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 ;).

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Notes from the "I Do...Let's Eat" Chinese wedding episode

Notes from the TV show tonight - I have no idea if these are all considered traditional. The groom's family (Chris) was from Hong Kong, and very traditional. The bride's family (Amy) lives in the US and are more Westernized. They had a traditional Western, Christian ceremony first, then had a Chinese banquet at a hotel.

  • When the groom comes to pick up his bride, he has to get past the bridesmaids, who have to approve of him before they let him see her. They make him perform some physical tasks, testing his physical prowess, seeing how much money he has, and how smart he has.
  • But these bridesmaids didn't seem to ask for much.
  • The wedding has to be very elaborate, as it shows the family's stature & financial status.
  • First course: Roast suckling pig.
  • But the bride, groom & bridesmaids had chicken nuggets in the limo on the way to the church.
  • While the guests had appetizers, the bride and groom changed to traditional Chinese attire (gorgeous!), and had a tea ceremony for their parents and grandparents to show their honor for them.
  • Then, BACK they went into their Western dress and joined the guests for dinner. On to the roast suckling pig!
  • Second course: shark's fin soup, the most important part of the entire meal, which portrays the host's wealth. The Chinese loved the soup. Westerners described it as "watery jello".
  • Between the courses, they have a little fun, like playing a version of The Newlywed's Game with the bride and groom. Cute.
  • 5th course: Sea cucumber and abalone.
  • 6th course: Lobster.
  • Overall...10 courses. Before the dessert buffet and wedding cake!
  • The couple loved the whole meal...but Chris says the best part was marrying Amy (awwww!).
  • The couple went into the kitchen to thank the kitchen staff, which was very nice.

I was a little disappointed that this couple barely wore traditional Chinese attire. I know that it's up to the couple, though. My sister in law's good friend, who is Chinese, married a man who was also Chinese (even though that wasn't always her plan). They had a Chinese banquet after their Western ceremony, wearing their traditional Chinese clothing the entire time. And I'm pretty sure that they had 15 courses that went on for hours. But I don't think either wedding had one dish of potentially kosher food at all!

-------------------------------------------------------------

Oh this is too funny. The next episode of the show, immediately following the Chinese wedding, is a Russian Jewish wedding, which is strictly kosher! The contrast could not be greater.

And the announcer is butchering the pronounciation of all the Hebrew words...ha ha ha ha ha.

If any of you are watching TV RIGHT NOW...

If you're watching TV (at least on the East Coast) at this moment, and you have cable, switch over to WE. They're running an episode of "I Do...Let's Eat", a show I've never seen before.

Of course, the first couple they're featuring is a Chinese-American couple, and their very, very traditional Chinese wedding.

All I can say is dried shark fin looks very interesting. And darn expensive at $80 a bowl!

Not that I'll ever have to eat it. Shark is definitely not kosher!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

So close....

So we're eating lunch at a kosher restaurant in Teaneck today along with other family members today. They had the ceremony for my mother-in-law's mother's gravestone dedication, and afterwards she took us and select friends and relatives of hers out to a popular kosher eatery. W

I had a really good wrap, enjoyed my food and catching up with various relatives who we don't normally spend much time with. Went to um, powder my nose. Came back, sat down and casually eyed the father and daughter at the cash register. And immediately noted that the back of the daughter's head consisted of very, very shiny stick-straight gorgeous black hair. It looked like Chinese hair.

I breathlessly waited for her to turn around, preferably before the father finished paying. She finally did...and yup, she was Chinese. Since I don't think there are any Orthodox Jewish Chinese women married to Orthodox Jewish guys in Teaneck...she had to be adopted.

First, I punched my husband (lightly...on the leg...didn't want to make a scene) and whispered "HOW COULD YOU NOT NOTICE!!!!". I had just put on my sunglasses as the sun glare had gotten pretty bad and I was starting to get a headache, but didn't want to look all stalkerish when trying to talk to this dad, so I took them off. Stood up, looked at him, wanting to be brave and start a conversation with another adoptive parent, and....waited for him to get off his cell phone.

He left, with his daughter, with the cellphone glued to his ear. Dammit! Missed!

He actually came back because he had left a bag in the restaurant, and I actually managed to make eye contact, but he was STILL on his phone. Dammit again.

