Thursday, December 22, 2005

I think I'm coming out of hibernation

Yeah, it's been a long while. I guess that there's just been a lot on my mind, and I haven't been able to organize it enough to be able to post. Otherwise, I end up with long posts that are hard to read.

I know I owe answers to two commenters. Hopefully, my answers will be forthcoming soon. The good thing is that I think we've settled on an agency. I'm not going to say who it is right now, in case something doesn't go well with the application process, but at least we've made some progress!

One of the big questions in my mind was whether my husband was truly, truly committed to doing this. This is common in the adoption world, from what I know. It's hard to tell what the hubby is really feeling sometimes, as he doesn't have my mood swings ;). Much easier to tell how I'm feeling!

But for my birthday, he had told me that he wanted to buy some of the adoption books on my Amazon wish list, but they were all pretty much backordered. So today, he surprised me with (among other things) a new book, called "China, The Beautiful CookBook". It's a great book that combines gorgeous pictures of China (now I can't wait to go!), and then sections devoted to a certain province of China, then a certain category of food (poultry, fish, meat, etc). I can't stand to look at some of the food pictures (complete with chicken heads...ick), and there are quite a few recipes that aren't kosher, but they are *quite* interesting, and there are many that I'm considering preparing. Thanks honey! Good choice! I get the message.

Can you please sign the application and send it in now?

And, just for fun: User Test: The Orthodoxy  Test.

That's right. The quiz couldn't figure out what level of Orthodoxy I am. Funny. I can't either.

Hat tip: Chayyei Sarah, via OrthoMom.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Just to show you I'm not completely ignoring this blog

Posts that are rambling about my head:

* Impressions from the APC conference
* Why I still haven't decided that China is our ultimate destination for adoption...but why I still want to.
* Why I don't want to adopt from Russian, Kazakhstan or Guatemala (never mind India, Ethiopia and other places). This sounds a lot like the second post. Oh yeah, and why we're not pursuing domestic adoption either.
* Trusting in G-d to change my fertility situation vs. adoption
* Reviews of some really great adoption books

Whatever. Sounds a little boring, but I'm hoping someone finds it valuable one day.

Let the Insanity Begin


I just spent close to 3 hours trying to compare China program costs from five agencies: Gladney, CCAI, CAWLI, WACAP & GWCA. I haven't even called USAA yet, a facilitator that I really want to speak to, and my head is already spinning.

There should be a central agency for the adoption agencies. Why in the world can't they all call their lovely "fees" by the same names? This is driving me insane. And if I call them and ask them to explain what "travel costs" or "adoption processing fees" are and start nitpicking with questions like "does that include food?" (I hope not - we're gonna have to bring all our own, as we keep kosher), or "does that include in-China travel and the flight to China, plus hotel plus food, or is that just the flight IN China, and the hotels but not the flight TO China or food and blah blah blah blah blah..." they're gonna hate me and think I can't afford it. Possibly. Plus I don't want to be the incredibly irritating "noodge".

Hm. I must be a little overwhelmed. You think?

I haven't even started comparing my list of questions for each agency. Do you have a doctor that travels with the group? Does he carry Valium or other sedatives? How many families typically travel in each group? Are you going to rip us off on the travel fees? Can we make my travel arrangments so that we don't have to travel on Shabbos (that would be useful!)? Are we the only Orthodox Jews that you've ever dealt with? Can you get the in province process down to 5 days so that we don't have to stay in a remote province in China over Shabbos*?

The agency that wins will answer the last question properly. I'm probably going to request that we get a referral from the SWI near Guangzhou, if that even works, as there is a Chabad there and possible hot kosher meals and a synagogue. I'm hoping we can get to a Chabad for Shabbos. Actually, since there's no eruv**, we'd have to stay at the Rabbi's house or something since we'll have a baby to deal with. Wow. That's freaky.

Hoo boy.

I'm sure they'll be more about this later...

* Shabbos is the Jewish day of rest. It starts Friday at sundown and ends Saturday night at about an hour after sundown. We don't do many types of work, cook, travel in cars, airplanes or the like, turn lights off or on, OPEN A HOTEL DOOR WITH AN ELECTORNIC see how that can get complicated.

