Monday, March 30, 2009

DTC, for real

Oh yeah. I almost forgot. Our D went TC on Tuesday.

(Our dossier went to China, that is.)

I saw my agent at the adoption conference, and she told me she'd been informed of its arrival already. Woohoo! It's there!

I asked her, "Is this my log-in date, then?"

"I don't know," she replied.

Okay, so, I may or may not have a log-in date. Most people don't learn what their log-in dates were until several weeks after their dossiers get logged in. Adoptive families put a great deal of weight on the log-in date, but I get the impression that the CCAA doesn't care quite as much. They process you when they process you. Okay, I have decided (unless/until informed otherwise) that my log-in date was Friday.

My agent was at the adoption conference because her agency had a table there. She was chatting up prospective clients. I started talking to a sweet couple who were interested in the agency. Of course my husband and I had only positive things to say. We had just been told 30 seconds before that our dossier was in China. Woohoo! So we gushed and gushed. The couple lives two towns over from us. They seemed encouraged by our story. I think we made a sale. :)

I do hope so. They were really sweet, and if they join our happy Cape Cod family, we'll get to talk with them again.

Later, we bought books. Lots and lots of books! We dropped a lot of money on books. Among the books we bought are The White Swan Express.

Most books about Chinese adoption are girl-oriented, and this one is no exception. But, since we'll most likely be staying in the White Swan hotel where this book takes place, we figured it was relevant enough for us. Then we got some China picture books with boys in them. They were cultural stories rather than adoption stories.

The book room also had The Runaway Bunny.

This was one of my favorite books as a child. It was a household staple. I've only just realized it has themes relevant to adoption. Well, it's about attachment and family. I didn't buy it at the convention; I'll probably get it for cheaper from

There was a newly published book called Made in China which was interesting...

It was about an adopted girl being teased and bullied by her older, blonder, bio-born sister. At the end, she goes to her father, who gives her loving, inspirational assurances. But I was left wanting her to fight back. I wanted to see her stand up to her sister, give some witty retorts, and defuse the rivalry between them. Then they could become friends and start playing together.

Now I want to write a book about an adopted child who stands up to the bully and gives witty retorts.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

E-shopping for the trip to China

The adoption conference yesterday was very informative. The last seminar was run by an airline employee who gave us lots of great travel advice. She recommended several products and accessories that I either don't have yet or wouldn't have thought of on my own. Now I'm inspired to go shopping for the following items:

International Traveller German Polycarbonate 21" Hardside Upright

"Some airlines are stricter than others about the size of your carry-on," she said. "If you're switching airlines, the first may accept a carry-on that's overstuffed and bloated, but the second may measure it and force you to check it. This suitcase will always keep the right dimensions. Also, if you do check it, it's strong enough to withstand the abuse."

The All-in-One Car Seat, Baby Stroller and Booster Seat.

"It's a little on the pricey side," she said, "but you get what you pay for." Hers survived two kids and a whole lot of travel and was still in good enough condition to demonstrate. Also, some other options like airline-provided bassinets come with problems - the airline may not always have them available, and they're not safe if the plane hits turbulence. And holding the child on your lap the whole way may not be ideal - especialy since at that time we'll only have had him for two weeks.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A new kind of waiting

Our dossier will probably be mailed to China on Tuesday. Yun Gui's first birthday is Thursday. This is the point at which my emotions take a downward slide. The excitement and urgency are waning, the void of distance is more apparent, and the feeling of helplessness takes over. We wait to hear some news, but we don't want to talk about it anymore. Admonishments to cheer up will be met with grumbles, or ignored altogether. It won't be a long wait - they say we might be in China by July or August - but it feels like time is stretching out.

The builders are starting the addition sometime next week, too. I'm hoping to focus on that instead of the long stretchy void of waiting. We'll see how that goes. Maybe I'll just end up micromanaging too much and the builders will have to tell me to go away. :)

My husband and i went to a "waiting families" meeting at our local agency. It was nice. We had pizza and a birthday cake for Yun Gui. The other parents there were great people. It's good to connect sometimes.