He then came back a third time, probably because he left something at his table. But he didn't come back through the main door. I actually sent my husband over to the other dining room to see if they were in there. I think I scared him and he decided to go out through a different door.

Sheesh. This is the second time this has happened to me! Why am I the freaky woman who scares off other adoptive parents! Aaahhhh!

So I was close to meeting another Orthodox family with an adopted daughter from China...but not.

Sigh.

Friday, June 09, 2006

One milestone reached

We finally sent in our I-600-A and our State security check forms. Woohoo! $625 to make sure we aren't axe murderers! Yay!

All I'm sayin' is that we didn't have to do this before our multiple fertility procedures. They should. With all the hormones I was on, I probably would have completely trashed the fertility clinic if I had heard all the negative pregnancy test results in the office. Instead, I was tempted to crash my car. They should definitely do criminal background checks on fertility patients.

We also sent in a batch of paperwork to our agency, which has all been approved. Whew.

What haven't we sent in?

Physical forms: This deserves a blog post of its own, but I don't feel like retelling the whole sordid story. All I'm going to say is once we *finally* have those completed forms in our hands (which we started chasing back in MARCH), we will immediately switch doctors, and also notify a local medical referral agency that this doctor is a complete and total idiot. I can't wait. Of course, this is also holding up our home study.

Guardianship form: Quite frankly, this is a tough one. None of our immediate family qualifies, and I really feel like it's a burden to ask our good friends to sign this. Technically, this form is not legally binding and we can designate someone else as a guardian in our wills, but this still seems like a lot to ask from someone. And they already wrote us a referral letter. Plus the wife in this couple is due, like, any minute. I think we'll wait a couple more weeks.

Pictures: Aack. We really do not have too many good pictures of the two of us, let alone of us and our family. We took some pictures at The Picture People in March and ended up with one good pose, and may have finally taken some nice shots last week when we were all dressed up before a wedding. I also had 90% of my family over at our house last week for a get-together/birthday party, and in the pictures we took of the family sitting around the table, only one niece is sticking her tongue out, so they're not *too* bad. I think we just need a couple more shots of the two of us, then I have to um, clean, and then take pictures of the house. So the end may be in sight. Oh, and we still need passport pictures. Just remembered.

Autobiographies: Darn. I forgot about this. I was sincerely hoping that we wouldn't have to write these, as this should have been covered in our homestudy (we used a local social worker/adoption agency, as our adoption agency is not from our state). They told us we had to write one anyways.

Financial Statement: I really don't want to send it in with the number of say, zero, in the savings column. My boss owes me: a) a bonus for a large project I've been handling the past 18 months and b) a raise. He has promised to come thru with these in 4 weeks. He's handling a large project right now that will have significant ramifications, and which I am helping with, so I understand why he can't sit down and evaluate my work right now. In a way, it's a compliment. I've been with my company nearly 10 years and work closely with him, and hold a senior position within the company. But it also means that I don't get automatic pay raises. They come more sporadically, but they're usually pretty significant. So we could be pretty flush in a month, or at least in a slightly better financial situation. The day that money hits our bank account is the day our financial statement hits the mailbox. But it's one thing that I can't cross off our list.

And that's it! It doesn't sound so bad now.

But the local Department of Homeland Security is running on a three month processing time for I-600-A's. I guess while we patiently wait for that precious I-171-H, we will learn to be patient for that every elusive referral...for which I am preparing myself to wait up to 24 months. Two freakin' years.

Hope I can handle that.

06/11/06 Edited to add:

You're probably wondering why it took us over a month to send in our I-600-A since I promised a potential travel-mate that I would send it in . That would be because we a) lost my husband's birth certificate, and, b) NY State's "expedited" option screwed up and took a few weeks to send us a new one, even though it should have arrived within a week. We may have needed the new one anyways, since the version we did have at one point was not a complete birth certificate.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Yummy!

While visiting a "large city with a large concentration of Orthodox Jews" recently (I'll let you guess where), I stopped into the only store I like in the area.

A Jewish book store.

Can't stand the city otherwise. Too crowded, too many people, too much triple parking. I need wide open spaces with flowers and trees.

So, I'm cruisin' around the store, seeing if there are any books that catch my eye, and I see this.

