom.  I didn't say anything, but inside I felt the ache of that woman.  I was never one that had baby lust, but once I began the adoption process, my heart changed.  I understand how distressing it is to want a child and not be able to have one and to have obstacles in your way that are outside your control (are you reading this USCIS?). 

As I was driving home from the movie it was only mid afternoon and I began getting excited about the possibility of having my 171H in my box.  I imagined that it was there and the rush to get the remainder of my documents notarized and even rush to the state capitol for my authentications.  My heart was racing a bit as I pulled up to the house.  Oh well, there is always tomorrow.  Actually, it was a reminder that I really need to get all my documents together and get organized.  I hate to admit it, but things are kind of spread out a bit.

I have always enjoyed writing and have written extensively in the past.  Fortunately it's better than the usual drivel I put on here so I've decided to write a family history from my perspective.  While my children will not share my biological background, they will share my family history.  It's kind of fun to look back and remember the stories that my parents and grandparents have told over the years.  Every family has it's own language and our's certainly has had a colorful version.  It will also be a way to share my children's stories as I know it.   Unfortunately I won't be able to give them their full stories, and that saddens me, but I hope to give them something to hold onto so they always know they much I prayed and longed for them.

Incidentally, today marks 13 months that my dossier has been logged in China.  Wow. 

Monday, March 10, 2008

Whining? No, not me!

While I tend to go down hard after getting kicked in the shins, I seem to rise from adversity with a tenacity that rivals cock-fighting roosters.  Today I woke up excited and almost, almost, expected to see my 171H in my mailbox.  It wasn't, in the event anyone is still reading my blathering posts obsessing on this stupid piece of paper.  But I am moving forward and making plans.  I have decided that March 24th is going to be my adoption day.  I've made appointments with the Public Health Clinic to get the first of my Hep A series, and praise Jesus, it's only $55 (they are throwing in the tetanus for free!).  When I started my job last fall, they did titers on Hep B and one of the MMR combo and I was still showing an immunity to both.  It makes me feel like I am actually doing something positive for myself and moving things in the right direction.  I'm not sure my mom felt the same way when I told her that she needed to make sure she renews her driver's license (believe it or not, an expired license can not be used as a form of ID), make sure her passport is good for another couple of years, and get her immunizations.  Seems like a lot to go through for a grandchild! 

Today at work some of my co-workers told me that I needed to look into adopting because it was "easier" and "all the celebrities are doing it".  No, my co-workers do not know I am adopting and yes, I did try my best to correct their incorrect beliefs without letting them know I am adopting.  They'll find out one of these days and there doesn't seem to be a real rush to alert them until I actually have a referral.  I'm not sure how long before I will see Haven's photo, but I'm quite sure my China girl is a long way off. 

It is Monday and I want to highlight the blog of another positive poster.  I love Meredith's blog.  Like any prospective parent she goes through the highs and the lows, but she always seems to find her balance.  She also does not post unsubstantiated rumors--she writes purely from the heart.  She is also a list maker....hmmm...people might begin to realize that I, too, am a secret list maker.  Her Daily Dolly feature is so cute and Ms. Dolly looks like the friendliest little dog around. 

If you would like to be considered for next Monday's edition of "Positive Poster", drop me a line so I can check out your blog.  This is open to all PAPs and is not country specific. 

Enjoy the rest of your Monday.

Sunday, March 9, 2008



With Spring comes the promise of new life.

Thank you!

Once again I am amazed at how supportive the adoptive community is in time of need.  I want to thank all of you that commented after my last post.  I really appreciate your encouragement and your amazing support and insight.  I truly mean that.  It amazes me how someone's comment can totally turn my view around.  Jennifer left a comment and a scripture that made me pause and ponder.  While I am still bothered by the fact that I have had yet another delay, I have to believe that God has a plan and that he has not forgotten His promises.  I have now attached the verse that Jennifer sent me to the top right column of my blog as a reminder to myself (and hopefully others), but here it is again for good measure:

"But these things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, be patient! For it will surely take place. It will not be late by a single day." Habakkuk 2:3

Interestingly, Jennifer was fingerprinted by the same USCIS office the day after I was and is also still waiting for her 171H.  My prayer is that we both receive some good news this week. 

