Monday, January 09, 2012

Yes, we're back!

Yes, we are back! We've been back since the middle of December, but everything's been a little crazy since then. We got back on Thursday night, and by Saturday I had a terrible case of bronchitis, probably due to all the pollution I was exposed to in China. Even though I was pretty sick I managed to make it to our appointment with PD at the international adoption clinic (two hours away from our house) on the following Monday. He got a good review, and the doctor mentioned that one of PD's ears looked a little red. That night, he spiked a fever of 103.3, so on Tuesday we were at the new local pediatrician...who had never heard of us since I hadn't had a chance to call her yet. She handled her new patient emergency well. Two days later she also had to prescribe medication for the giardia that PD came home with. And we had to find a compounding pharmacy - this is not a prescription that Walgreens can fill. Basically, the first week back was Mommy and PD feeling miserable, spiking fevers regularly, and no-one sleeping thru the night. Please prepare yourself for jet lag. JET LAG SUCKS. PD would sleep until about 2am, then get up for two to four hours, and then sleep until 7am. Let's just say it wasn't pretty. I had not arranged for help during the day, and was just desperate for a relative that would be a caretaker in the future to come over and let me get some sleep. I was also holding PD alllll the time then (his being sick probably exacerbated the situation) so actually getting anything done was nearly impossible. But! Things are much better now. We just needed to get past the first 10 days. PD is doing really well. It was so hard to see the look on his face on the first day we met him in Zhengzhou. He was very confused and just shutting down. We barely heard a noise out of him on the first day, until I tickled his tummy while I was changing his diaper and he laughed. That was so wonderful to hear. He was also quite tiny. He had been 10 kilos according to our update from August, and we figured he had gained *some* weight since. Nope. He was actually a little less than 10 kilo. None of the pants we had brought actually fit him, and we had to go shopping immediately. It was hard to undress him for the first time and feel his ribs and other bones. Today, he can just about fit into 18 month clothes and he's gained at least half a kilo and a nice little tummy. He eats really well and I try to feed him very nutritious food. He loves the organic whole milk! I also continue the bedtime formula bottle that the orphanage was giving him. I wanted to continue his routine, and I also think the extra nutrition is helpful. Wherever we go (not that many places yet, but we've been out a bit), he's the center of attention. The cuteness factor is high! He has a really fun and loving personality. He's picking up new English words every day, and even combined two words last week. I think he's on the cusp of combining more words over the next few days. What he does is work on words. I'll see him take interest in a word, either something he likes or a word I'm encouraging, and I'll catch him practicing it, kind of mouthing it. When he's ready, he'll say it out loud. He knows that we'll usually do a happy dance when we hear a new word, which I'm sure encourages him! PD also is picking up new physical skills. When we first got home the stairs from our first floor too the second floor were terrifying me. I was ready to buy safety gates since he *wanted* to navigate the stairs, but just could not do well. But, within two days he had learned to comedown the stairs safely. We still have to watch him,but I'm not nearly as worried about him getting near the stairs unsupervised. From day one, PD wanted Mommy. On day one he would walk between me and my husband, holding our hands. By day two, I had him in my Ergo carrier, since he absoutely refused to walk. He only wanted Mommy to carry him. By the end or our stay in Zhengzhou he would agree to have Daddy carry him sometimes. I encouraged it by giving them some alone time. We had no wifi in the room, and only an iPad, and the wifi router I thought I was going to bring was not configured properly, so I left it behind. (This is why the blog was not updated.) We had to go to the lobby to get wifi, which was difficult. We would usually just need some downtime when we got back to our hotel room and had no energy to takean active toddler to the lobby. I ended up leaving the two of them in the room while I went to the lobby to try to email updated to family, and provide pictures to the demanding hordes on Facebook. (VPN, people. Get a VPN and you'll have Facebook). We finally purchased a stroller on day 3 or 4, but he would only stay in it for a short while before crying for Mommy again. I'm not complaining! These were all excellent attachment milestones, but it was very draining on my part. Today, he's attached to both of us thankfully, and will even reject Mommy for Daddy sometimes. I don't take it personally ;). We managed to host a small second birthday party for PD at the end of December with the grandparents attending. Mommy even wore some makeup. PD dug into the chocolate cake with glee, and then seemed extra active for the next few hours. Hmmmm.... We also enjoyed lighting Chanuka candles each night, with PD in Daddy's arms, and he enjoyed seeing dreidels spinning. He also likes potato latkes. Mommy needs to go to sleep now, but I'll provide a few pictures for your enjoyment. Other updates to follow.


Still figuring us out on the first day. Not a happy camper.


Scarfing down a banana. He was totally addicted to them, and we had to hide them when it wasn't time to eat one. My husband also refer to them as "yellow fruit", as he knows quite well what bananas are!


Trashing the waiting room at the Physical Examination Center in Guangzhou.


Enjoying the playground on Shamian Island.


Happy Chanukah!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

And...we're going pretty soon!

Look at that, less than a month before I update y'all again.

We have all our paperwork done which I still can't quite believe, and got our Travel Approval (TA) pretty fast (about 11 days). We are leaving at the end of November to Beijing, and will meet our PD on December 5th, I assume in Zhengzhou. Yes, I'm counting down the days, and having a private celebration each month when we reached the 26th. PD is now 22 months as of last Wednesday! I'm starting to imagine him running around the house and getting underfoot. Let's just say that we are making quite a few changes to our house, for his safety and for my comfort (my husband isn't as picky...such a man ;) ).

Working out the details of China travel while keeping kosher and the Sabbath poses some special needs of our own. I'll have to write out a separate post about that small challenge. Today, trying to finalize our plane tickets, while staying warm at my in-laws. We live in the Northeast and lost power yesterday afternoon, and it got pretty cold in our house, so we evacuated to a warmer location, which also features wireless Internet access. Phew. So much for cleaning out our home office today.

And for any Luoyang Families out there - please make sure to join the Yahoo group for our SWI: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LuoyangFamilies/. It's a good place to find out more details about other children in this SWI and connect with parents who have and will be adopting from Luoyang. Belonging to this group got me updated pictures, and that alone made joining this group worth it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Overdue in so many ways

So for the 3 whole followers who are following me (Hi! I should probably, cough, follow you back), I have some pretty amazing news.

We finally got a referral.

Actually, we got six of them.

No, we aren't adopting sextuplets.

I should probably give you a little backstory, eh?

You see, in June or July 2010 we made our final decision to switch from the NSN (No Special Needs) program to the SN (Special Needs) program in China. We knew that there was probably 2 or 3 years (or even longer) before we were going to get an NSN referral. We'd been contemplating the switch for a while, but my husband was unemployed at the time (thank you, great Recession of 2008) and decided to wait until we had, you know, money. Once he had a pretty permanent-looking job, we emailed our agency to start the process. We even took a road trip on Labor Day Weekend 2010 to meet with the social worker who did the matching from the Shared List, so that we were all very clear on what Special Needs we were comfortable with. Sadly, we had to re-do some of the paperwork process, as our i600a renewal had gotten messed up (and it took a year for USCIS to decide that we couldn't renew), so we had to update our homestudy for the Hague requirements, and apply for the i800a. What's another few hundred dollars anyways?

Once we had updated everything and had a pretty good idea that we were going to be approved for the i800a, our agency added us to the matching list in February 2011, which meant that every time that a Shared List came out (typically once a month), they would try to find a match for us. Officially, we would have 72 hours to decide whether to accept the referral based upon the medical information provided, and then would embark on the rest of the paperwork needed. Little did we know that we would have to say No to no less than 5 referrals. I never dreamed of saying no to any referrals, but we kept on running into situations that were far more complex than they originally presented.

We got our first referral literally right after the Royal Wedding in April, and the last one in August. Talk about a roller coaster of emotions over 4 months! But as soon as I laid eyes on the 6th file, I knew this would work. All the files we had seen were for boys that were about 18 months old. His special need is probably actually pretty minor from what we can tell (we may need to do some physical therapy and some plastic surgery), and his development was very much on track, a hundred times better than all the other files we had seen. Our adoption clinic pretty much confirmed my feelings, and we finally submitted the LOI (Letter of Intent) on August 11th.

Now that I've given you all this info, perhaps a picture would be appropriate? Maybe even 2?

Referral picture, about 6 months old

Picture that another adoptive mother took about two weeks ago,
when she visited the orphanage! I'm so grateful to her.