(Can you tell that I figured out how to add images to Blogger?)

I think I gasped and grabbed it off the shelf like it was a diamond.

From Lokshein to Lo Mein, written by Donald Seigel, is a very simple cookbook that has all kosher Chinese recipes. The recipes appear to be very simple, and provide workarounds for how to make Chinese food that isn't treif (non-kosher). For example, I've bought some Chinese vegetable buns from the freezer section in my local market. They tasted horrible when I "steamed" them in the microwave, and knew that they need some sort of sauce, but I wasn't sure what. Of course, I could have Googled it, but I don't have a computer in the kitchen (yet). This cookbook recommends a specific sauce to go with it, and explains how I can steam things in my wok. It has great stir fry recipes that I can't wait to try, and all kinds of chicken, beef and tofu dishes that I've always wanted to try myself.

It's also very funny, and provides a little background about the relationships between the Chinese and the Jews. The section about "the Jewish Experience in China" is very enlightening. Apparently Jews had been in China hundreds and hundreds of years ago, and were so numerous at one point that an emperor celebrated Jewish holidays. That really blew my mind. Even our esteemed President, George W. Bush, barely knows about Chanukah.

Buy the book, people. It's really not that expensive - it's $19.95 on Amazon (and that's what I paid in the store).

Meet Reyna!

I've seen the Gali Girls website in the past, a website that sells Jewish oriented dolls and books, and thought it was a nice idea.

But now they've done something that American Girl hasn't been able to do. They've come out with a Chinese doll and accompanying book.

Reyna is a little girl who is growing up in Kaifeng in 1175 and undergoing all kinds of exciting adventures as detailed in her book, Reyna and the Jade Star. She comes in traditional Chinese dress, with a magen david necklace, a Shabbat kit, and has other available outfits.

Unfortunately, it's not coming out until July. Not soon enough for me!

(My husband has been notified that he MAY WANT TO PURCHASE A PRESENT FOR ME AT THE BEGINNING OF JULY. AND THE EXACT NATURE OF SUCH PRESENT HAS ALSO BEEN INDICATED. That's all I'm saying).

(Courtesy of Ellen from my jfwcc group)

Yes, I admit it. We've been procrastinating.

I actually put in a huge amount of effort into getting the loads and loads of documents neccessary for our dossier, right before Passover, but nothing since. There's just been a lot going on, plus we're waiting for a new copy of my husband's birth certificate.

But, I got a good kick in the rear yesterday. We finally attended our first FCC event. We joined sometime in March or April, and immediately started getting A LOT of emails. The local FCCs are very, very busy, and NYC has a lot of China oriented events that FCC advertises. However, being that we're Orthodox Jews, we cannot attend the Saturday events or events held in churches. And we're not too comfortable attending events in treif (non-kosher) restaurants. But, finally, a local chapter was having a get-together for parents who were waiting or recently returned. It wasn't on Saturday, in a church or in a restaurant. Just someone's back yard. Again, we couldn't eat their food, but that's not such a big deal.

We showed up a little late so that most of the attendees would have pretty much eaten already (and wouldn't focus on us sitting there, sipping our Cokes while they has sushi and salads and other yummy looking food), and brought a kosher dessert to share. I was actually hoping to go a little incognito. I didn't want to make a big deal about our religion. My wig doesn't look that, um, wiggy, and my husband was dressed in his casual clothes with a baseball cap. Of course, the hostess, who isn't even Jewish, works at a Jewish Day School and recognized our status as an Orthodox couple immediately! Oh well.

Not that I minded being recognized as an Orthodox Jew, it's just that I didn't want it to put up too many barriers, or make the hostess uncomfortable about us not eating, etc. She apologized about 10 times. And we probably gave the other non-religous Jews there guilt complexes. But, everyone welcomed us very nicely and we met about 6 other couples. We got to drool over see some other Chinese adoptees of various ages (the oldest was 9), and even got to meet a mother and daughter who just came back from China three weeks ago. Her daughter seemed to be very well adjusted, and, while staying in her mother's arms, interacted with everyone else in a positive manner.

Ok. I admit it. I GOT TO TOUCH A CHINESE BABY. FINALLY.

It may not have been my baby, but I finally MET ONE IN THE FLESH.

I feel better now.