There was one interesting bit of conversation about how a child fitting into a family. I mentioned that I thought Yun Gui would fit well into our family. Everyone else, except my husband and me, said they believed in the idea that a child was 'meant to be'. That you knew your child right away and felt a singular pull to him/her, and that everything works out in the end because of the rightness of it all.

I'm always interested in other people's attitudes toward adoption, the ideas they build on to keep them strong throughout all the ups and downs. 'It was meant to be' is different from the approach my husband and I take, of course. We like to think that we're capable of parenting children with a wide range of personalities, and with a lot of hard work, love, and thoughtfulness, we can get whichever child we adopt to fit into our family. Yun Gui is not "the one for us" to the exclusion of all other children, but we love him and we cannot wait to bring him home and start cherishing him and raising him and teaching him everything we know. And, who knows, there may be more children in the future - whoever they are, we're looking forward to loving them too. But it's not about fate to us; it's about circumstance.

Even so, I'm fascinated with the fate-filled philosophies of others. One mother has her child already, via domestic adoption, and she gushed over how perfect he was for her and her husband. The agent has adopted two children from Russia and loves them to death. The last couple is still in the process of a domestic adoption, and they seemed to like the fate idea.

In the middle of it all, we each discussed the children we didn't adopt; the near-misses, or the matches that came at the wrong time, or the children whose parents changed their minds after the hopeful parents had already fallen in love. Our agent had a "meant to be" moment once and then the adoption fell through. The new mother had ten matches before one baby finally became hers. That put the 'fate' idea a little more into perspective! You need to feel a bit of love for the child in order to say yes to a match, but you don't dare fall too far in love until it's a done deal. And there's nothing wrong with that. It's a difficult decision, and sometimes a pragmatic attitude helps. But afterwards, when the child is yours and you allow yourself to love more deeply, it may be comforting to look back and say, "This family was meant to be."

This family is a little bit chosen, a little bit random chance. We chose Yun Gui before we knew anything about him except his gender and his special needs category. We didn't choose him among other children; he was the only child offered to us at the time and we had to say either yes or no. We said yes because... well, because yes is generally a better answer than no when you want a child; no better reason than that. We were pleased about his details when we learned them. But that doesn't mean we said yes because his details suited us so well. We said yes because we said yes, and his details suit us well.

But keep in mind, also, that he's a baby. He doesn't have a lot of details. If he loved football and wanted to be a cattle rancher, he might not think our family is very much of an ideal. But he's healthy and easygoing and loves musical toys. He's a baby. We want a baby. See? Good match.

I didn't share my outlook at the meeting. I regret not doing so now. Maybe the other families would have been just as intrigued at the compare-and-contrast of ideas. I assumed at the time that they'd just think I was disagreeing with them. I don't disagree. I like diversity. But I don't always know when my love of diversity is shared. Sometimes the impression of similarities creates more of a connective feeling for some people.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Happy Pi Day

Today, 3/14, is Pi Day. We are celebrating by having shepherd's pie for dinner and Dutch apple pie for dessert with friends.

There are also several words in Mandarin Chinese with the pinyin spelling 'pi'. Here are some:

pī - grand, powerful, one of a pair (as in socks), to scatter or spread out, error, clap of thunder

pí - beer, low wall, to adjoin or border, weary, fur

pǐ - to part, to divide or split in two, ordinary person, clogged, great fortune, to injure, hobby

pì - rustic or secluded, to pair together, to fart, to pour, to bleach or clean

Friday, March 13, 2009

Aaaalmost DTC

Maybe now I'll be in a better mood!

The last stretch was the most nerve-wracking so far. A dozen little things went wrong in the space of maybe 3 weeks, resulting in lots of time on the phone and short periods of uncertainty and confusion. Some of the small errors were ones that I caught.