So our little P.D. (interestingly, both the initials of two of his Chinese names and the initials of the two first names we had been planning to give a boy, and my initials on this blog) was born in December 2009, so he's almost 22 months now. He's in the Luoyang City SWI in Henan province. This SWI has a Half The Sky program, which explains why he's so very much developmentally on target. Luoyang has a good reputation as far as orphanages go, and I've been able to make contact with a few other moms waiting to adopt from the the same orphanage, which is really nice.

So, yes, lots of excitement since the middle of August, and lots more to come. As far as paperwork, we're just waiting for our Article 5 to be picked up from the American consulate in Guangzhou (probably by the end of this week), and dropped off at the CCWA, and then we're just waiting for Travel Approval! Squee! I really, really hope we can still travel in November, but may have to wait until December. The sooner the better, this boy needs his Mommy! And Daddy. Can't forget the Daddy :).

I'm sure I left out details that ya'll want to hear, so ask away!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Does anyone know what yesterday was?

Yesterday was June 29th. 3 years since our LID. Yup!

Happy Anniversary to us!

I'm on Facebook if you're really looking for me. Email me a pinkdevora at yahoo dot com. Hoping to share javascript:void(0)better news before another year is up...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ok, that was interesting

What I find very interesting, is that from all the agencies in the U.S. that we could have chosen, we chose one of the few that is actually in a very Jewish neighborhood (Coolidge Corner in Brookline, MA) with several kosher restaurants, a couple of synagogues and places for us to stay comfortably nearby. We met with our agency for the first time this past weekend, and really enjoyed our visit. I think that other than the multitude of snow, Brookline would be on my top 10 places to live in the U.S. I didn't realize that it was quite a busy suburb. It had a fun vibe...even without all the alcohol. Everywhere we went, people were quite obviously passionate about their liquor, which was a little funny once we started noticing it. We also met a nice cross-section of religious Jews who were very interesting. I think we'll be going back, if I can stand the 4+ hour drive again. In addition to it being a popular Jewish and Israeli neighborhood, there were also a lot of Asians, and I saw several Asian-Jewish couples. Basically, we felt comfortable, which was nice.

So the hubs and I were attending a Chinese Culture workshop at our agency on Sunday. Another odd thing? It was on Sunday. They've been hosting this workshop for several years I believe, and it's always on a Saturday. This year, it was on a Sunday. Basically, it was the first event we could ever consider attending, so we made sure to go. I was actually hoping to meet a lot of people in the process, but there were only 4 couples in total there. Oh well. I probably should have networked more in advance to get people to attend.

During the lunch break, we ran out to a local kosher restaurant to pick up some lunch. As soon as we walked in, I looked down and spotted Chinese hair on a little girl. I looked up, and saw her Caucasian parents. I immediately caught their eye, and said: "Hi! We've just come from our adoption agency around the corner and are also adopting from China!"

Of course, they immediately mentioned that they had used the same agency, and we talked a bit. I really didn't have that much time to talk; we basically had to get take-out and run. I also didn't want to pressure them to talk to us, when they were there to eat after all. But the mom (who was adorable by the way) looked a little familiar, so if I see her pop up in my "People You Might Know" Facebook screen, I think I will have the guts to send her a friend request.

By the way, Dear Readers (all 10 of you ;)), if you would like to connect on FaceBook, and we've had some sort of commenting relationship, please email me. I've made friends with some nice people on FB and wouldn't mind connecting with a few more. I do see some friend suggestions from time to time for people that I don't know that well, and don't walk to look stalker-ish. I can't say that I'm all that fascinating, but you'll get to know me a little better!

So, we had a really nice weekend in a lovely town, learned enough about Chinese culture to see that we had a lot to learn and should start Mandarin classes now, and I finally broke the ice and spoke to other adoptive parents out of the blue. It was a pretty good weekend.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Recent news about Jews in China...and Chinese Jews in Israel

First, a nice video by Jewish Fan about Chinese of Jewish extraction in China:



And this is a cool video about a Chinese woman of Jewish descent who moved to Israel, converted to Judaism, and then married an American in a Sephardic-style wedding ceremony. This was definitely a very multi-cultural wedding and is so beautiful.



Some translation:
* 5 months after she converted to Judaism, the woman now known as Shoshana Rivkah (formerly Chiang Li, if I am spelling that correctly), is marrying Ami Emanuel, an American Jew.
* The speaker at 1:01, Michael Freund, the founder of Shavei Israel is saying that there are 700-1000 Jews in China that identify themselves as Jewish, and at least a couple hundred of them are interested in learning more about Judaism and the State of Israel. Over the last few years, they have brought several Chinese Jews to Israel, and they are learning about Judaism in order to convert.
* At around 1:50, you see a lovely young lady named Chiang Jin (again, not sure how to spell this), who, I have so say speaks an excellent Hebrew! Really amazing! Her father is next to her. They moved to Israel and converted about 5 years ago, currently living in Jerusalem. She talks about how her grandfather always spoke about being Jewish since she was a child, and on the Sabbath they would like candles, drink wine, and read the Bible. That's all they knew.
(Note: I'm a little wary of the groom's comment at the end. Ummmm....)

Of course, I managed to find many other videos about China and the Jews. Must save some of this for later. But I really enjoyed this video where a JTA reporter interviewed Chinese in China about what they think/know about Jews. I finally got confirmation that Jews are indeed called "Yoh Tai Ren" in Chinese, which may mean "big noses". Maybe. Gotta look that up in The Bamboo Cradle again.



This is a nice video about how the non-Chinese Jewish community is growing in Shanghai:


As I've mentioned before, my brother-in-law's mother, aunts and uncle(s) were all born in Shanghai during and immediately after WWII, and have fond memories of their treatment by the Chinese. We actually included some details about the history of the Chinese and the Jews in our home study, I think. I was a little worried that my Israeli citizenship could be an issue, but as y'all know, we've been through review with no questions! Yay!

My in-laws did a Jewish cultural tour of China in 2007 and I believe they met with the family in Kaifeng that were featured in the first video. They brought back a knitted yarmulke and a paper cutting of a menora from the family. It's nice to see that at least some of the culture has endured throughout several hundred years.

Oh, and not to forget, this is the article that inspired this post in the first place:
From Kaifeng to Kibbutz: Chinese Descendants of Jews Come Home
"For the first time, a group of seven descendants of the Jewish community of Kaifeng, China has moved to Israel.The new arrivals, who were brought here by the Shavei Israel organization, arrived at Ben-Gurion airport late Tuesday night.

The city of their birth, Kaifeng, sits on the banks of the Yellow River and was home to a flourishing Jewish community for more than a millennium.

"I am very excited to be here in the Holy Land," said Yaakov Wang, one of the new immigrants. "This is something that my ancestors dreamed about for generations, and now thank G-d I have finally made it."

Wang said that he eventually hopes to become a rabbi, so that one day he can help other Kaifeng Jewish descendants to learn more about their heritage."
Read the rest of the article here.


P.S. Partial hat-tip to Robert Avrech of Seraphic Secret. Make sure to check out his blog post that includes details about about doing his morning prayers (that require a whole odd-looking uniform of prayer shawl and phylacteries) on the Great Wall of China. I was laughing pretty hard at the complete freak-out by his "guide". Hm. I wonder if my husband should try to do the same, or just stick to praying on the tour bus. I think he just may be stuck without a minyan during most of our time in China.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Second Anniversary

Today, it's officoally two years since our Log In Date to China. Here's to hoping for only one more year! Heh. That would have depressed me a year or two ago.

In other news, it's been 14 years since my dear husband proposed to me. He's fabulous.

I still don't have confirmation that our dossier has been reviewed. Off to email the agency!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Whew, potential disaster avoided

Yep, it's that time that comes around every 15 months! Time to renew fingerprints and the I171H. We're sending in the letter to ask for renewal (and, no, this is NOT the free renewal!).

Only one obstacle - I couldn't find the form we received after our last renewal. Ulp. After half an hour of near-frantic looking, I finally found it. Whew. For some reason, I hadn't scanned it into my computer like all our other documents. Not good! I'll have to make sure to scan in the new renewed paper once we receive it...

Now that I've located the missing document, I can go back to watching a 20/20 special from 2004 about domestic adoption. It will probably make me ill. So far, a pregnant birth mother has rejected 3 couples out of 5, but the third couple *literally* received a 2 year old instead, on the spot! Whoah.

Also, I have heard rumors that the CCAA has reviewed dossiers up to 06/30/07, which would mean we had been reviewed, but I don't have confirmation. Hope so.

I'm making the hubby watch this for me. This should lead to some interesting conversations.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Almost time to freak out somewhat

While reviewing Pearl S. Buck International's update newsletter today (not my agency, but I'm on many agency's email lists), I saw that the last date that they had for dossiers that were reviewed in China is April 20, 2007. Our LID is in June 2007.