The other good part, other than the obvious positives of being able to network with other adoptive parents and sit around and complain about paperchasing and deadlines and referral times, is that I met another future adoptive mom (and dad, but I bonded with the mom) who is also using my agency and who sent out her I-600-A last week. We both realized that if I get my act together and send out my I-600-A this week, we can probably DTC together.

Oh my. I may have actually met a travel companion. And we really, really hit it off.

I am SO EXCITED NOW. And it will help to have a friend going thru the same process, getting on my case about paperwork. It's wonderful. Sometimes you just need that push!

So, hi, L! I hope we travel together! I'll email you tomorrow after we send out our document so that you don't yell at me on the phone!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Scott outdoes himself again (another great adoption video!)

Please visit The Cady Chase again. Scott has posted the most wonderful video of an SWI visit that I've EVER seen. Absolutely beautiful. They were so privileged to be able to meet their daughter's caretaker and thank her in person. Karen did a great job at showing her appreciation.

Oh phooey. I can't figure out how to link directly to that post (darn Macs!). Please go to their website and look for the posting titled "Hello Again" on 04/21/06.

And check out the rest of the videos. Cady is quite the little dancer! And giggler! And...is just overall cute.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Against All Odds, Twin Girls Reunited - CBS News

Against All Odds, Twin Girls Reunited - CBS News

I think this is the third time that I've heard about a pair of separately adopted girls from China being recognized as twins. What's really interesting is that the girls have made references to their missing twins before the relationship is discovered, like one girl telling her mother that she has a "hole in her heart", or asking over and over "where is my sister?", when she had no sister and her parents had no intentions of adopting another baby. There's probably no worse feeling than missing a twin that you used to know. I'm so glad that these girls found each other.

It's so nice to see these two (probably fraternal twin) sisters together! Enjoy the video!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

For all of you out there who just can't wait for the matza...

Get more Matzah at ChaiSpace!




hint: click on the matza

Ok, this isn't working right now, but I'll leave it up in case it does decide to work later. Blogger has been a little funky lately.

Monday, April 10, 2006

You've Got Male?!

J of pomegranate has a great post up about the fact that 12.5% of the China referrals received by Spanish parents most recently were for boys, not girls. Because everyone associates the popularity of the Chinese adoption program with the girl abandonment (and boy preference) issue in China, these statistics are quite surprising. I think most, if not all, male adoptions from China are SN (Special Needs) adoptions.

What's funny is that I had a dream about this a few months ago. I dreamt that when we arrived in China and explained at the passport check desk why we were there, the soldiers manning the desk looked us up in the computer, and told us that our records were in order. And that our SON'S Red Army clearance had been processed, so we would be able to leave the country without a problem.

WHAT?

A boy?

Where did this come from? In my dream, even the referral was for a GIRL, so this was quite a surprise. But we figured that we needed to get past passport control and start talking to our agency, so we let it go.

And I don't remember what happened after that.

How weird is that? I can just see that happening. Because THAT'S MY LIFE. If there is some possibility of something happening during an event, such as my a** of my doctor sending me to the lab with an HIV request form, saying "don't worry, they'll accept it"...the lab won't accept it.

And when I have 12 eggs in an IVF cycle (not a great number in the first place), and some of them should fertilize (but, of course, it's possible that none will)...NONE of them will fertilize.

Which is why I'm adopting. I just can't deal with that crap anymore. (Imma, if you're reading this blog, sorry! Sometimes you just gotta curse!)

But how much do you want to bet that I'll end up with a boy referral, even though I requested a girl?

Now, I don't really care whether it's a boy or a girl. G-d willing, we're hoping to adopt at least a few kids. I was thinking of possibly doing two Chinese girl adoptions, and then maybe requesting a Chinese boy, or, if the likelihood of receiving a healthy boy referral from China was remote, possibly adopting a boy from Korea. Mentally, though, I'm preparing for a girl. But at the back of my mind, I know that if anyone's going to get an unexpected boy referral...it'll be me.

Editing notes: Why did I have to teach Blogger spellcheck the word blog? How weird is that?

Oh, and the HIV test was for my adoption physical. And I still don't have the results. Qu*est Di*agnostics should be closed down for ineptitude. So should that doctor's office.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

This is a MUST LISTEN

YOU MUST LISTEN TO THIS BROADCAST.