What else is new....I did have my documents re-notarized.  I still have one more left (my boss needs to re-sign my financial statement) and of course, the big one, the 171H.  Other than that, I believe my dossier is done. 

I have my favorite blogs to visit and I generally don't seek out new ones unless someone leaves me a message or a friend directs me towards one that she thinks I might enjoy, but for the past couple of days I have really been looking at a lot of blogs.  I came across one yesterday that somehow made me feel that no matter how long the wait, it would pale next to the joy having my child home.  This particular family's journey took over two years to get their daughter home.  Now in China adoption years, two years isn't much, but for other adoptive programs, two years can feel like a lifetime of waiting.  Anyway, I love the last few lines of this post:

There is no doubt that she is the one that was meant for us. We knew it all along, but the wait was hard. To everyone waiting- put your faith in what you most believe in, dreams do come true.

Thanks for the reminder, Heather and Ryan. 

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Sweet and the Sour

You know the saying "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all"?  Well, it applies to posting too.  And last night I wasn't feeling like I had anything very nice to say and I felt guilty for bringing down the joy of another PAP from my agency.  She knows who she is:)  First the sweet.  Our agency got another group of referrals!  This is awesome, incredible, I should be shouting and jumping for joy news, right?  Trust me, I really want to be shouting and jumping for joy if not for the crappy news I got at the same time.  Are you ready?

The sour: USCIS has still not processed my 171H and likely won't for another week or two.  The officer hasn't touched it, hasn't looked at, hasn't even sniffed it.  While that sucks, the suckier part is that if she sends in 7-10 days from now, I will out of state for work related training and I won't be able to do a darn thing with it until March 24th.  Another 3 weeks. I'm soon coming up on 4 months since I first applied.  This is ridiculous--especially for this state!  Most people only take 4-6 weeks from beginning to end.   

So while everyone else with my agency is doing the happy dance and watching the line finally move, I'm feeling like the ugly chic that can't get past the bouncer to get into the club.  I wish I was with you dancing, I really do, so I hope you understand why I'm not.  I will say, I'm glad to see the line move.  I just hope it won't be circling around the block when the bouncer finally gets drunk and I start looking all cute to him.  

The good news: since I was feeling all verklempt I started obsessively reviewing all my documents.  Yeah, I know, some people drink and others smoke, but I sort papers.  Anyway, back to my story...I was reviewing my documents and I decided to compare my notary signature with the state notary database and I discovered she signed her name wrong!  Better to find out now than in a few weeks when I'm at the State authentication office and already anxious and excited.  So, in a small way, there is a silver lining.  I just keep trying to remind myself of the peace I was feeling a week ago, but I'm feeling more like George Kastanza's dad and I want to yell "Serenity NOW!"

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Thank you

I want to say a heartfelt thank you to all those who commented on my last post.  Several of you were new (welcome!) and in a similar boat or were simply sympathetic to the familiar pains of uncertainty that are attached to any adoption or pregnancy.   We are all in the same boat and as such, we need to support each other instead of scaring each other or trying to out-do each other with the newest and greatest (read: worst) rumor.  Several of you have mentioned things that you are doing to reduce your anxieties.  Trust me, they do work!  I had to do the same in January when the whole China process became too overwhelming (well, China slowdown + VN meltdown=heartbreak).  Here are some ideas:

  • Stay off the Yahoo groups!  I don't care if they are the "good" ones.  Everyone is as worried as you are and they are going to throw out an idea or suggestion and the next thing you know, it's considered fact. The only yahoo group that you should be getting mail from is your agency.  No exceptions.
  • Limit your computer time.  I no longer check my email when I get up in the morning and I don't check it before going to bed.  If you are feeling overly stressed about things right now, TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER. 
  • Get out of the house.  Seriously, get out.
  • Volunteer.  Put your time where your heart is.  If you need to be reminded of how good your life truly is, work with those that are suffering.  Hospice, homeless shelters, animal shelters, etc.  The need is great at all these places and I promise you it will change your perspective.
  • Take a class--if you haven't taken an infant/child CPR class what is stopping you?  This is necessary information and is quite cheap or even free in some cases.  Just to put a little plug in, I am an instructor in the AHA Infant/child/adult CPR. 
  • Learn about your child's culture.  Read the books, especially those written by Vietnamese authors that express what life is truly like.  Find Vietnamese music CDs.  For me, music soothes my soul and knowing that some of these songs are likely being sung to my son, well, it brings tears to my eyes.  I'm planning on starting a Netflix account just so I can see some Vietnamese movies that I can't find locally.  Also, don't forget about the human element.  If you live in a town with a Vietnamese population, reach out. Get to know them and their culture.  It will an asset when your child is home.
  • This suggestion may work for some, but be painful for others so try to figure out which category you are before implementing.  Spend time with a child.  A close friend adopted a daughter from Guatemala.  A few weeks ago when I was feeling so low I spent time with them.  My friend even let me rock her and put her down to bed.  It's amazing how purifying it was for my soul.  It was also a reminder that my time will also come.   
  • As much as it pains me to write it, be selective about the blogs you follow.  I checked the blogs from those that commented and they are AWESOME.  I was so impressed by how many PAPs have individually decided that enough is enough--no more negativity.  It is hard to stay off the blogs because it is reassuring to know that there are others out there like ourselves or have their children home (nothing better than a happy ending). I have decided to begin highlighting a blog each week that is "blogger safe" and not likely to scare or induce tears. 

The first blog I want to highlight is from Kate.  I love that she is keeping the faith even when things are difficult.  She has awesome photos (although I'm a little afraid to ask about the peanut butter nose photos) and she sets goals!  I love goal setters. 

If you want to suggest a blog or want me to consider your blog for next week, drop me a line.  I'd love to learn all about your journey! 

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Weighty Issues

I can remember the power words had over me when I was an adolescent.  I remember crying as a 12 year-old because the girls at school were mean, or worse, the teacher was mean (and yes, I had a couple of nasty teachers that hated kids, even me).  Even in my early twenties I remember how upset I would get if my boss was hypercritical or yelled at me for seemingly innocent infractions.  I was so happy when I got older and began to mature.  Those things didn't seem to bother me as much...until now.  It's amazing how much power words still hold over me when it comes to my family.  While I won't go into the details of it, I will say that I received an email from someone on Friday that seemed to encourage me in my wait for Haven.  It felt like things were back on track (pre-January 15th meltdown) and I dared to hope that I may not only see Haven's referral this year, but also get to meet him. 

Yesterday I read a blog that seemed to indicate the contrary.  They spoke of an anonymous source who was sure the whole process was going to shut down.  And again this morning, I read a post someone left on one of the Vietnam Adopt groups reporting the personal opinion of their particular agency.  While I think it is good to be informed, are we truly informed here?  I did my homework before jumping on this crazy train.  I read countless sources that stated something along these lines:

Families who are more comfortable with a highly predictable process or who have limited funds to use for adoption will still be better off applying to adopt a child from China. Adoption Today, April/May 2007, pages 16-18



In short it is difficult to find many negatives to the program with the exception of the fact that it is just beginning again and some kinks still need to be worked out. Adoption Today, April/May 2007, pages 16-18.

While I'm not exactly endorsing the last statement because a number of things have changed since last Spring, I do agree with the fact that it is still a relatively new program and it has some MAJOR kinks to work out...some (or many, depending on who you talk to) of which can be found on this side of the things. 

Even though I feel God has given me a sense of peace throughout this journey, there are moments when I read statements such as these and I feel the panic rise for a minute or two.  Then I remember, I didn't come down this road to take the easy way.  I'm following what God has put on my heart.  There are so many unknowns in life, but I do know that regardless of how this turns out, I would always wonder with regret what would have happened if I hadn't stepped out on this ledge.  I have used a phrase for many years when I feel I'm getting to a place I'm not comfortable (anything from spending too much money on something, to going on a date with someone of questionable moral value).  On more than one occasion I have said to my sister or my best friend "I might need you to talk me off that ledge".  I guess what I'm saying is this: this is one ledge I don't want to be talked off of. 

As far as the wait goes, my mom is determined that we will be traveling this year to meet Haven.  She has decided that we have at least 30 weeks before anything significant will happen so we have plenty of time to lose some weight.  Thirty pounds, to be precise.  I'll keep you updated on both the weight and the wait.


About This Blog

This started as my story, but has evolved to OUR story. This is the story of life as a single parent to a wonderful little boy while we wait for baby sister. China LID 2.12.07.

But these things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, be patient! For it will surely take place. It will not be late by a single day.
Habakkuk 2:3

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