Worry, also known as vigilance, is important.

Now I'm just holding on until I hear the news that my dossier is headed overseas, and then I should be able to relax.


I have a confession. I don't really like platitudes. If someone wishes to reassure me, I'm wide open to what they have to say as long as it's directly and tangibly helpful. Like, "Don't worry, I'll mail it today." Or "Don't worry, I've worked with these people before and they're reliable."

Unfortunately, too many people say "Don't worry; relax; everything is going to be all right," as an involuntary reaction. Kind of like "Um" or "You know," but with the more pointed purpose of trying to convince me that I'm showing too much emotion and need to stop.

My personal agent is the worst. Every 5 minutes, and she says it with this dramatic sigh. "Don't worry!" sigh. "Relax." sigh.

But she's a very good agent. She gets things done. So I put up with it.

Today her assistant did it, and afterwards we had a very strange and pointless conversation about the phenomenon. And in conclusion, she promised that my agent would call me back in a few moments - "Don't worry."

"You don't worry!" I countered.

"It's my job!" she replied.

"It's my life!" I replied back.

I swear, and you can hold me to it, that if people continue to shower me with useless platitudes, I'm going to assert my right to worry. THEN they'll be sorry.

EDIT: This entry is very tongue-in-cheek. I had forgotten that humor doesn't translate well over the internet. It's supposed to make you laugh. I mean, if you look at it closely, you'll realize that I don't actually threaten to do anything horrible.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Another stretch of waiting

I think I've reached a waiting stage in which I flail around helplessly. Metaphorically speaking, that is. I'm a mental sandbag. I'm playing too much solitaire.

The up side is that I'm not inclined to stick around if there's any conversation that annoys me. I have no tolerance for drama. Walking away is easier.

The down side is that I've been snippy, moody, and impatient with people. Maybe my impatience stems from having to be sooooo patient with adoption paperwork. I'm not sure I understand something or other, or I can't reach someone on the phone, or I understood something incorrectly and have my hopes dashed, or one person says 'urgency!' and the next person is being slow.

So maybe I hold my tongue about things that matter, and then I let loose on things that don't.

I'm baking a cake for Yun Gui's birthday and bringing it to the next Waiting Families meeting. We have never been to a Waiting Families meeting. They've been canceled due to weather, canceled due to Kazakhstan, postponed for various reasons, or combined with unrelated events. Twice we had other obligations. Maybe more than twice.

I hope we can make this one. I'm fixated on this cake. Yun Gui should have his first birthday celebrated.

I'm such a bundle of conflicting emotions, it's almost like I'm pregnant. :)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Looong weekend

Some weekends, like this one, can be frustrating. I have plenty of things to do, but instead I'm sitting here wondering what those updated development reports say about Yun Gui. I actually know what they say; the agent read them aloud to me over the phone. I'm very grateful for that. Tomorrow is Monday, so hopefully the agent will be able to send them to me as soon as she gets into the office.

There's no reason to hurry. These documents have nothing to do with our dossier. Ideally, our dossier is moving right along through the system and will be in China before we know it.

I think it's the combination of the two things that's making me restless. First, our dossier is in someone else's hands and we're waiting to hear some news about where it's going and how soon. Second, I know Yun Gui's development reports are ready for me to look at - and I need to share them with the pediatrician - as soon as I receive them.

Third, the contractors called on Friday and said they'll start building our upstairs soon... sometime... no date yet, but soon.

Meanwhile, I'm not exactly being Super Productivity Lady myself.

I'm going to get off the computer and go draw something. See you later!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Adoption is eco-friendly

We went to see Dr. Eric Strauss give a talk about Cape Cod ecology a few weeks ago. I brought the photos of Yun Gui because I knew some of my fellow Cape Wildlife Center volunteers would also be there, and they'd chastised me last time for not bringing the pics. We got there late, though, so we quietly crept in and sat down in the back. We figured we'd show Yun Gui around after the seminar was over.