This is a radio broadcast from On Point Radio titled "Adopted Chinese Children". Its focus is China adoption, but they also discuss Korean adoption, simply because Korean adoptees are old enough for us to learn from them. Yes, it's long, but very worth listening to. You'll be horrified (and maybe cry) somewhere in the middle, but at the end, you'll be sobbing. I'm still crying.

But it's good stuff.

Please listen.

I can tell you one thing. I will do my utmost to make sure that my daughter has as much exposure as possible to fellow adoptees, preferably Chinese. When you hear the story in the middle, you'll understand why.

I *am* working on establishing relationships with other religous Jewish parents who have adopted from China. I already am close with a family who recently adopted from Korea, and at the party for their son, I met two other adoptive families, one who had also adopted from Korea, and one who adopted from Guatemala. They were very happy to meet us. We know we're going to need all the support we can get!

I'm also still trying to track down two more families in the area, Orthodox Jews who adopted from China. It hasn't been easy, but I *am* spending more time on paperwork now than on trying to track them down.... Establishing contact with them will be more important later when we have to endure the GREAT WAIT (which, to my dismay, I estimate may take at least 12 months after our dossier is sent to China, maybe even up to 18 months). I'll probably want to meet up with them and cry over their daughter.

I'm emotional like that.

Darn, I'm still crying over the radio presentation. Must stop.

(Link to radio broadcast courtesy of an adoptive family Yahoo group)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

(Adoption) Video Night

I found quite a few videos tonight that I have to share.

First, a website not listed in my blogroll:
The Cady Chase
Scott & Karen's site (no, not the very famous Scott & Karen's Gwenblog, this is another Scott & Karen's website) *would* be listed in my blogroll if I could figure out how to subscribe to their feed. Really great website, and (probably since he's working on a Mac), he has *great* videos of their recent adoption.

While watching his videos on YouTube, I also found the following:
Adoption of our son Shen (he already has an older sister!)and
A Cambodian adoption video, the first one I've seen!. This was three years ago - I don't think Cambodia is open for adoption right now. This little girl is a CUTIE. It was interesting to see videos of some parts of Cambodia. I thought some parts of China were, um, rustic. I think Cambodia (or at least parts of the country) are worse off. Even the government offices looked pretty poor.

Wait. I just realized that the little girl from the Cambodian adoption video is the older sister from the Chinese boy adoption video! Wow.

Voyage to Meet Aveleen is also really good. This Canadian couple just met their daughter this past December, and she looks really tiny! She must have been very young at referral time. This video has a lot of great shots of Chinese architecture, Chinese people and various attractions.

There's lots more...but I have got to get to sleep. Search for "adoption" on youtube (skip the pet adoption videos), and you'll find a lot of great adoption videos.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Great, great pictures

Love Without Boundaries, a website for

a group of volunteers around the world who have realized that people who have a pure love for helping children can truly make a difference. We all donate our time and gifts in an attempt to brighten the lives of some of the world's most vulnerable children.

has posted their "Top 10 Pictures of 2005",. Such beautiful pictures! There were quite a few that made me cry....LWB seems to be a very worthy organization, going to China and helping the babies who need it most. They get help for babies who are cleft affected, get them to orphanages who can devote enough time to just FEED them, and get them appropriate medical care. They also provide foster care for children so that they do not have to stay in orphanages, and help orphanage provide the children's most basic needs: Food. Formula. Rice cereal. Things that you and I can pick up easily at the grocery store a short distance away, but that the orphanage cannot afford.

Check them out. And support them if you can.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Wow, I was right! Two Days to Save to Asia

Heck, I'm not DTC yet, but these prices sound MAD cheap!

From the Business Traveller newsletter:

ACT FAST, BECAUSE YOU ONLY HAVE TILL MIDNIGHT THURSDAY (March 23) to take advantage of United's "Spectacular Savings to Asia" special fares. Destinations include Bangkok, Singapore, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Beijing and Shanghai. Hop aboard United's wide-body jets nonstop to China and Japan, or one-stop to Southeast Asia. Sample one-way fares: Boston to Shanghai, $430; Los Angeles to Bangkok, $350; Chicago to Tokyo, $310. Tickets must be purchased at least 14 days before departure for travel off-peak Monday through Thursday between April 1 and May 18, 2006. A six-day minimum stay is required. For more information, visit www.united.com

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Does this mean we won't have to spend a bloody fortune on plane tickets?