I knew in the back of my mind that it was possibly time to be a little worried, but now it's sunk in. They've reviewed up to April, so they'll be up to reviewing our dossier within two months...probably around our 2 year LID anniversary. My secret fear is that they'll find something that they don't like and reject us, G-d forbid. I know, I know, it's pretty rare, but we're not perfect on paper. What if they have some sort of issue with us? Trying not to bite my fingernails now...

Deep breath.

Anyways, many of you are probably wondering why we seem to just be sitting around, waiting for a 3-4 year referral wait. We're most definitely not getting any younger! The truth is, we have been looking into other programs. A lot of the international programs are closed right now, or closed right after we were considering them (so glad I didn't do all the paperwork and then get closed out of Vietnam), or we've actually aged out of them already (so much for Colombia), or I don't trust the program. Some are also quite expensive. I absolutely refuse to work with any program that has had allegations about baby thefts, or seems to require bribery or dealing with corruption. Of course, the China program is not completely clean in that regard - there have been reports of baby trafficking - but we are still most comfortable with that program. We are still monitoring various international programs to see whether we would want to adopt from a different country, but haven't found a particular preference at this time.

Meanwhile, we've had a few domestic adoption possibilities crop up, all of them roller coasters. For example, my husband and I went away for the weekend last July 4th. There was a kosher program at a hotel. We couldn't go away for a significant amount of time (my husband doesn't get a lot of vacation days, as he needs to use them for Jewish holidays), so we try to take advantage of legal holidays and go away for long weekends.

We made a mistake. Don't get me wrong - the hotel was lovely, and the food was fantastic. (We had to skip meals so we wouldn't gain ten pounds.) But in the past, we had usually gone to Sabbath programs when they were holding a program for singles, and some couples would come along as well on the side, taking advantage of having a weekend off at a nice hotel with good food.

This was the first time that we went to a program that was not tied in with a singles program. In other words, it was for families. Families. With children. Lots and lots of adorable children and happy parents.

It was torture. We were one of maybe 8 couples there, but there had to be 25-30 families, with anywhere from 2 to 10 children. It was so hard to watch the kids running around, and parents (and grandparents - there were extended families there) spending time with their children. There were strollers around our table with cute babies in them, and toddlers coming over to gaze into my face (I'm a friggin' baby magnet). By the end of the Sabbath, the smile was just pasted on my face. Every time a little girl walked by, I would gaze at her longingly. My husband understood, but what could he do? Not much.

We left early on Sunday; I was pretty desperate to get out of there. We were stopping by at a special furniture clearance sale on the way home, then we were going to go visit my sister and new niece (did I mention that all my sisters had babies last year? Oh yes they did!), and then go to a wedding in a city about 2 hours away from our house. Sunday was going to be a very busy day.

We wandered through the furniture store. I was eyeing a wall unit that we desperately needed. There happened to be a baby clothes vendor there as well, so I bought my newest niece a beautiful (pink!) stretchie and hat. We had reached the end of the store and were looking at the children's furniture. I figured if I could find a really good deal on something that looked like little girl's furniture but could pass as guest room furniture, that I would buy it. My husband wandered off to check our voice mail messages on our home phone. He came rushing back and handed me the phone: "listen to this message, and see if you can figure out who it is." I listened to it carefully (it was a little garbled). The voice and name sounded familiar, but I couldn't quite place it, even though we managed to get the phone number.

A couple of minutes later, it hit me. It was a woman who we had been in contact with several months earlier about a sibling pair that had been available for adoption. It hadn't worked out; another couple had been given first "dibs" and we had been told that they had taken the children. I called the woman back, and she told me that, actually, only one of the children had been adopted. The other sibling, a girl, was still with a foster family, but they could no longer care for her. This would be a guaranteed adoption, no changing of the mind. DCFS would not allow the foster mother to keep her, and the biological parents' rights had been terminated.

I couldn't breathe. The whole weekend had been all about wanting a little girl, and here we were being handed a daughter on a silver platter! I was literally standing next to a little girl's bedroom set and was tempted to buy it on the spot. We drove back home, planning to meet with the woman in a couple of hours. My head was whirling with plans and questions. How to handle work, what we would need to get for her. I need toys! Craft supplies! I might need to buy her clothes (yummy little dresses!) and sparkly shoes! Where would we send her to school next year? Wait, is she in day camp? OMG, how are we going to handle this? I'm a planner and project manager...believe me, I was going crazy with the possibilities.

We met with the woman involved...and then the details started coming out. There was a medical issue (ah hah - that's why she hadn't been adopted!). Then the way she wanted to handle the placement started ringing alarm bells in my head. I've read about attachment, and I've been a foster parents whose foster children's placements were completely mishandled. She wanted an quick decision; we asked for more time. The situation had been handled by a temporary placement with another family, but we still visited so we could meet her. And then we went home.

Even with all of the potential negatives and the possibility of a debilitating disease, I (and my husband, who was completely on-board) was ready to do it. It seemed to be the answer to our prayers. We had literally been in pain all weekend, desperately wanting our little girl, and, 24 hours later, here was a daughter, all gift wrapped! The gift wrapping was a little wrinkled and torn, but the gift was definitely still very shiny.

I couldn't go to the wedding. I had to talk to somebody about the situation and our decision. We did go visit my sister, and we sat and talked about it. She had freaked out when she heard what I needed to discuss, so her older kids knew that something was going on, and were tremendously excited. Her kids want us to have children so badly and were going out of their minds with joy. It felt like such an answer to our prayers. I started making final plans.

And, then, it all fizzled. When I called the next day, I got more details about the situation, but was told that we could still continue. I was still ok with the situation. But then every time we called her again, the story changed a little more each time. A little over a week later, we were basically told that another couple had been chosen instead.

I wasn't quite devastated, but was quite disappointed. And, quite frankly, I think that the reason that we were not chosen is because we are not from this particular woman's community. We're both Orthodox Jews, but have varying customs and habits that make us very different, and we would not be their first choice for raising a child from their community. So if she gives us the opportunity to adopt, it will be because a preferred member of her community doesn't want the child. We will not be accepting any more proposals from her, and frankly, feel that we were taken advantage of.

There have been other opportunities as well, but none of them have worked out either. So we continue to wait, while being open to possibilities. And hope that the dossier passes through review with flying colors.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Chanuka!

In celebration of Chanuka, I present a picture I took of my husband lighting the menora last year.

I desperately want to learn how to a) take better pictures and b) how to use PhotoShop. I probably know about 1% of what PhotoShop can do, and am very jealous of people who know how to use even 20% more than I know. I am trying to learn from people such as Pioneer Woman (warning: addictive website. It's like crack, but for people who like horses). I've downloaded her Action sets (Set 1 and Set 2), and tried a few of them on this photograph. Still not "quite there", but it's an improvement.

This is the SOOC (straight-out-of-the-camera) shot:



This is the same picture with PW's Dim The Lights action. Pretty dramatic, but maybe a little too much.



Fresh and Colorful action:



Define and Sharpen action. Good detail.



Define and Sharpen plus Quick Edge Burn. Helps get rid of the distraction of the white window frame.



I guess the last one is the best one. I *did* upload the image to Kodak*Gallery last year, did a little bit of editing, and added a dark border. I then printed it on glossy paper in an 8x10 and put it in a matte black frame. Looks pretty good...but I feel it can look better. What do you think?

Anyways, Happy Chanuka everyone!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Chirp...chirp

Yeah, sorry for the cricket chirping. There's just not that much to say right now. But I felt like posting *something*.

So here we go.

We've been waiting in China for, um (wait, need to use my toes to add this up), nearly 16 months now.

I could add one of those tickers (with ladybugs! yes!) at the top of my blog, but that would not accomplish anything.

Ok, that's all I have to stay. I'm still around, living vicariously thru other blogs, working my butt off at work and at college, expanding my Face*Book presence, and mourning the loss of a couple of blogs that I read frequently.

See you around sometime.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Fashion Plate

This post (at least the beginning of it), is one that I think Mrs. Figby (now Halcyon Mama) would enjoy.

I've been trying to lose weight over the last couple of years, and have been doing so slowly, which works well for me. My scale is broken, but I've probably lost about 10 pounds since the spring. I literally had just enough work outfits to get me through one work-week during the winter last year, and didn't have a much broader selection during the spring and summer. So when I managed to get my husband and I to Sym's last March, I picked up another winter suit jacket (Anne Klein! At least 50% off!) that I could wear with my wear-three-times-a-week straight black skirt, and put it away for the cold weather in the upcoming fall and winter.