Dr. Strauss was excellent. He spoke at length about species population problems, including the human variety. The China one-child policy came up, too, in the context of it being an ethically questionable approach to a legitimate and serious problem. The whole time, I kept thinking about how important it will be for Yun Gui to learn about the environmental issues facing our society. It will be even more important in a few years. I think it would be absolutely awesome if he grew up to be a biologist or an ecologist or even a park ranger. Or even just be like his Mom and Dad and volunteer to save the world - one species at a time.

Dr. Strauss was just starting to wrap up when... our cell phone rang. Oops. How rude. Good thing we forgot to turn it off, though! It was the pediatric specialist. Husband o' Mine darted into the kitchen and asked the doctor to call us back in half an hour. Then we did our best to discreetly bow out.

"Sorry," I apologized - it was a small, talkative audience and intimate enough so that our actions were noted. "This is a great talk and I've really enjoyed it, but we have to go. That was our pediatrician."

"Oh, I hope everything's all right," he said.

"Oh yes," I assured him. "We don't even have our child yet."

Just then Gina noticed the large envelope in my hand. She was one of the volunteers who'd demanded to see him. "Are those the photos?" she asked. "Let's see!"

So I took them out and passed them around - first to the front row and Dr. Strauss, who grinned appreciatively and opined, "Adoption is a very ecologically sound practice."

"He might even be someone's second child," I remarked, referring back to the previous discussion on the one-child policy.

"What should really be done now," he added, "is that health insurance should pay for adoption the same way it pays for childbirth. It's such an effective method of population control, but it's so expensive that I bet lots of families who would love to adopt can't afford it, so they end up giving birth to their own children because it's paid for by their health plans. It doesn't make any sense. If adoption cost the same as giving birth, it would go a long way toward solving the population issues."

Interesting viewpoint. I like it! Another factor, of course, would have to be a reduction of the social stigmas involved with adoption. Many couples opt for adoption only as a last resort, and even then they engage in lots of soul-searching to make sure they're prepared for what they expect to be an ordeal. I know there are some notable true horror stories - everyone who adopts hears about them. But, I dunno. To me, fertility treatments sound like an ordeal. Adoption is just family-making. The leadup is different, but once the adoption is done and the family has adjusted, it has the potential to be a normal family in every way. Just gotta overcome that lingering stigma.

And if saving the planet is a higher priority than passing on your own personal DNA, then adoption may be the way to go! As far as I'm concerned, human DNA is human DNA. I have it, my husband has it, Yun Gui has it. No problem.

This month starts frog season. Which means that now that I've done my bit for the human species, I'm free to concentrate on the local amphibian species - spring peepers first, then green frogs, wood frogs, and if we're lucky, maybe even some pickerel frogs or gray tree frogs. Maybe someday Yun Gui will participate in FrogwatchUSA with me. We'll get him started early. Kids love getting opportunities to save the world. It'll be their world much longer than it'll be ours. Who even knows if pickerel frogs will still exist when he's my age? We humans might just crowd them out.

Anyway - back to the pediatrician! He requested updated medical and developmental records for Yun Gui. I asked the adoption agency for them, and they just came in yesterday. Exciting stuff! Yun gui is getting bigger and has a distinct personality, which the record-keepers described. Now I'm just waiting for the records to be emailed to me. I keep hitting 'refresh' 'refresh' 'refresh' and then checking my 'spam' folder just in case.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

We get by with a little help from our friends

"You are better people than I," a friend said at the end of Game Night as we were telling the group a little bit more about Yun Gui's need for surgery.

How do you respond to that? Never one for silence, I found something to say.

"Yeah, well," I replied, "we're married, we're financially stable... we may as well, right?"

He shrugged. I'm sure he was only struggling with the image of having to bring a baby to the hospital; what an ordeal that would be. And thinking that he'd never want to suffer through it voluntarily. I'm sure, also, he was expecting a deeper answer than, "We had nothing better to do."