From a business traveller newsletter:

China Inks Aviation Deal With United States

BUILDING ON AN AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES
SIGNED IN 2004, China and the United States have
signed a new bilateral aviation agreement. Under the
new agreement, the number of weekly flights between
the two nations will rise from 54 to 249 and the
number of permitted carriers from four to nine. U.S.
airlines will be allowed to add new flights in 2006,
2008 and 2010, and build hubs in China starting in
2007. Also, restrictions on 12 U.S. and five Chinese
cities will be lifted.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

So, where are we up to?

One of these days, I will post a list of all the steps we have to go through. But this is what we've done so far:

* Chosen an adoption agency
* Sent in the application and application fee ($200)
* Had an intake meeting
* Went thru the homestudy ($1400 so far)
* Got DH's physical
* Scheduled my physical
* Got my employment verification letter
* Got DH's employment verification letter (but I think it won't be accepted)
* Got two referral letters
* Asked for a third referral letter
* Found our marriage and birth certificates and some other documents
* Realized that we have to get new passports next year
* Selected two dossier pictures of us w/family.
* Plan to take some nice formal pictures of us as a couple this Friday. Don't have to, but I've been wanting to do this anyways, so I finally have a good excuse.
* Will be sending in the i600a (Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition, or, as I call it "the form asking the government permission to bring in an alien baby") this week, without the homestudy. ($550+ dollars - don't remember the exact amount.)
* Will be sending in other types of documents to the agency this week as well.
* Will be taking pictures of our house as soon as the daffodils bloom, making the outside look real purty-like, and inside pictures, while the house is still clean and neat as a result of the grand homestudy cleanup.
* Will be taking more FAMILY TOGETHERNESS pictures during the festive Purim meal. Before everyone gets drunk. Or maybe after.

I just hope we don't have to wait 3-4 months before the USCIS processes the i600a and invites us down for a fingerprinting appointment. Pray, people, pray!

Wow! The homestudy was a breeze!

I still can't believe it. We found a great social worker who made the whole process very easy for us. The in-house meeting was very quick and to the point, and all she wanted to see were the common living areas and the room that would be the baby's room. Oh well...at least our master bedroom is clean & neat now. I'm trying to keep it up. We had already prepared answers to some of the questions we knew would come up, such as "how do you resolve conflicts between yourselves" (our answer: well, we discuss things and each other viewpoints and resolve them thru discussion - we left out the things like throwing beer bottles and shouting matches JUST KIDDING!), and "how do you plan to integrate Chinese culture into your lives?" (our answer: well, we've joined Familes with Children from China, are reading a lot about China, and plan to learn more, etc, etc).

And then she asked (are you ready for this?): Is there such a thing as a kosher Chinese food restaurant (in a tone indicating that she was expecting a no)?

When my husband and I picked ourselves up off the floor, as we were laughing too hard to stay in our chairs, we explained that in Jewish neighborhoods, first is the pizza store, and then there is the Chinese restaurant or takeout place. And we have three within driving distance of our house. And we know that sushi is Japanese, not Chinese, but they serve it anyways. She was QUITE happy with this answer. I also explained that my father was always into all styles of cooking, some of it Chinese, and that I grew up with a wok in the house, and didn't know how to cook rice without it when I got married and didn't have one. But my mother had recently given me her extra wok. And that my husband had bought me the aforementioned China, The Beautiful Cookbook, which I am planning to utilize. Someday. Maybe when my dossier is complete.

You definitely want a social worker who has a lot of experience in writing China homestudies. She knows what should and shouldn't go into the homestudy. As long as our criminal and abuse checks go thru ok, we should be fine. She even emailed us a draft the SAME DAY. Unbelievable.

So...we're getting our fingerprints done on Purim*, as we're both off that day and have time to go to the police station. Can you believe that we can only go to our local police station from 10am-2pm on a weekday? We would usually have to take off from work to take care of them. My sister who is currently living with us did her fingerprints last Friday. When the officer heard why she had to get her fingerprints done, he was very helpful, and also said that he knew of two other couples in our village who had adopted from China! I haven't met them yet. I think I'm going to have to drive around and stalk houses...just kidding.