I wore the jacket for the first time yesterday. It's already a little too big and doesn't look right. I should have left the tags on and just sold it on E*B*ay.

This morning the weather report made it sound like it would be a really cold day, and I'm standing in my closet, ransacking it, looking for something not-too-warm and not-too cool. Mentally, I am not ready for sweaters. It's too early! It's not even Sukkos yet! I move clothing items around, muttering "too big, too big, too hot, too cold...". I finally grab a jacket that I've literally worn for about 10 years off and on, depending on my size, and match it with the ever-present straight black skirt. Exciting stuff, I tell you. This jacket is also a little too big for me, but looks o.k. with the appropriate, ahem, foundation garment.

It's getting late at this point, so I rummage through my drawer for my other winter staple, black opaque tights (very slimming with the aforementioned "straight black skirt"). I only find a pair of tights at the back of the drawer, since I haven't restocked for the fall yet.

I throw everything together and make it to work on time, even with a Star*Bucks stop. No adopted Chinese babies there this time, unfortunately. (This town has at least 7 adopted Chinese babies living there, and I see them with their Mamas at SB sometimes, but have yet decided to actually say anything to them. It does add a little sparkle to my morning when they are there!)

I sit down at my desk in my sunny office, and realize what my very dark bedroom lighting did *not* reveal.

You know how women write to Dear Abby or Miss Manners or whomever, asking if they can wear navy blue with black, or brown with black? I've done both at various times, but usually just brown with black.

Today, I was doing it all. Brown jacket. Black skirt. NAVY BLUE TIGHTS. Black shoes.

Gah.


----------------------------
In other news, I have finally registered for college. Just ordered one course's textbooks! Woohoo!

In order to finish my Bachelor's degree, I have to take about 10 courses, which will take about eighteen to twenty-four months at the pace I can handle. I'm taking two interesting courses this semester (Human Nutrition, to satisfy a Science course requirement, and Cultural Issues in International Business, which I hope is as interesting as I think it should be), but should be able to take Digital Design II, i.e. Advanced PhotoShop CS3 or CS4, in the Spring or Summer semester. As you can see in my "Bloggin' Photogs" blog category, I am following several bloggers who post PhotoShop (and photography) tips all the time, but I never have the time to try their techniques. This course will finally make me do it. Can't wait! Alas, my degree program will not fit a photography course. I'll have to try another online course during one of my semester breaks.

I really wanted to take the "Modern China" course to satisfy the requirement for world history, but one of my transfer credits took care of that, and I don't have room in my degree plan for an elective course that isn't tied to my business degree. Oh well.

Does anyone out there have an online MBA program that they can recommend, that does *not* cost an arm-and-a-leg? I need to start checking common MBA pre-requisites.

And so my life continues, whilst awaiting adoption opportunities.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Happy New Year




I wish everyone a Happy New Year. A year of peace, gratitude, health and wealth.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Review of "The Bamboo Cradle"

The Bamboo Cradle: A Jewish Father's Story The Bamboo Cradle: A Jewish Father's Story by Avraham Schwartzbaum


My review


rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a non-fiction book, not a novel, about a American couple who went to Taiwan in the early 70s on a Fulbright scholarship, and ended up leaving with a baby girl that the father, Avraham Schwartzbaum found abandoned in a train station. This couple may have been one of the first couples to adopt from China. There certainly were no established procedures for foreign adoption from China, so the Schwartzbaum couple had to fight tooth-and-nail with both the Chinese and U.S. bureaucracies to take their baby girl home with them.


The Bamboo Cradle continues the adoption story along with the Schwartzbaums's decision to become Orthodox Jews due to their interest in converting their daughter to Judaism, and details about Devora growing up in the Orthodox community in communities in the U.S. and in Israel. They don't gloss over the challenges, racism and difficulties. You read about both their positive experiences along with the negative, and the difficult decisions that they had to make along the way.


What's nice about this book is that the story continues until Devora is a teenager, and doesn't end when they come home from China or soon afterwards like most books do.


I have read this book repeatedly over the last 20 years, each time with a different perspective. I read this book as a fascinated teenager, as Devora is my age and we attended the same school for a year, so I actually knew who she was, but had no idea how a Chinese girl ended up in a school in Israel (in the mid 80s, there were very few Asians in Israel at all, so she definitely was noticeable). I then read it as an adult who understood more of the story line and issues than a teenager did. After marrying, I read it as an infertile woman, struggling to conceive. Now I read it as a potential adoptive parent who is concerned about her decision to adopt a child from a different race, and integrating the child in the Orthodox Jewish community. Obviously, I find this book very, very relevant.


An Amazon reviewer complained that they didn't know what happened next, and doubted that it had a happy ending. I can tell you that the book *does* have a happy ending. Devora occasionally gives speeches about her childhood and her current life, and I've made contact with her with the hope that she can later advise me and serve as a role model for my daughter(s) (or sons). She married an Orthodox Jewish man (another famous Jewish writer, Ruchoma Shain, made her "shidduch", match), has several gorgeous children, and currently lives in the U.S. She seems well integrated in her community, and pretty well-adjusted.


As you may be able to guess from the fact that they were in Taiwan on a Fulbright scholarship, the Schwartzbaum couple are very, very well educated. Avraham is a sociologist, and his wife, Barbara, is an accomplished linguist. The book is therefore exceptionally well-written and absolutely fascinating. Avraham pulls you into their story from the very first paragraph, and doesn't let you go until the end. There is also a chapter written by Barbara that explains her perspective. The end of the book includes excerpts from Devora's diaries, which I really enjoyed as a teenager! She and I had very similar feelings and writing styles.


I cannot recommend this book highly enough. My copy is beginning to fall apart, and other people always want to borrow it after I rave about it, so I need to find two hard cover copies for my personal library.


View all my reviews.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sigh

(Warning, the vent mode is on)

Earlier this month, I explained to my family that yet another country that we were thinking of adopting from had closed, and finally told them that they should spread the word that they have a family member who is looking to adopt. Since I have family members in 3 countries, who knows what could happen?

I never wanted to do that. I don't want to be a "nebach case" (i.e. pity case). I don't want my relatives talking to people and saying "Hey. I have a sister who doesn't have any kids and who's desperate to adopt. Know anyone?" One reason that we were not that interested in domestic adoption is that I do not want to be the nebach case that is begging birth parents to give me a baby. I don't want to open a Go*ogle Ad*words account that says "Pregnant? Can't keep your baby? Desperate, beautiful, Harvard educated rich white couple with 10 bedroom home in the best school district in the whole country wants to adopt!". I work in advertising, and find it a little demeaning to have to advertise myself. I don't want to be the subject of my own marketing campaign, with my name and picture spread across the Internet. The Jewish community is also pretty small, and I don't want all kinds of people who know us to see us advertised this say. I also can't handle the possibility of a birth mother changing her mind after giving birth. I just don't think I can handle any more disappointment.

We've spoken to a few domestic agencies, and were basically told that our chances were low because we were religous (and we're not even "super Orthodox").

Anyone not involved in adoption thinks that it's so simple.

"Why don't you adopt from Russia? There must be so many Jewish adoption agencies in Russia with loads of babies!". Yeah...no.

We've gotten some phone numbers from people. "Call this person. He's helped people find babies. Make sure you sound sincere." My husband and I have been married for 12 years. How could we not sound sincere? When we do speak to this person, we hear about a couple of possibilities, but they require either money (or promises thereof), or really good connections with a particular group of people, and again, we have to sound sincere (they mean sound desperate). I am NOT interested in either arrangement.

"Call this person. She deals with child abuse cases and has a baby available for adoption right now." We call the woman. She says that the situation is still in process of getting resolved, and we should keep on calling her. I call her 3 times in 4 days, as per her request. On the 3rd call, I get the "don't call me, I'll call you". I get the vibe that she prefers to deal with a certain sub-sect of the Jewish community, and we're not part of that sub-sect, so we're out.

"This person can help you adopt from this country. This country really doesn't have legal adoptions, but he can help you with that." Excuse me? NO WAY. NO WAY IN HELL.

I feel like there's a secret password that I don't know. Why should I have to be either well-off or well-connected (or both)? Why all the secrecy? HOW COULD I NOT BE SINCERE? Sheesh.

We've been married for 12+ years. We have a big house that is time consuming and a bit expensive to maintain, live in a community that specifically has good schools (I think; I might still disagree with their educational tactics), and I've been at my job for over 10 years because I know that it can be a Mommy-friendly job. We both have relatives nearby who can be backup baby sitters.