Yeah, we were just lying on the beach one day, counting horseshoe crabs, when we turned to each other and said, 'Let's do something really interesting, like drive to Arizona and back for Christmas. Or draw a comic book about mad scientists. Or hey, let's hang out at the pediatric ward and watch a baby get operated on. But where will we get a baby? Let's adopt one!'

See, I can be dismissive about it now, but a whole lot of Real Life has led us up to this point. A lot of things have happened over the years. (Some of it involved a comic book about mad scientists - I kid you not.) A lot of roads not taken and twists of fate and tough decisions. But they were our twists of fate and tough decisions. We claim full responsibility.

There was also my sister. As her older son developed asthma and the younger one suffered a string of illnesses, she gave me this sage advice: "If you want a baby, get ready to have a sick baby. All babies are sick babies at least part of the time." She made a good point!

Our adoption agent made another good point: "You can wait five years for a baby from China or two years for a baby from Poland. I also know of a China special needs program that has a wait of a year or less."

Later, she added more helpful advice: "The more special needs you check off on your request form, the better your chances are of being matched with a baby quickly."

And then there was the evening when my husband and I went to a restaurant and discussed this one little baby boy while we chowed down on burritos. Actually, we came to our decision before the burritos arrived.

"Everything just fell into place," my husband later observed. Our choice was hardly a choice at all! All the hard choices had already been made. All the agonizing, the soul-searching, the reality shocks, had already been gotten over with and had plenty of time to sink in.

We're still in awe and even a little terrified of what impending parenthood will bring. Of how Yun Gui will change our lives, our outlooks, our sense of normalcy. I can't say that adopting a special needs child is as trivial as eating a banana. But the anticipation we feel now is very different from what our friend was imagining. The shock is gone. It's been replaced with information and realistic expectations.

We're not better people than he is. We're just better prepared.

Another friend in that group is expecting twins. She and I laugh about how our due dates are very close together. We're both having summer babies! We were trying to explain to her three-year-old that all of the babies will arrive at the same time, but my baby will be bigger than her mom's. We showed her the picture, too. That might have helped.

That friend wants to throw me a baby shower. Good! I don't know the first thing about baby showers! I showed up at my sister's shower but I wasn't involved in the planning. Yeah, I know, I'm a rotten sister. I don't expect my sister to throw me one, either, since she has her two high-maintenance boys keeping her busy all the time. But if she starts talking about it...


What should I do? I already offered to let my Game Night friend throw me a shower at my house. Maybe she and I can have a co-shower. Her twins will be her 4th/5th children, so she might not otherwise get a shower at all. She certainly needs the stuff! Should I tell my family about those plans?

A baby shower on Cape Cod in the spring might be really nice...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Not so good with the motivation

I had all these big plans to prep myself while we wait to go to China.

  • We were going to learn Mandarin. Bu yao, xie xie!
  • We were going to read a ton of books. I've been reading Wild Swans for four weeks now.
  • We were going to start a blog and customize it with cute little Chinese baby motifs. Oh well, a lighthouse motif is cute too.
  • We were going to set up our upstairs office and turn the temporary office into Yun Gui's bedroom. Come on, builders, build us an upstairs!
  • We were going to get a dog. *whine*
  • We were going to drag out the sewing machine and make quilts, carry-alls, and baby clothes. Instead I have a box full of fabric from Jo-Ann's reduced rack in my closet.
  • We were going to clean the basement. Har hardy-har.
  • I was going to learn to cook Chinese food. How hard could it be? Oh man, I really messed up that so-called "fried rice" last night, though.
  • We were going to research the culture of Wuxi and its province, Jiangsu. I glanced at the Wikipedia entry once. La la la.
  • We were going to make a comic book all about the adoption process. Have I drawn even one line? Nooo. *splat*

It's 2:30 PM and I haven't done a darn thing all day. It's not too late. I still could.