** Not in the mood of explaining this right now. Try googling it.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Really, really funny

Well, after seeing this on China Adoption News, I loved it, but I was going to leave it at that. But, heck, everyone else is posting about it, so...why not. Here you go:

Chinese BackStreet Boys

These kids are actually pretty good!

But can someone please tell me if the kid in the background is even alive?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Dead-on Personality Test

Pink Devora's Communication style:

You're the ultimate universal, holistic thinker! Yes, you're a visionary. Everything, including the smallest detail, needs to be synthesized into a framework that answers the question, "How." Before you begin any project or task, you need to see the "big picture." Not one step can be taken until you know how that one step fits into the whole.

Ideas and options are what you're always creating. "Process" is your middle name. Once something seems concrete, structured and complete, you have a way of coming up with a creative option that changes the whole thing and leads to a better building process.

Change, particularly in ideas, is never-ending for you. What you're enthusiastic about today may not be the focus of your energy in a week, a month or year. People that know you see a dynamic stream of consciousness which, given the right amount of time and people support, develops idealistic and artistic themes into living and creative realities. Whether they are software programs, pieces of art, strategies for corporations or new, holistic developments for organic gardening makes no difference.

There is no timeline or deadline for your accomplishments. They are never-ending because you will go back and transform them if they evolve into a different whole within you. That is why in school or at work you procrastinate until the last moment to finish a paper, an assignment for a project. If you do the work early, at a time it's too, you'll have to go back and change completely because you see it in a different contextual whole. So, why redo it?

I'm a visionary! Yay!

I really *do* have to think everything thru before I'll work on something. Even with the adoption process, I've already looked into *all* the details, down to the packing list for China. And in school, or at work, I do end up doing everything later than I should - because that way it gets done properly. Well, according to me, anyways!

(hat-tip to

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Ohhhhh...I was supposed to play hockey to get pregnant!

Hat-tip to Sarah Gilbert of Blogging Baby

An entire team of female hockey players get pregnant. EVERY SINGLE ONE.

Geez, you'd think that the years I spent in Canada playing hockey would have helped. I GUESS NOT.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The best adoption videos I've seen

You have got to love Karen's and Scott's videos. Honest and breathtaking. They make me both laugh and cry. I'm glad to see that their Gwen is feeling much better. I pray that she recovers completely very soon.

I also love Team Shapiro. I've watched this video (all 15 minutes of it!) at least three times. It was one of the things I showed my mother when I finally broke the news to her recently.

(In general, Red Thread Stories, which produced Team Shapiro's video does a really nice job with adoption videos - I hope I can afford them after shelling out 15k or more for this process! Check out their website for more great videos)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Great Agency Search

While researching adoption, I have read blog after blog, website after website, comparing people's experiences with different agencies (note the "I" - DH has not participated in this much, but that is slowly changing). I think I have it narrowed down to about four. As it happens to be, none of them are even in our local area, which hopefully will not be a big deal. One of the agencies that I'm seriously considering, CAWLI, is at least on the Eastern seaboard.

I still wanted to physically attend an agency's orientation session, so DH and I attended Gladney's information session in Manhattan. One of the reasons I chose Gladney was because the session was free. Listen, when I have to DRIVE to Manhattan, and shell out at least $25 for parking, and basically listen to what amounts to a SALES PITCH by the agency (and then, naturally, I want to eat out in the city), why should I pay them for the privilege? If I choose them, they'll be making money off of me eventually. Are there so many potential adoptive parents attending sessions that the agencies have to charge to weed out the uncommitted ones by charging $25 per person?

I don't think that last part is true, as there were only about 10 couples and one single woman at Gladney's International Adoption session, held at the in Manhattan. They presented information about several countries. I think they were China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Guatemala, Columbia and possibly one other country. My DH and I had to be one of the youngest couples there (we're both in our early 30s), except for one Chinese couple who looked to be quite young (but I'm assuming they were at least 30, China's age requirement, unless they make an exception for adoptive parents with Chinese ancestry).

By far, the Chinese presentation was the most popular, followed by Guatemala.