The truth is though, that if we hadn't been in limbo all this time and knew that we weren't going to be starting a family that quickly, I'd probably be making more money in a different job (with potentially less stress; people regularly tell me that my job is insane, and my company is pretty much nuts), and we'd rather be living somewhere that has a lower cost of living, and somewhere that possibly has a smaller Jewish community so that we could make more of a contribution to the community. We'd also like a more diverse community. When you live in a very large Jewish community, it's pretty segregated. In smaller communities, you're forced to get along with everyone, even if they're a little different. And amazingly enough, every time we check out a smaller Jewish community, we find other couples who've adopted internationally, including from China.

But we've held onto what we have and where we live over the past 12 years, assuming that any time now, we'd get pregnant or be able to adopt. Basically, our life has been in limbo for quite a while, and I feel like this could go on indefinitely.

I also feel like that our life never really started, or really that we've never grown up. We got married, got into the going-to-work groove, watched everyone else grow their families, but just stayed the same. Not that I'm complaining, but we don't even look all that much older! I may be a better equipped potential parent now, what with all the exposure I've had to the world at large (we've travelled a little more than most religious Jewish couples our age, have met many different types of people and are a little more open-minded), and have learned more about parenting by watching so many other people do it, but sometimes I wonder whether it will ever happen.

In 30 days, we will have been logged in the China system for one year.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Nothing exciting...

Yes, I'm still around. According to my original timeline, I would have been home with my baby today. Instead, my husband and I are getting up incredibly early, as we have to get to a Department of Homeland Security office by 8:00 am tomorrow morning to renew our fingerprints and I-600-A. Fun times! I am already beyond busy with work and the upcoming Pesach (Passover) holiday, so the timing really isn't all that great, but we decided to just get it over with. I really should get some sleep sometime soon.

So, I'll be cooking and baking away over the next few days to prepare for the holiday. Interested in hearing more? Check out my new post on my cooking blog.

Oh, and one more update. We're up to 3 pregnant sisters, all due between June and October this year. I think one of them conceived in my house. At least someone is getting pregnant in this house! I'm praying daily for my 4th sister. I think I've dealt with all the infertility angst that this family needs. Enough!

Maybe I should have the 4th sister sleep over at my house for the holiday ;).

For those of you that celebrate Pesach, have a wonderful holiday.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

5 month LIDversary

Yawn.

Have to start figuring out how to renew fingerprints etc. Sigh.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

It's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to...maybe

Wow.

I am so composed right now that I am shocking myself.

I have a post that I've been keeping in drafts for a while, that is about the following topic. It's a little raw emotion-wise, and very personal. I wanted to think about it for a while before deciding to share it with the world.

But meanwhile, I have to say this.

One of my sisters just called me and told me she was pregnant. AND I'M NOT CRYING AND RAILING AT THE UNIVERSE.

That's what I usually do. In the bathroom.

And I'm not.

Don't get me wrong. I'm still emotional, but not omg-im-freaking-out emotional.

Maybe I'll have a breakdown later, when I'm at home.

We'll see.

Oh, and she confirmed that another sister is pregnant as well.

Whoot!

Oh, and it's my birthday. Great birthday present, no?

* BLI AYIN HARA BLI AYIN HARA BLI AYIN HARA - i.e. without the evil eye (Hebrew). I'm not jealous, and don't want to be "casting an evil eye" or whatnot. But I'm entitled to my feelings and need to talk about this somewhere. My mother doesn't even know this yet. And I can't talk to her about this, because she starts crying, and I can't handle that.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Time for some distractions

Okay, so I've got about two years to wait. What to do in the meantime?

I missed the deadline to complete my application to the college I wanted to attend (but because an old college did not send my transcript on time, not entirely my fault). So, I'm doing something else I've been wanting to do for a while: I've signed up for Amber Ludlow's photography class (I think there are a couple of spaces left - come join me!), as I would love to know what to do with the manual settings on my new camera. Plus I've always loved photography and have been told that I take good pictures, but my pictures are nowhere near the quality of Shelba's or grrlTravel's, and I'm very jealous.

I also spend time lusting after dreamily gazing at other people's kitchens online. I have got one terrible kitchen, and it just is very depressing to spend a lot of time there. I can't afford to replace it right now. Believe me, it needs to be completely replaced. No getting away with "refacing" and getting new countertops. Uh uh. It needs to be gutted to the studs, and the layout needs to change. I've got one of those houses where the previous owners were do-it-yourselfers who did NOT know how to do things properly. I've cleaned up after most of their jobs (replaced the bathrooms for one thing), but to do the kitchen properly I'm going to need a LOT of money. We have an adoption to pay for first though, so it will have to wait. (sob)

In the interim, I've discovered new kitchens to drool upon enjoy. I'm hoping to find some options I like so I can at least come up with an idea of what I want. Epicurious, one of my favorite websites, has a new section where they film celebrities in their kitchens. Check them out!

I was first lured in by a link to Isaac Mizrahi's kitchen. I've always found him entertaining, and he has such fresh design ideas that I thought it would be interesting. His kitchen is not actually that eye popping, but he's very funny and has great appliances (I'm not going to be able to afford any of them). Check out Isaac Mizrahi's kitchen.

After wiping off my keyboard (that ice cream looked good!), I went to the homepage and saw that there were two other kitchen tours.

I never heard of Colin Cowie until I got cable and saw commercials about him on WE or LifeTime or some other woman oriented channel. Apparently he's some sort of amazing party planner? He must be big in England or something. I love to have people over and frequently have many family members at my house, especially for the holidays, so I thought his kitchen would be interesting. But I have to say, looking at his kitchen will make you gasp, then cackle maniacally, because you know you will never be that insane. I will only mention one thing to you: 6 drawers of different sized ice cubes. No, I am not kidding. I was laughing so hard that I had to pause the video and start a blog post. Please go watch it.

I'm sure they'll be adding more celebrity video tours, but there was only one more, so I went to that one as well. Besides, the word "healthy" caught my eye. I've really been trying to improve my eating habits and diet, and am always interested in resources that will help me.

Gabrielle Reece (why is she a celebrity? Is she a tennis player or something?) was the only person who actually showed the contents of her fridge. I liked her immediately when she said "if I'm going to have sugar, I'd rather it be chocolate". A woman after my own heart! The rest of the video wasn't that fabulous, and really did not show much more than her fridge, but her dining room table is really cool, and I love her hand-made dishes. See Gabrielle's kitchen.

Now, I must go back to what I supposed to be doing...making my menus and shopping list for yet another "3 day Yom Tov", i.e. two days of a Jewish holiday followed or preceded by the Sabbath.

I know most of you are, like, "What? The High Holy Days were over yesterday". Not true! The wonderful holiday of Sukkos/Sukkot is upon us this Wednesday night. This is a joyful holiday (we're done with the fasting for a few months at least), where in the time the Temple was built we would make a pilgrimage to the Temple to celebrate the harvest. We can't do that any more (it's still the most popular holiday to visit Israel though), but we still have special prayers and remember the protection G-d gave us during our exodus from Egypt. One of the most visible mitzvas that we do over the holiday is to dwell in sukkot, temporary booths.

You got that right. Now that it's officially fall, we move out of our house into a temporary structure that my husband and father-in-law are building on our deck...and it doesn't even have a roof. Unless you consider branches or bamboo mats a roof. For 8-9 days, we eat in the sukkah and spend most of our time there. My husband even sleeps out there. I stay inside where it's warm, and there are no cats.

So...I who enjoy cooking must dream up menus for 6-7 festive meals. It's actually harder when we have fewer guests, as I hate serving leftovers and have a hard time cooking for just two. Plus, as mentioned before, I'm trying to eat more healthfully, so it's a bit of a challenge to not splurge on some fabulous traditional foods. And they're all going to be meat meals, as my current kitchen just does not allow me to do large dairy meals gracefully. Have I mentioned that I need a new kitchen?

I must go back to my menus now, as I have to get at least some advance cooking done today.


P.S.
There's a whole lot more to the holiday; I've just given you a very small taste. More information about Sukkot can be found on Aish (they even has an Asian style holiday menu), Wikipedia, and the OU's website.

P.P.S.
I was inspired to start a cooking blog, where I will probably post as infrequently as I post here. But I eventually hope to be able to feature dramatically shot pictures of my food (courtesy of my photography class. heh.). Come visit me at PinkDevoraCooks.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Happy New Year!

Jewish stuff at ChaiSpace!

My best wishes to everyone for Peace, Prosperity, Blessings and Health.