Oh, and something interesting about the social worker. We mentioned to her that we knew of two other Orthodox families in the area who had adopted from China, and we knew their names, but we couldn't find them. Our mutual acquaintances lost their phone number, and they're unlisted! It turns out that she did the homestudy for one of the couples, and told us where they moved to. We, ahem, have since Googled them and found them...but she's going to call them first and see whether we have permission to contact them. She's on vacation right now though, so I can't ask her whether she's contacted them. I think they may have even used our agency, so that would be the experience with Sabbath observant Jews that they've had. So...if you think that you may be this family...can you please contact us? We'd love to talk (and drool enviously over your daughter...I'm sure you won't mind)!

* Purim websites (they can explain it better than I can):
Chabad.org
Aish.com

Yes, it involves alcohol, partying, costumes and a lot of food. Fun times.
But if you're yearning for children...it's quite stressful. Plus I accompany my husband to deliver Shalach Manos to certain important individuals who have been important in our lives, and I STILL GET THE STOMACH SCAN. You know, the "Hm, I wonder if she's pregnant, let me look at her stomach" look. Yo. I've been married ten years and I haven't been pregnant. EVER. My stomach is it's own fatty self. LEAVE ME ALONE.

I also find myself going to megilla readings that do not have a lot of children attending, as it's so, so difficult to see cute little kids in costumes...and me wanting one too....And with the way referral are going lately, it is quite likely that a)I will be in China RIGHT NOW this time next year or b)I'll still be waiting for my referral. So I may have to be tortured next Purim too...but I'll be closer to having one of my own to dress up in a costume. But she will not be dressed as an Asian girl costume. EVER.

Tearjerker of a video...and a worthy organization

Warning: this video will make you cry (via A Red Thread to China).

China Care is an organization started by a TEENAGER, who saw the plight of orphans in China. The video is from his appearance on Oprah. He's raising money to help fund operations for orphans with terrible birth defects, and to help get handicapped orphans adopted in the U.S.

The homepage explains it the best:

The predicament of orphans in China is something few Americans can fathom.

Every year tens of thousands of children are thrust into overcrowded, under-funded orphanages. They are abandoned because parents can't afford to care for them. Or, simply because they're born into an enormous population forced to maintain a policy of one child families. They are forgotten because there are simply not enough resources to provide adoption, foster care or even the basic necessities to such a large number of orphans.

And for children born with disabilities, the outlook is far grimmer. Even conditions corrected with routine medical procedures in America can render a child unadoptable and destined for an unthinkable existence in a cold institutional setting.
.

If you are looking for a way to help Chinese orphans...I think this would be a great way.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Dum, dum, dum dum....Time for the HOMESTUDY

One bonus to scheduling a homestudy this time of year?
EARLY PESACH CLEANING*.

This post was rolling around in my head, and then I read Karen's post about laundry (sorry, password protected)...and then my comment to her turned into this.

Until a few days ago, there was a huge gigantic enormous towering sizeable pile of things to be ironed/folded/mended in our bedroom. Clean clothes though. Hate ironing. I ended up with a huge pile after my last failed IVF (LAST SUMMER) and NEVER CLEANED IT UP. Never mind the (most likely) clinically depressed situation that I was in for, oh, four months or so. I was too busy obsessively reading adoption blogs researching adoption to fold and iron. I thought my husband owned two pairs of work pants, and that I had maybe four work outfits. I couldn't imagine what happened to all our clothes!

Amazing what a homestudy appointment will do for you. The pile is GONE. Two nights and one Sunday of ironing and reorganizing the walk-in closet, and we are FLUSH with clothing.

So proud of myself right now. And even more proud of Karen, who has many more challenges in her life right now than I have.

But I haven't been down to the basement lately, our unofficial laundry room. I avoid the basement at all costs. It's just darn ugly, full of everyone else's storage (all my family uses it for their storage, as I'm the one with room), it's the "overflow pantry" (and sometimes other things overflow there...like the sewage pump) and it irritates my asthma when it's damp. I wonder what's sitting down there?

Uh oh.