What makes Gladney different?
1. Their adoption training sessions are done one-on-one with the adoptive parent/couple. You don't have to wait for enough couples who are proceeding with adoption to get together for training sessions, and you don't have to sit thru ENDLESS STUPID QUESTIONS. People were literally asking questions like "So why does China have so many baby girls for adoption?". HELLO! I knew the answer waaaayyyy before I even contemplated adoption. Do these people live under a ROCK? I was sitting there trying not to roll my eyes too much, worried that it might not make a good impression on the presenters ;).

2. They travel with small groups (at least to China - my impression of other countries is that couples travel by themselves). If you've ever been on some part of tour group (or say, a school trip), trying to get a large group together at the same time can take way too much time. Especially waiting for all the women to get out of the bathroom ;). Imagine travelling to China with 20+ other couples, plus some translators and agency representatives, and THEN add in 20 babies. To me, that is just MAYHEM. They typically go to China with about 9 couples probably at least once a month.

3. Gladney has employees in each country where they have adoption programs, so that there is always someone there checking things out, working with orphanages and governmnent agencies. Nice plus. I have no idea if any other agencies do this. Apparently this is most important in Guatemala, Columbia and Russia.

4. If, for some reason, the adoption program in the country you are applying to falls apart (i.e. Gladney's recent pullout from the Ukraine program), they will immediately transfer you over to another international adoption program of your choice, trying to expedite it. The same applies to failed domestic adoptions - they'll switch you over to an international program if you are interested.

5. They seem to be pretty affordable. Approximate adoption costs from China are $15, 315, which supposedly includes everything. But not travel expenses.

6. Their homestudys are mercifully brief. We're talking one session only, of about 4 hours (I only have to scour the house once! Yay!).

The bad part? They don't travel with a physician. Yes, you can find excellent medical care in China. But go thru something like Karen and Scott are (Journey To Gwen), and you will be very, very happy to have some sort of doctor in your group. I'm not sure how many agencies *do* have a physician travelling with the group, but I know that some do.

Next we have to talk to CAWLI and possibly one more agency. We'll see.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Great China adoption book

So I splurged on my first adoption book (I've been haunting my local area's library until now, but their selection is pretty minimal), From China with Love, by Emily Buchanan.

I know you've never seen a picture of me, but, trust me, my family is blindingly white. Lots of blonds and redheads in our family, from good 'ol English and Scottish stock (at least, until my uncle married a woman who was half Asian, so I have cousins that look Asian - but we never see them, and our friends and acquaintances don't really know too much about them).

The funny thing is, is that one of my sister's has eyes that look a little Asian. She also has stick straight, very thin hair, but more of a blond/brown color, not black. Frankly, she looks a little Chinese, which is odd. We used to tease her about the fact that she looked different from us unmercifully (I know, I know, we were BAD CHILDREN), saying that she was adopted (OMG I am so horrified now!). Till the day she started crying hysterically that she wasn't adopted. We realized then how much we had hurt her feelings, and never did it again.

Many years later, one of my other (incredibly fertile) sisters gives birth to a daughter who - guess what - has the same shape of eyes as our other, Asian looking sister. And then has yet another daughter a few years later, who - ta da! - also has slanted eyes (what is the PC way to say this? anyone?). And the two of them pretty much have stick straight hair as well.

When I start contemplating internation adoption, I am inexplicably drawn to adopting a girl from China. There is such a pull in my heart to that country! I've looked into many other countries as well, but I'm always drawn back to China.

Which brings me to my point. I buy this book, which is well written and very interesting. I look at the cover, which has a pictures of Emily's two daughters from China. Guess what? THEY LOOK ALMOST EXACTLY LIKE MY NIECES down to their smiles, hairstyles and mode of dress. Literally. I thought I was biased, so I solicited an opinion from my two youngest sisters, who agreed with me. I left the book out on my night table, hoping my husband would pick it up and read it so I wouldn't have to shove it down his throat. He walks by the book, does a double take, and says "Hey! These two girls look just like our nieces!".

Maybe I should include pictures of my nieces in my dossier. See, CCAA? We may be white Jews from America, but one of your lovely little girls may actually look like her cousins!