May you be inscribed in the Book of Life.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Now THAT'S a dossier picture

As seen in the August 20th edition of Crain's NY Business:
Gotham gigs

Brooklyn shutterbug

HOOKED ON BROOKLYN Kathryn Kirk didn't expect to stay long when she became staff photographer for Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden in 1989. "I was thinking two years, max," she says. She photographed Jackie Kennedy Onassis on one of her first assignments. "Every time I go out, I meet someone intriguing." Her salary was $51,494 last year.

DARKROOM DELIVERANCE Until Marty Markowitz took office in 2002, Ms. Kirk developed her photos in a darkroom at Borough Hall. "It was slower but one of the more relaxing parts of the job," she says. "Now, everyone wants everything right away."

SPOTLIGHT MOMENT When Bill Clinton visited Borough Hall in 1992, "he walked across the room ... and introduced himself," Ms. Kirk says. "[At our next encounter], I said, `We've met before,' and he said, `I remember.' " He then declared, "I want my picture with the photographer lady." The single mom included that photo with her adoption applications and now raises Elena, 8, and Paloma, 2.

Of course, I'm not sure Bill Clinton is the person I would want in my dossier photo...but he is a former President...Hm.

Oh, and our dossier is now officially logged in for two entire months.

Yawn.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Backordered

I have a friend who went through several years of infertility (complete with several mid-term miscarriages). When stupid ignorant nosy people would ask her bluntly how many children she had, one of her responses was "they're on back order".

I never had the guts to do that, and, quite frankly, the question would take me by surprise half the time and I would just be stammering and turning red. (Over the past few years I've learned to anticipate these questions, except for one memorable episode a couple of years ago when I was registering for college.)

But now, considering the tremendous backlog of dossiers in China, I think that "my children are onbackorder" is completely legitimate.

What do you think?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thinking about airline miles

My husband and I have never gotten credit cards with airline miles. We've always used cards that give us cash rebates of 1%-5%. Our favorite card for a while was Discover Card, but now we're loving our Chase Rewards cards (5% back on gas purchases!). Courtesy of our recent trips to Israel, we each have several thousand air miles with British Airways and Continental, respectively.

The question is, considering the long wait for a referral, what's the best way to go about collecting miles? And on which airline, or group of airlines, should we choose to do so? We're going to want to choose an airline with a direct flight from Newark, JFK, or LGA. I absolutely, positively will do anything I can (short of spending over $3000) to travel business class. Is it easier to purchase economy tickets and use miles for a free upgrade? I think Johnny did that but his blog is gone. Yoohoo...Johnny...any input? You always had the best advice!

I would appreciate anyone's input. I've never paid yearly fees for a credit card in the past, but may consider doing so for these purposes. I can also beg-bribe-plead with my boss to let me use his AMEX Gold Card miles, if possible. I have a corporate credit card on his account, so I should be able to access them, assuming that he has enough miles on the account at that point.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

And a LID too!

This was totally unexpected, as I had decided it was going to take a very long time until we got our LID. The fact that I was away for a while, then came back to work and am trying desperately to catch up, probably distracted me.

So yes, we've got a LID.

Are you ready?

Really?

Changed your mind yet?

Ok, ok.

Drumroll please!


JUNE 29TH, 2007


Let the countdown begin! 3 weeks down already!

(Let's just hope that it isn't 3 years before referral)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Oh, and yeah WE'RE DTC!

I will probably be flamed for not reporting this earlier ; ) but we were DTC on June 23rd!

We were slightly busy then, which is why I forgot to post it. My baby sister got married in Israel at the end of June, so I was very, very busy and was going without good Internet access for over two weeks.

So, yay, we're DTC*! Woohoo and all that!

We already got our "brown envelope" a while ago, so we're not waiting for that milestone.

Now what? Considering that we may have a two year or longer wait, I'm not going to start a nursery** or something. I also don't think it's healthy to read blogs obsessively for several hours a week for the next two years. I have 470 blogs in my Bloglines account and I can barely keep up. I need something productive to occupy my time. I would love to undertake some house renovations, but we've got adoption expenses to save up for!

So I'm going to go back to college, a college that offers online distance learning and self-study/mentoring courses. It's embarrassing that I still haven't finished my Bachelor's degree, and I'm well into my 30s. My husband not only has a Bachelor's from a nearly-Ivy-League institution, but he also has his first Master's, and credits towards a second Master's. Since I can transfer a lot of credits from my old college, I can finish my degree within two years, while taking my time and not taking on too much of a course load that will affect work hours while leaving me time to complete assignments and study.

Wish me luck.

* DTC = Date To China, i.e. the date one's agency sends the dossier to the CCAA in China. Eventually we'll get our LID, the date that we were Logged In to the CCAA, but I don't expect to get that for a while.

** But I may, MAY peruse a baby furniture catalog. Maybe. I'll keep you updated.

I just broke into a cold sweat. I can shop for baby furniture for a legitimate reason. Um, wow.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Must watch documentary

(Quick note: We should be DTC very soon. Yes, it took way too long, but I'm happy that the papwerwork is done!)

After reading about this documentary video on Harlow's Monkey, I ordered it through our local inter-library system.

First Person Plural is an amazing and incredibly touching story, and should be required watching for parents adopting internationally. Parents adopting domestically should probably watch this as well.

For those of you who haven't seen it: In short, it's a documentary about and by Deann Borshay Liam, a woman who was adopted from Korea at an older age (about 9 years old, I think) by a couple from California.

Reflections on the video (caution: spoilers):
.
.
.
.

This video illustrates how important it is for you to help your internationally adopted child be as comfortable as possible with their native culture, and to learn the language as much as possible. It's heartbreaking to watch Deann, aka Ok Chin, meet with her birthmother and to have to communicate via an interpreter, as Deann knows very little Korean. After meeting her Korean family two or three times, she decides that she needs to have both her families in the same room, and flies to Korea with her American adoptive parents. I just watched the scene where her two mothers meet, and was absoutely heartbroken (and sobbing like a baby). Her American mother was very brave to do this, and I absolutely commend her for trying hard to understand Deann's new reality. It was also heartbreaking to watch Deann's Korean mother hold Deann's hand and tell her, basically: I gave birth to you, but I'm not your mother. (She wasn't pushing her away, just stating a fact). She then said "My heart aches".

Wow. What a choice that poor woman had to make. If you want to see something that gives you a little insight into what a birthmother has to go through, and also see an illustration of what may happen when an international adoptee meets a birth parent (and their biological family - Ok Chin has 5 Korean siblings), First Person Plural is a must-see.

This is something that I'm adding to my wish list and have to make sure to pull out and watch every one in a while, just to remind myself why it's so important to work on cultural knowledge and language with my adopted children.

I'm not as articulate or insightful as Harlow's Monkey. I suggest you read the rest of her post. And keep an eye out for Deann Borshay's upcoming new film, Precious Objects of Desire.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

In Response to "Rick"

Dear Rick (see comment on previous post),

Since you did not identify yourself with an email address or a blog, I'm assuming that you meant to just bring up a subject and will probably not follow up. If you do, I'm open to a dialogue.

Anyways, my short response to you is: What Jewish kids languishing in Russian orphanages?

What Jewish kids are available for adoption in the first place?

Answer: few. Most are special needs, which is not my first choice. Many are older, again, not my first choice.

In addition, the general Russian adoption system was in disarray when we initially started our adoption process. I don't know how much it's improved since. I needed something more certain.

My Orthodox friends and I who are adopting/have adopted are all subject to questions such as this. Yet when we looked for Jewish children to adopt, they were nowhere to be found, unless, again, they were special needs. I think that if so many Jewish children or babies were available for adoption, there would be a public campaign for them to be adopted, and it wouldn't take long before they were all in wonderful Jewish homes.

If you happen to know otherwise, please feel free to contact me again. I know quite a few people who would be very interested.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Thinking about reality

I have two sisters who live in Israel, so I don't get to seem them very often. They flew in recently in honor of yet another's sister's wedding. (Yes, the wedding was gorgeous. We had a wonderful time. Thank you.)

Since I have more room than most of my family members (odd how not having kids in a 4 bedroom house makes things pretty spacious), tons of toys, and wireless Internet, they hung out at my house for the majority of the time they were here. I didn't mind, as they usually made me supper as well (bonus!).

One sister called me at work one day, and asks me whether I can babysit for her son that night, as she wants to go visit a friend in another city for a few hours. Yes, that would include putting my nephew to bed at my house, and she would then come back at midnight or so and sleep over.