*Passover. Orthodox (and Conservative and some Reform) Jews rid their house of all leavened bread etc. before Passover, which usually entails a *lot* of cleaning, changing all of the kitchen dishes to the special Passover dishes, and so on. I'm sure I'll be b****ing complaining about it over the next six weeks.

Wait. Today's Rosh Chodesh (the beginning of the lunar month). Pesach is in SIX WEEKS? Deep breathing, deep breathing...let's get through the homestudy first...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

This is a little different...

Wow. I read over 50 blogs written by people who have adopted from China, or are in the process of adoption, and have been reading most of them since last summer. But they're all pretty much living here, applying with an agency, going through the GREAT WAIT, and then travelling to China to pick up their precious baby.

Now, I've heard that there are some individuals who say, are foreigners living in China for a certain amount of time, who have found babies and have adopted them. The most famous family that I am aware of is Avraham and Rachel Schwartzbaum, who adopted their daughter Devora from China in 1972. They eventually became Orthodox Jews as a result of pursuing a conversion to Judaism for their daughter, and, later on, Avraham wrote a book about the adoption and raising Devora, called The Bamboo Cradle (I would put a link in here, but it doesn't appear to be in stock on the publisher's website or on Amazon).

Imagine my suprise today when I stumbled across this blog. Pam discovered a baby (with a severe birth defect) on her doorstep in China, back in 2003. She and her husband took the baby to the hospital, made sure she got medical care, and are in the process of adopting her. Such a beautiful story...please read her story yourself.

Fascinating.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

They're in China right now!

Fling Poo has recently climbed up my list to be one of my all-time favorite blogs. This couple is in China right now, picking up their approximately two-year-old daughter, who is so, so cute. It looks like they're doing a wonderful job with transitioning her into their family, plus they're documenting everything so well!

First, check out their Metcha Day. When you've finished crying, read the update the next day, then what it's like to be the lone americans in a remote part of China and...just read the rest of the blog. Great stuff.
But make sure you don't miss this: How to cross the street. I thought crossing the street in Manhattan was bad.

Blogroll help

Hey, does anyone out there have a good solution for establishing a blogroll? I'm looking at Blogrolling, but just do not care enough to screw around, trying to get their template look more like my blog. Is there an easier tool out there?

I read a LOT of blogs, and would love to be able to link to them. But changing my template to include all of them is a nightmare. It would be great to import select Favorites or something. Or my Bloglines, which I don't want to make public.

OMG I think this is really happening

A bit overwhelmed right now. We got a packet from a home study agency in the mail today, probably the one we're going with (our agency is just a little too far for them to perform the study themselves, so we have to use someone local).

I always knew about the documents I needed, but today I got a better look at the list of required documents.

ALL FREAKIN 31* OF THEM.

Oh.My.

Good thing about this agency? You know how China requires 4 visits with the agency staff? Well, this agency actually only have 2 in-home visits, then you have to attend a 2 hour training session at their offices, and then you have the session with the "administrative staff" at the office when you dump your entire collection of the aforementioned 31 FREAKING DOCUMENTS on some poor person's desk, and review them with him or her. So that's their 4 meetings, only 2 of which are with your actual social worker.

Listen, I'm not a big fan of 90% of the social workers I've met (and to give you a clue...my mother in law has an MSW), so 2 social worker visits only is JUST FINE WITH ME.

Still can't believe this is happening. I'm just praying that all goes well with the homestudy.

* We're actually going to need more than 31, as an adult sibling is living with us right now. So we'll need documents for said sibling, such as abuse/police record clearances, physical, etc. So it really will be about 36. Sheesh.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Growth Industry

If you get Print Magazine, there's a two page article about the attempts by China to encourage the acceptance of girls. Look for the article titled "Growth Industry - Millions of Chinese girls are at risk. A public campaign comes to their aid", by Jude Steward. It include pictures of some billboards and a brochure used in the efforts to educate the public in China about the value of girls.

Unfortunately, the article is not online, and I don't want to violate copyright laws by scanning it in and hosting it online, but if you have a friend that's a graphic designer, they may have a copy!

Interesting that I even saw this - we only ordered ONE trial issue at work, and THIS is the issue that has this article. I think I gasped when I saw the entry in table of contents, but nobody noticed! I haven't broken the news to anyone at work yet, but since we're finally getting the process started, my boss will probably find out real soon.