Panic set in immediately. Wait! Considering the fact that this kid lives in Israel and I haven't seen him for months, I don't know his routine! Does he still take a bottle? What goes in the bottle, and at what temperature? What songs does she sing him before he goes to sleep? Does he need a nightlight? Do I have to leave the door open? And what if she doesn't get back before I go to sleep? I don't have a baby monitor and what if I don't hear him crying? What am I going to do if he starts crying hysterically for his mother? HELP!

I mean, I used to babysit a LOT, but my teen years are very much in the past, and I am totally out of practice. Plus I get a little, um, detail oriented sometimes.

Then, reality hit.

I'm lucky that I can even ask these questions. When we adopt from China, we'll be lucky to know anything about the baby's routine, plus we'll be complete strangers who are taking care of her suddenly, and have to put her to bed at night. If I can't handle my nephew, how in the world am I going to handle my Chinese baby?

I'm pleased to report that everything went smoothly that night. Some tears, but they didn't last long.

And I totally need a baby monitor.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Can't believe I didn't mention this! We have relatives adopting from China!

Right before I went to Montreal and met Mortimer's Mom, I got an email from someone who had answered an agency question I had posted several months before on APC. She had just put two and two together, and realized that she was my husband's second cousin! We've never met her and her husband (I think it's our second cousin through my husband's grandmother's third husband...whatever), but now we definitely will. And, of course, she and her husband are also adopting from China.

How cool is THAT? I thought we would be the only ones in the family, and was gently breaking the news to our mutual grandparents etc...and she and her husband were a year ahead of us!

So guess where our newfound relatives are now?

I'll give you a minute.

.
.
.
.
.
.

Yes. They're in China. They received their daughter, G., today! I'm so excited for them! Their daughter is gorgeous, and very well behaved! We'll see how long that keeps up ;).

So, I am tremendously thrilled, and am motivated to get that last piece of paper for our dossier. Ah! Can't wait until they get home. I wish them my heartfelt congratulations.


P.S. I know that someone is going to bring this up, so I'll head it off now: No, these relatives are not religious Jews, and most likely will not be religious, as her husband is not even Jewish in the first place. But this is cool nonetheless.

P.P.S. No, no blog link. It's password protected. And since I neglected to mention that I have a blog, I don't want to identify her and her family before I let her know that I have one.

P.P.S.S. This is so friggin' cool.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I171H is IN DA HOUSE

You read it right. That last all important form is HERE. It took about 2 months after fingerprinting.

You'd think I'd be happy that this ever-so-crucial document had finally arrived. But no. I was more...confused...than anything else. You see, a couple of weeks ago, the idea of switching countries due to the ever increasing wait times in China became very attractive to me, and I was VERY seriously considering switching to Vietnam. I think I actually researched Vietnam before China when we started this whole process, but the country was closed at the time. I really thought we should switch to Vietnam and adopt a boy (faster than adopting a girl), come home, then submit our paperwork to China for a girl, and put up with the long wait (if it still existed, as I'm expecting a dropoff in applications due to the revised rules) while at least having one child at home.

Our co-religionists have lots of kids. LOTS. My boss has 12. No, than is not a typo. He has 12 kids. I'm the oldest of six. The average number of children per family in our neighborhood is probably five. My friends always said they could see me sitting at my family's Shabbos table, presiding with my husband over our family of 13. My response was that I'd be happy with about five or six.

So now my husband and I are on the "north side" of thirty five, and are possibly looking at a two year wait for our first child, and I really don't want to wait that long! I've already been waiting for 11 years!

But, Vietnam's program does not seem to be incredibly stable, and choosing an agency seems to be even more complex than China. And, ironically, the wait time at some of the more reputable agencies is getting longer (gee, does that sound familiar?).

So, China it remains. Gotta send off that last batch of papers, and I think a largish check (eek), and pray for a LID that is in the near future. Woohoo!

=============================

On another note, how nasty is it to have to go for the yearly checkup at the good 'ol OB/GYN? I think I need to switch doctors. I think he's the baby mill doctor. Every time I go in there, there are at least 3 other women there who are pregnant, or who just had babies. There was a delay before the doctor saw me, and I could not find anything to read. Every single magazine was a baby or parenting magazine, which I can't stand reading right now, as it just reminds me how much longer I have to wait before my baby is here. Think about it. Some of the other ladies there could potentially have two babies before I get my first. I was relieved when I went into the exam room and finally found an O*p*rah magazine.

Plus, the doctor didn't smile at me even ONCE. I think he disagrees with my decision to discontinue fertility treatment. At least he didn't warn me that my clock was ticking (like I don't know that) and that I should get myself to Cornell pronto. I've decided that I've had enough, and I am no longer putting myself through the pain.

I can't wait to stalk back in there with my Chinese baby. Heh.

Thank G-d I only have to go there once a year.

=============================

Hubby and I went on vacation recently, and visited a small Orthodox Jewish community over the weekend. I had a funny feeling before I went there, and, sure enough, when I told a local resident that befriended us that we were adopting from China, she grinned and said: Really? Cuz a local Orthodox Jewish couple also adopted from China. Nice. But, as usual, I could not meet them. They're in Israel for the year.

And so continue my attempts to meet other OJ couples who have adopted from China. I know about three, have seen another one in a restaurant, and have now heard about a fifth. But I just can't seem to actually meet them! I have met and befriended couples who have adopted domestically, and from Korea, Guatemala, and Columbia. But not China. Weird.

=============================

Anyone else watching PBS' China From The Inside? Quite fascinating, and the scenery's gorgeous. It's horrifying how little independence most women have, but I'm glad to see that it's changing. I was even more horrified to hear that 150,000 women a year commit suicide in China, most of them between the ages of about 15-35. If a rural woman's fate is to leave her parent's home and serve the needs of their in laws and new husband for the rest of her life, that can be really depressing.

Check out the article about the gender inequality in China. By 2020, they're expecting that 40 million men will not be able to find a wife. THAT is going to be a problem.

=============================
Yo, yo. It's national delurking month. I've been leaving comments all over the place. Delurk, people. Tell me about yourself!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Interesting video about Shenzhen, China

The NY Times website has an interesting video on its site about the growth of Shenzhen, China, and how its development may be a harbinger of things to come for the rest of China.

It's in two parts; this is the first part. The second part will start automatically at the end.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Friday, December 01, 2006

Referrals are in once again!

CCAA got through 14 days again (I think), but that's better than nothing.

Keep an eye on my "They've got their referrals" section...there are already some new blogs there, such as Luca's blog.

And, also big news: Mortimer's Mom has Sprout's referral info! Go on over there and give her a cyber hug. Yay!

Next week, at least 6 people from my referrals section will be leaving to China. Can't wait to see all those "Forever Family" days (I refuse to call them Gotcha Days - that sounds a little scary)!

So many blogs to read...so little time.

Have a good weekend everyone! Hoping to see more referrals on the flipside!

(Jeez. I totally overused the exclamation points on this post. Oh well!!!!!!!)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Don't get me started

I started writing a comment in response to this post, but it got so long I had to blog about it instead. Read the comments on her post too!

Oh, people after my own heart. I love, love, love reading. I can easily do 15-20 books a week when I don't work overtime. Does reading blogs count as reading? Is that why I have way so many blogs on Bloglines? I think so. There aren't enough books about adoption, so I read on the Internet.

So happy Chicago Mama shared this, because now I have recommendations for new authors! Woohoo!

Since I can't afford all the books I would like to read, I am constantly taking them out of the library. Every time I hear of an author or book that's good, I reserve it on the library website (and they'll bring it in from any library on the network). I still do buy plenty of books, but I am very selective. Because I'm out of shelves and must restrain myself from making further purchases.

My dream is to redo my kitchen, bump out the back of the house behind the kitchen to create a family room...and make the living room a library. With the requisite English library ladder. Cuz you know the walls are going to be bookshelves up to the ceiling. And there will be a window seat and many comfortable armchairs.

Be still my heart.

I will admit to re-reading the Little House on the Prairie series and all the Anne of Green Gables books once a year.

My daughter already has 20 board books and I haven't finished paperchasing yet. She also has 100 or so 3rd-6th grade level books, partially because I taught 5th grade for one year. My students were children of immigrants, and had terrible language skills. I knew that reading was the key to a good vocabulary and just general good knowledge, so I shoved books down their throat as much as I could. I paid for the class library myself - and now the books are in my house. Thankfully, I did turn the students on to some good books, so I think I helped them somewhat.

I also use my nephews and nieces as excuses to buy books, so that "they'll have something to do at my house". Heh. That's also why I have an entire house full of toys. People walk into my house and wonder where the kids are.

Many of my favorite authors/series are sci-fi/fantasy. My current faves are Ben Bova, Anne McCaffrey (her Pern and Talent books are the best) and all her co-authors, and most of the Star Trek and Star Wars books. I also just discovered Charles Stross' The Merchant Princes series, and am waiting breathlessly for book 4. I've read all of Robert Heinlein's books. Actually, Space Cadet was my introduction to sci-fi. Mmmmm. Must go buy a copy. My father gave me this book to read when I was 8, and that was what started my sci-fi obsession. He may not have been the most wonderful person (understatement for sure), but I do owe my love of reading to him, and he was a wonderful guide to quality literature. I read Les Miserables and Animal Farm when I was 12, way before most of my other friends.

Some of my more pedestrian favorites:
I like some Fay Kellerman (a little too gory for me though), Jeffrey Archer & Maeve Binchy (long complicated family sagas are yummy - and nice thick books), Robin Cook, Mary Higgins Clark, Nelson Demille, Nicholas Sparks, David Baldacci, J.K. Rowling...there are many more, but I can't remember them right now. I've also read many Jewish novels and general Jewish theology and thought books, but that would be a different post.

I've actually been considering started a book blog. I'm sure there will be a lot more posts there than here! I think I need to test the Blogger beta first, because I'll definitely need categories on that one. Wouldn't it be interesting to track every single book I've read? Hmmmm....

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Referrals are here! Woohoo!

Check out my "They've got their referrals" section on the right. Lots of new people!

Nothing new to say otherwise...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What a relief!

One of my big concerns is going to China for two weeks, with our luggage restricted to two suitcases total (!), and having to take food for the husband and I to last most of that time! Believe me, I was worried. A year ago, I knew that I could definitely get kosher food in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and possibly Kowloon. I also knew that it was doubtful that I would end up adopting from an SWI *anywhere* near any of these places. When I met up with Mortimer's Mom in July, she was raving about how wonderful Chabad of Beijing was, and I was a little confused about why she spent so much time there - until I realized that she's CANADIAN, and the Canadians go back to the consulate/embassy in Beijing to complete their adoption, not Guangzhou! Darn. I guess I should've married a Canadian.

I didn't really see anything about kosher food in Guangzhou, where we'd have to stay at least a week. Nor did I see anything about kosher food in any other area where we might adopt from. This was a little stressful, to be sure! There are so many Labriute meals one would want to ingest over the course of 14 to 17 days, and they take up a lot of space in a suitcase. Yes, we could ship food to China, but I really would not trust that the package I sent to some far flung province in China would actually be there when we got there. There was also the possibility that we would get our TA on very short notice, and not have time to ship food to a particular hotel. Cuz you know we're going to get the referral from Outer Mongolia.

I was so worried (becuase I'm crazy like that), that I was tempted to ask for a referral from one of the SWIs near Guangzhou, because I felt better about being able to trust a shipment arriving and being there for us at the good 'ol White Swan hotel when we got there, since we would be there nearly two weeks. Of course, now that would not be my first choice, as anyone adopting from that province has to stay an extra week!

So...while reading some posts on a wonderful blog (separate post to follow) about the Jews in Kaifeng, I decided to check the Chabad websites in China to see what had been going on lately. I already knew about Chabad of Beijing, Chabad of Hong Kong, and the Shanghai Jewish Center, and had heard that there was a Jewish synagogue in Kowloon from where kosher food could be ordered (the website has disappeared). Oh, and that there was another synagogue in Beijing.

Can you imagine how thrilled I was to find new Chabad Centers in China? Woohoo! There are now Chabad Centers (with food that can be ordered! yay!) in Kowloon, Shenzen, and, most importantly, Guangzhou!

Gah. This is fabulous.

Of course, I'm *still* going to get the referral from the most remote part of China and have to take a suitcase of food to get through a week there. But at least I can look forward to a freshly cooked meal in Guangzhou.

Never mind that it'll be 18 to 24 months before we get our referral. And that we're still waiting to get our I-171-H or whatever it is they call the form nowadays.

And my other nightmare, with is that we'll have to travel on Passover, when there's REALLY nothing to eat.

P.S. Ooh. I just googled "chabad guangzhou" and found this article. It looks like they're planning even more centers in China:

"Thanks to funding from Rohr and other sources, within the next 18 months Chabad plans to inaugurate at least three more centers in China. Avtzon says he's not yet sure where, but likely candidates include the booming industrial cities of Qingdao, Nanjing, Xiamen and Hangzhou.

Chabad also is looking at the former Portuguese colony of Macau, which like nearby Hong Kong is now a special administrative region of China."

Nanjing! Xiamen! Fabulous.

By the time we get to China, there's gonna be a Chabad in every province!

BTW, in a previous post I mentioned that I thought I could get kosher food in Guangzhou, but I think I had it mixed up with Kowloon. Having a Chabad Center there is much better.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Turn on Boston Legal!

At this point in the show, a client has come into the office to sue her/his (not sure at this point - client may be a cro*ss dres*ser or a manly woman!) employer. Client has decided to go for "one of those Chinese babies", "like Angelina Jolie", and when said client asked for maternity leave...the employer said that it's not available for adoptions. So client wants to sue. Oh, and said employer "ca*me on*to me once".

Whoo boy. We're either gonna love or hate this one!

And I'm curious to see what happens. It'll be great to know (at least according to William Shatner, oops, Denny Crain) if an employer has to cover adoption leave under maternity leave.

I really needed something to cheer me up. This is right up my alley.

Not that I'll be taking adoption leave anytime soon, darn it.

Updated:
(The new lawyer just insulted an Asian coroner, describing him as "not a fan of verbs" and a "verb bigot". )

Adoptive parent is a guy. In Dolce & Gabana and Prada. Good taste in designers at least!

Actually, Mr. AP (adoptive parent) has been terminated because of the issues with the aforementioned cr*oss dre*ssing, women in the office uncomfortable with him using the lady's room, making inappropriate jokes...etc.

Yeah, whatever. The rest was boring, and the whole "gettin' one of those China babies" never came up again. Oh well.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Woohoo! They have their own blog!

Ah. Now I no longer have to run searches or randomly run across their videos on YouTube.

Now they have their own website.

Go forth and enjoy!

(hat-tip to pomegranate)

Oh, and an update:
My husband does not read my blog.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A test to see how often my husband reads my blog

Remember this young lady?

Yes.

It's August.

She has not arrived in my mailbox yet.

And my birthday/anniversary isn't for months.

Hmmmmm?????

Thursday, July 20, 2006

They're baaaack!

Remember these kids?

They're back with more! Not as good as the first one, but hold out for the end which is a little more amusing.

I still wonder what the kid in the background is doing.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hooking up with Internet friends

Well, I've finally met someone from the Internet (and no, I wasn't abducted ;) )

Nothing like going on vacation and realizing that you are staying at a hotel only a few blocks away from a bloggy mama's store! Stupid me did not realize that Mortimer's Mom lived in Montreal till the last night of our vacation (or rather, extended weekend - we really were only there for a two whole days). But, thankfully, even amongst the hectic happenings with her leasing a third store and all, I was still able to catch her at her yummy, yummy, store.

I can now state with certainty that Mortimer's Mom is a cool mama and the references to her not requiring lipstick, is because she doesn't need any. She is cute, cute, cute in person!

Unfortunately, hubby was impatient to get back as we had a wedding to attend that night and a long drive ahead of us, and I knew that she was busy with customers, plus a family from her travel group happened to stop by while we were there (so I got to see one really gorgeous three year old), so we didn't have much time to hang out. But it was nice to meet a fellow blogger in person!

Hi Mortimer's Mom!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Stupid fertility themed headlines

I'm not even going to go through the courtesy of linking to them. If you want to find them, they're on Yahoo News and elsewhere I'm sure.

Psychotherapy helps infertile 'superwomen'
Just relax and you'll get pregnant!

But then, you can quit the pychotherapy, since:
Some stress during pregnancy may be good for baby

But, only some, not too much!
Pregnancy stress 'passed to baby'


A quote from another story about multiple births from IVFs:

He added that transferring one embryo gives almost the same result as two but without the risk of multiple births or the added costs of caring for premature infants.

Really? "Almost"? I guess the only difference is that it's one less, so that's not much, is it? That's not *really* a difference, is it?

Benefits of fertility treatment outweigh costs: study
Ya think?
(they were focusing on the overall benefit to the government and society by having another person in the world, but still, stupid headline).

And this one is plain funny:
Sex is essential, kids aren't
(apparently, 30% of German women just aren't interested in having kids, and the government is horrified).


This is why I read blogs, not the news ;).